If you’re planning a trip to Thailand, an increasingly popular tourist destination for Canadians, be aware that the Thai government is considering making proof of travel insurance mandatory for foreign visitors. The reason: state hospitals are losing at least $88 million USD a year treating visitors.
Data from the Conference Board of Canada indicates that 244,000 Canadians visited Thailand in 2016, 7.3 percent more than the year previous. Current figures show that numbers are growing at a rate of 5 percent.
According to published reports, officials at the Thai Ministry of Tourism and Sports consider travel insurance an urgent necessity and are working to get legislation enacted as quickly as possible.
Officials at the ministry have stated that as soon as the rule is put into effect, all visitors will be required to show proof of travel health insurance along with their other entry documentation upon arrival in the country. We don’t know how soon this rule will be imposed, but you should factor it into your plans immediately as it could be enacted at any time.
Medical costs in Thailand, as in many other Asian countries, are expensive and would not be covered by Canadian provincial health plans—even if they were accepted at Thai entry points.
Global Affairs Canada advises travellers to “Exercise a High Degree of Caution” while in Thailand due to ongoing political tensions and sporadic demonstrations in Bangkok and elsewhere. There have also been reports of arrests and altercations involving Canadians and other nationals at bars and similar venues in tourist areas. GAC has also raised the “Avoid All Travel” warning for certain southern provinces. View Canadian government travel alerts here.
The action being considered by the Thai government is similar to the one imposed by Cuba several years ago when it required all incoming visitors to show proof of travel insurance or to buy it from local companies stationed at entry points.
The Cuban government has expressly stated that visitors will not be allowed to leave the country until their medical bills are paid or payments assured by approved foreign insurance companies.
Travel Insurance is Trendy
As we have noted in past blogs, increasing numbers of European countries are requiring proof of travel insurance as a condition of entry—some specifying coverage limits of at least €40,000 EUR—well beyond reimbursements that would be offered by any Canadian provincial health plan.
Because of the persisting threat of unexpected violence in any part of Europe this summer, private travel insurance is an absolute necessity—not only because of the potential medical and hospital costs involved, but because of the personal disruption of communications between victims caution up highly publicized violent events, and families and loved ones at home.
Consequently, we urge you to register your travel itinerary with Travel Canada—a free service that allows the government to locate and contact you or your family in case of an emergency abroad. Do not rely totally on your iPad to keep your connections intact abroad. .
Are you ready to turn your Phi Phi island beach dreams into a reality? Get your travel insurance coverage today.