Car, Life and Health Insurance
On this page, I will cover only health, car, and life insurance. Emphasis is on health insurance.
This is a short section. Admittedly, I depend on my Thai staff to analyze and buy coverage, mainly to cover injuries and liability to other parties.
Car insurance is MANDATORY. You must have an up to date sticker on your windshield or else there is a big fine. There are many private vendors of car insurance.
A few of the private sector vendors have a deal with the government so that you can get your compulsory car insurance via mail. More information is on the web site of the Communications Authority of Thailand (CAT), which oversees the Post and Telegraph Department (PTD), at www.cat.or.th . (I had previously bookmarked the page, but they move it around, leaving a dead link.)
In Thailand, if you can't show in advance that you have acceptable insurance or money to pay, then hospitals might not admit you for in-patient care. While most (if not all) hospitals will admit a foreigner from an accident without asking questions, it's a whole different matter as regards treatments of major ailments such as those requiring surgery. Minor out-patient cases are different, as they generally assume you will be able to pay as you leave.
Thailand has what most people call surprisingly good health care. In fact, it has become one of the world's major "medical tourism" destinations.
As a person who takes care of themself very carefully and researches every ailment and treatment for my family, friends and myself, I normally go into a hospital with a considerable amount of knowledge. I, myself, have usually been impressed, not by the expensive businesses like Bumrungrad but by the more mainstream private hospitals where I have received superior attention and treatment by doctors who clearly keep up in their fields and care about their patients, at much lower costs. On average, I have been far more impressed with doctors in Thailand than I was in the USA. Maybe it's because doctors don't make nearly as much money in Thailand than in the USA, and get into the profession more out of interest than just for the money.
In any case, I find health care a much better deal in Thailand than in the USA, not only much lower cost but better treatments for average people.
The USA is well known for its advanced treatments for those with the money, but for the average person the USA is often disappointing yet unreasonably expensive. It is common for Americans who are uninsured or underinsured to seek treatment in Thailand.
If you are European or from Down Under, then you will have a different outlook.
Health insurance in Thailand is similar to health insurance in the USA.
Many Thai companies offer health insurance, as well as some American companies who have opened business in Thailand, and there is some representation by other multinationals. However, there are some differences between Thai health insurance and foreign insurance. Also, you will find that some foreign insurance companies with offices in Thailand have very different policies in Thailand than in their home country, as if it's a different company. For example, this has been said about the American company BUPA.
Both the premiums and the maximum coverage are lower, which generally reflects the lower costs in Thailand. However, you are not covered much while travelling outside Thailand. This is understandable since health care is much more expensive in many other countries and there's no way health insurance companies in Thailand can be financially sustainable if people came over here for lower premium rates then went back out to more expensive countries.
If you need coverage outside of Thailand, then you should buy temporary health insurance in the other country (as I did during a 2 month visit to the USA in 2006, and you can order by internet).
Conversely, there are multinational insurance companies with no office in Thailand but which will cover you in Thailand -- and Thailand only -- for a reduced premium. However, I will not get into this topic as it gets complicated and varies markedly between companies.
Most importantly, Thai health insurance providers can refuse to renew your health insurance policy, renewed year by year. This is allowed by Thai law. In most other western countries, as long as you pay your premiums on time, your insurance must be renewed.
Your premium is set at a standard for your age group, but those who submit claims will generally be charged more. Thus, you get a reward if you take care of yourself, and don't pay for those who don't, just like in most countries.
As everywhere else, the health insurance companies each offer different policies at different prices for different coverages. The main differences, besides deductibles and maximum coverages, are between Out Patient (OP) coverage (e.g., you go to a hospital but are treated and go home with medicines) vs. In Patient (IP) treatments (e.g., you check in for surgery or observation). OP coverage is usually broken down further by different offerings. (For myself, I get protection against only major illnesses, accidents, and disability, since most minor outpatient care is generally quite affordable in Thailand.)
Like everywhere, pre-existing conditions are not covered, whether or not they are known at the time your insurance starts. In Thailand, you cannot make any claim for a health ailment within the first 30 days, though you can make an immediate claim for an accident. Thai insurance companies investigate claims made within the first year and may withhold payment based on the claim of a pre-existing condition, so if you want to minimize the chances of being treated unfairly, then get a full medical checkup from a reputable hospital when you start your health insurance policy which you can use as proof in case you enter a dispute.
There are also exceptions, usually including sexually transmitted diseases, ailments related to alcohol or stress, injury while riding a motorcycle taxi or participating in dangerous sports, and most remarkably kidney dialysis and renal failure. Dental coverage varies by company and policy.
One of the best known insurance companies is American International Assurance, AIA (Thailand) Public Company Limited, at www.aia.co.th though their website is not well maintained as regards its English.
Also popular is BUPA, www.BUPAthailand.com which has been in Thailand about 25 years. BUPA offers 4 main plans for expats, or a 6-month plan for tourists and temporary visitors.
Insurance Australia Group, known in Thailand as IAG Thailand Co., Ltd., is a multinational best known for car, home, business, and farm insurance, as well as workers' compensation services. In Thailand, IAG offers health insurance thru its old brand NZI, which is an acronym for New Zealand Insurance or something like that going back to business in New Zealand about 150 years ago, albeit only recently brought to Thailand. IAG has been in Thailand for about 20 years in the form of its merger predecessors here (such as Royal Sun Alliance). If it seems confusing, well, let me just cut this short and say to go to their website, www.NZI.co.th and look for "InterGlobal Healthcare Insurance" among the many other kinds of insurance. They claim to be "Thailand's First Online Insurer". I will say this: The on-line comparison of health insurance plans is very clear on NZI.
There are a lot of Thai health insurance companies but I've had difficulties getting acceptable English language translations of their policies, though I did get a few laughs. People tell me of much cheaper deals they got, but when it comes to my health and life, I want clear understandings and answers.
Foreign health insurance is honored in Thailand, though it depends upon the insurance company. If yours has a bad history of paying bills submitted from Thailand, then it may be refused.
Many companies offer this ... including packaged with health insurance.
For a paradigm shift regarding life insurance, see also Cryonics
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