Terrible tale of traveling without insurance cover

TRAVELERS beware. Travel without insurance coverage could become one of your worst nightmares in life as what had just happened to a Thai woman who traveled to Japan without one.

This case turned quite serious to such an extent that the Japanese travel authorities have issued warnings that travelers should buy travel insurance just in case they face any life threatening emergencies.

The tragedy happened to Wanwisa Jaijun, a 28-year old Chiang Mai woman, who traveled to Japan together with her three friends early this year.  Unexpectedly she fainted in the middle of the road as a result of a heart failure, Manager online reported.

She received an emergency treatment by a firefighter in Saitama Prefecture before being sent to a hospital in Tokyo. 

Over the course of ten days, Miss Wanwisa underwent five surgeries, including a coronary artery bypass operation. She regained consciousness in February and was well on her way to a full recovery before being shocked by her hospital bill, which had soared to about 18 million yen ($165,000). Since she was not covered by travel insurance, her mother had to resort to a fund-raising campaign in Thailand, which received around 500,000 baht donation  from more than 500 people or about 1.5 million yen.  The Thai Embassy in Tokyo therefore had to help pay 8 million yen for her to be released from the hospital in April and then travel back home.

According to embassy officials, only about 10 percent of Thai tourists who travel overseas have travel insurance. 

This case had been put for open discussions in Pantip, one of Thailand’s most famous online forums.

The crux of the discussions is what kind of travel insurance they have to buy or in the other words what coverage they would have from the insurance companies.

The most common thing experienced by travelers who bought insurance policies is that they failed to read the conditions stated in the insurance policy as to what kind of coverages they would have and what not.  

They pointed out that one key condition for the buyer to first find out is whether the insurance would pay for them at the hospitals  or would they have to pay first by themselves and then come back to claim the compensation later in Thailand.  Of course, everyone wants a policy which pays for them on the spot.

If the insurance policy covers health insurance, buyers need to read carefully about the payment conditions.  For example, the policy may state it will not cover a medical bill in case the policy holders had visited a doctor for this and that kind of treatment in the past 180 days.

Or the insurance brokers may ask you to declare if you have any kind of illness before issuing an insurance policy for the travelers, meaning they would not cover such illness.

In general, coverages or the benefits travelers can buy include 24 hours emergency medical assistance, 24/7 worldwide travel assistance, personal accident, medical and other related benefits, travel inconvenience benefits, liability protection, act of terrorism & hijacking, infectious diseases and protection for amateur sports includes scuba diving, winter sports, bungee jumping. And travelers have to bear in mind that low premium paid for a travel insurance policy means low-level of coverage. The higher the more coverage.

Another thing Thais and foreigners may not be aware is that if they hold a credit card especially a Platinum Visa or Master card issued by banks like Bangkok Bank or Bank Krungsri, they will get certain travel insurance benefits or travel assistance if the card holders pay for air tickets using their credit cards.  So check that out before traveling.


Top: The right travel insurance cover is vital before setting out on a journey. Photo: Yosomono (CC-BY-2.0)

By Kowit Sanandang 





Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *