BEFORE YOU HIRE A CAR OR SCOOTER IN THAILAND
Every year, every new season, even today, visitors come to Thailand and hire a car or scooter and see a sign ‘Fully Insured’ well the vehicle maybe, but are they really insured to drive? The BIG Question is, are they even licensed to drive in Thailand ? Read on ……
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(we have changed the story name to Simon, this has no reflection on anyone called Simon)
Let me make this clear from the start, This is NOT Thai Red Tape, this is their home country Insurance terms and conditions of cover, so read to the end…..
All too frequently we read on social media that a Farang holiday maker has been involved in a road traffic collision and hospitalised with serious injuries and despite them being their travel insurance has refused to pay out for medical treatment in hospital, despite being life threatening. Some people may ask why ? If they had travel insurance, why has the broker company refused to cough up and pay medical bills and expatriation or Medivac ? Social media draws groups of supporters saying the injured Farang had travel insurance so the company should foot the bill.
Do not rely on your home country embassy to help you out…… its down to you, or as we say here, “Up to You”. Your home embassy in Thailand are not obliged to offer financial support but will offer free words of advice and verbal assistance.
It’s Tuesday morning here in Udon Thani, in fact 06:00hrs and I feel compelled to write this reminder article ahead of the west waking up as they plan their paradise trip to the land of smiles for Songkran.
If you come to this beautiful country and wish to explore various areas by car or scooter, please consider this…. are you insured to do so ? When you hire a vehicle in Thailand, it is the vehicle that’s insured, not you.
As a tourist, do you meet the driving licence requirements to not only legally roam our streets but your travel insurance medical section covers you ?
Every year we read online that “(example) 23 year old tourist, Simon, is in a critical condition because Simon came to Thailand and hired a Scooter. Simon just went and hired a Scooter showing his Passport and just drove off, although he did have a crash helmet, so all is legal right ? hmm well, Simon was involved in a road traffic collision and has ended up in hospital. Simon’s travel insurance will not cover medical bills and he is therefore not insured. Simon now faces a medical bill in Thailand currently of 500,000 but it is costing an extra 70,000 a day in intensive care and he needs an operation on his leg so even before surgery and recovery his expected Medivac (Expatriation costs are around 800,000 THB)”
Simon thought he was safe and secure, Simon had travel insurance and thought he was insured but he didn’t read the small print ? There are many Simons out there…….
Simon’s Travel Insurance have refused to pay a cent (or 2p) and quite rightly so…… because Simple Simon broke his Insurance Policy…. Simon was confused, he had travel insurance and thought he was covered to do what ever he wanted on his holiday here to the land of smiles ………… errrrrr no Simon we will go into your errors in a minute.
SO THE INSURANCE WILL NOT PAY UP AND REFUSE TO ASSIST
Simon’s family and friends then had an idea, they will set up a GoFundMe account, a great idea to raise funds to pay for Simon’s stupidity by naïve friends and strangers on social media to help Simon. They also lean towards the empathy of the expat Farang community in Thailand to chip in a few $$$ to pay for Simon’s medical care …… YAWN !! Sorry the seasoned Expats in Thailand are fed up with reading these stories over and over. We wonder will these tourists every learn ….. ?
IF YOU WANT TO HIRE A CAR OR SCOOTER IN THAILAND READ THIS FIRST !
If you come to Thailand and wish to hire a scooter or car follow these instructions to comply with your homeland travel insurance.
BEFORE YOU ARRIVE – Ensure in your home country you obtain an International Driving Permit/Licence (This is not your personal licence, this is an additional document from your local authority at home BEFORE you arrive.
WHAT CAN YOU HIRE – If you have a car driving licence, you can hire a car but if you want to hire a scooter, you must have passed a bike test in your home country. Many scooters here are 150cc, whereas 125cc is normally max in many countries without having to take a bike test. If you have a bike licence from your home country, then all is good together with your IDP/L.
PHOTOCOPIES – Take photocopies of your Passport, IDP/L and Personal Driving Licence in case you lose them in Thailand.
WHEN YOU ARRIVE – Bring with you your newly issued driving permit/licence AND your personal licence.
WHEN YOU HIRE – Ensure that the hire company show you a copy of the vehicle insurance (in your own language, reputable companies will have a sealed (embossed) translation version of the vehicle insurance)
WHEN YOU HIRE – Look on the wall, look for an authorised government official certificate pertaining the hiring of motor vehicles in the range offered.
WHEN YOU HIRE – Video and photograph ALL damage around the vehicle, inside and out. Also check the following, Trunk (Boot Catch is working) Internal Petrol level Lever or external knock Cap working, Fuel Level, Inside seats, no staining, marks or tears, inside roof, no stains or marks. Electric windows, all work up and down. AIRCON, works. (Additional extras you must check, SatNavs, Baby Seats, Top Boxes) Let the vendor see you do this.
AT THE TIME OF HIRE – Only disclose photocopies of your Passport, Driving Licence and International Permit / Licence DO NOT leave original documents but show them the originals. NEVER leave your Passport with ‘Nit the Scooter Man’
DURING THE HIRE – You are required by Thai Law to carry the hire agreement, your home driving licence and your IDP/L original documents whilst on the road. You are required to produce them on the spot at the many Police or Military checkpoints on our roads.
RETURNING THE VEHICLE – When you take the Vehicle/Scooter back, the same comprehensive way you took it away, you should not have any issues. Full Tank and no scratches….. (do the same video and photographs on return and again, let the vendor see you taking the pictures and video) Even if the vendor is happy, keep the return images, why ? Because it prevents anyone making a claim on your credit card after you have left regarding damage.
MORE INSURANCE LOOKOUTS
If Farang do not wear a helmet on a scooter, it does not matter if you do hold all the above documents, your insurance company will consider you as reckless. Despite other Farang or local Thai riding around the city streets with no helmet, this should not lead you into irresponsibility. Wear a Helmet if you hire a scooter and wear a seatbelt if you drive (or ride in a car).
TIP – Did you know, if you were not wearing a seatbelt in an taxi and you ended up in hospital, your travel insurance company will reject your medical claim when they read the police report.
BEFORE YOU HIRE (OR TAKE PART IN)
Jet Ski Parasailing, Windsurfing, Elephant, Horse or Camel riding, scuba diving, or ANY activity which may be considered a ‘RISK’ then do ensure you are fully covered with your travel insurance company before proceeding. Alcohol or drugs will also invalidate your insurance and leave you to pay your own medical bills.
Hopefully by now, any potential visitors here will have been educated enough before taking to the streets.
Another one !!
Thailand Rules Ministry Of Transport
If after 90 days you wish to drive in Thailand, following the use of, an International Driving Permit/Licence, you MUST, BY LAW, Undertake the Thai driving Licence procedure.
If you have your home licence and IDP/L & Medical Certificate from a Dr. in Thailand (Translated and Photocopied) it is pretty simple.
THIS ARTICLE was written to further educate people in avoidance of any mistakes. We do sympathise with current families who have a relative in hospital under the facts we have reported, however we hope our article will prevent others.
Applying for an International Drivers Licence USA
In the United States, only two organizations are empowered to issue international driving permits. They are the American Automobile Association (AAA) and the National Automobile Club (NAC).
To apply, you need to fill out the application, pay the current fee, and provide two passport-sized photographs and a copy of your state-issued driver’s license.
The photos do not need to be the same as your passport photograph, but if you are also applying for a passport, it’s convenient to order extra copies to use for visas to other nations or for situations like this. If you go through a major AAA office, they can usually take the photo for you at the time you apply.
In America you do not have to be a member of either the AAA or the NAC to get your IDP issued through them. But read the individual instructions carefully as the application process varies slightly for each organization.
The International Driving Permit can only be issued up to six months before your trip, so it isn’t something you can get far ahead of your departure date. Once you have the permit, it’s good for one year as long as your regular license is still valid for that period. BUT for a maximum of a 90 day entry period in Thailand
AAA Application Instructions
You need to carry your licensing papers and hire agreement with you at all times whilst on the road.
If you intend to stay here for a period longer than 90 days then you must apply for a Thai Driving Licence as all of the above documentation will be invalid after 90 days. The 90 days starts from the day of your arrival, not the day you say you started driving.
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