Australians are dying in Thailand

Travel insurance

Thailand is officially the most dangerous holiday destination for Australian travellers, with 203 Aussie holidaymakers having died there in 2017. This is according to the latest Consular State of Play report released by Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT); Thailand was also found to be the highest scoring destination for consular cases (893), hospitalisations (195) and missing persons cases (74) during the financial year 2016/17.

The Philippines was the next most dangerous country, according to the report, with 126 deaths in 2017 (a rise of two per cent compared with the previous year), followed by Indonesia (107 deaths, a two-per-cent rise), the US (99 deaths, a 25-per-cent rise) and Vietnam (87 deaths, a 13-per-cent rise).

“Sorting out comprehensive travel insurance should be one of the first tasks on a traveller’s pre-departure checklist,” advised the DFAT. But while figures it cited from the recent Survey of Australian Travel Insurance Behaviour suggest that take-up rates of travel insurance among Aussie holidaymakers is high at over 90 per cent, there remain ‘significant misunderstandings’ related to coverage. Eighty-seven per cent of travellers were not certain of which countries were covered by their policies, eighty-seven per cent were unsure if they would be covered if they rode a motorcycle overseas, 82 per cent were uncertain about the specifics of mental illness coverage, while 70 per cent were uncertain about claims related to alcohol or drug use.

“Although we are proud of the level of assistance we can offer,” said the DFAT, “there is no legal right to consular assistance and no-one should assume that assistance will be provided.” It urged travellers to ensure they fully cover all destinations, activities, pre-existing medical conditions and current medical treatments, and advised that ‘travellers without insurance, or with insurance that does not cover them for their activities or pre-existing conditions, could pay potentially very expensive costs for emergency treatment and medical evacuation’. “We cannot pay for a traveller’s medical or psychiatric services or medications,” it warned.