If travelling to Thailand your policy may not protect you

Due to continuing unrest in Thailand, the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office has amended its warning to UK travelers, “There is a high threat from terrorism throughout Thailand. Attacks could be indiscriminate, including in places frequented by expatriates and foreign travellers. You should exercise caution at all times. We advise against all but essential travel to the whole of Thailand.” Travelling for non-emergency medical or cosmetic treatment is not regarded as essential travel.

On any type of travel insurance there are limitations:

  • There may be restrictions such as excluding anyone travelling to or staying in a country where the Foreign & Commonwealth Office has a warning telling UK nationals not to travel at all or not to travel unless essential
  • There may be a terrorism exclusion and as terrorism has no internationally agreed definition, what is or what is terrorism is a matter of debate. Politics gets in the way here, as one government’s “terrorist” may be a rival political party’s “civilian expressing their right to demonstrate against injustice”

This is an emotive area for which there is no easy answer. Often, it all depends on the generosity of the insurer.

An extract from a medical travel insurance underwritten at Lloyd’s:

“The policy excludes all claims arising from civil war, riot, rebellion, insurrection, revolution, overthrow of the legally constituted government, civil commotion assuming the proportions of, or amounting to, an uprising.” This exclusion is wider than many standard terrorism ones.

On all types of travel insurance, claims could be turned down even if none of the above exclusions are on. Insurance law is quite complex but a rough translation is that if a customer deliberately does something to put himself or herself at risk, then this can void the policy. If someone is caught up in an incident such as those in Thailand when already there, that is not something that can be foreseen. But if the person’s government has warned against travel to a country, and the traveller still decides to travel, insurers are entitled to argue that the traveler deliberately put themselves at risk, this breaks the underlying contract law, and all cover under the policy can be void.

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If travelling to Thailand your policy may not protect you
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