Officials look to Phuket insurance program as model to resolve Pattaya jet ski scams

Friday, 28 September 2012 From Issue Vol. XX No. 39 By  Phasakorn Channgam

Pattaya officials plan to require jet ski operators to carry insurance that, they hope, will end the extortion scams that have ravaged the city’s image.

At a Sept. 17 meeting of the emergency committee formed to resolve the long-running issue, Chonburi Gov. Khomsan Ekachai said Thaisri Insurance plc has been signed to provide insurance cover for the 452 jet skis operating in Pattaya, Jomtien Beach and Koh Larn.

Combined with other regulatory changes, Khomsan said, tourists no longer would be victimized and forced to pay tens of thousands of baht in compensation for alleged damage to the watercraft.

Mayor Itthiphol Kunplome inspects a jet ski and talks with the vendors on Pattaya Beach. Mayor Itthiphol Kunplome inspects a jet ski and talks with the vendors on Pattaya Beach.

The governor told the more than 100 jet ski operators in attendance that their premiums would cost less than operators pay in Phuket, which local officials looked to as a model solution. However, Phuket’s local police commander recently called the island’s compulsory insurance program a failure and foreign embassies are complaining tourists are still being ripped off.

Phuripat Theerakulpisut, chief of Phuket’s Marine Office 5, insisted to foreign embassy counsels Sept. 17 that tourists need not pay any money to jet ski operators even if they are involved in accidents. The diplomats disagreed, however, saying rogue jet ski vendors still are charging victims up to 16,000 baht for alleged damage, with some even making customers sign rental contracts promising to pay 3,000 baht a day for each day a boat is out of the water.

In July, Phuket Police Deputy Commander Colonel Pirayut Karajedi told the media the compulsory insurance program was an outright “failure.”

Pattaya’s program would not only be less expensive for vendors, but cover far less for tourists. Unlike Phuket’s program, which covers full damage and personal injury, the deal Chonburi officials inked with Thaisri offers maximum payouts of just 2,000 baht. By comparison, scamming jet ski vendors have been trying to extort as much as 150,000 baht out of victims.

Khomsan said the Thaisri deal was the best the province could get because none of the other insurance companies approached would cover jet skis.

Under Thaisri’s policies, jet skis would only be insurable if they are less than three years old. Victims of accidents would not be covered at all for injury or death and jet ski owners would only be compensated up to 2,000 baht. Premiums - which were not specified - would be paid annually.

Other regulatory changes are also planned, the governor said. The city will freeze the number of jet skis allowed to operate on area beaches at the current level of 452. By comparison, only 278 jet skis are allowed to operate on the entire island of Phuket.

The boats would be rented only in designated areas on Pattaya, Jomtien and Koh Larn beaches and a representative of the jet ski association would have to be present to keep order. While not mentioned in the latest meeting, officials said previously that a city representative would run each rental station.

The governor said final details on the insurance plan still must be resolved, but he expects to present the complete imitative to the committee before Oct. 15.

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4 comments

  • Comment Link Thursday, 04 October 2012 21:57 posted by DONALEMAN

    Lets see, Phuket said plan a "failure" so the Mayor, etal, approve a similar but less forgiving program and "hope" it will stop operators scamming ? The only reason, I can determine that the jet ski operators can " thumb their noses " at the Mayor, Police Chief and Chonburi authorities is that some top ranking official is "protecting" them.

  • Comment Link Wednesday, 03 October 2012 12:37 posted by Duane

    Keith your are not a "tourist" and we all know the biggest percentage of real tourists come to Thailand once or twice in their lives. Making these vendors have insurance to operate is a requirement in any sensible country and there are many good examples of where this works.. It protects the tourist completely and will clean up the acts of the vendors..

  • Comment Link Monday, 01 October 2012 10:02 posted by Brutus

    Ive alwaays said Thais are their own worst enemy. They just do not get it. One person gets scammed he tells a friend pretty soon nobody comes to Thailand to spend a whole lot of money. Their two teir pricing is a super example. its condoned by the Thai Govt. And turns visitors away. its not the money its the discrimination of white skin, I/E skin tax. Wake up Thailand. Your loosing money not earning visitors trust.......;o/

  • Comment Link Friday, 28 September 2012 17:03 posted by Keith

    The answer to this problem is simple, if tourists like myself do not hire jet skis these people will soon go out of business and then they might wonder where the next meal is comming from!

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