The Tourist Authority of Thailand (TAT) has now clarified that the mandatory medical insurance worth at least US$100,000 is for Covid-19 related issues only and is not required for general medical or accident cover. This will come as a relief to the advanced-elderly wishing to visit Thailand as Covid-19 insurance is widely available for anyone aged 1-99 years, whereas comprehensive medical insurance is problematical or impossible for those in their late 70s and above.
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TAT explains that the insurance is now available online from the Thai General Insurance Association which incorporates 16 other participating companies. The website explains that the disease must have been caught in Thailand post-registration only and does not cover any other illnesses or pre-existing condition. Thai hospital room and board costs must not exceed “standard room charges” except in the intensive care unit where “medical necessity” is the criterion. Enrolment costs for a full 12 months vary considerably to a maximum of 43,200 baht, but the only factor is the country of origin and not the age of the applicant which is unusual. A person travelling from UK would at present pay 23,040 baht, those from India much more.
The question now arises whether this coronavirus-specific policy is the only one in play for foreign applicants applying to their local Thai embassy for that vital Certificate of Entry. Not necessarily. The new Special Tourist Visa (STV), offering stays of between 90 and 270 days, is only available in countries with a low infection rate. But the website of the Thailand Longstay Company, which first confirmed the STV, still refers on its website to the need to have both the US$100,000 Covid-19 insurance and also a separate second policy to cover other medical problems/emergencies to the tune of 400,000 baht inpatient and 40,000 outpatient treatment. This latter insurance is not available to anyone over 75 years applying for the first time, according to the websites of the participating Thai companies in that scheme.
Or take the example of the 12-months O/A retirement visa issued by virtually all Thai embassies worldwide. Most Thai embassies, including the London-based one, refer solely to the Covid-19 US$100,000 insurance, but the Washington DC website specifies (for this visa) “additionally” another policy for 400,000 and 40,000 baht. In other words, the possibility of needing two insurance policies to cover separately coronavirus infections and other health crises is still afloat. Until the issues are fully sorted, assuming they are, all applicants for the Certificate of Entry should rely only on the appropriate embassy website. There are significant differences internationally.
The lurking second insurance was introduced in 2018 – long before the pandemic arrived – to cover specifically retirees applying for an O/A visa at an embassy and also renewing it at a Thai immigration office. Its current status, in view of the TAT announcement about Covid-19 being the only necessary cover, is in need of clarification. Unless, of course, some websites out there haven’t been updated yet.