British holidaymaker’s death in Thailand reveals insurance confusion

Daniel Skipper unfortunately did not carry insurance which covered a heart attack and its consequences.

Popular Daniel Skipper, 44, sadly suffered a fatal heart attack just days after arriving in Bangkok for the holiday of a lifetime. His British sister Katie Mercer began a crowdfunding project on the internet to pay for her brother’s repatriation to Lancashire and subsequent “send-off” burial. So far over 4,000 pounds of the required 5,000 pounds has been raised by almost 200 voluntary contributions.

But the untimely death has sparked a huge debate on social media about the necessity for raising the cash. Many bloggers believe that Thailand’s entrance insurance requirement of minimum cover of US$50,000 should have paid for medical costs and the return of the body in a lead-lined coffin. Others maintain that the insurance would surely cover the return of the urn if a cremation was conducted in Thailand.

Barton Silver, who heads up a Liverpool-based insurance agency specializing in foreign travel, said the case revealed many misunderstandings by the public at large. “It is true that Thailand now requires insurance, but the US$50,000 cover can be for Covid-only sickness if the tourist so chooses,” he said. The premium for Covid-only insurance, he added, is typically 100 pounds or 4,300 baht per month, and is much cheaper than comprehensive medical cover.

Mr Silver also explained that so-called travel insurance for vacationers is far from comprehensive. “It is important to look at the policy wording for escape clauses such as “for sole treatment of holiday diseases” or “non-declared illnesses excluded” or even “accidental injuries cover only”. A family member of the deceased confirmed that Mr Skipper took out only Covid-related cover for two months and was thus totally uninsured when he fell ill.

However, there are two categories of entrants to Thailand who require both Covid cover and a policy for 400,000 baht (around 10,000 pounds) for inpatient hospital treatment of other diseases. These are retirees coming to Thailand with a one year O/A visa and the Special Tourist Visa or Snowbird Pass which allows a holiday of up to nine months without leaving the country.

A spokesperson for the Thai General Insurance Association said that international tourists could choose between many Thai and foreign policies and the decision was up to them. He indicated that medical insurance was becoming mandatory worldwide because of the growing phenomenon of visitors being unable to pay for hospital treatment. The British embassy in Bangkok was approached about the issues, but was disinclined to comment.