Insurance in ThailandInsurance in Thailand
Siam Firm Inter Laws was established by Khun Somsak Chopaka an Attorney at Law with 30 years of working experience in domestic and international law, for individuals both foreign and local, domestic entities and in-house legal counsel for numerous established international companies. Khun Somsak will be giving legal advice about the ever changing situation in regards to Thai Law and keeping readers up to date with the constant changing business and social environment here in Thailand.
As a foreigner in Thailand you can easily apply for and gain life insurance, but you are required to have a work permit or barring that a long term visa of some sort such as a Non immigration O which is the visa for marriage, retirement or family members. There is a myriad of choices and policies to choose from which can be daunting especially with the different information and language barriers encountered. There are two types of insurance here in Thailand; life insurance and non-life insurance which include possessions, cars and property.
When you take out insurance on say a property, if it were to be damaged or destroyed then the insurance company will compensate you for the amount of the property or damage. One factor that should be considered is to only take out insurance equal to the value of the property being insured. This is because if you take out an insurance policy of five million baht on your house but the real value is only one million you will only be compensated up to one million baht while paying the extra premium of the five million. The chance of losing large property such as a house is slim, there has to be a catastrophic event such as fire, an earthquake or large storm.
Usually only a part of the property will be damaged such as the roof and as such it is not uncommon for people to take out insurance to the amount where large repairs may be compensated, but not insure for the entire property. With regards to road accidents the Thai system does not use the words right or wrong, but rather the wrong party is considered to have committed the act by negligent means. If you are involved in a traffic accident and are the victim then you have the opportunity to sue the negligent party for one year. Damages incurred on the car, medical expenses, work compensation and any concerned expense such as the rental fees of a replacement car can all be requested.
Please also not that if no party is found to be negligent and the police become involved then normally they will deem one party negligent. But if they cannot determine the wrongful party they will consider both parties to be negligent and drag both parties to court by submitting a criminal case between the two parties to settle the dispute. Usually the insurance company in this situation will compensate the party not at fault first and then wait for reimbursement from the party at fault or their insurance company if they have one.
Lawyer comment: Thai people don’t worry so much about insurance, they are usually adventurous and take a “whatever happens solve it later approach”. This isn’t the same mentality shared by foreigners, especially if they are residing overseas long term. Thai insurance companies do not have the best reputation and are not as effective as they should be. This is because it is always difficult for them to pay compensation, say if a case for compensation of a car cannot be negotiated for less than two hundred thousand baht.
Then they will let you take the case to court and sue them for fulfilling obligations, dragging the case out until the court orders them to pay up, this will of course waste the clients time and money to follow up. Insurance has its uses and it can help you out when it is needed but you have to be wary and think it through on which one is the best for you. If you have your own case or any questions regarding law in Thailand please feel free to write in to us and we will answer any questions or concerns in this column. By Somsak Chopaka of Siam Firm Inter