Thai roads: A death trap for travellers

BANGKOK, 25 February 2019: Travel and news websites are warning travellers planning trips to Thailand to take out adequate travel and accident insurance before visiting the country.

Notorious for its lack of road safety and  highway fatalities estimated as high as 70 a day, the latest calls for travellers to be properly insured followed a Belfast Live news report on the plight of an Irish teacher who lost his leg in a motorcycle accident in South Thailand earlier this month.

Belfast Live, an online news service, said Mike Johnston, 30, was teaching in Chumphon in South Thailand when he was involved in the accident earlier this month and had to have his left leg amputated

His insurance policy had lapsed and family had to pay for his medical care. In a warning to others travelling, the family urged people to ensure they had the right insurance.

Mike’s friends and colleagues in Thailand raised almost £13,000 towards his care.

However a spokesperson for the family said: “Make sure your insurance is in place because it is bad enough having an injury but if you have the added burden of tens thousands of pounds having to be spent on repatriation to the UK it just adds another dimension to the pain and suffering.

“It is something that is in your head every day, you are standing looking at your son, trying to do your best for him but every time they come into the room it’s a thousand pounds and we have not got that kind of money.

“People when you go on holidays, make sure your insurance is in place, make sure your insurance is in place to allow you do things you want to do, read the small print because anybody can go to Benidorm (Spain) and have basic insurance, but if you go further afield and want to do bungee jumping or motorcycling or jet skiing, make sure your insurance covers it.

“If it doesn’t they (insurance company) will very happily walk away from it.”

Most insurance companies will not cover accidents that involving motor cycles.  Shops that hire out motorcycles do not offer insurance.

Without insurance, the family had to raise between UKP12,000 to 13,000 to pay for hospital treatment. Thailand’s Ministry of Tourism and Sports is considering proposals that would make it compulsory for a traveller to be insured when they visit Thailand, with additional insurance for required for those who engage in dangerous activities, which would include hiring motorcycles.


  1. Ongoing problem. Hire shops only concerned to get a passport as that’s better insurance.
    Who cares is someone does not have a licence?
    The safety message is fixated with helmet compliance, when the helmets provided offer little to no protection.
    The Thai Driving and Riding tests do not require any real world training on public roads so many road users react like pedestrians, right of way errors are common.
    But this has been the same for many years.
    Only experienced and insured riders should ride in Thailand. But thats not going to happen when bike hire is cheaper than a taxi.

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