Every year without fail I am astounded to hear that an Australian has fallen off a moped after colliding with an elephant in Thailand.
Actually, that hasn’t happened to my knowledge but an Australian will be involved in a moped accident overseas twice a week!
This isn’t what astounds me. The fact that some do not have travel insurance, a bike license and/or were not wearing a helmet does!
If you ask for a crash helmet whilst hiring your moped in Thailand you are likely to be greeted with a chuckle followed immediately by a “are you being serious” frown. If you’re lucky, you may get given a cardboard box with eye holes.
Instead of backing out of the hire shop, hiring a tuk tuk for 50 cents or walking to your desired destination, most tourists will shrug, climb on board the rickety wreck with a slightly flat tyre, and speed off. Death or disaster will not greet me today, it is sunny and I am on holiday.
Wait a second though, before speeding off… I must apply sunscreen and put on my baseball cap. I wouldn’t want to get sunburnt.
Most of us have succumbed to the “slip slop slap” ads to prevent skin cancer and we apply sunscreen at home, and overseas. It is strange therefore that the thought of cracking our heads open after a 70km an hour somersault, isn’t a problem.
Anyone who has owned a scooter or motorbike in Australia will have spent hundreds of dollars on safety gear, knowing the dangers of falling off. Oh and they will also be legally required to have passed a learner bike riding course and subsequently obtain their riders license and bike insurance.
Whether you own a bike in Australia or not, we would all stop and stare, slightly perplexed, if we saw someone riding down the highway in a t-shirt, shorts, thongs and… no helmet.
Strangely, when we go overseas a lot of us lose all concept of risk. We are indestructible. Roads are statistically more dangerous in Thailand and Bali yet we are happy to “see what happens”.
So what's covered?
Please don’t get angry with your travel insurance provider when they don’t pay your rather large hospital bill. No travel insurance provider on planet earth is obliged to cover you for such events. If you have not worn a helmet, or do not have a current Australian motorcycle license (or one valid for the country you are travelling in), allowing you to drive the same cc powered bike, then you have a problem!
The same goes if you’re a passenger travelling on a motorcycle/moped/scooter that is in the control of a person who does not hold a current motorcycle licence valid for the country you are travelling.
Eugene Wylde, Insurance Geek Extraordinaire from Comparetravelinsurance.com.au explains:
“Travel insurance policies exist to cover you for unforeseen events, not situations where risk is rife. To quote the insurers themselves…You will not be covered if you do not act in a responsible way to protect yourself and your property to avoid making a claim.”
“If you’re not insured to ride a Harley in Australia, what makes you think you can do so overseas!? Remember to pay attention to the limits when it comes to maximum engine sizes you’re allowed to ride.”
“Some insurers do not require you to have a license if riding a low capacity engine. Others have maximum engine size limits which you’re only insured to drive up to - irrespective of what your license says. And then there are those that cover you for whatever engine size you ride as long as you’re insured to do so in Australia.
The hard facts say it all
According to Smartraveller, motorcycle accidents involving Australians are very common in South-East Asia, particularly in areas such as Bali, resort areas of Thailand and in Vietnam.
“The most common reasons for illness or hospitalisation amongst young people who travel to Bali are injuries due to motorbike accidents and nightclub fights," a DFAT spokesman said.
“There are at least 100 travel insurance claims a year relating to moped and bike accidents overseas. That’s two a week!” According to spokesperson at Comparetravelinsurance.com.au.
“Young adults are particularly vulnerable. Traffic accidents are the leading cause of death among young people between 10 and 24 years. Each year nearly 400,000 people under 25 die on the world’s roads; on average more than 1000 a day. Most of these deaths occur among vulnerable road users (pedestrians, cyclists, motorcyclists) and those using public transport.” According to the Global Status Report on Road Safety: time for action, World Health Organisation.
Protect your wheels
It’s important to realise that most travel insurance policies only provide cover for medical claims when it comes to motorbike accidents. There is no cover for the bike itself or its accessories in any way.
One for the pros
Standard travel insurance policies also do not cover competitive sports. So if you’re heading overseas to compete in a motorcycle race, look elsewhere for specialist cover.
Riding a motorcycle or scooter on holiday can be a thrilling, inexpensive way to travel...until something happens! The cost of a hospital trip overseas can send your budget skyrocketing and your stress levels too. Make sure you ride safe, and have adequate cover before you hit the road.
Safe travels now,
Insurance Geek Extraordinaire