PHUKET: If you read my articles regularly, you have probably noticed I don’t spend much time writing about health insurance. It is not the most exciting topic, and for many of Phuket’s aging expat population getting covered at all is not really an option once they reach a certain age. Also, the cost of local international hospitals used to be extremely inexpensive, but prices have risen rapidly in recent years.
To put things in perspective, when my children were born we paid cash out of pocket with no insurance at all. This was at international hospitals here that are far more luxurious than any hospital back in the ‘States. My brother was working as a high-end corporate lawyer in the US with top notch insurance, and his deductible alone when his children were born was more than my entire bill in Thailand.
Sadly, the days of cheap international-standard hospitals in Phuket are gone, and the reports of hospital bills I get from many expats on the island are now scary enough to warrant serious consideration of insurance. I recently found out there is one insurer here that will write policies for expats as old as 70, which was a big surprise to say the least. Many simply assume it will be impossible to get insured as you approach this age, but FWD will in fact do it.
When a friend of mine, whose Thai girlfriend is an agent for this company, told me about them, I had to admit that I had never heard of them. The reason is simple. It’s just the new name for the insurance arm of the Dutch bank ING. They have sold the business in Thailand and it has now been re-branded as FWD.
They offer a wide range of policy types to both foreigners and Thais, and are very price competitive. You can even get added personal accident insurance to cover you in the event that, like me, you enjoy dangerous sports like surfing or sky-diving. Depending on your status in the country, you can even qualify to get higher levels of coverage. If you have a work permit, for example, this increases the types of additional coverage limits you may be allowed.
The truth of life is that we do get sick and we do have accidents. We never know when these events will happen to us and a solid financial plan should include covering yourself for all eventualities. Yet many expats go without insurance coverage because they simply believe they are too old. This doesn’t need to be the case and, with hospital costs in Phuket increasing rapidly, it makes sense to do some homework and get covered.
David Mayes MBA resides in Phuket and provides wealth management services to expatriates around the globe, focusing on UK pension transfers. He can be reached at [email protected] or 085-335-8573. Faramond UK is regulated by the FCA and provides advice on pensions and taxation.
— David Mayes