Does my medical insurance cover me while I’m riding my scooter in Vietnam?
Written by Adon Beddoes on November 01, 2017.
After navigating my way through the pitfalls of buying a scooter, I am thrilled with my new purchase. Not only is it a more fuel efficient way to travel but it also saves me a heap of money on pesky repairs. I have even plucked up the courage to tackle Vietnam’s notorious roads!
My first trip was down to Vung Tao. I’ll admit that this was an incredibly scary drive and as I whizzed along, at times fearing for my life, a few things crossed my mind. How does having a scooter as my main mode of transport affect my medical insurance policy if I were to have an accident? Am I still covered when riding my scooter on the treacherous roads of Vietnam?
There are several key reasons that insurance is essential for scooter riders in Vietnam – and indeed, all riders of two-wheeled vehicles! In many countries in Southeast Asia, the rules of the road are more likely to be viewed as ‘guidelines’ or ‘suggestions’ rather than actual law. That means that accidents do happen. Quite a lot. In fact, Vietnamese roads are ranked among the worst in the world for motorcyclists and in 2015, 30 times more people died in road traffic deaths in the country than from pandemic diseases.
If you were to be injured in a scooter or motorbike accident costs can add up remarkably fast. You may have to pay more than simple emergency medical expenses for hospital treatment or in a local medical centre. Imagine the expense involved if you need evacuation from the site of the crash for urgent medical treatment – possibly by helicopter - or worse, if you’re so seriously ill or injured that you are unable to continue your stay in Vietnam and have to be repatriated. Without medical insurance you may be asked to pay upfront before receiving treatment whereas major insurers will have deals in place with hospitals to ensure no hold ups and speedier access to treatment.
A medical insurance policy should cover you in the event of an accident while you are riding a motorbike or a scooter in Vietnam but I would strongly advise you to double check this by asking your insurance provider to provide written confirmation. Keep this on your person at all times along with your other important documents, including your blue card, your driver’s licence and your liability insurance certificate.
There are also some important precautions that you need to take to ensure that you don’t inadvertently invalidate your policy:
1. Ensure you have the legal right to drive.
Whether you are renting your scooter or you have purchased it outright, to ride it legally here you need a valid Vietnamese license, even if you have an international driver’s licence. Many expats simply forget that their Vietnamese license expires after a certain period, and continue to use them illegally. This is a surefire way to get your insurance claim denied should you get into an accident.
2. Make sure you have a licence for the correct class of vehicle.
Be sure to check any clauses regarding the class of vehicle you are licensed to drive. For example, you may be restricted to a two-wheeler that is no more than 175cc which will exclude certain scooters or motorbikes.
3. Obey the local road rules.
This is often easier said than done in Vietnam when other road users simply don’t bother. You must be at least 18 to drive a motor vehicle in Vietnam, including motorcycles with a capacity of over 50cc. Be careful to stick to national speed limits: 30–40 km/h in cities, and 40–60 km/h on rural roads.
4. Make sure you have third party liability insurance as a minimum.
This is a legal requirement to drive on Vietnamese roads. It is highly recommended to get insurance from your home country if the provider covers Vietnam as well. This may be a bit more expensive than local Vietnamese auto insurance, but it will be more certain to cover you for all accidents you may be involved in. Stories abound of expats involved in accidents which weren’t their fault but still having to pay hefty fines. This is one reason why having full comprehensive insurance from an international broker is often helpful.
5. Always, always wear a helmet.
Although many people don’t bother this is a legal requirement and could save your life.
A failure to meet any of the above criteria could be grounds for an insurer to reject a claim so it really isn’t worth taking the risk.
If you ride a scooter or motorbike in Vietnam and are concerned that you don’t have a policy which covers you for medical costs related to accidents, I’d be happy to help. I work with all the major insurance providers and can find comprehensive cover at a competitive price. Get in touch with me by giving me a call on +84 901 611 346 or e-mailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org.