New Zealanders visiting Thailand who are involved in motor accidents or who accidentally damage rented motorbikes or other vehicles will have to pay for damages before they can leave the country. In a number of cases slight damage, including scratches, has resulted in passports being given to the Police, who require the hirer to make reparation before their passports will be returned to them.
Even if insurance is taken out as part of the rental, there is usually an excess amount that has to be paid in the event of an accident.
The New Zealand Embassy will not be able to undertake negotiations on your behalf. You may need to engage a lawyer if the situation becomes serious. The Embassy is able to provide a List of Lawyers.
If you leave your passport with a rental firm, the Embassy will not provide you with a replacement, you will need to resolve the issue in order to recover your passport.
- Passports should never be left with rental companies or individuals – only provide a photocopy.
- Always take out insurance and have adequate funds to cover the cost of any excess to the insurance cover. If you cannot pay the excess, don’t rent a vehicle.
- Be prepared to make a realistic payment for any repairs. Initial assessments may be inflated and may need to be negotiated down.
- Paying between 25-50% of the initial claimed amount is not unrealistic (in the case of minor damage or accident). It is realistic to expect some level of payment will be necessary.
- You will be expected to pay hospital costs for anyone you injure – and possibly loss of income compensation as well.
- DO NOT ride a scooter/motorbike in Thailand if you have never used one before.
- If you do not have the appropriate vehicle licence it is unlikely that you will be covered by your travel/health insurance if you have an accident.
- Always wear a helmet. If you are not wearing one, this could also impact on your insurance cover.
- Be aware that the Police may play an intermediary role if there is any dispute. Their decision is the final word.