Defrauding travel insurance is nothing new to Phuket, only a handful of years ago it was Australians capturing the headlines. Michael Laverty’s claims that he suffered a violent assault and robbery, quickly exposed as lies, have nonetheless rattled across UK websites, leaving a trail of vitriol about “dangerous Phuket” and “crowdfunding scammers”
It seems that Mr Laverty underestimated the Phuket Police, who despite their poor reputation here and abroad, did what they do best. No, not the high-tech, CSI-style crime fighting you see on TV – but simply using some good old-fashioned shoe leather.
Bad eggs like Mr Laverty make it worse for the likes of Stacey Liddle, whose leg was crushed in a bike accident in Chalong that was not covered by her travel insurance. Stacey also launched a campaign to raise money for medical bills. Getting coverage for riding a motorbike in Thailand is difficult for a reason – insurance companies have run the numbers and know it’s not a money-making proposition.
Stacey did what tens of thousands of visitors to Phuket do every day. She rented a motorbike from a company that did not require her to show a licence. Rode it on Phuket’s notorious roads, which still lack any decent, cheap, reliable public transport alternative. Then the statistically inevitable happened and fate decreed her number was up.
Like any technology, whether crowdfunding is used for good or bad is up to the people using it.
Crowdfunding will continue to be used as a de facto, post-accident insurance policy – whether with noble or less-than-noble intentions. In the case of Mr Laverty, we hope that a message for aspiring fraudsters has been sent loud and clear. As for Stacey’s case, it appears the crowd came through for her.
But if you’re thinking of riding in Phuket sans licence and insurance, take a leaf out of the insurers’ well-balanced books – and don’t risk it.