Motorbike accidents happen too often in Bali. One girl was hit by a drunk driver. He ran his motorbike into her scooter as she was waiting to make a right into another street. The doctor confirmed later her arm was broken. After so many days in the Singapore hospital, she was finally out with a cast and recovering. There was no doubt she would be covered under her international insurance. She was sober, had her blinker on, and was in her lane. Most importantly, it wasn’t her fault. However, her international scooter insurance denied her coverage. She was now responsible for the ~$36k medical bill.
Why She Wasn’t Covered
She didn’t have an Indonesian license. This is just one of many pitfalls that tourists overlook when they sign up for international insurance, specifically for scooters. One friend didn’t make his claim within the 24-hour window of his accident. What if you’re half dying in a coma? His procedure wasn’t covered as a result. I’ve heard of so many others too getting stiffed with an obscene medical bill all due to unforeseen loopholes.
Now, you may think that these accidents don’t happen enough to concern yourself, but consider this, the Bali police in 2016 quoted, “a total of 486 traffic accidents across the island from January to April this year. In all accidents, 142 people died, 130 people suffered severe injuries, and 590 people suffered minor injuries.”
That equals out to 17 accidents per week. You are at risk. I am at risk too. Love puppies? You’ll see plenty of dogs running the streets which are another cause of accidents. I mentally prepare myself to not swerve if a dog runs in front of me. It’s a daily reminder.
You can’t build a stronger case than this to get insurance when you travel to Bali.
It Never Crossed Her Mind to Get a License
I too didn’t realize I needed a license and I’ve been here since January. We just assume we have scooter insurance and we’re covered! When we travel, we’re consumed with packing, the handling of our pets, squaring our visas away, not to mention once we get there, it’s about acclimating to a new culture.
Our minds are pulled in so many directions. We’re figuring out the necessities and getting our bearings with the area in a foreign language all while not getting pickpocketed or scammed.
We assume getting international insurance is enough, but it isn’t. It is so critical to consider your worst case scenario and to ask the right questions to know what you’re up against.
However, most times, we don’t even know the questions to ask.
The Most Common Scooter Insurance Pitfalls
We think of insurance as an umbrella where we are covered completely. The reality is, it’s an umbrella with holes, a lot of them. When you sign up, you are better off asking how to get disqualified from coverage.
With that said, here are some common (outrageous) details or disqualifiers to ask your insurance. If overlooked, it could bite you in the ass:
- Know the window to make a claim — some require 24 hours, others 48. Mine is 30 days surprisingly. If you don’t do it on time, you’re disqualified.
- Know the motorbike license you need — some require the motorbike license from your home country (before you leave?), or from the country you’re visiting or both.
- Know if the driver of the scooter must have a license — Getting a scooter taxi (Go-Jek) is very common in Bali. Check if your insurance requires that your driver must have a license. If not, is it assumed you are taking the risk on your own?
- Know if you’re covered even with alcohol in your system — In the States, we’re still covered even if we have one glass. Does the same apply here? It doesn’t seem so.
- Know if there is a minimum or maximum amount of CC for your motorbike to be covered — CC in a motorbike is the volume of cylinders. It is not in relation to power. Some insurance will only cover up to 50 cc. I’ve heard the majority of motorbikes in Bali are all over 50 CC. So then, you’re not covered?
- Know if a scooter must be rented from a preferred vendor — almost everyone I know in Bali rents from mom and pop shops. What qualifies as a preferred vendor? Is there a list?
- Know if the motorbike must have proof of recent service — These mom and pop shops won’t have that. Ask what constitutes as proof of service.
Don’t Get Rejected by Hospitals
Here is another fun detail to keep in mind. Hospitals will only take you if you can prove you can pay fully for your visit on the spot. If not, you will be rejected. I’ve had friends bloodied with broken limbs from their scooter wreck and still get denied by three hospitals until they finally weren’t.
Know these third world hospitals don’t have the technology yet to verify your insurance at the front counter. What does this mean? Have a credit card handy with a high limit to charge for such emergencies.
Get those insurance reimbursement forms ready!
Risk Is Everywhere, It’s About Knowing Your Options
This article is not intended to scare you nor make Bali scary. It’s about raising awareness around scooter coverage blind spots. We travel to Bali for a new life, a new experience. Certainly, no one wants new debt that could break the bank and change the course of your life.
These issues are the same everywhere you go. Here is another story from a dear friend that had a failed experience with his insurance. This had more to do with his agency advising against the doctor’s recommendation to not fly with his injury.
They rather have him fly to his home country to receive (free) healthcare. His blog went viral. It’s a funny one. Overnight he had close to 26,000 views. Great read.
We all learned from his accident. In fact, that’s what made me aware of the need to get a local license.
As of last week, I was officially certified as a scooter motorist here in Bali. It’s a small price to pay to avoid some big problems later have some peace of mind.
If you’re interested in getting a local licence here in Bali, @Bali4ride is a popular contact many use. They offer 1yr (~800k) or 5 yr (~1.8k) licences. Prices may vary.
The process was fairly fast. As soon as I sent them key information (ie. passport pic, my Bali address, and job title), we had an appointment at the police station the very next morning at 6am. Once there, thirty minutes later, we were done and I had my card.
If you’re coming to Bali, learn of the transportation options, so that you know what kind of insurance to get and what kind of questions to ask.
If you are in Bali, join us on September 6th at the Fat Mermaid in Canggu for our Love For Lombok fundraising event. We are raising money for Lombok by donating 100% of ticket sales. WhileinBali.com is a proud sponsor.
RSVP before tickets run out! WIB Guest Bloggers and Elisa, founder of WhileinBali.com, will be there to welcome guests and support the cause. Donate by purchasing a ticket!
See you there!