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Family mourn the Korean couple killed in a needless speedboat crash

Death Crashes Raise Insurance Issue

Saturday, November 29, 2014
PHUKET: The families of the two Korean tourists killed in a speedboat crash off Phuket last month are declining compensation and threatening to sue for 10 million baht each, Phuketwan has learned.

The dispute raises serious concerns about levels of insurance in tourism - especially where Phuket's dangerous and highly controversial jet-skis are concerned.

''In the case of the Korean couple, insurance cover of one million baht and a 500,000 baht contribution from the owner of the speedboat is on the table'', an industry source says.

''But both families don't consider that's enough for the loss of two young people.''

Korean envoys have asked authorities to tell the Seastar company owner, Tabtep Thaugsuban, that the families are not prepared to settle for less than 10 million baht each.

''We've added 500,000 baht to insurance of one million baht each,'' company owner Khun Tabtep said, ''and covered all the travel and accommodation costs of the families, as well as the hospital costs of treating all the survivors.

''We are sorry this has happened. We have done our best to respond to the tragedy appropriately.''

The haggle over compensation is a sign that Thailand's view of appropriate sums for deaths and injuries are seriously disconnected from international reality.

This is especially true of Phuket jet-ski insurance, where the wife of a Russian man killed in a jet-ski crash at Patong earlier this month received just 150,00 baht in compensation.

Phuketwan has learned that Phuket's jet-ski operators pay just 274 baht a year for their insurance coverage. The insurance company confirmed the figure.

The astonishingly low level of insurance coverage is the major reason why there are so many disputes and alleged scams involving jet-skis.

Death and injury is too often a part of tourism in Thailand. It will remain so if dangerous, poorly maintained machines are permitted to stay on Phuket's beaches in such vast numbers.

Days after October's double-fatality crash, expat volunteer divers recovered the bodies of An Sun Yong, 28, and Go Min Woo, 31, from the sunken wreck of the day-trip speedboat between Phi Phi and Phuket.

The captain of the speedboat is likely to face a long jail term after hitting an anchor rope or net near a fishing boat and flipping his vessel, laden with tourists, into the sea on October 19.

Tourists from eight countries - China, Korea, Australia, France, Britain, Tunisia, Japan and Thailand - were returning to Phuket from a holiday outing to Phi Phi when the captain stooped to pick up an annoying plastic bag and failed to spot the trawler looming ahead.

The captain, Surat Marot O-sot, was handed over by Phuket authorities to police in the neighboring province of Krabi because the crash occurred in Krabi waters.

Russian Iliya Muryndin, 29, was killed as a result of a jet-ski crash on Phuket's Patong beach on November 4, with a payout of just 150,000 baht to his wife.

Ambassadors from Bangkok and Phuket's honorary consuls have been calling for years for jet-skis to be banned on Phuket because of the high number of scams associated with insurance claims.

Phuketwan understands that when the insurance scheme was introduced, there were three firms involved.

Two have since withdrawn and the third firm is believed to be still involved only because of pressure from the island's administrators.

The insurance covers only 50,000 baht damage so after a jet-ski crash, there's usually a haggle during which the jet-ski operator making a ridiculous initial claim.

The sum can involve as much as two or three times the replacement cost of the damaged machine with a new machine.

Riders caught in these disturbingly threatening situations are usually intimidated as other jet-ski operators gather and surround the tourist or tourists in support of the aggrieved owner.

A contact familiar with many recent scams told Phuketwan: ''There is no doubt in my mind that some jet-ski operators allow their machines to deteriorate and become unsealed and unsafe in the hope that they will be damaged.''

Usually the tourist rider involved in the crash will be made to pay an additional 16,000 baht for ''time out of the water'' - the prospect that the jet-ski could take up to five days to repair.

Often where this extra payment has been made, the ''seriously damaged'' jet-ski has been seen back in the water off Patong the next day.

With partial insurance not solving the problem but actually making it worse, Phuket authorities - who have been constantly misinformed and told there is ''no problem'' with jet-skis - will need to think again.

The best outcome would be to ban jet-skis in a phase-out, as was proposed some years ago and accepted by all involved.

Most overseas nations value the lives of their citizens much more highly than the Patong beach jet-ski operators do.

To allow these dangerous machines to continue operating means that inevitably, there will be more disputes and deaths to bring discredit to tourism and to Thailand.

A good example has been set in the neighboring provinces of Phang Nga and Krabi where jet-skis are wisely banned.

Commercial activities are now entirely banned from west coast beaches at Patong, Kamala, Karon, Kata, Surin and Bang Tao.

In view of the impossibility of achieving appropriate insurance coverage for injury and deaths, it's time jet-skis and parasails quietly disappeared.

Comments

Comments have been disabled for this article.

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Good on the family for standing their ground. Whether their claim will be upheld by a court is another major hurdle. Such a compensation payment may just cause some of these operators to consider the risk against the potential liability rather than just the profit.

Posted by Manowar on November 29, 2014 17:27

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Life is cheap here..... common knowledge!

Phuket is sick and we have very little medicine to cure this island as greed and money is more powerful then common sense.

Posted by Mr. K on November 29, 2014 18:01

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274 baht !! Crikey - that must be a quality insurance product......
It must cost the insurance company more than that to issue the documents - no wonder the payouts are so low.

Posted by Amazing Thailand on November 29, 2014 18:56

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When we holiday in Phuket, we never ride scooters or jet skis. Stay away from them and you will never have a problem.

Posted by Aus Family on November 29, 2014 19:18

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This is a complex debate - on one side we are in Thailand and people should do their research and if they want Korean/European/US/Australian levels of Policing for drink driving, corruption etc they should stay in those countries - on the other hand the accident happened in Thai waters so it is under Thai law where the cost of living is much lower and therefore payments are much lower. The cost of living in Thailand cannot be based on tourist prices in Phuket. Personally I would not accept ANY money. No amount of money brings back the person but safety in Thailand is lower than developed countries, look at the road deaths, general life expectancy etc.

Posted by Feisty Farang on November 29, 2014 20:02

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Gee, I wonder who got to select the new zones at Patong. The jet skis and parachutes are operating in exactly the same places as before and those places are the prime central areas of the beach. One jet ski/parachute zone is where Bangla Rd comes down to the beach and the other is at the north end of Loma park. Both areas are in the same chaos as before with engines roaring and bodies hurtling. Doesn't the dingbat mayor know that zoning is to separate incompatible activities, not mix them? In a non-corrupt arrangement a swimming, strolling, exercising, sunbathing zone would be centered on Bangla and go north to the soccer field and south to the Food Loft. Outside of that would be for illegal activities. There's is more than enough room for the criminals to operate. The mayor, the city council and the military should be ashamed of themselves for agreeing to this zoning. What is the point of it? It actually made things worse.

Posted by Day on November 29, 2014 20:38

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Well done PhuketWan. A great story. 274THB... a real eye-opener! At such ridiculously low prices it's no wonder the whole system has become a total failure.

Jetskis = death. Avoidable death. It is that simple. The only thing worth discussing is how to remove them. "If" was 20th century-thinking. Phuket deserves better from its government authorities.

Posted by Duncan on November 29, 2014 20:45

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@aus family... jet ski already hit also people swimming.. and long tail boat killed already people swimming.. and stupidy even hit some australian people..

Posted by dave on November 29, 2014 21:20

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No phase out, just enforce the old rule they had more then 7 years already.

Posted by FS on November 29, 2014 22:06

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Insurance companies tend to only insure against possibilities not for extreme high risk absolute certaintys that have potentional for numerous claims and/or insurance fraud with renown scam merchants at a premium of 274 baht I earlier predicted in another post the insurance companies wouldnt touch em well two ran and the last standing the powers that be seem to have some leverage over them as its such a economic loser no buisness can substain.

Posted by slickmelb on November 29, 2014 23:20

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AUS FAMILY Maybe the 2 Koreans stayed away from jet skis and scooters. Naive statement, problems are everywhere here.

Posted by sateeb on November 30, 2014 01:40

Editor Comment:

People on holiday have an increased belief that nothing bad can possibly happen to them, and that all precautions are being taken.

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Beautiful place... Beautiful people. Just a small element they need to get rid of completely. Obviously theres still rampant corruption otherwise they'd already be gone... we were over 3 weeks ago... They were there just corralled in the bay although Jet Ski owners screaming up and down the beach in the waves and shallows while putting them away right before Loi Krathong festival. Much better without the hassling on the beach. But only a matter of time before more die or get ripped off.

Posted by Mitch on November 30, 2014 02:37

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274 baht per year for 50,000 baht insurance payout, (which is apparently not enough to cover some of these incidents).

So increase the annual premium to a more realistic amount of 2,740 baht and provide 500,000 baht coverage.

2,740 baht is probably a fraction of what 1 jetski machine earns its owner per day.

Posted by Simon Luttrell on November 30, 2014 08:42

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The whole jetski insurance scheme was a joke from the start - just another publicity stunt with no actual effect.

Posted by Mister Ree on November 30, 2014 09:40

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To drive a jet-ski in Thailand, a driver must have a valid 'Boat Driving License' according to Thai law as all jet-ski must be registered with the harbour department.

Most of jet-skis are private owned and are registered with the Harbour department for private use and can not be used for business use.

To have jet-skis used for rental businesses, jet-skis must be registered as transport craft with the Harbour Department and each jet-ski must have a boat captain in charge and responsible for any accident as it is done for tour boats and speedboats transporting tourists.

To make it safer for tourists, Ministry of Tourism & Sports (Sport Authority of Thailand) and TAT Registration Office may make compulsory to have all jet-ski operators to be obliged to be registered with TAT as it is done with dive operators and boat tour operators. Why not?

By being registered with TAT, all jet-ski operators will have to have the same tourism insurances as the other boat tour operators and will have to have a TAT registered Thai guide to provide good information to tourists about driving safely a jet-ski.

Posted by Whistle-Blower on November 30, 2014 11:46

Editor Comment:

It's odd how the rules that help jet-ski operators to survive are kept (they're in the water not on the beach) but the other laws that would ensure tourists' safety are not enforced.

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Before Phuket loose all the tourists, ban the jet skis and get people who can handle a speedboat properly, not like today, full speed even in rough sea.
All this stories about these acidents spread all over the world, touists cancel their holidays to Phuket and go other places with less crime and deadly acidents.R.I.P. to thee Koreans who died in this acident.

Posted by Mr. R on November 30, 2014 11:48

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I hope this causes an embarrassment for TAT and the provincial administration and causes them to have to explain themselves to the ruling power in Bangkok. The more negative publicity, the better. The more stories in the Asian tourist media, the more likely tourists will learn about the dangerous situation associated with some of the Phuket beaches. Unfortunately, the local mayor and administration don't care about tourist safety, and the educational boost must come from the media.

Posted by Ryan on November 30, 2014 14:40

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No phase out.. It will never be controlled or pursued as no one values the tourist opinions or safety, the industry is designed from the ground up against the tourist wishes.

Only a total ban has any hope of success.

Posted by LivinLOS on November 30, 2014 15:03

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I remember back in the 80's certain officials claiming it would be 'over their dead body' before Phuket would be allowed to become another Pattaya.

They even said no building higher than the coconut trees would be allowed to save Phuket from high rise development.

Let's be perfectly frank, somebody must be getting paid to allow all this jetski nonsense to go on without sanction.

Check the local vault companies to see who has had a bank sized safe delivered and installed.

Posted by Arun Muruga on November 30, 2014 16:36


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