One of the cool things about living in Bangkok is that you get to meet such a diverse range of people. Not only Thais and other Asians, but a vast selection of humanity from around the world. It can be fun and enlightening to compare notes with those who share a common background (European ancestry), but have different experiences having been raised outside the U.S. Or at least I think so.
Not surprisingly, the conversation can often turn to money matters and how things such as taxes, prices of goods and services and insurance differ from country to country. Recently I had such a conversation about auto insurance with an acquaintance from Australia. I learned that car insurance in Australia and New South Wales in particular (this gentleman was from Sydney) is only subtly different from car insurance in much of the U.S.
As you might know, car insurance in the U.S. is determined on a state by state basis, with each state having minimum coverage requirements and policy premiums. This can be as little as New Hampshire’s requirement for Personal Responsibility coverage to as high as $50,000 bodily injury requirement in Maine and Alaska. That’s not to say that these are the most expensive states for car insurance, that distinction goes to Detroit, Michigan. In fact, Maine is actually one of the least expensive states for car insurance.
Australia has some similarities with the U.S. in that they require compulsory third party insurance (called Green Slips), which covers the cost of personal injury to other people if you are at fault in an accident (medical bills, for example). Just like in the U.S., the cost of this compulsory auto insurance can vary widely based on a number of factors, and the companies which offer green slip insurance can have varying premiums. So, just like in the U.S. it makes sense to shop around for auto insurance coverage in NSW and Australia.
Also like the U.S., it is possible to pay extra for a third party property coverage that will cover damage to other vehicles, as well as comprehensive insurance that covers damages to other vehicles as well as damages, losses and theft of your own vehicle. And just like the U.S. there are online services that provide a Green Slips Calculator to make your life easier when trying to choose the most cost effective car insurance.
One of the upsides I learned about is the average cost of a green slip in NSW is just $520, which is far below the premiums in most U.S. states for mandatory coverage. In the U.S. you could easily pay 3-5 times that amount. Of course, the U.S. mandatory insurance also provides some property coverage, but it is not even close to the amounts covered for bodily injury, making me a bit skeptical about the prices paid for auto insurance in the U.S.
At the end of the day though it was all just a hypothetical experiment as my new Aussie friend and I both live in Bangkok now. He doesn’t own a car so has no insurance premiums, and my yearly insurance costs are in the neighborhood of $400 – far less than I paid in the U.S.