Australian office urges tourists to get insurance

By Joseph Yeh, The China Post

TAIPEI, Taiwan — The Australian representative office in Taiwan recently urged all Taiwanese visitors to Australia to purchase insurance before traveling in response to the rising number of R.O.C. nationals visiting the country, many of them on the working holiday program. ��The Australian government strongly advises all travelers to and from Australia, including working holidaymakers, to take out adequate travel insurance to cover health care and other emergencies,�� the Australian Office in Taipei said in a statement sent to the Chinese-language Apple Daily earlier this month. The advice was given ��because we see insurance as important,�� the office said. Also, this advice is featured in the office’s ��online material on the working holiday scheme for Taiwan young people and in the Australian government’s messages to Australian travelers,�� it said. Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) has repeatedly urged Taiwanese youths to take out proper medical insurance when visiting Australia because medical expenses for foreigners in the country are extremely high.

Australia is the No. 1 designation for local working holiday program takers with more than 30,000 nationals visiting the country under the scheme annually. A rising number of Taiwanese in Australia also means more nationals could face medical emergencies in the country. According to a MOFA statistic, a total of 10 Taiwanese nationals died in Australia between January and November of 2013. Four of them were killed in car accidents, three died from drowning, two people committed suicide and one died of unknown causes, the ministry said. An incident occurred last month where a 25-year-old Taiwanese national had to pay NT$1.7 million in medical fees after he suffered serious injuries in a car accident and his employer had not provided him with insurance, as required by local laws. Different Driving Conditions

Asked to comment, the Australian Office in Taipei told the Apple Daily that it is aware of the Taiwan government’s concern over motor vehicle and other accidents affecting Taiwanese working holidaymakers.

��We share that concern and so have worked with MOFA to improve the information that the Taiwan government provides to Taiwanese travelers about how to be a ‘smart traveler.’��

However, the office said it sees no evidence to suggest that the rate of accident, death or injury to Taiwan working holidaymakers is greater than for young people in Taiwan overall.

��Statistics seem to indicate that the overall incidence of road deaths remains higher in Taiwan than in Australia,�� it noted.

��Even so, travelers to Australia should be aware that driving conditions differ, and should take special care,�� it added.