For the longest time I avoided purchasing a motorbike. I lived in Southeast Asia for nearly four years before I gave in and bought one. It made getting around the city much easier, and cheaper. I didn't have to pay for taxis or tuk-tuks. I didn't have to walk. I could just hop on my motorcycle and travel from point A to B with ease.
But then, a week and a half ago I was driving down a dark street. This street was covered with repaired pot holes and man hole covers in such a way that there were constant bumps. And then a small black dog darted in front of me and the next thing I remember I'm being lifted off to the side of the road by half a dozen Lao.
They called an ambulance and sent me to the hospital that specialized in accident victims. I had a broken arm and required surgery to repair it. I waited the night before the surgeons arrived to fix me up, a night without sedative. Painful.
The next morning I was taken into surgery and the surgeon inserted five pins and a plate. Worse, the sedative used was about the same level given to Lao people, who mostly are a third my size. So I felt far more than I would have liked.
I go to great lengths in discussing my accident to introduce the concept of insurance. As investors in Vietnam it's important to maintain your insurance. It is also important to note that most, if not all, insurance that applies to expats in this part of the world excludes coverage for riding motorcycles.
This leads me to a piece of advice I heard in Phnom Penh. While as an expat you may be able to drive a car, it is in your favor to employ a driver. While it may not be readily apparent why, there are good reasons for doing so. A driver speaks the language. They can provide an extra buffer between you and any local who might be involved in an accident with your vehicle. This is particularly important as most people in Southeast Asia would prefer to settle with a cash payment on the spot rather than waiting for insurance to take action.
It is important to maintain your car insurance, but also your health insurance. There are decent hospitals in Vietnam, but many expats prefer to go to Bangkok or Singapore if they need treatment. If you're in the region for the long term, health insurance is a must.
I was the only white person in the hospital. And while I may have taken a risk in staying in Lao for treatment, rather than going to Thailand, I felt that I would be in good hands. I felt this because a public hospital in Laos has far more experience with broken bones and accidents than a private hospital in Thailand. The same is true in Vietnam. While it may seem better to go to Thailand to a private hospital, there are something that are treated better at local hospitals.
That does not excuse a lack of insurance, however, and that's all I'm going to say on that, as my arm is about done and is screaming for me to stop typing.