Travel Tips : Renting a motorbike
The problem? Insurance or actually the lack of it. I call it "The chosen business model of rental companies". I found out that all of the 4 rental companies I checked in Chiang Mai city centre none of them has a full insurance for their motorbikes. That means the rental company takes the benefit of the rental fee, but does not take the risks of damage to the motorbike. That risk is fully on YOU the renter.
In Thailand by law every scooter or motorbike needs to have a registration book, license plate, up-to-date tax sticker and valid compulsory insurance. But that compulsory insurance costs for scooter only about 300 Thai baht per year and for big motorbikes about 600 Thai baht per year. So you can imagine that there is not much use in having an insurance like that when you are renting a brand new scooter of 70.000 Thai baht or a brand new motorbike of 250.000 Thai baht. And then not even to speak about damage to other vehicles or to yourself or other people (injury or death).
To be short the compulsory insurance is almost worthless. Many rental companies say that they cannot have a full insurance. That is not true, it just costs money. And because it is a rental bike it costs more money. So the rental company skips this costs by putting the risks on the people renting the bikes. With car-rental companies, most times you have the option of "Extra insurance" (nihil own-risk). But I have never seen a motorbike rental company in Thailand offering this option.
As of this YOU the renter are taking the full responsibility for all costs involving damage, theft or accidents. I think that is a big risk. I would rather pay 100 - 300 Thai baht more per pay and have no risk at all. So always ask about the insurance and ask to see the insurance papers.