Updated July 14, 2021
At Camino Travel, we have always encouraged our passengers to get travel insurance before traveling to Costa Rica. Now that COVID-19 is a reality, travel insurance is not just a recommendation, but a necessity. Find here five powerful reasons why travel insurance is so crucial, now and in the future.
1. Unvaccinated Tourists to Costa Rica Must Have COVID-19 Travel Insurance
Tourists who are not fully vaccinated are required to purchase travel insurance for their trip to Costa Rica. However, the requirement does not include just any travel insurance, but one that specifically covers COVID-19. This coverage must specifically cover COVID-19 related medical expenses and lodging expenses for a 14-day COVID-19 quarantine.
Note that standard travel insurance usually specifically do not cover COVID-19 related expenses. Travelers can either purchase COVID-19 coverage from one of the approved Costa Rican insurance agencies or from an international insurance company that meets certain COVID-19 requirements, which can be found at the official Essential Costa Rica site.
Obligatory travel insurance definitely seems like a good reason to get some before visiting Costa Rica.
Update: As of August 1, 2021, fully vaccinated travelers will not be required to possess this special travel insurance prior to entry. Full vaccinated means the traveler has received all required doses of an approved vaccine, with the last dose being at least 14 days before entry to Costa Rica.
2. Your Standard Health Insurance Usually Does Not Cover Travel-Related Issues
Travel insurance in its elementary form usually grants:
- Trip cancellation, delay, and interruption
- Lost, damaged, and delayed luggage
- Limited medical evacuation
- Emergency medical transport and services
- Travel accidents
- Rental car damage and theft
Health insurance policies, on the other hand, don’t cover non-medical issues related to your trip, like trip cancellation, flight delay, or lost baggage. Even with regards to medical services, normal health insurance usually offers lower benefits when you use a doctor or services off-network.
Of course, it’s worth it to find out exactly what is covered in your standard health insurance policy, as well as if there are any travel insurance options you can temporarily access. Otherwise, you’ll want a more specific travel insurance.
3. Airlines Are Not Required to Cover Delayed Flights
In the United States, if a flight is delayed for reasons out of the airline’s control, then they are not required to provide you with, or cover, hotel stays or food costs. What’s considered outside the airline’s control? Weather, air traffic setbacks, engineering issues, or anything else like. The most an airline will do is get you to your destination on its next possible flight. Delays are not required to be compensated in any way.
If you’ve purchased travel insurance, then you will likely have travel delay coverage. This delay coverage will usually pay for meals and a hotel room if you are stuck overnight before you can get a flight. Check with your travel insurance policy about the minimum amount of time you must be delayed before you’re covered, as well as about daily limits.
4. Some Travel Insurance Covers Extreme Sports
Did you know that many travel insurance companies consider scuba diving an “extreme sport”? Not everyone scuba dives, so it might not seem like a problem. What about kayaking?
Each travel insurance agency will have their own definition of what a particularly risky activity is. The good news is that, if you choose to cover “extreme sports”, then you’ll have one less worry when choosing your adventure tours in Costa Rica.
Unfortunately, there is some risk to popular tourist activities. Of course trusted tour operators, such as the ones we work with, do everything in their power to ensure safety throughout the activity. Yet, having adequate coverage for any misfortune can do a lot to put your mind at peace.
5. Travel Insurance Often Covers Medical Evacuation
If you have travel insurance, you’ll probably have access to medical transfer to the closest and most appropriate medical facility. This means that, if you fall ill while sightseeing in the lava fields of Arenal Volcano, the travel insurance policy will provide transfer to a hospital in San Carlos or San Jose, depending on your injury. It will probably not get you back to your hospital in your home country. Of course, this coverage is available through travel insurance or medical evacuation companies.
We don’t worry overmuch about this common limitation to medical evacuation, since the health care system in Costa Rica is internationally recognized for its excellence. What if you don’t buy travel insurance? You will never be abandoned medically in Costa Rica. The Red Cross, as well as private ambulance companies, offer medical transfers locally at a moderate cost.
6. Cover Trip Cancellations with Travel Insurance
As much as you hate it, sometimes we have to cancel our trips, or part of our trips. Travel insurance with trip cancelation coverage makes this decision less painful. It will reimburse you for prepaid, nonrefundable trip costs. There are some limitations to this coverage, specifically related to the reason the trip is cancelled. Reasons can include a family member dying, if you become sick, or if a tour operator goes out of business. Partial trip cancellation can occur if someone in your party becomes sick or gets injured. In this case, the rest of the trip could be reimbursed.
That’s a lot better than losing, not only everything you were looking forward to, but the money you paid for it as well.