During the Covid-19 pandemic, many countries are requiring tourists to purchase travel insurance prior to visiting, and Costa Rica is no exception. Even as a seasoned traveler, it may not have been your habit to acquire travel health insurance. But in the new reality of pandemics, it is something to be considered even if not required.
The government of Costa Rica is currently requiring tourists to purchase health insurance covering the exact number of days you plan to be in Costa Rica. The insurance must cover medical and accommodation (lodging and food) expenses for 14 days of quarantine should your stay need to be extended due to exposure to the virus. The coverage amount required is $20,000 USD in Covid-19 medical coverage if you use a Costa Rican insurance company. Currently, there are two companies approved to sell Covid insurance: INS (the government insurer) and Segicor (a private company). Policies can be purchased on their websites. Segicor’s rate is a flat daily rate, which usually makes it less expensive for shorter trips than INS. The INS rate is variable taking into account your age and length of stay. INS is reportedly less expensive for longer stays.
If you use an international company, the minimum amount is $50,000 USD for health and $2,000 in case of quarantine. Tourists entering Costa Rica have reported using other international insurance providers that have been accepted by the Costa Rican Tourism Institute. To confirm your insurance will be accepted by the Costa Rican government, you will need to complete an Online Epidemiological Form (Health Pass) within 48 hours of your flight (NO earlier). You will be asked for personal information like your name, age, nationality, passport number, flight details, and accommodation arrangements in Costa Rica. You will then upload your insurance policy so that the Tourism Institute can verify it in advance of your arrival. If approved, a QR code is generated, which you will show on your mobile phone to immigration officials in the airport upon arrival.
One day (we hope) Covid-19 will be a thing of the past, and we will all be able to travel freely again without the fear of being attacked by a lethal virus while innocently sitting in an airport waiting room. But, you may ask yourself: is travel health insurance a good idea even in “normal” times? There is no better way to ruin a relaxing vacation than with a freak accident or sudden illness.
It may be that the local insurance company where you live will cover health care costs on foreign soil. To find out, you should call the customer service department of your health insurance company to verify whether their medical coverage extends to regions outside the U.S. Some insurers cover emergency situations. Some coverage may have limits on the amount of time you are covered so triple check. Medicare and Medicaid do not cover foreign health care costs. With regard to Canada’s healthcare coverage, the government website clearly states that it does not pay for hospital and medical bills incurred while abroad nor does it cover the expense of medical evacuations.
Some insurance companies allow you to add foreign coverage to your existing policy at an additional cost. Be aware that there are a lot of options offered by insurance companies – read the fine print. Other factors that may affect the cost are the country or countries you plan to visit, length of stay, and the total cost of the trip. An excellent tool to simplify the process of comparing and choosing an insurer is the website TravelInsurance.com. Simply submit your trip information and you will receive multiple quotes from the best insurance companies, customized to fit your specific needs.
Should you have the misfortune of finding yourself visiting an emergency room during your visit to Costa Rica, be assured that the health care system here is one of the most advanced in Latin America. Public and private medical attention is readily available throughout the country, and that is no exception in the Playas del Coco area. Recently, Costa Rica’s Ministry of Health affirmed that no patient will be refused medical care because of their nationality or undocumented legal status.
Travel health insurance covers emergency medical treatment may be just the thing to relieve that last little bit of nagging worry prior to your trip, allowing you relax completely during your visit to the tropical paradise that is Costa Rica.
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