Costa Rica Travel Insurance FAQ

Costa Rica is currently one of the most popular travel destinations in the world. Not only is the country rich with adventure opportunities but its diverse natural splendor is spellbinding. There is truly something to be found for any tropical traveler, whether it be fishing the deep blue sea, surfing off white sandy beaches, hiking through parks with volcanoes or cloud forests or getting a glimpse of the local sloths. 

Costa Rica is one of the most progressive countries in Central America. For example, it has won awards and funding for its green initiatives. It has also adopted a libertarian government, long abandoning any necessity for a military presence. Furthermore, Costa Rica offers strong incentives and opportunities for foreigners to become residents and invest in its growth. Lastly, Costa Rica has been more open than most other countries in the world during the pandemic, and is now one of the first countries to drop all mandates or restrictions for travelers, allowing for visitors and residents to live more freely.

It’s no wonder then, that people are coming to Costa Rica in droves, many for the first time. Naturally, it’s important to know what is necessary for travel to Costa Rica with respect to insurance. Getting travel insurance for Costa Rica is an important thing to consider as it protects both your health and your finances. Here are the answers to the most commonly asked questions about travel insurance in Costa Rica.

1. Do I need travel insurance for Costa Rica?

Travelers coming for vacation or to move here often ask: does Costa Rica require travel insurance? Since the pandemic hit Costa Rica in 2020, special Covid-19 travel coverage was indeed required for entry into the country for the duration of any visitor’s trip. This was to ensure that visitors had resources to treat Covid-19 as well as suitable accommodation for recovery if symptoms occurred while in the country. In late 2021, with vaccination numbers growing worldwide, Costa Rica no longer required this coverage for fully vaccinated visitors, only for the partially vaccinated or unvaccinated. 

As of April 1st, 2022, however, Costa Rica no longer has any entry requirements for travelers regardless of vaccination status. So, is travel insurance required for Costa Rica? No, but you may want to have coverage regardless, for the same reason you would when traveling anywhere outside of your home country.

2. Why should I get travel insurance for Costa Rica?

The most important reason to get travel insurance for Costa Rica is for basic medical coverage. Before traveling, it’s a good idea to always find out what your domestic health insurance covers, if anything. When you travel to Costa Rica, there is always a possibility of unexpected injury or illness, especially if you plan to participate in adventurous activities or tour around on the country’s notoriously rough roads! Even a bad sunburn or insect bite could require medical attention. It is wise to have a comprehensive policy in place that provides you the level of medical benefits that you feel comfortable with, at the very least emergency medical and medical evacuation coverage. This may prevent you from facing enormous medical bills out of pocket if something should happen that requires medical treatment and/or transportation. Even though Covid-19 coverage is no longer a requirement it may also still be wise to consider adding, in case of any new variant. If you plan to travel with your pet, some policies will also cover their medical expenses.

3. What are some other reasons to get travel insurance for Costa Rica?

There are many other types of travel insurance benefits that you can add to your coverage when you travel to Costa Rica. For example, a trip delay benefit covers expenses for meals and lodging associated with your flight being significantly delayed due to weather or mechanical issues. Trip interruption coverage is for when something unforeseen happens while you are already in Costa Rica, say if your accommodation gets flooded or you must return home due to a family emergency and miss out on a tour, then you can claim these prepaid expenses. 

Basic trip cancellation coverage reimburses your prepaid travel expenses, like hotel, car rental or tour bookings, should you have to cancel your trip before you leave. This kind of coverage is only for specific reasons, like a medical issue within your family or travel group, a death in the immediate family, severe weather or some kind of natural disaster or a national emergency occurring in Costa Rica. Cancel for Any Reason (CFAR) coverage, though more expensive, will reimburse your non-refundable expenses, up to a certain percentage, if you decide to cancel for any other reason than what basic trip cancellation covers. 

Flight insurance specifically covers any monetary losses incurred around air travel to and from a destination. With recent events, many airlines have had to cancel flights. Although by law they must issue a refund for these, some airlines will offer vouchers or credit. With today’s economic climate, not being reimbursed with cash is not ideal. We have seen extended delays for passengers to have the opportunity to use their travel credits. Buying a refundable flight is an alternative, but the ticket prices on these may be higher than opting for coverage. Should you miss your flight home due to flooding or volcanic activity in Costa Rica you will not be out of pocket either. There is also flight accident insurance which is like a life insurance policy that pays out to a beneficiary should something happen to the passenger while boarding, flying on or leaving an airplane.

Baggage and personal belongings coverage reimburses the cost of repair or replacement for items that are damaged or stolen on your trip. This is helpful if there is a loss of your luggage, or if you get pick-pocketed and are parted with essential items, such as a pair of prescription sunglasses or electronics. Your home or renters insurance will also protect your personal belongings. However, you will need to pay your home policy deductible to make the claim (which is usually high) and your premium will increase so it may cost more overall. If you opt for coverage on your belongings, make sure you ask how your items are evaluated beforehand.

Details of your coverage (as well as exclusions) can vary greatly from policy to policy. Most insurance providers will help you customize your policy depending on what’s important to you.

4. When would I not need travel insurance for Costa Rica?

If you already have basic medical coverage through the use of a specific credit card or through employment or union benefits then you may feel covered enough. If you have no problem with losing any non-refundable, prepaid travel expenses if something comes up to disrupt your trip, then you may choose not to spend extra funds for coverage. If you are booking a quick trip last minute then trip cancellation may not be necessary because the chance of something going sideways is lower. A more extensive journey that needs earlier planning and payments is at higher risk of unexpected interruption.

5. How much is travel insurance to Costa Rica?

When calculating how much Costa Rica travel insurance costs, there are a number of considerations. Things like the age of the traveler, the duration of the trip, the travel party size, the number of additional coverage types or benefits, the amount the traveler wishes to be covered for, the deductible amount and the level of risk involved in the trip all factor into pricing. Before you buy, travel insurance providers will generate a quote based on your information, preferences, comfort level and trip details. You will typically receive a few plan and pricing coverage options to choose from. It is important to disclose any high-risk activities you plan to undertake to your insurance broker when you are asking for a quote, as some policies have exclusions for adventure sports like surfing or zip-lining. If you are a thrill seeker there are specialized plans for high-risk activities, but expect higher rates.

6. When should I buy travel insurance for Costa Rica?

Choosing when to buy travel insurance depends on what type of coverage you would like for your trip. If the protection you want only covers you only once your trip begins (for example, if you simply want medical coverage) you can purchase your policy anytime before you leave your country. If, however, you decide you want a trip cancellation policy it’s better to purchase coverage soon after, if not on the same day as, your initial trip expense like your flight or hotel. That way, if something comes up that requires you to cancel the trip before departure you will be covered. Also, if you wait too long, you may not be eligible for some types of trip cancellation coverage, like Cancel For Any Reason coverage.

7. How to get travel insurance for Costa Rica?

When it comes to deciding where to buy travel insurance for Costa Rica, there are a few  different options. You can buy travel insurance in your home country directly through local insurance brokers. Brokers can be very helpful in explaining your coverage and exclusions as well as giving your claim instructions. You can also purchase coverage online or over the phone from insurance companies all over the world. It is best to get a handful of quotes before buying so you can compare rates and value. There are also insurance comparison companies online that help consumers compare and select the best coverage to purchase.

Some credit card companies automatically offer travel coverage benefits if flights and bookings are paid for using the card. Find out if this is the case with your credit card first and then you can decide if you want to top up your coverage at all. Lastly some unions will include travel insurance benefits for their members. If you belong to a union it is worth contacting their benefits department to see what kind of travel coverage you and your family may already have.

8. Can I make changes to my travel insurance?

It is always best to understand the limitations of changing your policy before you buy one. The ability to make changes depends on the details of your policy. In some cases, once you purchase travel insurance, you can change your coverage or cancel it for a refund if your trip hasn’t started yet, but be sure to read the fine print beforehand. With trip cancellation coverage, you can only cancel within a certain number of days after buying, as this insurance is designed to protect you before you leave. 

Insurance providers are sometimes flexible if you need to make changes once your trip is underway. Most policies can be extended before the end of your trip if you decide to stay longer. If your policy expires and you wish to extend it after that date, you may need to start a new policy. Cancellations after the start of a trip coverage period are possible with some policies, however, there is usually a cancellation fee. If the fee is higher than the refund it’s not worth canceling. 

9. Can I get travel insurance in Costa Rica?

Yes, you have the option of getting travel insurance once you are already in Costa Rica. You can go to the websites of local insurance companies directly or go through a broker to get quotes and purchase a policy, for no additional cost. Note that purchasing insurance in your home country may give you more coverage for less cost. Also, some Costa Rican policies are available only in Spanish, which can be a challenge should you need to file a claim. However, medical facilities in Costa Rica will more easily accept local insurance policies and, in some cases, help prevent the need to pay for medical assistance up front. International insurance will require you to pay and then claim reimbursement.

10. What are common pitfalls when buying travel insurance for Costa Rica?

As straightforward as it sounds to get travel insurance, there are still things to watch out for to ensure you have peace of mind on your trip. To avoid confusion, always read through the fine print of your policy, especially the sections on what is covered specifically and what the exclusions are. 

Bear in mind travel insurance is designed for unexpected occurrences. If something happens that you assume you are covered for and it is not covered, then you may be out the cost of insurance as well as your trip expense. If you sense something may occur to thwart your travels that is not covered (either at home or at your destination), it may be worth investing in a Cancel For Any Reason policy. Don’t delay if you require time-sensitive coverage.

Many pre-existing conditions are also not covered, however some insurance providers allow for the purchase of a waiver. The requirements to receive a waiver are that you are healthy when you buy the policy and that you purchase it immediately to insure the entire cost of the trip.

To prevent stress and frustration, it is always a good idea to carry your policy information with you in your wallet. Most of the time the insurance company provides a small, printable card with your policy number and important phone numbers to use if you need to file a claim. Always understand the requirements and steps of filing a claim beforehand, or have a detailed set of instructions with you as you travel. Submit any claims as soon as possible to help expedite the process. Be proactive and keep track of receipts and expenses so that processing a claim is as easy and straightforward as possible. Lastly, be prepared to cover the costs up front as you will most likely be reimbursed after the fact.

Now that you know the basics of insurance coverage for Costa Rica it’s time to get back to planning your trip. Bon voyage!