Nothing is more exciting than a trip to Costa Rica unless, of course, it’s an extended stay in Costa Rica. But what if that exciting journey turns into an exciting emergency? Will you be prepared for an unexpected illness or an unforeseen accident? Or suppose that a crisis back home forces you to cut your trip short and catch the next flight back. Do you need travel insurance for Costa Rica just in case?
Let’s consider health emergencies first. The good news is that Costa Rica’s health care system is one of the most advanced in Latin America. Public and private medical attention is readily available throughout the country, and that is especially true in the well-developed Tamarindo region. Recently, Costa Rica’s Ministry of Health reiterated that no patient will be refused medical care because of their nationality or undocumented legal status. So the question that remains is: What is required to use Costa Rica’s clinics and hospitals? Will your present health insurance provide coverage in Costa Rica, or do you need travel insurance for a medical emergency?
Forbes Magazine (June 7, 2017) recommends that U.S. residents call the customer service department of their health insurance company to verify whether their medical coverage extends outside the U.S. Some insurers cover foreign medical care but only if the condition is considered an emergency. Coverage may be in effect for a limited period, that is, long enough for a vacation but insufficient for an extended stay. Others, such as Medicare, usually do not cover foreign health care. Another possibility is to add foreign coverage to your existing policy at an additional cost. With so many variables, it’s wise for Americans, Europeans, and other nationalities to check with their insurer regarding the specific coverage of their policy. On the other hand, the Canadian government leaves no doubt about foreign medical coverage. Its 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.
If you decide to purchase travel health insurance for a trip to Costa Rica, what are the options? As previously mentioned, some insurers allow you to add foreign coverage to your current policy at an additional cost. GeoBlue, a policy extension offered by insurer Blue Cross and Blue Shield, is an example. Or you can buy a travel-specific policy from a reputable provider. Money Magazine (July 2, 2020) gives high ratings to Generali Global Assistance, Travelex Insurance Services, RoamRight Travel Insurance, World Nomads, and Allianz Travel. Be aware that each insurer has a variety of plans with upgrades and add-ons available. Other factors affecting the cost are the country or countries you plan to visit, the length of stay, and the total cost of the trip. Some insurers do not cover illness or travel disruption caused by COVID-19 (be sure to read our blog post about how COVID-19 has affected the real estate market in Costa Rica).
Travelinsurance.com simplifies the process of comparing and choosing an insurer. By submitting your trip information once, you can obtain multiple quotes from the best insurance companies, and the policies are even customized to fit your specific needs. What if a change of circumstances requires you to alter your travel plans--returning home prematurely, staying longer than expected, or canceling your trip altogether? Or suppose the clothing or sports equipment you planned to use on your vacation doesn’t arrive at your destination at the same time you do? What recourse do you have to recover your expenses? Airlines allow trip cancellation or modification for a few specific reasons such as serious illness or injury, death of a family member, or a natural disaster. And they may compensate you for delayed or lost luggage. Be sure to read the terms of your ticket. If you paid for your travel arrangements with a credit card, the credit card issuer may reimburse some of your expenses. Travel insurance can cover those eventualities even if the airline or credit card company doesn’t. Other costs covered by travel insurance include additional hotel and food expenses as a result of a delayed or canceled flight, lost or stolen luggage, rental car damage, the bankruptcy of the travel company, labor strikes, and terrorist attacks. These coverages can be included with your travel health insurance policy or purchased separately if you already have foreign health coverage. A trip to Costa Rica or a lengthy stay there can be both exciting and relaxing. Nevertheless, unexpected events can alter that feeling completely. Trip insurance that covers emergency medical treatment and disrupted travel plans can ensure that your experience in Costa Rica is all that you envisioned.