“Passport please. Return ticket please. Travel insurance card please. Thanks and enjoy your flight.”
You’ve always been asked for the first thing and probably sometimes been asked for the second. Now add travel insurance to your list of to-dos before you head to Ecuador. That country recently passed a law that all visitors to the country must have travel insurance that includes health coverage.
As I write this, the law is supposed to go into effect July 22, 2018. It has already been delayed once though and tour operators are saying they’re not sure what to tell visitors because there are no concrete guidelines to pass on. There’s not much time left for clarification, but the intent is clear, so better safe than sorry if you’re heading to the Galapagos or the jungle sometime soon. [UPDATE – for the moment, this law has been rescinded after an outcry from the tourism industry, though it could be reintroduced at any time.]
Travel Insurance for Antarctica Needed
If you’re flying to Argentina or Chile to board a cruise to Antarctica, you had better be packing a travel insurance card. Your regular health care insurance won’t help you there. You need a robust travel policy that includes medical evacuation–an expensive operation in such a remote area. If you don’t have a policy already that includes this, you won’t be able to go waddle with the penguins.
These two are not isolated examples either. Travelers already have to show proof of travel insurance in three other countries: Cuba, Poland, and the Czech Republic. None of these countries get the tens of millions of visitors as Mexico or France, but don’t be surprised if one of these other tourism behemoths decides to follow the same path. Thailand is considering taking this step as well, saying that visitors without insurance who suffer an accident—and there are plenty of those with all the motorbikes in use—are a cost to the country’s health care system.
Shop around and check coverage and price, but this is a situation where buying from some small company you have never heard of could backfire. In Cuba, for example, your insurance provider needs to be on their official list or it’s like you don’t have a policy at all. They do accept the big ones though, like our advertising partner Allianz. I’ve had an annual travel insurance policy from Allianz for years now and though I’ve fortunately never had to make a claim, the cost is rather minimal compared to what I spend on other types of insurance in my life. Here’s a breakdown of options for a 50-year-old woman from California in mid-2018:
The Cost and Coverage of an Annual Travel Insurance Policy
I know it’s hard to read that tiny print, but click on the graphic and you can get your own quote. Note that the first two options in this annual plan are $125 and $249—annually, not per month. One of those will be enough for most leisure travelers. The last option you would mostly need to cover up to $1,000 of business equipment, or if you’re traveling in remote areas and may need a very expensive medical evacuation, which is covered up to $250,000.
Note that the trip cancellation insurance coverage rises with the different options too though, so if you’re booking a luxury tour costing $10,000 each, you would only get back $2,000 each of that in the middle tier, none of it in the lower tier. (You could purchase trip cancellation insurance in a one-off manner from the tour company or travel agent of course to supplement.) It’s always good to evaluate how the options match up to the kind of traveling you will be doing and how much your luggage is worth. Also, you probably won’t need this for routine medical care anywhere in Latin America because it’s cheap enough to just pay for it out of pocket. It’s when things really go wrong that you’ll want an insurance company with a phone number having your back.
This post is sponsored by our advertising partner Allianz Global Assistance (AGA Service Company) and we have received financial compensation from the company. As always, all opinions are our own.