Diving coral reefs or climbing ancient ruins, don't skimp on your travel insurance for Belize
Millions of tourists have gone to Belize to enjoy sights such as some of the oldest and most significant ancient Mayan ruins ever discovered, inspiring natural scenery and wildlife sanctuaries for the unique animals of Central America. Whether you want to step outside your comfort zone with a wild encounter or stay well inside it on a luxurious beach, Belize has wide variety of travel experiences for you. This guide will cover what to look out for in your travel insurance policy for your next trip away and what risks to avoid.
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- Crime: Both petty and violent crime are relatively common in Belize compared to Australia, and travellers are advised to exercise a high degree of caution. In the southern regions in particular there is a higher risk of gang-related violence while petty theft may occur around the tourist areas of San Pedro, Caye Caulker, Placencia and San Ignacio Corozal.
- Avoid travelling alone, especially after dark.
- Use only licensed taxis and don’t let your driver pick up additional passengers.
- Secure your belongings appropriately out of sight and in locked places.
- Avoid travelling with valuables where possible.
- Consider travel insurance to protect your possessions.
- Weather events: Hurricane season in Belize is from June to November. This is when landslides, mudslides, flooding and essential service disruptions are more likely to occur.
- Stay on top of weather reports while travelling as the direction and intensity of hurricanes can change with little warning.
- Waterproof your essential documents, like your passport.
- Familiarise yourself with evacuation plans.
- Look at travel insurance for cancellation and delays to help cover yourself if you need to adjust or cancel travel plans due to bad weather.
- Illness: While in Belize you may be at risk of insect- and mosquito-borne diseases as well as food- and water-borne and other infectious illnesses, including malaria, zika and dengue fever.
- Travellers are advised to consult their doctor for information on which immunisations their travel plans may require.
- You are advised to take prophylaxis against malaria and to protect yourself from mosquito bites with long sleeves, insect repellant and mosquito-proof accommodation.
- Due to the risk of HIV/AIDS, victims of sexual assault are strongly encouraged to seek medical attention as soon as possible.
- You are advised to boil drinking water, drink xbottled water, avoid ice cubes and raw or undercooked foods, or otherwise stick to food and drink you know you can trust.
- HIV/AIDS is a significant risk in Belize. You may wish to consider this before visiting local tattoo parlours or engaging in other activities with a transmission risk.
- Finding suitable travel insurance medical cover can be very advisable.
- Poor driving conditions: The roads in Belize may be more dangerous than what you are accustomed to in Australia.
- Poorly maintained roads and vehicles pose an ongoing hazard.
- Local driving practices, including drink driving, can be an unpredictable risk.
- Be cautious of bicycles. Cyclists are common in Belize and they don’t always obey traffic laws. Pay extra attention to them when driving, and beware of the potential risks they may pose to you as a pedestrian.
- Consider travel insurance with cover for rental car excess if you’ll be driving a rented vehicle in Belize.
- Earthquakes and tsunamis: Belize experiences seismic activity and as a coastal location is at risk of tsunamis. Although unlikely to occur, they may happen at any time of year and with little warning.
- Monitor local media for updates and news of impending dangers.
- Stay up to date with weather news for the Caribbean region.
- Think about how your travel insurance covers natural disasters when considering your level of cover for these eventualities.
These are the rounded average prices of some travel insurance policies for a single month in Belize.
|Basic travel insurance||$76.95||$90.87||$104.13||$133.23||$429.20|
|Comprehensive travel insurance||$106.95||$165.11||$140.53||$187.23||$$629.90|
These prices are not indicative of all policies and is to be taken as a rough guide. Note: prices are correct as of September 2017
Some of the most popular activities in Belize are not necessarily covered by default travel insurance policies.
- Undertaking adventure activities: Ziplining, abseiling, rock climbing, horseback riding and many other active pastimes can be found in Belize. However, you are not necessarily covered for these with default policies and should specifically examine your policy for each activity on a case-by-case basis.
- Enjoying the nightlife: Belize is known for its nightlife, and many of the tourist towns have plenty of options for enjoying a night out. However, remember to take appropriate precautions. This includes knowing how your travel insurance policy covers lost or stolen belongings and being aware of limits which may apply and conditions where the insurer may refuse the right to pay a claim.
- Visiting Mayan ruins: Belize is home to some of the oldest and most archaeologically and historically significant Mayan ruins on the planet. This ancient civilisation has left behind plenty of sights, including famously steep pyramids which visitors can still climb today. The ruins at Caracol, Lamanai and many other places are well worth a visit, but unsavoury elements mean it can be safer to use reputable tour companies to visit these spots rather than going alone. Consider familiarising yourself with travel insurance exclusions to make sure you know how to maintain your travel cover when organising a day trip.
- Diving and watersports: Belize’s marine parks make for spectacular scuba diving spots, while snorkelling and all other watersports are also popular. Snorkelling and scuba diving in particular may require special attention to travel insurance, but even the safer watersports such as sailing and windsurfing might need additional cover.
Belize has a handful of major hospitals and many more smaller clinics around the country. Both cost and quality of treatment may vary widely by location. High-end facilities that cater to wealthy retirees and expats often have effective but costly treatments available while less-funded clinics may be short on supplies or might not have the equipment needed to deal with certain medical situations. There is a sometimes drastic difference between public and private healthcare facilities in Belize. The latter may be expensive, even by Australian standards, but can provide a high level of treatment.
- To access private hospitals in Belize you will either need to pay the costs yourself, out of pocket, and then claim it back later if possible, or you can find a travel insurance policy that pays medical costs up-front.
- Certain emergencies may require you to be airlifted or evacuated. The cost of this can easily run into tens of thousands of dollars, so look for medical evacuation and repatriation on your travel insurance policy.
If something does happen, there are two important points of contact to be aware of:
- Your insurer: Don’t pick a travel insurance provider without a 24-hour claims helpline. Keep this helpline phone number, and other relevant insurer details, with you while travelling so you or the people you’re travelling with can access it and contact your insurer if needed. If you have to make a claim, including for medical emergencies, call your insurer as soon as it is reasonable and safe to do so.
- The Australian embassy: In Belize your nearest Australian official contact, and the one to contact in the event of a missing passport, legal issue or miscellaneous problem, is in Trinidad and Tobago. Reach them on (1 868) 822 5450.
Australian citizens do not require a visa to enter Belize. Instead, you just need to fulfil the following requirements:
- All visitors to Belize require valid passports to enter the country, with the exception of cruise ship passengers.
- Passports must be valid for at least three months from the date of arrival.
- Visitors must be in possession of a return ticket and sufficient funds to cover their stay.