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Travel insurance for Costa Rica

Hair-rising adventure sports and luggage cover are just 2 of the reasons why it’s worth investing in Costa Rica travel insurance.

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Costa Rica lends itself to a whole host of adventurous activities including trekking, white water rafting and bungee jumping. Not all travel insurance for Costa Rica will cover you for these types of activities, so you might need to purchase a few extra add-ons to make sure you're covered.

Do I need travel insurance for Costa Rica?

A comprehensive travel insurance policy provides protection against both the specific risks of travelling in Costa Rica and common travel mishaps including:

  • Emergency medical expenses to cover hospital costs and medical repatriation which can add up to thousands of dollars that you would need to pay upfront.
  • Cancellations and lost deposits for when you have to cancel non-refundable flights or accommodation due to circumstances out of your control.
  • Theft and stolen items to insure your personal belongings including your passport, expensive items and cash.

Keep reading this guide for further information around finding travel insurance for Costa Rica and if you'd like to compare travel insurance quotes.

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What to get covered for in Costa Rica

Costa Rica can undoubtedly be considered one of the safest countries in Central America but that doesn't mean you won't need to be aware of common travel concerns and do need to make sure you're covered for any scenario.

Nature trips

Whether you're hiking to a protected sea turtle nesting site or taking a tour bus to a monkey tourist park, Costa Rica has a lot of different types of nature experiences. Useful cover for this may include:

  • Medical cover: as animals can bite and can carry diseases. Get immunised before travelling and ensure your policy covers medical losses.
  • Transport cover: to insure cancellation and trip delays for those must-do pre-booked activities at nature destinations.
  • River and whitewater boating: can be an optional add-on to cover river trips in Costa Rica can be languid, scenic tours or adrenaline-pumping whitewater expeditions depending on your tastes. Whichever you prefer, consider:

Hiking and mountain climbing

If you plan on challenging some of the peaks and cliffs of Costa Rica, it's advisable to find the right travel insurance policy.

  • Trekking cover: is important if you're planning to take on any tricky hikes or if your chosen policy has restrictions on what type of treks you're insured for.
  • Medical evacuation: can be a lifesaver in isolated places or on challenging treks like the infamous Rio Negro trail.

City exploring

The urban areas of Costa Rica have enough nightlife, museums, art galleries and historical sites to keep a tourist occupied for a long time. Consider:

  • Cancellation cover to protect the money you've already spent on pre-paid tours and event tickets with cancellation travel insurance.
  • Theft cover in the event of robbery and steps you may need to take.

Worried about COVID-19?

You're not the only one. Travel insurance companies are now offering some cover for coronavirus. So you can travel with more peace of mind.

Get travel insurance for COVID-19

Travel insurance exclusions to watch out for in Costa Rica

Exclusions are conditions where your travel insurance policy may not pay out. Some common exclusions to watch out for are:

  • Reckless or irresponsible behaviour: This is hard to define, but if you think an insurer could successfully argue that your behaviour was unreasonable, irresponsible or put yourself or someone else in danger, then the insurer may reserve the right to not pay out.
  • Inebriation: If you are under the influence of alcohol, or anything else, at the time of a claimable incident then the insurer can argue that you were not in control and were not taking appropriate precautions, and may be able to deny your claim.
  • Adventure activities: If you're planning to sample one of the many options available, find out exactly what your provider considers as high-risk activities and consider paying extra for a policy that will definitely cover you.
  • Pre-existing conditions: When in doubt, assume pre-existing conditions are not covered by travel health insurance. This is because they are often found as a blanket exclusion, so cover for them means getting an exception made, usually by paying a bit extra.
  • Failure to take suitable precautions: If stolen property wasn't properly secured then your insurer may refuse to pay a claim. Similarly, a failure to take all appropriate precautions, including following road signs and acting sensibly, can justify a refusal to pay out.

What happens if I have a medical emergency in Costa Rica?

Costa Rica's healthcare system is well developed and its residents enjoy a higher standard of public medical treatment than most other countries in the region. Only Costa Rican citizens and permanent residents get universal healthcare there, and as a visitor, you will need to rely on travel health cover.

Find a travel insurance policy that pays up-front for medical expenses as a doctor or hospital in Costa Rica may not treat you without up-front payment or an arrangement with your insurer.

For emergencies, you want to go right to the hospital, but for lesser ailments you can go to a pharmacy first. Pharmacies play a more important role in healthcare in Costa Rica than they do in Australia and can accurately treat and diagnose many conditions

Prescriptions are not necessary for many medications, but you should still find out how your travel insurance will cover prescription medication.

Who do I contact in the event of an emergency?

Depending on the nature of your emergency, you have a different point of contact.

  • If you are the victim of crime or face another emergency call the tourist police on 911.
  • For general assistance contact the Australian consulate in San Jose on +506 2201 0000 or email aushonconsul.costarica@gmail.com.
  • For full consular assistance, including passports, get in touch with the Australian embassy in Mexico at +52 55 1101 2200 or email consularpassports.mexico@dfat.gov.au.
  • For claims-related enquiries contact your travel insurance provider as soon as you are reasonably able. Their 24/7 claims contact information should be clearly available on your policy documents.

What are some travel risks specific to Costa Rica?

Find a travel insurance policy to protect yourself from some of the potential hazards travellers may encounter in Costa Rica.

  • Crime including petty theft is fairly prevalent, particularly at night or upon solo travellers.
  • Deliberately-staged traffic accidents and fake taxis are common concerns to be aware of. Only use official taxis or avoid riding in the front seat.
  • Driving hazards such as poorly-maintained roads and vehicles, inadequate signage, landslides, potholes and inconsistent local driving practices can pose numerous risks.
  • Dangerous waters such as strong coastal currents on the Caribbean and Pacific coasts of Costa Rica mean swimming can be potentially dangerous. Lifeguards are not common on public beaches, and the absence of warning signs should not be taken as an indication of safety.
  • The safety standards of diving, snorkelling, boating and watersports guides and tour operators may not be adequate by Australian standards so always use caution and the appropriate safety equipment.
  • Peak hurricane season occurs during the months of June to November so monitor local media for warnings and follow the instructions of local authorities in the event of an emergency.

What are the entry requirements for Costa Rica?

Australians can visit Costa Rica without a visa, but they must:

  • Have a valid passport
  • Stay for no more than 90 days
  • Show proof of sufficient funds for the duration of their stay
  • Hold documentation and tickets for travel to their next destination, or back home

Exemptions may be made for individuals who hold a passport identifying Costa Rica as their place of birth.

When is the best time to visit Costa Rica?

The best time to visit Costa Rica is between December and April. This is when the weather is nicest and sunniest, more attractions are open and hurricane season has ended. The downside is that you'll also experience larger crowds and may have higher overall prices.

If this doesn't appeal, consider May to November for the lowest prices, or the months of June and July to see the forests at their most lush and verdant.

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