Travel Insurance for Ecuador

Dropping by the Galapagos or trekking about Quito? Make sure you have the right travel insurance for your trip.

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Travel insurance rules continue to change as a result of the pandemic. Some information may not be accurate at this time. It’s even more important to double-check all details that matter to you before taking out cover. Please note:
    • Some policies may not be available through Finder at this time
    • It’s unlikely that your policy will cover expenses from border closures
    Ecuador has the most rivers and biodiversity for its size of any country in the world, drawing visitors each year to take in its natural variety, awe-inspiring landscapes and rich local traditions. Bordering both Colombia and Peru, Ecuador has long been a popular destination for those on the South America backpacker trail. It also appeals to those on quick trips to see the mountainous city of Quito or majestic Galapagos islands.

    Like any country, Ecuador is not without risks, so it's important to understand what to be wary of before starting your trip. This guide will explore some of the risks to be cautious of and what to look for in your travel insurance policy.

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    Activities to be covered for in Ecuador

    Every insurance brand varies and travel insurance is no different. Even within the one brand, you can find a variety of policies that can cover you, from a basic policy with medical-only insurance up to a comprehensive policy with all the bells and whistles you could need. Your task is to make sure the policy you choose has sufficient cover for all the sights and activities you have planned and if not, you can consider paying an additional premium to add on more cover. Here are some things to look out for:

    • Eco-lodges: Ecuador's many eco-lodges cater to nature-loving tourists all around the country, but many of them are in isolated regions. With the likelihood of road closures, you may find yourself stranded or delayed, so it may be worth considering travel insurance to cover tour cancellations.
    • Ayahuasca tourism: Increasing numbers of tourists are going to Ecuador for Ayahuasca trips, using legal psychedelics administered by local shamans to take a "spiritual tour." Be aware that there is no effective way to vet Ayahuasca tour operators, it may be difficult to predict how the substances will affect you and that visitors have reported being robbed or assaulted while under the influence. Carefully look at the exclusions in your policy for language like "remain aware of your surroundings", which could allow your insurer to refuse Ayahuasca-related claims.
    • Boating and watersports: Ecuador's coastline and numerous rivers lend themselves to boating and watersports, but it's important to check how your travel insurance policy covers these activities
    • Hiking and mountaineering: Many parts of Ecuador, including the popular Quito region, are at heights of more than 2,500m and altitude sickness can be a life-threatening concern even if you're physically fit. You may wish to discuss any pre-existing respiratory issues with your insurer to get them covered and consider travel insurance policies for hiking at altitude.
    • Adventure sports: Ecuador's vibrant landscape provides opportunities for adventure sports such as bungee jumping and rock climbing. Think about comparing adventure travel insurance policies to make it easier to find effective cover for these activities.

    Travel insurance exclusions to watch out for in Ecuador

    Along with each travel insurance policy having different inclusions, you'll also find a list of exclusions in every product disclosure statement. These are some common ones to look out for when visiting Ecuador:

    • Failure to take precautions: This can include not using safety equipment, not getting the required immunisations, failing to properly secure belongings or otherwise not taking reasonable steps to ensure your own safety. Be aware of this exclusion as you travel.
    • Failure to obey signs, warnings and laws: These can include road signs, local laws and marked warnings like the minefield signs around the Ecuador-Peru border. If failure to obey posted signs or the law leads to a claim, your insurer may refuse to pay it.
    • Unreasonable or reckless behaviour: This can include actions that put yourself or others in unnecessary danger, or actions that can be considered something a reasonable person would not have done in that situation. This general exclusion can be applied to a range of circumstances and may extend to taking in the nightlife or visiting an Ayahuasca shaman without taking suitable precautions to ensure your own safety.
    • Pre-existing conditions: These are often a blanket exclusion on travel insurance policies. You will typically need to mention pre-existing conditions to your insurer if you want cover for them. The likelihood of needing to make a claim for a pre-existing condition means you will benefit from making sure it is covered.

    How am I covered for emergencies in Ecuador?

    The standard for medical facilities in private hospitals in Quito and Guayaquil is reasonable, but outside of these areas, including the Galápagos Islands, it can be very limited.

    • Travel insurance for medical evacuation and repatriation can be a potential lifesaver. A serious medical event on the Galápagos Islands or outside a major city will almost certainly require a very expensive medivac.
    • Treatment at private hospitals and clinics is very expensive and they will expect cash payments up front. Find a travel insurance policy that pays for medical treatments up front or be prepared for the possibility of paying out of pocket for these costs.

    What are some travel risks specific to Ecuador?

    While most travellers to Ecuador end up having a fulfilling trip with no safety concerns, as with any country, there are certain things you need to be mindful of on your visit. The best place to get up to date with the latest developments is Smartraveller, where you'll find a detailed travel advisory for Ecuador. Here are some of the most common risks to be aware of:

    • Disease: Yellow fever, dengue fever, malaria and Zika are all known to occur in Ecuador so ensure you are up to date on all vaccinations and take steps to protect yourself from mosquitoes. I Be aware that in the event of a health emergency in isolated areas, including the Galápagos Islands, you may require medical evacuation to more advanced facilities at a great expense.
    • Crime: Both petty theft and violent crime occur in Ecuador, particularly in the border regions where kidnappers are known to target even large groups and organised tours. Crimes may be facilitated with spiked food, drink or cigarettes and have also been known to occur through incapacitating aerosols and paper handouts. Avoid travelling alone or at night where possible, take care with valuables and consider cooperating with assailants to ensure your own safety. Ensure you have adequate cover for any high-value items you are taking with you.
    • Natural hazards: The wet season in Ecuador is from December to May in coastal regions and from May to November in El Oriente (east of the Andes). Flooding, landslides and resulting travel disruptions are more common at this time but can occur at any time of year. Ecuador is also seismically active so you should also be aware of the risk of volcanoes, tsunamis and earthquakes. Familiarise yourself with local evacuation and emergency procedures and consider policies with travel cancellation cover.
    • Civil unrest: Avoid protests, strikes and demonstrations as they may turn violent with little warning. You are required to carry personal identification with you at all times in Ecuador or you may be detained. It may be worth taking out cover for travel documents.
    • Travel hazards: Avoid unlicensed taxis and only use those with a clearly displayed registration sticker. Licensed taxis in Ecuador are equipped with panic buttons and video cameras. Roads in Ecuador are of a reasonable standard in developed areas, but may be poorly lit and maintained in rural areas. Consider travel insurance for rental car excess if you plan on driving a hire car in Ecuador.

    Who do I contact in the event of an emergency?

    Depending on the nature of the emergency, your best contact may be one or more of the following:

    • Your airline, employer or tour operator. For relevant issues, it may be best to contact them first.
    • Your insurer. If you’ll be making a claim of any kind, contact your insurer on their 24/7 claims helpline as soon as reasonably possible.
    • Local emergency services. Familiarise yourself with the emergency numbers in your area. Call 911 in Quito and Ibarra, 112 in Guayaquil, Cuenca and Loja and 101 everywhere else in Ecuador. Make sure you obtain a police report for insurance purposes when reporting a crime.
    • The Australian consulate or embassy. Contact your nearest Australian government office for general or miscellaneous assistance. If you are in Quito you can also go to the Canadian embassy there for lost passports and travel documentation issues. Call +593-4 601 7529 or 593-4 600 0447 for the Australian consulate in Guayaquil and +56 2 2550 3500 for the Canadian embassy in Quito.

    What are the entry requirements for Ecuador?

    Australians do not require a visa when visiting Ecuador.

    Instead, with a passport valid for at least 6 months from the date of arrival you can:

    • Get a 30, 60 or 90 day tourist stamp on arrival
    • Apply for extensions of up to 90 days for a total stay of up to 180 days

    Application fees apply and you may sometimes need to show proof of income.

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