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Travel insurance for Jamaica

Kicking it in Kingston? Everything you need to know about Travel Insurance for Jamaica.

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Visitors to Jamaica are drawn to its many natural wonders, resorts and nightlife destinations as well as its reputation as the birthplace of reggae and related attractions for music aficionados. There’s a lot to see and do, but it’s not without its hazards, so Jamaica is best enjoyed with the right travel insurance policy in place.

This guide will help you pick out what to look for in travel insurance for Jamaica and how to choose a policy that works for you.

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Do I need travel insurance for Jamaica?

Travel insurance is not compulsory when planning a visit to Jamaica. The Australian Government does strongly suggest, however, all Australian travellers purchase at least cover for medical expenses before travel.
A comprehensive policy goes one step further and provides protection against both the specific risks of travelling in Jamaica and common travel concerns including:

  • Emergency medical expenses as healthcare can be expensive and limited in smaller towns and rural areas
  • Cancellations and lost deposits cover for when you're forced to cancel non-refundable flights and accommodation
  • Theft and stolen items insures your personal belongings including cash and expensive items

What are some travel risks specific to Jamaica?

  • Crime: Take all usual precautions and care to protect your belongings from pickpockets and bag snatchers and be aware of violent crime. Consider extra cover for valuables like electronics, jewellery and cameras.
  • Natural disasters: Jamaica is often impacted by hurricanes especially during hurricane season(June to November) and can result in landslides, flooding and essential service disruptions. Consider insurance for trip delays and cancellations for any weather events that mean a change of plans.
  • Road travel: According to the WHO you are twice as likely to be killed in a car accident in Jamaica than in Australia. This is largely a result of poorly maintained roads, excessive speeds being relatively normal and the presence of vendors and pedestrians on the roads.

    Rental car excess travel insurance can potentially save you a lot of money if you have an accident overseas.

Activities to get covered in Jamaica

Not all activities are always covered by your travel insurance policy. It may be a good idea to consider how your travel insurance covers various activities, if at all, on an individual basis. In particular, you might want to get cover for:

  • Paragliding and parasailing: The stunning beaches are one of Jamaica’s main attractions, and aerial activities are a popular way of taking them in. Local equipment and instructor standards can vary so make sure you have travel insurance if you want to take to the skies.
  • Nature walks: Jamaica’s natural scenery means there are an abundance of nature walks to take in around the country. Remember that even guided and packaged hikes are still not without risk, and that medical evacuation might turn out to be a costly necessity.
  • Watersports. Whether deep-sea-fishing, rafting or sailing is on the agenda, read the fine print of your policy to be clear on what exactly you'll be covered for.

What happens if I have a medical emergency in Jamaica?

To get adequate medical attention in Jamaica you may have to use a private hospital or clinic. Private facilities in Jamaica require payment up-front so it’s advisable that your travel insurance policy can handle these costs. The alternative to this is to pay any costs yourself and then claim back what you can later.

  • Serious medical problems in Jamaica may require evacuation to facilities in Miami. The minimum cost of this would be AUD$20,000, so you should ensure that your travel insurance policy covers medical evacuation and repatriation or risk being on the hook for this cost.
  • There is only one hyperbaric chamber in Jamaica, near Ochos Rio. If you suffer decompression sickness or a related condition that requires its use you may incur heavy costs. Once again, check for a policy that pays up-front and covers medivacs, and look specifically for scuba diving travel insurance if you plan on taking advantage of this.

Who do I contact if something goes wrong?

In the event of an emergency you should get in touch with local authorities, the Australian embassy, your insurer, family and friends back home or your tour guide or travel provider as applicable.

  • Contact the Australian embassy in Kingston for help with legal issues or if you’re unsure where else to turn, but be aware that there is little assistance they can offer if you have broken local laws. Find the embassy at 80-82 Second Street, Port Bustamante, Kingston 13, Jamaica, or call (1 876) 361 1332. For complete consular assistance, including help with passports, you’ll need to contact the Australian High Commission in Trinidad and Tobago by calling (1 868) 822 5450.
  • Your travel insurance provider should always have a 24/7 claims helpline. Keep their contact details with you while travelling and know how to reach them at any time. In the event of a claimable incident, contact them as soon as you can.

What are the entry requirements for Australians?

  • You will need to provide proof of identity and nationality, such as a driver’s licence and passport, show proof of adequate funds for your stay and to have a return or round-trip ticket rather than just a one-way.
  • Australians visiting Jamaica are not required to have a tourist visa, but can instead get an entry card for stays of under six months. You are able to get this at the airport on arrival, or by ordering in advance.

Travel insurance exclusions to watch out for in Jamaica

All insurance policies have exclusions, which are conditions where they won’t pay out. Some of the exclusions to watch out for in a Jamaica travel insurance policy include:

  • Dangerous pastimes: Hazardous sports and activities, like scuba diving or bungee jumping, are not necessarily covered by all travel insurance policies. It can be advisable to look for exclusions surrounding these, as well as to find a policy that specifically covers risky activities as needed.
  • Unsecured possessions: You cannot necessarily expect your travel insurance policy to pay out for lost, damaged or stolen possessions if you have not taken all sensible precautions to ensure their security. Exclusions may include belongings left in unlocked rooms, in plain view in an unsupervised car, or left in a hotel room but not in the safe.
  • Failure to obey signs and warnings: If your failure to obey posted signs or warnings has led, directly or indirectly, to a claim, then your insurer may reserve the right to not pay out. Take note of this while travelling in Jamaica and ensure that you do follow posted signs and traffic laws, even if no one else seems to, so you’re still covered.
  • Pre-existing conditions: Insurers may exclude pre-existing conditions, but can also include them, with or without extra cost. If you want cover for pre-existing conditions then you should raise this with your insurer at the time of purchase.
  • Reckless behaviour: Being drunk or under the influence of any mind-altering substance may count as reckless behaviour, and incidents that occur at these times may not be claimable. Regardless of sobriety, you are generally not covered for losses resulting from what could be deemed unreasonable behaviour.

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