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Travel insurance for Sri Lanka

Get peace of mind for your trip to Sri Lanka with travel insurance that meets your cover needs.

From white sand beaches to lush rainforests and arid plains, Sri Lanka has in recent years established itself as one of the most popular tourist destinations of South East Asia. However, travelling is never without its risks, and travellers are advised to get travel insurance before leaving Australia to help ensure their safety. This guide will outline some of the risks that you should be wary of when travelling in Sri Lanka and what to look for when comparing travel insurance options.

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Do I need travel insurance in Sri Lanka?

It's not mandatory for travellers to Sri Lanka to purchase travel insurance but the Australian Government strongly suggests you have a policy that covers at least overseas medical costs. A comprehensive travel insurance policy will provide protection against the specific risks of travelling in Sri Lanka and common travel mishaps including:

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

Keep reading this guide for further information on finding travel insurance for Sri Lanka and if you'd like to compare travel insurance quotes.

What are some travel risks and cover specific to Sri Lanka?

It's been a long time since the Sri Lankan Civil War ended and the country's overall safety and security has dramatically improved since. There are still, however, certain risks that travellers should be aware of when considering what cover you'll need for your trip.

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Civil unrest

Large demonstrations and public gatherings have been known to turn violent. Avoid protests and demonstrations and be aware that the legal liability cover included in your travel insurance will not necessarily cover legal fees incurred if you're detained for being caught near a demonstration.

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Vehicle accidents

Intercity buses, three-wheeler taxis and many other vehicles are not maintained or driven to the same standards as in Australia, and fatal accidents are frequent on Sri Lankan roads. Consider rental car excess insurance if you'll be driving a hire car, overseas health cover in the event of an accident and death benefits for the worst-case scenario.

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Natural disasters

During the monsoon season, there's a much higher risk of flooding, landslides and tsunamis. Consider travel cancellation cover in the event of you being delayed or needing to reschedule due to blocked roads, poor weather or other circumstances beyond your control.

Average cost of travel insurance for Sri Lanka

Here are the prices for different policies and age groups for an individual who’s travelling in Sri Lanka for one month. Note that prices will vary between insurers and a higher or lower price usually means more or less cover or a higher or lower excess.

  • Note that there are fewer policies available as you get older. This is because some insurance policies have age limits and aren’t available to people over a certain age.For cover if you're 80 years old and over, check out our Seniors Travel Insurance guide.

These prices are not indicative of all policies and are to be taken as a rough guide. Note: prices are correct as of September 2017

Five activities you should consider getting cover for

  • Snorkelling and diving are popular pastimes for Sri Lankan visitors on account of the colour and diversity surrounding the island but you should make sure you are covered for watersports.
  • Mountain biking in Sri Lanka’s adventure capital, Kitulgala, should satisfy any adrenaline junkie but not all travel insurance policies will cover it.
  • Rainforest trekking is one of the best ways to experience Sri Lanka’s great outdoors on foot but travellers have been known to twist ankles and break legs while traversing the landscape. Trekking insurance will ensure you're covered for helicopter evacuations and high altitudes.
  • Whitewater rafting and kayaking in Kelani Riveris exhilerating whether you’re a beginner or a pro. Whatever your skill level, remember to get cover for any adventure activities you're likely to sign up for.
  • Surfing in Talalla on the south coast and Hikkaduwa, Midigama and Arugam Bay on the east draws many people to Sri Lanka. Just make sure you read the terms and conditions of your travel insurance for surfing.

If I have a medical emergency, am I covered in Sri Lanka?

Sri Lankan healthcare punches above its weight, considering how relatively little has been invested in it. The Sri Lankan government provides universal healthcare to all its citizens, although public hospitals can be crowded and waiting times long.

With the right overseas health cover, however, your travel insurance should allow you to access private hospitals in Sri Lanka in the event of a medical emergency. When looking for a travel insurance policy, consider:

  • Medical expenses: Your policy will pay for necessary medical costs incurred overseas, such as if you get sick and have to go see a doctor, or if you have to pay for prescription medication. Because these aren’t emergencies you’ll typically have to pay up front yourself and then claim the costs back later.
  • Emergency health care: This is the extent to which your policy can pay for emergency medical expenses including hospital accommodation and treatments. Most policies will pay up front for emergencies.
  • Medical evacuation: Evacuation from an isolated spot can be cost-prohibitive without travel insurance. This inclusion covers you for necessary medical evacuations.
  • Medical repatriation: If you are injured and doctors recommend you return home with special medical attention, then this is medical repatriation. It can cost tens of thousands, or even hundreds of thousands of dollars in the event of particularly serious or complex health issues and depending on location.

Worried about COVID-19?

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Travel insurance exclusions to watch out for in Sri Lanka

Watch out for certain exclusions in your travel insurance policy and make sure you're covered for what you need.

  • Failure to obey signs and warnings: While travelling in Sri Lanka, you may come across warning signs for hazardous spots, cliffs and dangerous animals, but also minefields and other extreme dangers. Failing to obey all clearly posted signs and warnings can be used as a reason not to pay benefits.
  • Failure to obey local laws: Police in Sri Lanka do not need a warrant to arrest you and certain things like blasphemy and homosexual behaviour are illegal. Regardless of whether you feel the local laws are just, or properly applied, your insurer can refuse to pay a benefit if you've broken them.
  • Reckless behaviour: If your own reckless behaviour puts yourself or others at risk, or if you experience loss because of demonstrably poor decision-making, then your insurer may refuse to pay out. The defining marker for this decision is usually whether or not reasonable care was taken.
  • Under the influence of drugs or alcohol: If you fail to pay attention to your belongings or personal safety, behave irresponsibly or otherwise suffer loss while travelling and under the influence of drugs or alcohol, your insurer may not pay out.

Who do I contact in the event of an emergency?

You should have the contact details of three parties while travelling:

The local embassy or consulate: In Sri Lanka, this is the Australian High Commission.

  • The Australian embassy in Sri Lanka is located at 21 Gregory’s Rd, Colombo 7, Sri Lanka.
  • Call +94 11 246 3200 for general enquiries or help while in Sri Lanka.
  • Call +94 11 246 3270 for visa enquiries.

Your insurer: When you take out a travel insurance policy, carry your insurer’s details with you. You need to be able to reach them quickly if you have to make a claim.

Friends and family: Share your travel plans with friends and family and try to make sure that someone knows where you’re going and what your schedule is like. Arrange regular check ins so that they can alert the embassy and other authorities if you go missing.

What are the entry requirements for Sri Lanka?

Short-stay visitors to Sri Lanka need to get an electronic travel authorisation (ETA) prior to arrival. This serves the same purpose as a visa. Once you have your ETA you must submit it for approval to be allowed into Sri Lanka.

  • Apply for an ETA online. Be aware that fees may apply.
  • Once your ETA is submitted and processed, you will receive an approval, which lets you enter Sri Lanka within 3 months of the date of issue.
  • If you've been in a country affected by yellow fever or cholera, ​​​you'll need a yellow fever vaccination certificate, even if you've only transited through.

Tips for travelling in Sri Lanka

  • Don’t measure travel times by distance. Bad weather, unmaintained roads and shifting traffic can make travel times unpredictable. As a general rule you should expect it to take longer than you’d think and shouldn’t assume that something’s quick to get to just because it’s nearby.
  • Expect hot, humid and sticky weather all year round. Even in winter Sri Lanka doesn’t cool down much.
  • Take the mosquitoes seriously. They are much more likely to be carrying diseases than the ones back in Australia. Apply and reapply insect repellants, wear loose fitting long sleeves and long pants and ensure your sleeping arrangements are protected if possible.
  • Don’t expect a big party scene. Naturally you can still find it if you know where to look, but Sri Lanka is predominantly a family holiday spot.
  • Expect locals to, on the whole, be welcoming and friendly. Do not, however, accept invitations of guided tours or anything else unless you’re certain of what exactly the arrangement is and what kind of payment your “guide” will want.

Got yourself covered? Time to have some fun.

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Written by

Jessica Prasida

Jessica Prasida is a travel insurance expert for Finder. She lives and breathes travel, having worked as a travel agent and branch manager at STA Travel for over 4 years, then writing about travel insurance with Finder for another 5 years. Jess has a Bachelor of Business from the University of Technology, Sydney and a Tier 1 General Insurance qualification. See full profile

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