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The importance of travel insurance for Costa Rica

When planning your trip, the question always comes up as to whether or not you will purchase travel insurance, listing the pros and cons deciding if you want to spend the extra money.

Many have seen it as an unnecessary commodity and take the chance, saving money by hoping nothing happens. It isn’t until something arises that you truly realize the importance and necessity of travel insurance.

As the world continues to unexpectedly change month by month sometimes — even week by week — it isn’t something you want to gamble your health and hard-earned dollars on.

Travel to Costa Rica

When traveling to Costa Rica, the decision of whether or not to purchase travel insurance is made for you: It’s one of the requirements for entry prior to your days on the country’s tropical beaches sipping on a cold pipa. As of November 1, 2020, the country requires you to purchase travel insurance with several important specifications that are strictly followed.

Upon entry, you must show proof that in the event of needing to quarantine for COVID-19 you have coverage of lodging expenses in the amount of $2,000 USD.

If purchasing an international travel insurance policy, it must indicate a minimum of $50,000 USD for medical expense coverage including that of COVID-19; however, if through an approved Costa Rican insurance company, the minimum coverage is $20,000 USD. In addition, it is extremely vital to note your travel insurance must cover the entire length of your stay matching your entry and exit dates.

When looking at your travel insurance package details and options it is important to consider all aspects as unforeseen events can quickly happen. As many can recall Costa Rica’s borders closed to foreigners and non-residents in mid-March 2020 with endless flight cancellations.

Airlines and Travel Insurance

US law says passengers are entitled to a refund if an airline cancels a flight, regardless of the reason. However, some non-US airlines have been stingy with refunds, and others try to offer vouchers or miles instead of true refunds.

As the economy faces many hardships, this isn’t typically how you want to receive your refund. Having to sit patiently waiting for flights to be rescheduled or the country’s borders to reopen in order to reschedule your well-planned and long-awaited vacation isn’t usually one’s first choice.

This could mean not getting the chance to use your voucher or travel miles for months at a time or even at all depending on the country you reside in and their current restrictions, losing your money on the risk that you took.

Unless you have bought a refundable ticket, which typically costs quite a bit more at the time of purchase, you may not see your money returned for missed flight connections or missing your flight entirely. During Costa Rica’s rainy season roads can become washed out with rivers overflowing onto the lowland roads and driving can become quite dangerous from the intense rains in certain areas of the country.

The heavy rains can cause land and rocks to slide out onto the roads as well as numerous downed trees causing roadblocks and delays during these storms.  Many of the roads in Costa Rica are not straight and direct — they wind around mountains and hills — creating extremely treacherous driving conditions in the “green season” months, especially if you are not accustomed to this type of forceful rainfall and terrain.

During the heavy months of rainfall, it can continue for hours or into days depending on what parts of the country you are vacationing in.  This can cause huge delays in your travel plans and driving times to the airport.

In the past, Juan Santamaria International Airport has been impacted by Turrialba Volcano, causing flight delays due to volcanic ash in the air. It is not a regular occurrence, but has affected the airport and its flights several times as it is dependent on the season whether the winds will direct the ash clouds to the airport.

Travel Insurance for Costa Rica Hotel Reservations

Hotel policies are not consistent across the board and usually have one specific to their chain or location. Much of Costa Rica’s accommodations are smaller businesses or family-run as you venture further out of the city and into more of the beautiful countryside.

The refund policies are tailored to their location, so read the details carefully as many will not provide a full refund often dependent on the timing of the cancellation.

As COVID-19 is no longer new to the world and we are learning to function with it in our existence, it is frequently not considered an extenuating circumstance in many cases when canceling.

Travel Insurance for Sports Activities

Many venture to Costa Rica for new experiences in the country’s diverse and exotic nature whether it be adrenaline-pumping zip lining across the cloud forests, rafting through the rivers, or ATV explorations through the jungle.

As fun and exciting as these new adventures are, they do come with risks that we so quickly forget when on vacation, our mind is focused on the joy and entertainment of it all.  It is imperative to consider what activities you plan to enjoy on your holiday and the risks that come along with it.

Figuring out how to pay for an injured wrist when not braking properly while soaring through the air like the wild birds of Costa Rica on the ziplines isn’t exactly how you planned to spend your time and vacation money. Vacation mode doesn’t mean invincible mode; as great as you feel when away, travel insurance would guarantee you the protection you need.

Final Thoughts

One never knows what twists and turns a vacation will have. We typically plan to rest, relax and enjoy ourselves forgetting all our worries and just enjoy the bliss of the Costa Rican spirit.

Taking the time before your Costa Rican vacation to purchase the right travel insurance can easily take the stress away when unexpected events occur and you find yourself in a foreign country trying to understand what to do next. Ensuring you are safely covered gives you the peace of mind to truly experience the freedom and excitement of your Costa Rican dream vacation.

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