One of the things you need to prepare for a trip abroad is travel insurance. I started purchasing travel insurance since my first trip to Costa Rica in 2010 and it’s one of the first things I do after booking a trip.
You might be wondering if you need to purchase travel insurance for your trip to Costa Rica. It may seem like an unnecessary expense since there is probably a 99% chance you won’t need it. But that 1% could always happen!
It is important for visitors purchase travel insurance for their trip to Costa Rica so they are covered in case of any medical emergencies, trip delays or cancellations or lost items as well as unforeseen natural disasters.
In this post, I’ll go over reasons why you should get travel insurance, my experience with World Nomads, their coverage and use in Costa Rica.
Why You Should Get Travel Insurance
The way I like to think about travel insurance is that if I purchase car, I’m going to get car insurance. If I have a home, I’m going to purchase home owner’s insurance. If I’m going to visit a foreign country where I don’t know the language, culture or customs very well, I’m going to get travel insurance.
Nowadays, you never know what can happen. It’s easy to think that nothing bad will happen to you! But after 6 years of traveling, my motto is Sh*t happens. And if you have the chance to make sure you’re taken care of when sh*t hits the fan, then why not?
One of my friends used it when all her camera equipment got stolen in Colombia, when one of my mom’s friend’s husband passed away in India and when a friend cut his toe open in Costa Rica. All taken care of with travel insurance.
World Nomads Travel Insurance
The travel insurance company I use is World Nomads. I found them through Lonely Planet and National Geographic when they were named as one of the best insurance companies and I’ve had great experiences with it so far.
World Nomads is an Australian company founded by a passionate traveler, Simon Monk. He wanted to give an honest and high quality product, something rare in the insurance market back in the early 2000’s. Their insurance covers over 150 countries providing medical, evacuation and 24 hour emergency assistance.
Best of all, they cover a vast range of adventure activities! This is why World Nomads is highly recommended for Costa Rica since the country is known for its adventure. More likely than not, you are going to be doing some of them.
What They Cover
Here is the slightly confusing part about travel insurance: the coverage. World Nomads provides a few different plans and it all depends on your country of origin and where you are going. But here are the main things it covers.
Medical coverage is up to $100,000 for accidental injury and they also provide coverage for emergency dental treatments and hospitalization. The amount depends on the plan you choose.
Accidental death or dismemberment
Knock on wood this doesn’t happen but in case it does, World Nomads will pay a lump sum to a beneficiary for loss of life or limb.
Lost or stolen goods
World Nomads will reimburse you for lost, damaged or stolen goods.
Collision Damage Waiver
This is a car rental insurance available only on the explorer plan. They will reimburse you for damage to your rental car not in your control such as collision, theft or natural disaster. ***Most car rental companies in Costa Rica do not accept this insurance so you will need to check with the company. You can read more about Costa Rica car rental insurance here.***
They will reimburse you in case you need to cancel a trip due to sickness, accidental injury or death of you or a family member, unforeseen natural disasters, strikes or other reasons. Also applies if your trip had to get interrupted for those reasons. Trip delay coverage applies when for an unused portion of pre-paid accommodation or expenses if you’re delayed for more than 6 hours.
One Call 24/hour assistance
This is their 24 hour phone line. They will help you find a doctor, dentist or medical facility. If necessary, they can help arrange for transportation.
Adventure sports and activities
They cover over 200 different adventure sports and provide coverage for emergency medical assistance or care that occurs during the sport.
My Experience with World Nomads
I’ve purchased World Nomads multiple times for Costa Rica and other countries. Luckily I haven’t had to make any sizable claims with it but I did have to use it in Europe last year. I got incredibly sick in Ireland and had to see a doctor. I called the One Call 24 hour hotline and they gave me a list of doctors near my location I could see.
There was also one time I wish I purchased travel insurance but didn’t. I was flying to Seattle for the holidays and I got stuck in the horrible Delta-LAX fiasco. My flight kept getting delayed. First by one hour, then 3, then 20 hours later, they finally announced it was cancelled because of bad weather.
I had spent a whole day and night at the airport and been awake for over 24 hours. Now I needed to get a hotel for 2 nights until my rebooked flight. As if that’s not enough, Delta then proceeded to lose my bag! If I had purchased travel insurance, I could have gotten reimbursed.
Needless to say, it was the most frustrating flying experience I’ve ever had and I wish I got travel insurance. Lesson learned.
Purchasing Costa Rica Travel Insurance
When you go to the World Nomads site to purchase insurance or get a quote, you will see they give you 2 plans: the standard or the explorer which has different coverage. This is what they gave me a 29 year old female from Washington, USA going to Costa Rica for one week.
Always make sure to thoroughly read the policies and terms and conditions to see what exactly is covered and what is not. For example, pre-existing medical conditions, emotional disorders unless hospitalized, pregnancy unless there is a complication and any substance abuse (alcohol and drugs) aren’t covered.
Which plan to choose?
You’re probably wondering which World Nomads plan to get at this point. Will you be OK with standard or is explorer necessary? Well, it will depend on your itinerary in Costa Rica.
If you’re planning to just lay on the beach for your vacation, then the standard will be good enough. It still covers a lot of sports like ziplining and white water rafting.
If you’re planning to do an extreme adventure itinerary like hiking and camping in the jungle, paragliding, cliff jumping, scuba diving or any activity like those, then the explorer plan should be the one you get. But ultimately, it’s up to you which plan you get as they have different reimbursement amounts and cover different sports.
Why You Should Get Travel Insurance for Costa Rica
If you’re still a bit on the edge about whether you should purchase travel insurance or not, here are a few more reasons why.
Winter delays and cancellations
I highly recommend it if you are traveling to Costa Rica during winter in North America. I can’t tell you the amount of times we’ve had to help out our readers who had their flights cancelled or delayed due to the winter storms up north.
Some of them had to cancel entire trips, some of them lost all their tours and hotel reservations, some had to stay in Costa Rica for a couple extra nights until they could get on the next available flight. Many of them had lost their luggage since their flights got cancelled and delayed so many times.
With travel insurance, you will be covered for all of that due to inclement weather.
Rainy season in Costa Rica
Costa Rica rainy season can get extremely intense depending on where you are going. If you’re visiting the months of September and October, for most of the country it rains very hard. It is common for some parts of Costa Rica to flood.
In 2016, Hurricane Otto crashed through the north of the country, even killing people and destroying roads and homes. In 2017, Tropical Storm Nate hit Guanacaste hard. Many people had to cancel all their travel plans or they got stuck. Trees fell on houses and cars, roads were closed, etc. Roads are more slippery in rainy season and accidents are more prone to occur during this time of year.
You’re going to adventure in Costa Rica!
Costa Rica is a country highly regarded for its fantastic outdoor adventure and sports. Every visitor participates in at least during their trip here whether it’s hiking, ziplining, kayaking, etc. Although safety is the number one priority, accidents can happen.
One time when Yeison was white water rafting, a girl hit her head on a rock, cut her eye and cracked her skull. She ended up getting airlifted to a hospital. Another time, we were with someone who slipped on the zipline platform and broke their ankle. Travel insurance helped cover their costs for those medical emergencies.
Holiday travel means more opportunities for theft
Theft is the most common crime in Costa Rica. If you are visiting during Christmas, New Years or Easter week (spring break), you need to be very careful. Since these are our peak season times, the beaches get packed with both local and foreign tourists camping, drinking and partying. Thieves take advantage of this time to break into cars and pick pocket. (Make sure to read our Costa Rica safety tips post on how to stay safe).
The bottom line is that World Nomads is one of the best insurance companies for long term travelers, adventurers and backpackers which is why it’s ideal for visitors to Costa Rica.
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