Costa Rica Insurance Guide

Last Updated On 3/8/2021

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Costa Rica is known for its health care in Latin America and is similar or even better than what you’d receive in the United States. Regarding car rental insurance though, it’s a much more confusing topic. Below the Yonder team will shed some light on these areas so you can make an informed decision –whether you are visiting Costa Rica for a trip or planning on becoming an expatriate there!

Is car rental insurance required in Costa Rica?

When it comes to car rental liability coverage, the answer is yes –insurance is necessary. Mandatory liability car insurance in Costa Rica provides benefits for the following:

  • If someone was hurt in an accident
  • If others’ cars were damaged
  • If other’s property was damaged

Note that the required liability insurance doesn’t cover any damage to the rental car itself. Here is some supplemental coverage you could purchase in Costa Rica that covers the missing gaps:

Collision Damage Waivers (CDW): If you were in an accident, this coverage would reduce your liability to the deductible –anywhere from $1,500-$3,000. This supplemental insurance from a rental agency could cost an additional $15-$40 per day, but doesn’t include benefits in the events of negligence, vandalism, road damage, or theft.

Full Coverage/Zero Liability: This is the third level of protection most rental agencies offer that erases your liability for damage due to theft, vandalism, road damage. If looking to add these benefits, you could be looking at, tacking on another $5-$20 per day of rent.

woman sitting atop a car looking toward mountain

If you can’t catch the hint, insuring a rental car in Costa Rica can cost a pretty penny if you want similar benefits to what you have on your own vehicle back in the States.

What other car rental insurance options are there?

Well, you could look into what your credit card offers for rental car coverage. Tread lightly here though because there’s a lot of fine print to double-check when it comes to card coverage. For instance, if you purchase any kind of coverage (excluding the mandatory liability coverage) from the rental car company, your credit card company is likely to refuse to cover damage of any kind. Another example that could restrict your credit card rental insurance is that some credit cards exclude coverage of Latin American car rentals –be sure to read the fine print! We’ve found more helpful information from Costa Rica Guide regarding using credit card coverage for rental cars you should check out.

Travel Insurance for Costa Rica

Your other option is purchasing a travel insurance policy with upgraded Rental Car Collision coverage. Despite common myths about travel insurance being expensive, it’s actually quite affordable and could even be cheaper than buying rental insurance from the rental company in Costa Rica.

For example, say you’re going on a seven-day trip for two to Costa Rica that costs $4,000. You can find a policy on Yonder starting at around $184 for your entire seven-day trip that has $25,000 of Rental Car Collision coverage. Plus, this policy includes Trip Cancellation/Interruption, Medical, and Travel Loss and Delay coverage! We think that’s a steal considering the high cost of buying the Costa Rican insurance upon arrival. If you’re looking for higher Rental Car Collision benefits, there are even policies that bump it up to $50,000 of coverage for a minimal increase in policy premium.

green button that reads quote and compare travel insurance

So what does a travel insurance policy with this rental car damage upgrade cover?

We’re glad you asked! Most policies with this additional insurance would cover the costs to repair the damage to the vehicle if you were to get in an accident,  theft, vandalism, a windstorm, fire, hail, flood, or any cause not in your control. The upgrade won’t, however, provide coverage for damage to any other vehicles.

The Yonder team always recommends you read the full policy description so you understand what coverage is available to you. Here’s another article we wrote if you’re still not sure if you should buy a policy with this upgraded benefit.

Tips: Make note that you must be a licensed driver and listed on the rental agreement for benefits to apply. If you do get into an accident, you’ll want to report the loss to the rental car company and the authorities, otherwise, you may not be reimbursed.

Costa Rica Health Insurance Options

If you’re considering becoming a resident of Costa Rica, you’ll want to pay attention to the details of their health insurance options. Without medical insurance here, you could see a large bill at the end of your medical treatment or care. The only event that would be covered at no charge would be emergency medical treatment if you don’t have health insurance.

If you are just traveling to Costa Rica for a trip or family vacation, you won’t necessarily need to buy into a medical insurance plan there. Instead, you can purchase a travel insurance policy and even get one that includes a Pre-Existing Condition Waiver.  

Most travel insurance policies include Emergency Medical Expense coverage, which would provide coverage for the following:

  • Medical Services
  • Prescriptions
  • Therapeutic Services
  • Supplies
  • Hospital Expenses
  • Ambulatory Costs
  • Transportation by Ambulance

Usually, comprehensive travel insurance policies will also include Emergency Medical Evacuation Expense coverage. This means the provider will cover expenses in the event you have to be transported to a medical facility or hospital where you can get the treatment you need. Note that you’ll need to call the provider’s emergency assistance team to make arrangements –otherwise you run the risk of the expenses not being covered.

Costa Rica Health Insurance for Expats

If you are instead seeking health coverage for a longer period of time, intent to become a resident, preventative care or treatment for a pre-existing condition, then you could consider paying into the public or private health system. There are two options when it comes to choosing medical insurance in Costa Rica as a resident:

  • Public Health Insurance
  • Private Health Insurance

Public Health Insurance

This universal, Costa Rica government-run health care option is much more affordable compared to the United States. If you aren’t a citizen, but living in Costa Rica, you can pay low monthly fees to receive free medical benefits if you live in specific residence programs. In fact, if you are applying for residency, it is required you apply for the public health care system.

On the downside, sometimes the health care system may be overworked, causing you to be put on a waiting list. The savings might be worth it though –most expatriates save 60-90% on treatments in Costa Rica. The average cost to enroll in this option of insurance is around 7%-11% of a person’s monthly income.

Private Health Insurance

This second option is available at a higher rate, but still quite affordable compared to private health insurance in the United States. You’ll be glad to know there are three private hospitals you can receive care at when paying for private medical insurance. This option could cut wait times significantly, especially if you are needing any testing.

The other perk is that many doctors work in the public and private sector, so you can get a prescription written by a doctor at a private medical facility, but have them write it for a public pharmacy so there’s no cost to you. If you are looking for travel medical insurance for Costa Rica, keep reading below.

Costa Rica Mandatory Travel Insurance

As COVID-19 case numbers increase, more and more countries are requiring insurance purchased to cover the hospital expenses if you were to contract the virus. Even Costa Rica is requiring mandatory travel insurance to enter the country. This can either be a comprehensive or travel medical plan.

Costa Rica has required that all travelers entering the country get a specific amount of insurance for potential COVID-19 medical or quarantine lodging expenses. The Costa Rican government specifies that the traveler should have at least $50,000 of emergency medical expense coverage as well as $2,000 of quarantine loading expense coverage.

If you’re looking for travel insurance to Costa Rica specifically if you were to contract the coronavirus while on your trip, you’ll be happy to know your travel insurance will likely cover it. Most travel insurance providers are treating COVID-19 as any other illness, meaning hospital and treatment expenses are likely to be covered. Also, if you were to fall ill before your trip, the Trip Cancellation benefit could apply and reimburse you for your non-refundable trip expenses.

Tips: Always double-check with your provider to verify your coverage –you can find out by going to their website or reading their coronavirus coverage statements. It is also wise to double-check with the Costa Rica entry requirements before your departure.

The cost of the required Costa Rica travel insurance will depend on several factors. Variables such as duration of stay, your current age, and trip cost will affect the price of the travel insurance premium. It’s best to run a free quote to get a better idea of what you’d be paying for the mandatory travel insurance.

COVID-19 Quarantine Lodging Coverage

One of the new insurance requirements to enter Costa Rica is to have quarantine lodging expense coverage. This provides reimbursement for your shelter-in-place quarantine lodging costs if you were to contract COVID-19 during your trip. This is a newer requirement in the travel insurance industry, but Trawick International (one of our providers) has worked quickly to make this available to travelers.

If you plan on traveling to Costa Rica anytime soon, we’d recommend the Safe Travels Voyager travel insurance policy from Trawick. This plan includes the required medical expense and quarantine lodging expense insurance you’ll need for your trip to Costa Rica.

Please note that the Save Travels Voyager plan is only available to U.S. citizens and residents at this time. If you are a non-U.S. citizen or resident, check with your country-specific health insurance or travel insurance providers for more information on coverage options.

Adventure Sports Insurance Coverage

Costa Rica is full of adventure and you might find yourself doing activities you can’t do in the United States. For instance, your family might sign-up to go spelunking or you and your travel buddies plan on doing some mountain climbing or cliff jumping.

man on a zipline in Costa Rica

In case something goes awry, it’s best to manage the risk by purchasing a travel insurance policy that includes what’s called a “Hazardous Sports Rider“. Usually, adventurous activities are excluded from insurance policies, but by buying this add-on, you’ll still be covered for any urgent medical care you need if you were to get hurt. Make sure you purchase this sooner, rather than later –this type of upgrade must be purchased soon after your first deposit or payment towards your trip.

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