How to Save Money on Costa Rica's Mandatory COVID-19 Health & Travel Insurance
From August to November 1 of 2020, Costa Rica’s entry requirements were pretty confusing – thankfully, things have become much simpler now to travel to Costa Rica during COVID-19. The government has opened the country and ELIMINATED the requirement to present a negative COVID-19 test before entry.
As of now, all you need to enter the country (beyond the usual valid passport and return ticket to your country of origin) is 1) to fill out their health pass 48 hours before departure and 2) provide proof of travel insurance in case you develop COVID-19 symptoms during your stay.
Here’s how to save money on Costa Rica’s mandatory health insurance:
You have a couple of options for this insurance. Let’s call them 1) pre-approved options and 2) choose-your-own-adventure options.
Pre Approved Insurance Options:
These tend to be on the expensive side. Word on the street is that SAGICOR is cheaper for shorter trips, while INS is less expensive for longer trips. Both are pre-approved by the Costa Rican government, so when you fill out your health form you just put in the number and you’re good to go. My parents (who are in their mid-60s) just visited and purchased SAGICOR, which cost about $140 per person for 13 days (or $11 per person per day).
Choose-your-own-adventure insurance options:
It’s definitely more cost effective to go this route. The choose-your-own-adventure option is much more affordable and only slightly less convenient because you’ll have to send proof of your travel insurance when you fill out the health form. Also, you’ll probably exchange an email or two with the Costa Rican tourism board once you submit your online health pass (in the 48 hours before your flight they will reach out to you if they need more info about your policy).
As of Nov 10, according to the Costa Rican tourism board, the insurance must:
Be valid for your visit in Costa Rica.
Guarantee coverage for medical expenses in cases of pandemic disease COVID-19 for at least US $50,000
Provide a minimum coverage of US $2,000 for hotel/lodging expenses due to “pandemic illness or trip interruption/cancellation due to illness.”
I have friends and family who purchased insurance from the Travel Insured website, for example. While I can’t 100% vouch that this will be accepted by the tourism board, I can say that it has worked for some friends and family members recently and I would personally trust it.
For my friends, this third party insurance cost about $30 per person for the entire trip (each friend was 30 years old) for 15 days of coverage. Among other things it included the minimum health coverage plus $5000 for “trip interruption,” which far exceeds the $2,000 minimum for hotel stay in case of 14-day quarantine.
If the tourism board needs more info, or if the policy is not accepted, they’ll email you right away so you’ll have plenty of time to rectify it by either purchasing another plan or a pre-approved plan.
Can I use my regular, year-round insurance policy?
Maybe. If your policy covers you when you're traveling out of the country, try it! It will probably cover you for the medical part of the requirement. However, most plans won't cover the $2000 hotel requirement in case of "trip interruption" due to illness. That's the part you might have to purchase the travel insurance for!
You can save a lot of money this way!
This is a great money saving trick for families coming on vacation in Costa Rica. For example, a family of 4 that I know was recently quoted $700 for a two-week trip by one of the pre-approved Costa Rican insurance company. If he purchases third party insurance, at only $30 per person he’ll only pay $120.
Best of luck, and enjoy your family vacation to Costa Rica!