Costa Rica is a paradise vacation destination, but unfortunately, that does not mean that travel plans will always go perfectly smoothly.
Throughout our years of living in Costa Rica, we have dealt with a few different incidents in which we were super thankful that we had travel insurance to cover us for an unexpected illness, injury, and even last-minute changes to travel plans.
With Coronavirus being an ever-evolving issue we believe it is more important than ever to purchase coverage for your trip.
Insurance Requirements Travelers
Travel insurance is no longer required in order to travel to Costa Rica. However, we still suggest purchasing coverage.
Please view our Coronavirus Guide for more info on current COVID restrictions in Costa Rica.
World Nomads Travel Insurance
Who are World Nomads?
Since 2002, World Nomads have been protecting, connecting and inspiring independent travelers.
They offer simple and flexible travel insurance and safety advice to help you travel.
Because they believe in giving back to the places we travel to, World Nomads also enables you to make a difference with a micro-donation when you buy a policy.
And they’ll help you plan your trip with free downloadable guides, travel tips, responsible travel insights and recommendations from their global community.
7 things to know about World Nomads travel insurance
Internationally recognised underwriters
World Nomads is backed by a suite of specialist travel insurers that provide 24/7 emergency assistance, customer service and claims support.
24/7 emergency assistance
If you need medical assistance or emergency medical evacuation, World Nomads’ multi-lingual team is available 24/7 to connect you with medical treatment and transportation during your trip.
Buy and claim on the road
Had a change of plans? You can extend your period of cover or claim online at any point in your journey. You can even buy a World Nomads policy if you’re already travelling.
Adventure activity coverage
Designed by travelers, for travelers, World Nomads covers over 150 adventure sports and activities so you can explore your boundaries.
Travel safety tips and alerts
World Nomads provides useful and up-to-date travel insurance information and global travel safety advice to help you plan for your journey and navigate the risks.
Donate and make a difference
When you buy travel insurance with World Nomads, you can make a micro-donation to a community development project to help change lives in the destinations that need it most.
Travel content to help inspire, educate and plan
Plan your trip with free destination guides, develop your travel storytelling skills and learn how you can be a more responsible traveler with World Nomads as your travel companion.
World Nomads provides travel insurance for travelers in over 100 countries. As an affiliate, we receive a fee when you get a quote from World Nomads using this link. We do not represent World Nomads. This is information only and not a recommendation to buy travel insurance.
What Exactly is Covered?
World Nomads has two types of insurance plans. These are the Standard and Explorer plans. Both offer excellent coverage, but the Explorer plan provides a higher level of payout.
I can not give you the exact details of the monetary value of what is covered because it varies based on your country of residence. However, you can easily check it out yourself by getting a quote for your trip coverage.
Coverage is provided for:
Emergency Accident & Sickness Medical Expense
Repatriation of Remains
Non-Medical Emergency Transportation
Baggage & Personal Effects
Baggage Delay (outward journey only)
Accidental Death & Dismemberment
Adventure Sports & Activities
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Our Experience with World Nomads
As I mentioned above, we always use World Nomads. And as frequent travelers, we have had some travel interruptions and injuries which required us to use our travel insurance. Two experiences stand out in mind.
1. When we first arrived in Costa Rica I developed a very terrifying rash all over my face. It was to the point that my eye completely swelled shut. I went to one doctor who wasn’t very helpful, so I started doing my own research. Eventually, I figured it out.
Mango trees apparently contain the same oil as poison ivy. Who knew? I definitely had no idea since I grew up far away from mango trees in cold New England.
A few days before this rash developed I had been picking mangos off the tree at a friend’s house. So, this was definitely the cause.
I have always been very sensitive to poison ivy and have had this issue in the past. So, I knew exactly what I needed to do. I went to the doctor and they prescribed me steroids to take to speed up the healing process. After a few days I was back to normal.
I then gathered all my receipts from the two doctors I saw and the prescription meds I received and submitted them in a claim to World Nomads.
It was no stress, easy, and I quickly received a refund for my expenses.
2. The second time I had to file a claim was when I had a flight scheduled that was canceled at the last minute. The airline refused to help me and refunded me for the ticket cost, but to book a new flight I lost out on several hundred dollars.
I submitted my new flight info, cancellation info, and all relevant documents to World Nomads and they quickly reimbursed me the flight price difference.
Common Reasons to Use Travel Insurance in Costa Rica
Keep in mind that Costa Rica is a foreign country and things aren’t always regulated the way you might be used to.
For example, at a waterfall, you may see a sign that says “Slippery When Wet” rather than an area actually being blocked off. Just use your best judgment in these situations.
Also, Costa Rica is a country made for adventure. You may find yourself taking on activities which you’ve never participated in before. This obviously makes you more susceptible to injury.
One of the most common emails we get from injured people is actually about severe sunburns. Keep in mind that Costa Rica is close to the Equator. The UV index is super high. Even when it might not be extremely hot out and you are not sitting in the sun you can still get badly sunburned.
If you need tips for protecting yourself from the sun we have a full guide to the sun in Costa Rica.
You never know when you will come down with an illness. The most common illnesses we hear about from visitors are stomach problems and common colds or flu.
Keep in mind that you may not be used to the food here. When possible, always eat at reputable restaurants and drink bottled water.
In general, tap water is perfectly fine to drink throughout the country, but if you would like to be cautious just drink bottled water.
Animal Related Injury
I have to admit, there are plenty of poisonous animals or animals that can injure you in Costa Rica. The odds of something happening to you are low, but you never know.
The most common animal-related problem tends to be from mosquito bites. It is possible to get Dengue or Zika. Learn all about how to protect yourself in our Costa Rica mosquito guide.
When hiking please wear shoes instead of sandals and if going off main trails always wear clothes that cover you.
If you do get bit by a snake, spider etc. call 9-1-1 immediately to receive quick treatment.
Stolen or Lost Property
Besides health-related problems, some travel insurance plans also cover lost or stolen items. Costa Rica is pretty safe, but petty crime does occasionally happen. It is nice to know that if something does happen to your gear, travel insurance will cover it.
We have a guide to staying safe in Costa Rica if you would like more info about protecting yourself from crimes.
Delays on Travel Days
One of the many perks of having travel insurance is the coverage for the days you are traveling to and from your destination.
Travel insurance often covers things such as delayed or lost luggage as well as flight delays and your accommodations if you need to spend the night somewhere.
Where to Go if Ill in Costa Rica
In Costa Rica it is possible to get treated for minor illnesses and injuries at pharmacies. Pharmacies can provide minor medical care for things such as sunburns, colds, stomach problems etc. They can also provide you with prescription medicines that you would usually need to go to the doctor to get a prescription for in other countries.
You will have no problem finding a pharmacy in almost every town in Costa Rica.
Most towns have at least one doctor’s office. We suggest going here if the pharmacist can not help you or your illness/ injury is a bit more severe. A doctor can better access the situation and help decide if it is necessary for you to go to a hospital.
There are hospitals located in some of the main cities throughout the country but the major ones are in San Jose. For life-threatening injuries, you will likely be transferred to San Jose.
If you need to seek medical treatment in a Costa Rica hospital, you can expect very professional, well-trained doctors.
In fact, we’ve found that many even speak English.
Car Rental Insurance
In Costa Rica, you can not use most travel insurance plans for car rental coverage. There are two mandatory types of mandatory rental car insurance here.
One (Liability Protection) needs to be purchased by every person driving in Costa Rica. The other mandatory insurance (Car Protection) also needs to be purchased by law.
However, if your credit card company covers you for Car Protection in Costa Rica you can void the car protection, depending on which car company you rent with.
We highly suggest renting your car with Adobe. They are our go-to car rental company because they are completely upfront with their costs and are just an all-around amazing company.
Adobe does not bundle the Liability and Car Protection together. So, if your credit card will cover you for car protection you will not need to pay for it.
Adobe has given us a 10% discount plus other great perks to pass on to you. You can find out more here.
Final Travel Insurance Tips
- Keep in mind that travel insurance does not typically cover pre-existing conditions. It is not possible to use travel insurance to deal with previous health issues.
- Costa Rica is a popular medical tourism destination. Although travel insurance is not likely to cover you for these procedures, if you would like to get any plastic surgery or dental work done that is not covered by your insurance at home, it may be a lot cheaper in Costa Rica.
- There are private and public hospitals in Costa Rica. For serious issues we suggest going to CIMA in the Escazu area of San Jose. This hospital is also the most popular medical tourism facility.
- If you have trouble communicating in Spanish with a medical professional, ask if they have anybody around who can speak English. If not, the Google Translate app is always a lifesaver. There is a “Conversation” feature that allows you to speak and have your words translated into Spanish.
- You do not need to bring a printed out copy of your travel insurance with you to Costa Rica, but if you have a printer it never hurts to have a hard copy just in case.
- If you use your travel insurance, don’t forget to submit your claim to get your money back!
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If you have any questions about travel insurance please leave them in the comment section below. We are always happy to help you out! Also, if you have used World Nomads while in Costa Rica we would love to hear about your experience to help future travelers.