Visiting Cuba? Not Without a Travel Insurance Plan…

Travelling to Cuba? Don’t forget your health card and a copy of your travel insurance.

Did you know that Canadians travelling to Cuba need travel insurance that covers medical expenses? The government of Cuba announced in May 2010 that upon arrival in Cuba, foreign visitors are required to present an insurance policy, insurance certificate, or medical assistance card valid for the period of their stay in the country.

A travel insurance policy with sufficient medical coverage should be obtained from the initial country of departure. However, travellers who don’t have proof of insurance must purchase coverage from a Cuban insurance company located at the airport or cruise port.

What does this mean for Canadians? 

Anytime you go abroad, you should purchase the best travel coverage suited to your budget and itinerary in case you get sick or are injured. In a matter of minutes, Kanetix.ca can find you the best rates on travel insurance plans.

Your provincial health card will be accepted as proof of coverage, but provincial health care systems usually do not cover medical expenses abroad. At most, they may cover a very small fraction of the cost.

Some airlines may even ask you to present proof of coverage while checking into your flight to Cuba.

Also be prepared to pay costs up front as provincial plans require Canadians to pay Cuban hospitals, doctors or other medical expenses in full at the time of treatment, and then file a claim for reimbursement later. Some private insurers have the same process. So it is imperative to bring a credit card or other forms of payment to cover any medical services while there. Cuban authorities can stop visitors from leaving the country if they have outstanding medical bills.

What about other travellers?

The law also applies to Cubans living abroad and temporary residents.

Now that improved government relations have granted Americans access to fly directly from the United States to Cuba, Americans must also show proof of coverage. However, US insurance companies still cannot provide coverage in Cuba. So Americans will also be forced to purchase a policy from a Cuban insurance company upon arrival.

Be Prepared

It’s always best to have a comprehensive travel insurance plan when leaving the country. Even if you currently have multiple trip coverage, ensure that Cuba is not excluded from its list of covered destinations. Not all travel insurance companies include certain destinations in their policies. Remember to read the small print and make sure your policy covers everything you plan to do. And don’t forget to print a copy of your plan before you leave!