guide to cuban travel insurance

The Cuba Travel Insurance & Medical Cover Guide

Since 2010 the Cuban government has required that tourists and visitors obtain medical travel insurance before being allowed entry to the country.  If you are traveling to Cuba you need to take out travel insurance for that reason alone, let alone all the other reasons for taking out travel insurance.  As of 2021, it’s also been a requirement that your Cuban travel insurance provides coverage for Covid-19. In this article, we’ll cover the reasons for Cuba Travel Insurance and some of the risks of traveling to Cuba to consider before you buy your health insurance for Cuba.


Why Do You Need Travel Insurance for Cuba?

There are a variety of reasons why you should take out travel insurance before visiting Cuba, and for ensuring that you have proof of your Cuban travel insurance when you arrive in the country.

The Cuban Government Require Proof of Medical Insurance

Since May 2010 the Cuban government has required that all foreign visitors purchase travel health insurance.   This rule applies to Cuban living abroad as well as foreign tourists.  The reason for this is to ensure that those holidaying on the island nation have adequate medical coverage before arriving in Cuba.  If you are ill and need medical assistance while you are visiting Cuba, then Cuban authorities will delay your return home until you have paid your outstanding medical bills.

You may be asked for proof of your Cuban travel and health insurance at immigration when arriving in Cuba.    If you do not have this you will have to buy health insurance from the local provider, or you will be denied entry to Cuba. There is a local provider in the immigration area at Havana airport.

You can read more here about what to expect on arrival in Cuba. The other item you’ll need to enter Cuba is a Cuban Tourist Card – read here about how to get a Tourist Card for Cuba.

Why Wait? Get a quote for medical insurance to Cuba NOW

The Cuban Government Requires that Travel Insurance provides Covid-19 coverage

It is a requirement of entry to Cuba that your medical insurance for your trip to Cuba also covers Covid-19 coverage. If you test positive for Coronavirus while in Cuba you will be taken to a hospital or medical center and must pay for your treatment and any medications on your discharge. This is likely to be around US$200 a day. Get a quote for medical insurance that includes Covid-19 coverage for Cuba here.

Not all companies will cover US Citizens to travel to Cuba, check with your provider.

Get a quote for Cuba Travel and Medical Insurance here.

Read about restrictions related to Covid-19 and traveling to Cuba here.

Avoid Unforeseen Costs with Cuba Travel Insurance

If your funds are unlimited then you might not take out travel insurance, however, the avoidance of unforeseen costs is why we all buy travel insurance.  It means we have the peace of mind that if something goes wrong, and there are additional costs to bear – like an emergency flight home or medical costs, or your luggage gets lost or stolen – that it’s covered and you don’t have to pay the cost yourself.

Serious Crime is low, but Robbery Can Occur

Serious crime and levels of robbery are very low when they do occur it tends to be opportunistic.  It’s necessary, always, to be aware of your surroundings and protect valuables.  We always travel with a portable safe and secure our valuables in it in the room when we leave. Here’s our guide to the best portable travel safes for Cuba.

Check out Pacsafe options here – from the 25 Litre Pacsafe, to the 120l wire keep all to much smaller bags.  We travel with the 15 litre Pacsafe.

Our 12-litre Pacsafe can fit two laptops, two kindles and a camera, passports and money in it.  We locked our valuables inside it when snorkeled and dived from beaches in Cuba (and padlocked it to a tree!) and also left it in our rooms in our Casa Particulars too.

Cuba is primarily a cash-based society

Cuba is primarily a cash-based society, ATMs do not always work for every traveler’s debit and cash cards, so tourists tend to travel with more cash than in other countries.  (Read our guide to Cuban currency here.) The potential for petty theft and pickpocketing is higher because of this.  Ensure that your case is safely locked away (use something like the Pacsafe for this).

Safe Drinking Water isn’t always available

The general rule in Cuba is that you should avoid drinking tap water in Cuba.   While the local population may drink tap water, your stomach might not be as resilient.    Tap water in Cuba is treated with chlorine to kill bacteria, so it also usually tastes a little bit like swimming pool water. Our guide to drinking water in Cuba is here

In many parts of Cuba, it is possible to buy bottled water, if it’s available.  However, we recommend using a filter water bottle – which will save the environment and your money.   It’s much safer than ending up with traveler’s diarrhea and ruining your holiday!

Cuba has a high risk of dengue fever and the Zika virus

You should take steps to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes as Cuba is classified as having a risk of dengue fever and the Zika virus.    While Havana’s health facilities are better than other areas of Cuba if you need to be evacuated for medical reasons then a hospital stay can cost US$200 a day.

A good Cuba health insurance policy will protect you from this cost. With proof of medical insurance, Cuban authorities may also bill your insurance company directly.

Road Conditions in Cuba Can be Dire

Road conditions in parts of Cuba can be pretty dire.  While there are occasional weather situations that affect this, like hurricanes, for instance, the primary reason for poor road conditions is the lack of maintenance.

In 2019 there were 29 traffic accidents per day in the first 3 months of 2019.

The main roads in Havana are generally well maintained, but smaller streets tend not to be.  There’s a lack of road lighting at night and lights on vehicles aren’t always what you’ve come to expect at home.    Add to that, Cuban cars tend to be very old and often in poor condition without 21st-century safety equipment.

You’ll also find many pedestrians, farm equipment, bicycles, and horse-drawn vehicles on more rural roads – as well as areas that are unfenced and where livestock roams free.

Now you might not be renting a car (it’s quite unusual in Cuba to rent cars), but it’s likely you’ll be using transport to get around – so a car and driver or a Viazul Bus and so you will be using the roads! Read more about Cuban transport options here.

Adventure Activities Are Higher Risk

Do you plan on hiking, diving, horse-riding, or biking when you visit Cuba?  These activities come with higher risks of injuries than sitting on the beach.

Flight Delays and Cancellations are possible

Hurricane season in Cuba runs from June until November, which can mean flash floods and landslides as well as the hurricane itself.  If you’re caught in a Cuban hurricane, then you can expect the loss of power, communications and water.  Flights are likely to be delayed or canceled.

The Risks of Travelling to Cuba

The risks of traveling to Cuba are no different from other countries and islands in the Caribbean area.  Depending on the time of year that you travel hurricanes could be an issue, but the risks of Cuban travel include, but are not limited to

  • Robbery
  • Health – dengue fever and the Zika virus are present
  • Lack of safe drinking water
  • Poor road conditions
  • Flight cancellations and delays
  • Adventure activities carry risks – like diving
  • Cash society means more likelihood of opportunistic pickpocketing

Why do you need travel insurance for Cuba?

Some people never buy travel insurance and it is possible to anywhere without travel insurance, mostly, if you so choose.  Apart from Cuba, where the government mandates that you must have health insurance before entering the country.  You may be lucky, and you may not be asked to provide evidence of your travel insurance, but if you are asked and you don’t have it, then you’ll either have to buy it on the spot at the rates quoted, or you’ll be denied entry.

Travel insurance is there for you to pay for the unknown.  The cost of hospital and doctor’s bills if you get sick, replacement items if your gear gets stolen, the cost of flying you home if you need to be repatriated, or if events with family members mean that you need to return home.

Get a quote for Cuba Travel Insurance here.

Do you need special travel insurance for Cuba?

Yes.  Medical insurance for Cuba is required to enter the country.  Cuba is usually included in the group of countries that include the USA and the Caribbean, which attract higher insurance premiums, usually due to either the higher cost of medical assistance or the difficulties of providing more advanced medical support in smaller communities.

It’s extremely important to check the small print of your policy to ensure that your policy covers you for, for instance, diving if you plan to dive.

What do you need to take into account when buying Travel Insurance for Cuba?

There are several things you need to take into consideration when buying travel insurance for Cuba.  We’ve detailed these below.

The activities you plan to undertake

Cuba is a unique location to visit.  You won’t necessarily find all the adventure sports and activities that you would in other Caribbean locations – but you will find boat trips, diving, snorkeling, bicycling, rock climbing, and horse riding.

If you plan to undertake any of these activities, then you need to ensure that it’s covered by your insurance.

Where you are when you take out the insurance policy

Most travel and health insurance companies only provide insurance if you are leaving on your trip from your home address.  Other require that you have been resident in that country for six months or more, and you will likely also have to be registered with a local doctor.

We found this out when we started our travels in 2014 – have returned from 4 years working in the USA, we were not registered with a doctor and had been in the country 6 days not 6 months! 

So if you’re already on the road or find yourself living a nomadic lifestyle I really recommend that you take a look at providers who can cover that for your holiday insurance for Cuba. You can get a quote for Cuba Medical Insurance from Visitor Coverage here.

Your age and the age of travelers on the same policy

If you’re 55 or old, then you’ll need to review your travel insurance provider.  Many companies change their policies at this age and you need to ensure that you’re covered. 

Pre-existing medical conditions

If you live with and are traveling with existing medical conditions then you’ll need to declare them, otherwise, if something happens related o that condition while you’re in Cuba then your insurance won’t cover it.  It’s also worth checking to see if you need to declare if you’re had surgery in the last 12 months, regardless of what hat surgery was before you buy your travel insurance policy.

FAQS on Cuba Travel Insurance

Got questions about travel and medical insurance for Cuba? Or want to know more about Cuban medical insurance and we haven’t answered your questions?  Check out our frequently asked questions about travel insurance for Cuba below, or ask us yours in the comments.

What about Medical Insurance for Americans traveling to Cuba?

Note that if you’re a US citizen then many insurance providers will not provide cover for Cuba. Your AIRLINE ticket may cover you – please check – and retain your boarding pass for proof of coverage. Your existing health coverage may also cover you, but again, please check. There is an Asistur office at Havana airport arrivals that can sell you the insurance for around US$4.50 a day for US citizens.

Is medical insurance for Cuba mandatory?

Yes.  Travel insurance for Cuba must contain a medical insurance element.  You may be denied entrance to Cuba if you’re unable to provide proof of your medical insurance.

What travel insurance do I need for Cuba?

It is the medical element of travel insurance that is required for entry to Cuba. Get a quote for Medical Insurance for Cuba here.

What happens if I don’t have medical travel insurance when I arrive in Cuba?

If you arrive in Cuba without travel health insurance or with an invalid policy then you can buy a policy at the airport where you enter Cuba.  Cuba travel health insurance that you buy at the airport is unlikely to be as comprehensive as the policy that you buy before entering the country.  If you have medical bills while you are in Cuba you will NOT be allowed to leave the country until they are settled.

Essential Resources for Exploring Cuba

Travel and Health Insurance is mandatory for entry to Cuba. If you have medical bills while there you won’t be allowed to leave the country until they’re settled.

You will need a Cuba Tourist Card to enter Cuba – some airlines include these, if yours doesn’t, buy one from EasyTouristCard – now valid for 90 days!!

Book your Viazul Bus tickets here

Pre-book and prepay shared & private shuttles here

Book the best FREE Walking Tours in Cuba

Reserve attractions, day trips, and activities in Cuba here

Download and install a VPN BEFORE you travel to Cuba > discount coupon here

Book Accommodation in Cuba’s Casa Particular here

Pack these Items – you’re unlikely to find them in Cuba

Final words on Cuba Travel Insurance

We have had no issues traveling to Cuba.  Our travels have taken us from Havana to Baracoa in the far west of the country.  We took many buses, we hiked, we scuba dived, we snorkeled.  We stayed in Casa Particulars, ate street food, drank some great Cuban cocktails, and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves in Cuba.  We traveled on endless Viazul buses, we took taxis and colectivos that ran out of fuel and spewed fumes into the car.  We did, however, have a comprehensive insurance policy – and learned from other trips where we have had to claim on our insurance that it is well worth it!

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