colombia travel insurance

Why you need Travel Insurance for Colombia

Colombia is a pretty safe country to travel to for visitors, but it is a mecca for adventure sports and activities.  Unlike other countries, it’s not a mandatory requirement to have travel insurance to enter the country, but it’s a sensible move.  Whether you plan on hiking at altitude, heading out on multi-day treks, or even just heading to the capital city, Bogota, then having medical cover is a sensible precaution.  Even Bogota is at an altitude of 2,640 meters (8,660 feet) above sea level. In this article, we’ll share the key requirements for Colombia travel insurance and what you need to look out for.


How Does Travel Insurance Differ from Regular Health Insurance?

Travel insurance covers you for cancellations, emergency medical treatment, and the loss of personal belongings.  So if your flight is canceled through no fault of your own, or your bag is stolen, your wallet is pickpocketed or you fall ill while you’re in Colombia, then travel insurance will cover you.

Why do you need travel insurance for Colombia?

Travel insurance gives you peace of mind – that if your bag is stolen, that if you get sick, that if your flight is canceled that you’ll still be able to either continue with your trip or return home without being out of pocket.  We’ve had to return home early, twice in the last few years for family emergencies and I can tell you that last-minute tickets are not cheap.  Luckily our claims were dealt with quickly and efficiently – without which we’d have been nearly US$10,000 out of pocket

TLDR:  Get a quote for Colombia travel insurance here.  Even if you’re already traveling.

And while if you get sick in Colombia, the local medical care isn’t that expensive, should you require transport back home, well that’s expensive.  Really expensive.  Losing your laptop or phone?  Yeah, that’ll hurt too. 

So travel insurance for Colombia gives you a lot more confidence to go out and enjoy Colombia – to take the trek that you want to, to go diving, to explore the street food scene.

Avoid unforeseen costs with travel insurance

This is the primary reason for buying travel insurance – to travel without worrying about unforeseen costs that we can’t afford.  I don’t have US$10,000 sitting in my account on the off chance that I have to return home.  And that’s why we buy travel insurance.

Buy travel insurance in case your gear goes missing or gets stolen

Colombia is generally quite a safe place to travel to these days, but opportunistic thefts do happen.  Wallets get pickpocketed.  You’re focusing so much on taking amazing photos, that you don’t zip up your bag.  Or you leave your phone on the table and it goes missing.  That’s what travel insurance is there to cover you for.  Or, for us, our camera got sand in it. (that was Mui Ne, Vietnam)  Don’t try it.  Really.  Don’t.  It always happens at the worst possible times. 

Travel insurance covers you if you need to cancel your trip

And heck we’ve had a lot of cancellations over the last couple of years, right?  So whether you need to cancel because of weather, because of family issues.  That’s where travel insurance for Colombia will help you out.  You won’t be out of pocket for something out of your control.

There is a high risk of road traffic accidents in Colombia

The number of road traffic accidents in Colombia increased to 13.5  people per 100,000 population in 2017.  An increase of 20% from 2010 to 2017. In 2020 the rate had risen to 14.72 per hundred thousand people.  It’s not the worst country in the world for road traffic accidents, but it’s not the best either.

Serious Crime is low, but opportunistic robberies can be a problem

While the rates of serious crime amongst foreign visitors are low you should still be aware of your surroundings and protect valuables. We always travel with a portable safe from Pacsafe and secure our valuables in it in the room when we leave.  Our 15-liter Pacsafe can fit two laptops, two kindles, a camera, passports, and money in it.  Insurance will cover you regardless of whether you have a portable safe, but honestly, the hassle of losing something while you’re away is a huge pain.

We lost a passport on one trip.  And I can’t being to tell you how difficult that makes it.  Luckily, we were on a one-country trip at the time and were due to return home at the end of it.  I can’t imagine what the situation would have been like if we’d been on a multi-country trip.  But yes, Colombia travel insurance would cover you for this. (But read the small print and check!)

Adventure activities come with higher risks of injury

You’re coming to Colombia to experience the whole country and the great outdoors. I imagine you’ll want to hike, perhaps the Cocora Valley?  Or maybe the Lost City Trek?  Perhaps theres’ a volcano that you want to hike?  Or you want to go canyoning or white water rafting, snorkeling, or diving.  All these activities come with higher risks of injuries than more sedentary activities and they are classed as higher risk by insurance companies.

Colombia is a malarial and dengue fever area

Malaria is endemic in lower-lying areas of Colombia.  I can tell you that in the Colombian Amazon the mosquitoes are vicious.  Dengue is a mosquito-borne disease that may cause a high fever, headache, vomiting, muscle, and joint pains.  Treatment for dengue may require hospitalization.

Safe drinking water is not always provided in Colombia

Tap water is usually relatively safe in many of the cities in Colombia, however, it’s not so in the more rural places.  And just because your hotel or hostel has filtered drinking water it doesn’t mean that the guys selling arepas on the street that you absolutely have to buy have used safe water.  Or that the fresh fruit smoothie that you’ve bought from the market has filtered water in it.  I’m cautious when I travel over food, but that doesn’t stop me from eating it.  But I always make sure that I have medical cover in case something does go wrong.  I’ve had weeks of antibiotic treatment, including several hospital visits because of dodgy water.  It’s not nice and it’s not cheap either. Always travel with a filter water bottle. Trust me it’s worth it.

Get Colombian Travel Insurance to cover Attitude Sickness

Soroche or altitude sickness is common with visitors to Colombia, especially if you arrive in the capital city, Bogota.  Bogota is at 2640 meters above sea level and there are some amazing things to do in Bogota.  And then you’ll want to hike up Monserrate, at 3,152 meters. (it’s one of the best day trips to do from Bogota)  If you plan to hike Nevado del Tolima, then the summit is 5,200 meters. Even Volcán Puracé is 4650 meters.   And getting rescued at altitude is expensive.

Colombia Travel Insurance can cover you for adventure sports

Trekking, white water rafting, paragliding (it’s an awesome way to see places!), and diving are fabulous sports to try while you’re away.  But accidents do happen. And they’re expensive to deal with if they happen.

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

There are a bunch of things that you need to take into consideration when buying travel insurance for Colombia.  We’ve detailed these below.

The altitude to which you plan to travel

Let’s start with Bogota and go from there.  Believe me, if you arrive in Cartagena, spend time there, and then fly to Bogota you’ll feel the altitude.  Many insurance policies cover you to 2,000 meters.  Colombia’s capital city is at 2,640 meters.  Problemo numero uno.   Take a look at all the places that you plan on visiting in Colombia.  And then look at the altitude and see if you need a specific cover for it.

The activities you plan to undertake

Colombia is a delight for adventure junkies.  You can bungee jump, white-water raft, go canyoning, you can go to the Amazon. Swim with dolphins, go mountain biking, rock climbing, paraglide, zip line, and paraglide.  In Colombia, you can even play with gunpowder. If you plan to undertake any of these activities, then you need to ensure that it’s specifically covered on your insurance.

Where you are when you take out the insurance policy

The vast majority of insurance companies will ONLY provide travel insurance if you are at home when you take out the policy.  AND many others require that you have been resident in that country for at least six months AND that you need to be registered with a local doctor.

We found this out when we started our travels in 2014 – had 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!  World Nomads to the rescue with our policy that we took out, and then renewed while we were on the road.

So if you’re already on the road or find yourself living a nomadic lifestyle I really recommend that you take a look at World Nomads for your travel insurance for Colombia

Your age and the age of travelers on the same policy

Nigel hit 58 this year.  And that means that our insurance policies need a review, as many companies will no longer cover us as he’s over 55.   Your age and the age of your companions are of key interest to insurance companies.    Luckily for us, World Nomads is one of the companies that continues to provide policies for those aged over 55.  And those under 55.  Their flexibility is superb.

Pre-existing medical conditions

If you live with existing medical conditions or have had surgery within the last 6-12 months you usually have to declare it before buying a travel insurance policy. And yes, this included my badly broken wrist (that was Dunstanburgh Castle in the UK)!  Read the forms carefully while you are buying.  Providing deliberately misleading information on a travel insurance form is likely to end badly and expensively for you.

FAQS on Colombia Travel Insurance

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

Is insurance mandatory in Colombia?

Travel insurance is NOT mandatory in Colombia like it is in countries like Cuba.  If you don’t have travel insurance and have an incident when traveling in Colombia then you’ll just be responsible for paying the costs of repatriation and medical bills yourself.  Equally, if your gear is stolen, then you’ll have to replace it at your own cost.

What happens if I don’t have travel insurance in Colombia?

If you don’t have travel insurance while traveling in Colombia and something happens then you’ll just need to cover the costs yourself.  It’s probably a good time to mention the news articles that reference people crowdfunding to get repatriated?  That’s 99% likely because they didn’t have enough insurance to cover their return home.

Travel Tips for Exploring Colombia

Our Final Words on Travel Insurance in Colombia

So there we have it.  Our guide to why you should take out travel insurance for a visit to Colombia.  And what it is that you should look for when buying Colombian travel insurance.  Did you buy it yet?  Yes?  Good, now get on and plan your visit.  Colombia is a fabulous country and we have loved it each and every time we’ve visited.  However, you choose to travel and wherever you choose to visit in Colombia I hope you have a fabulous time!

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