Steeped in revolutionary history, salsa and sun, this large Caribbean island offers a sensory sensation like no other. With its’ sugary-white sandy beaches lining the North coast and the chance to meander tobacco fields, puff on cigars, salsa the night away and go cruising in a vintage Chevrolet, Cuba really is an eclectic country.
A city trapped in a time warp since the late 1950s, Havana has a backdrop of faded glamour amidst crumbling colonial architecture. Just when Cuba began to glimmer hopes of growing prosperity with new fancy restaurants and housing developments popping up, Hurricane Irma swept through in September 2017 leaving Cuba bruised and battered.
Havana has largely recovered, but certain parts of the island still bear deep scars from Irma’s passage. Albeit not as fast as residents would have liked, places like Baracoa, Santiago de Cuba, Trinidad and Viñales have also now recovered.
Cuba is-a-changin' – so if you want to experience the Cuba of yesteryear, now is the time to go.
travel insurance for CUBA is a must!
It's always a good idea to have travel insurance wherever you go in the world, but put quite frankly, you won't get in to Cuba without it. It is a government requirement to have travel insurance with adequate medical and repatriation cover to enter Cuba and spot checks are done at the airport.
If your travel insurance doesn’t meet their standards, you'll have to buy another policy from the Cuban state’s tourist-assistance company Asistur. This may not be as comprehensive as a policy bought from New Zealand.
tips to compare travel insurance for cuba:
- Use a comparison to compare your travel insurance quotes
- Check that it has top medical cover
- Check that you’re covered for the minimum repatriation requirements
- Make sure it’s underwritten by a non-USA underwriter
- Make sure that it covers you for everything that you want to do
Comprehensive travel insurance for North America and the Caribbean, including Cuba will cover you for unexpected accident or illness, lost luggage or theft, unforeseen trip cancellation and much more.
Given travel insurance is required to enter the country, it’s a good idea to keep a copy of your policy with you to show officials at immigration.
When comparing travel insurance policies, it's wise to also consider benefits, as well as cost.
How much does travel insurance for cuba cost?
The cost of travel insurance can vary enormously! Say you’re 30 years old and you’re going to Cuba for a two-week holiday. Depending on your preferred level of cover, you can expect to pay anywhere from $46 to $230. To give you an idea, we’ve outlined the costs of several policies below.
Medical Only Policies: If you’re looking for a budget or medical only policy Zoom's Medical Only or Amex's International Basics are the cheapest policies on our site. These policy include unlimited medical benefits, over $1 million personal liability.
Comprehensive policies: If you’re looking for a more comprehensive policy with the added benefits of travel delays, accidental death, permanent disability and in some cases rental vehicle excess and more, the following four insurers off more bang for your buck. TINZ.co.nz, 1Cover, NZ Travel Insurance, DUinsure and Webjet Travel Insurance each offer great value comprehensive policies that include unlimited medical benefits, at least $20,000 for cancellation and at least $7,500 for luggage.
*All prices accurate at time of writing 12 September 2018.
Once you’re in Cuba, the options to navigate your way through the island-nation are plentiful. Renting a car in Cuba is relatively easy and common among tourists, but caution should be taken when driving at night as many roads are poorly lit (or not lit at all). There are plenty of taxis available for hire, but make sure you opt for a licenced one. The buses are pretty reliable and clean, with some services specifically designated for tourists to travel between popular cities. Trains exist but they aren’t the most reliable of services. And of course cruising Cuba in a classic car is cool, but have you considered cruising Cuba on a cruise ship?
Why not see Cuba from a different perspective? You still have the chance to roam the streets but also have the creature comforts of your cabin, internet wi-fi services, reliable food options on board the ship and views from the upper decks. These days there’s a Cuba cruise and itinerary for every style of traveller and budget. But if you’re heading on a Caribbean or Cuban cruise, make sure that your insurance covers cruises.
What will my policy cover?
The health insurance aspect has been a requirement for travellers to enter Cuba since May 2010, but here are some of the other Cuban calamities that travel insurance can bail you out on.
- Weather catastrophes: Whilst the weather is warm in Cuba all year round, the risk of hurricane in the wet season between July and November is high. Comprehensive travel insurance covers you for any trip disruptions due to an unexpected hurricane, bad weather or natural disaster, but time is of the essence. It’s important to buy your policy in advance as once an event has taken place or is widespread in the mass media, it’s no longer ‘unforeseen’ and you'd be left high and dry.
- Pickpockets or stolen bags: Generally speaking, Havana is a safe place with violent crime (against tourists) almost unheard of. Muggings are rare, but with the influx of tourists, petty street crimes such as bag snatch and grabs and pickpockets are on the rise. Keep your valuables out of view, bags securely fastened and never leave your belongings unsecured. Tourists are generally visible in a foreign environment, so avoid flashing your wealth to lurking opportunists.
- Cuban roads can be dangerous: The main roads are generally fine, but (wait for it!), the paved roads can sometimes end without any notice. If you’re getting behind the wheel of a rental car, it’s important to familiarise yourself with printed maps (GPS is unlikely to work), watch out for large potholes, take caution at night as roads are often poorly lit and be aware that you may be sharing the road with pedestrians and bicycles. Should you be unfortunate enough to have an accident on Cuban roads, your travel insurance would cover any associated medical expenses and often the rental vehicle excess component of your car hire agreement (provided you were law abiding – i.e. licenced and not drunk).
- Travellers tummy: When in Cuba, some tap water is safe and some isn’t, so if you want to avoid an upset tummy or stomach bug, avoid the tap water. The same common sense applies with food. From high-end restaurants to street food, check for cleanliness and plenty of patronage for your green light. Of course, if you did end up in hospital or missing some of your prepaid tours due to illness, travel insurance would have you covered.
What won't my policy cover
- Unattended items: Keep a strong hold over all your belongings as leaving your stuff unsupervised will not be covered. That also means not leaving your stuff with the residents of your casa particular.
- Cuba can be intoxicating: It’s no secret that Kiwi's don't mind a drink and when we think about Cuban cuisine and culture, it's difficult not to consider cocktails. Whether it's Daquiris, Mojitos, Cubatas (rums and cola), or Pina Colados it's important to keep it in control. Generally speaking, travel insurance companies all have exclusions relating to drugs and alcohol. However, this can only be applied in circumstances where the consumption of alcohol has caused or contributed to the loss. So enjoy your holiday but take reasonable care to ensure that you look after yourself and minimise the prospect of a claim.
- Adventure activities: As with most Caribbean destinations, there is a heavy emphasis on water sports. For travellers that want to snorkel the coastlines or explore the deeper pristine reef system, the options for snorkelling, scuba diving and sailing are plentiful. Just make sure that your chosen activities are covered under your travel insurance policy. Additional cover can usually be purchased as an Adventure Pack add-on with most insurers if the activities aren't covered as standard. For travellers over 70 years of age or those planning to partake in high-risk activities, you may need to purchase additional insurance from Asistur, the Cuban insurance provider.
- Pre-existing conditions: Medical conditions that exist before you travel are generally not covered, but it pays to check. You can sometimes pay a bit extra to get some conditions covered. Check your policy wording to see what conditions are covered automatically, and which ones require a medical assessment first.
- Unreported items: You need to report theft or loss to the relevant authority ASAP (and your travel insurance provider) within 24 hours. Cuban police are all over and they're usually very friendly – more likely to ask you for a date than a bribe.
How to save on travel insurance for cuba
- Consider how often you travel - If you travel a few times per year, you could save by purchasing an annual multi-trip policy rather than purchasing a policy each time you take off.
- Combine policies - If travelling with your family or a companion, a joint policy is often cheaper than purchasing separately.
- Increase your excess - Most insurers allow you to lower your premium by opting to pay a higher excess in the instance that you need to make a claim.
- Shop around - You'll be amazed at how much travel insurance quotes can vary. Quotes by travel agents or airlines usually have significant commissions added on. In fact, you can save up to 50% by shopping around, so it pays to do an online comparison. You can compare loads of quotes in seconds for free, then click through to buy your travel insurance with your chosen insurer. You get the same great price as buying your travel insurance direct, but without the run around of visiting many different sites.
Found yourself in a Cuban catastrophie?
The following emergency contacts should help you out.
Emergency & important numbers
Directory Assistance: 113
New Zealand Embassy
New Zealand Embassy in Mexico, City is responsible for Cuba.
Ruben Dario 55 Col. Polanco, Mexico City, 11580 Mexico
Phone: +52-55-528 39460
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Compare travel insurance for your Cuban holiday today to save time, worry and loads of money. You’ll be on your way to the land of sunshine and music for a relaxed, worry-free holiday quicker than you can say "Hasta luego".