Choosing Travel Insurance for Colombia

Before you savor Colombia’s street food or scale Andean heights, ensure you’re covered with travel insurance for peace of mind.

Colombia has been on your radar for a long time, and you’re finally making moves to go. But have you purchased Colombia travel insurance?

You’ve already taken some Spanish lessons to prepare yourself, and you’ve got all of your necessary vaccinations. You’ve even spent months planning your itinerary.

You’ll wander the Old City streets of Cartagena and bounce between the beaches off the coast. You’ll try every restaurant in Medellín’s El Poblado, and you’ll climb all 740 steps up the famous Guatapé rock. Oh, and you can’t wait to hike amongst the tallest palm trees in the world in Salento.

Now the easy part is getting yourself travel insurance. And, since you’re traveling to Colombia, you need it. While Colombia is a relatively safe country to travel, there are a multitude of reasons why travel insurance is still key.

  • Travel insurance for your Colombia trip will give you peace of mind. The last thing you want to do while traveling somewhere new is to be worrying about anything other than enjoying yourself. With travel insurance, no matter what happens—medical issues, theft, travel delays—you can relax knowing you’re covered.
  • Travel insurance will cost only a small fraction of the total trip cost. Quit the excuse that “travel insurance is too expensive.” The truth is that, if you can’t afford travel insurance, you can’t afford to travel.
  • You probably can’t afford to not have travel insurance in Colombia. While medical costs in the country are relatively low, medical transport is not. And what if someone steals your bag? Could you afford to replace everything inside on top of the price of your trip?
  • Travel insurance will give you the confidence to really enjoy your trip. Eat the street meat, go paragliding and take mototaxis around. Most likely, nothing bad will happen but, if something does go awry, you’ll be prepared.

You have plenty of great travel insurance options for Colombia—but there’s a lot you will want to consider when buying a plan.

What Is Travel Insurance?

Travel insurance is a bit like the health insurance you are probably already familiar with. The main difference is that travel insurance is designed to cover medical emergencies abroad as well as your travels themselves. That means you’re covered if your the victim of theft or if you have to cancel your flights (or entire trip!) due to an emergency.

In fact, you will often need both a health insurance plan and travel insurance since your health insurance at home won’t cover the same things abroad.

Essentially, travel insurance is additional insurance that covers any medical emergencies and unexpected incidents while you’re on the road, where your regular insurance won’t necessarily help. It covers your property from theft, loss and/or damage and provides trip cancelation/interruption insurance as well.

Travel Insurance vs. Health Insurance

Two people and a small child crossing a gushing stream
Regular health insurance doesn’t cover adventure activities when you’re abroad!

In addition to covering medical emergencies, travel insurance also usually comes with medical repatriation. This means that the insurance will cover the cost (or a good chunk of the cost) to fly you back home for medical care in your own country. It will not cover your medical care once you’re back home—that’s what your health insurance plan at home is for.

Similar to homeowners’ insurance, travel insurance will usually cover the possessions you take on your trip, as well. If your bag gets stolen in Colombia, travel insurance will kick in and cover the cost to replace your items.

What if you damage someone else’s property or hurt someone accidentally in Colombia? The best travel insurance will also usually have some liability coverage for such issues that other insurances won’t cover.

Moreover, in addition to medical and property coverage, travel insurance will also help in the case of an unexpected trip cancellation or interruption. You might have to cancel your trip because of a death in the family, for example. Or if there is a natural disaster or a violent attack in Colombia, you might want to interrupt your trip and head home early. Travel insurance will reimburse you for costs in situations like these, which other insurance won’t cover.

Reasons to Get Travel Insurance for Colombia

In all honesty, having travel insurance is one of the best travel tips for Colombia I can offer. The fact is, no matter where you travel, you need travel insurance. But in Colombia, especially, it can come in really handy. From medical bills to trip cancelations to stolen items, these eight reasons could ruin the trip you’ve been dreaming of.

1. Your Stuff Goes Missing

With travel insurance in Colombia, you won’t have to stress so much if something goes missing. Whether the airline loses your bag or a pickpocket gets your phone, insurance can help cover the costs to replace the lost items.

2. You Need to Cancel Your Trip

No one ever wants to cancel a trip but sometimes things come up. If you need to cancel your Colombia trip due to a health issue or another covered reason, travel insurance can help. A good policy will reimburse you for pre-paid expenses like hotel rooms and flights.

3. You Get Food Poisoning in Colombia

a woman sells cakes in the street in Colombia
Street food is tasty, but it comes with risks!

While tap water is okay to drink in most major cities, it’s a lot less regulated in rural areas. Plus, there are meat sticks grilling on every corner—and they’re hard to turn down. Combine the two and food poisoning is a real possibility. If you have to pay a visit to the hospital because you caved for one of the Perro Caliente Colombiano hot dogs (and you will eat one), your travel insurance will cover your medical costs.

4. You Fall Victim to Altitude Sickness

Sunlight over the mountains in Colombia
If you’re prone to altitude sickness, you’ll want to be covered for it with your Colombia travel insurance

If you are planning to visit any places in Colombia that are higher up in the Andes, you’ll want to prepare for possible altitude sickness. Bogotá, for example, sits at 8,660 feet above sea level. Locals there will tell you to drink a lot of water to stay hydrated. You might even take over-the-counter pills to prevent altitude sickness. And, if you start feeling nauseous or get a headache, some locals will likely offer you coca leaves (raw but safe material from the cocaine plant) to chew to treat your symptoms.

But, despite all the preparation and home remedies available, if your altitude sickness worsens, it can (and often does) lead to a hospital visit. Travel insurance will cover your medical costs.

5. You Have an Accident Trying Adventure Sports in Colombia

Paragliding in Medellin, Colombia
Paragliding selfie!

Colombia has some really great adventure sport options—paragliding, kitesurfing, motorsports, etc. If you have an accident, these are the type of activities that can quickly run up a hospital bill. If you want to try some extreme sports in Colombia, make sure your travel insurance options covers your specific sports, too.

6. You Need Medical Evacuation in Colombia

Colombia’s major cities like Medellín and Bogotá have some incredible hospitals, but a large part of the country is still very rural. With the Andes Mountains, getting to the nearest hospital can also be a major issue. Medical evacuation by plane or helicopter in Colombia is expensive, but it could easily be a life-or-death necessity. Travel insurance will help cover the cost (or some of the cost) of your evacuation.

7. Political Violence Arises in Colombia

Police stand in riot gear with their backs to the wall
Political violence is unlikely, but not impossible

Colombia recently signed a peace agreement with the FARC guerrilla group. This guerrilla group was involved in the continuing Colombian armed conflict from 1964 to 2017, employing a number of military tactics and terrorism. While Colombia is much safer now thanks to this agreement, there are still military groups causing occasional violence.

These violent political issues could require or compel you to cancel your trip. If you’re already there, political violence may cause you to want to head home early. Travel insurance will reimburse you for a canceled trip under these conditions, and it will help you cover the costs of calling it early.

8. The Venezuela Crisis Exacerbates

A group of people in a square in Venezuela
Things are unstable in Venezuela right now, and some of it is spilling over into Colombia

Speaking of unexpected increases in violence, getting Colombia travel insurance is a particularly wise move at the moment due to the Venezuela crisis. The civil issues currently ongoing in Venezuela, which are spilling over across the Colombian border, are volatile.

If the situation continues to escalate, you might want to reschedule your trip or leave early if you’re already there. Again, travel insurance will help you cover these unexpected costs.

What Does Travel Insurance in Colombia Cover?

While you should always get travel insurance, you want to do more than just buy the first policy you see without reading anything about it. It is important to understand what exactly travel insurance will cover on your Colombia trip.

Every insurance company and policy is a little different. For that reason, we’ve outlined what expenses most travel insurance companies will cover for you on a trip to Colombia.

Medical Emergencies

One of the most valuable elements of a travel insurance plan is the coverage for unexpected medical emergencies. Seeing a doctor for a stomach bug in Colombia is relatively cheap. If you break a leg or worse though, you’ll be happy you have Colombian travel insurance.

What is covered under a medical emergency will vary a bit plan to plan. In general, however, any unforeseen medical issue will be covered—so long as it’s not a preexisting condition.

If you have an accident or get sick, travel insurance will kick in to cover hospital and doctor bills in Colombia. Depending on the medical issue, the hospital and the insurance plan, you might have to pay up front and get reimbursed later from the travel insurance company.

That all said, emergency dental treatment is not always covered. If you plan to do any dangerous activities, like extreme sports, you might have to purchase additional insurance coverage.

The average travel insurance for Colombia should include $50,000 to $100,000 in medical emergency coverage.

Emergency Evacuation

Colombia is a relatively safe place but, if you have an emergency, you might have to leave early.

Emergency evacuation is a broad term for a lot of situations that your Colombia travel insurance may cover.

palm trees bending in the wind in Colombia
Surprise storm isn’t uncommon in this part of the world

First, if you are hurt or become sick in a rural part of Colombia, you might need travel insurance to cover the emergency medical transport to a nearby hospital. In Colombia, there are a number of quite expensive private medical evacuation plane and helicopter companies.

If you are suffering a major health issue, emergency evacuation will also help cover the cost of getting you home to your own doctors. Colombia has credible medical doctors, but if you will need major surgery or rehab, you’ll want to head home.

Sometimes emergency evacuation isn’t tied to a health issue. Travel insurance in Colombia might also come in handy if you need to be evacuated from an unsafe area. From flooding and mudslides to political issues, having the option to be evacuated in an emergency is important.

Average travel insurance for Colombia should include:

  • $100,000 to $500,000 in medical emergency evacuation coverage
  • $10,000 to $25,000 in non-medical emergency evacuation coverage (natural disasters, political violence, etc.)

Loss, Theft or Damage of Baggage

Like most modern travelers, you probably travel with a number of valuables—your camera, phone and maybe a laptop. Add to the electronics all of your basic necessities like clothes, and your baggage is probably pretty important to you.

Having your bag(s) stolen, lost or damaged is pretty horrible on any trip. If you have travel insurance though, you won’t have to replace everything that you lose out of your own pocket.

Travel insurance for Colombia will help cover the cost of your lost items due to theft. For example, if someone steals your bag or if a pickpocket gets your phone, insurance will cover the costs. It is important that you get a police report, though, to back up your claim.

Travel insurance will also help cover the cost of lost baggage or items. That said, most insurance companies will cover items only if you took “reasonable measures” to protect the property. In practice, this means they won’t cover something like “losing” your phone at a nightclub when you were drinking. They might cover a lost camera though if it fell out of your hand while paragliding, however.

Average travel insurance for Colombia should include:

  • $500 to $3,000 in lost or stolen baggage/personal items coverage
  • $100 to $800 in baggage delay coverage

Trip Cancellation, Delay or Interruption

Even the best-laid plans can go awry. No matter how well you plan your trip to Colombia, things might happen that are just beyond your control. Thankfully, your Colombia travel insurance will kick in to help you.

Your travel insurance will cover prepaid, non-refundable expenses if you have to cancel your trip for certain covered issues (you can’t just cancel for any old reason and expect reimbursement). Covered cancelation reasons include deaths in your immediate family, natural disasters and even a sick travel companion, among other reasons that prevent you from traveling. The covered expenses might include, for example, your hotel rooms, tours and flights.

two beaches back to back in Colombia
Hopefully you won’t have to miss out on epic scenes like this!

The same issues that might cause a trip cancellation could cause a trip interruption. Trip interruption only applies if you’ve already departed for Colombia. If you need to go home unexpectedly, your travel insurance usually covers non-refundable expenses.

Sometimes a trip doesn’t need to be completely canceled, but you are delayed in traveling. If this happens due to something like a long flight delay, travel insurance will help cover unexpected costs. These expenses include rebooking a hotel or a tour that you will miss because of the delay.

Average travel insurance for Colombia should include:

  • $2,000 to $10,000 in trip cancellation coverage
  • $2,000 to $10,000 in trip interruption coverage
  • $500 to $2,000 in trip delay coverage

Compare Colombia Travel Insurance Companies

There are lots of options for travel insurance for Colombia. Depending on what you need covered, your age and your travel style, you can choose among a number of plans.

Here are three of our favorite options.

1. World Nomads

World Nomads is a leader in the travel insurance space, and easily our preferred option. With extensive coverage and the ability to add extra insurance for extreme sports, World Nomads is an ideal option.

World Nomads set itself apart by offering 24/7 emergency assistance and coverage for over 150 adventure activities, from bungee jumping to mountain biking. Plus, unlike many companies that require you to buy insurance plans before you depart, you can purchase a World Nomads plan while you’re already on the road.

2. Allianz

Allianz is another good travel insurance option in Colombia. The insurance company has a strong presence already in Colombia with local offices. And, if it’s any consolation, in 2017 alone, 35 million Americans purchased insurance from Allianz Global Assistance.

With Allianz, you can choose between Single Trip Plans and Annual Plans that cover multiple trips. You can also get yourself coverage for your rental car. The very basic single trip plan, for example, includes trip cancellation and interruption benefits, as well as limited post-departure benefits like emergency medical coverage and lost/damaged baggage benefits.

3. IM Global

Not all travel insurance in Colombia will cover travelers over the age of 65. IM Global, however, covers those 65 to 70 years old.

IM Global’s most popular plan is the Patriot Travel Medical Insurance, which covers travel medical insurance for individuals, families and groups. It’s renewable up to 24 months. And it offers deductible options from $0 to $2,500, with maximum limits from $50,000 to $2,000,000. Coverage includes medical expenses, evacuation and repatriation, so you can have peace of mind while traveling.

How to File a Claim with Your Travel Insurance if Something Goes Wrong in Colombia

With any luck, your trip to Colombia will go perfectly. If it doesn’t, however, it’s important to know how to file a claim with your travel insurance.

Every travel insurance company has a slightly different process for filing claims. In general, you will want to keep in mind the following guidelines.

Note: If it is a serious medical issue, call your travel insurance company immediately.

There is usually a 24-hour assistance hotline for such cases. By calling ahead, you can get information on what hospital is best to visit. Sometimes, you can also get advanced payment from the insurance company. That way, you won’t have to cover everything out of pocket up front.

1. Get Police and/or Medical Reports

To claim a stolen item, you will need to file a police report in Colombia. If you end up in the hospital for a medical issue, save all of your medical reports. You will have to submit these to your travel insurance company to back up your claim.

2. Save All of Your Receipts

You have to prove that something happened with the police records and medical reports that you’ve collected. You can prove your expenses or loss with these saved materials. If something of yours is stolen, you can even submit a copy of the original purchase receipt—so be sure to always save receipts, too.

3. Submit the Claim Online (or by Mail)

Most travel insurance companies will accept claims online. However, if they need additional information, you might have to mail in the original receipts, police reports, etc.

Your filing process will differ depending on the travel insurance company you choose. If you have any questions about filing, you can usually find a helpline on the company site.

Travel insurance is always a must. And because of the current political situations in and around Colombia, as well as all of the adventure activities available to you in the country, travel insurance is even more important.

Sure, Colombia is safer now than it has been in decades. But political violence, natural disasters, illnesses, emergencies and just plain bad luck can still happen. With travel insurance in Colombia, you can be prepared no matter how things pan out.

Before you jump on a plane to Colombia, decide on a travel insurance plan that’s right for you. It’s easy to shop around, plans are affordable and you have no excuse not to get it.


Colombia Travel Insurance FAQs

Is travel insurance required for Colombia?

Travel insurance isn’t legally required to visit Colombia, but it is still a very good idea to have a good travel insurance policy.

Is it OK to not have travel insurance?

No, you should always have travel insurance when traveling outside your home country.

Is it safe to travel to Colombia right now?

Colombia is generally safe to travel, but the US State Department has issued a Level 3 travel warning and recommends people reconsider travel.

How do you prepare a trip to Colombia?

The best way to prepare for a trip to Colombia is to research the local culture and customs and brush up on your Spanish.

Is Bogotá safe for white tourists?

Yes, Bogotá is safe for white tourists.

About the Author

Jeremy Scott Foster

Jeremy Scott Foster is an adventure-junkie, gear expert and travel photographer based in Southern California. Previously nomadic, he’s been to ~50 countries and loves spending time outdoors. You can usually find him on the trail, on the road, jumping from bridges or hustling on his laptop working to produce the best travel and outdoors content today.
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