When you plan a trip to Ecuador, along with hotel and flight, you will also have to get travel insurance.
Do I Need Travel Insurance for Ecuador?
Yes, you do. According to the Ecuador Ministry of Tourism, as of 2018, all tourists entering Ecuador will have to present proof of travel health insurance at the immigration officers, along with their passport and a round-trip or onward trip ticket.
An announcement on the official ministry website reads: “The Ministry of Tourism considers the “health insurance for tourists” is a meaningful action for country’s tourism development due to the benefit it means when choosing Ecuador as a destination and the wellbeing of everyone visiting this wonderful country.”
However, some tourists claim that the travel insurance requirement is only enforceable for the Galápagos Islands, not mainland Ecuador. Apparently, complications regarding just how they can enforce the new rule have forced the government to postpone the requirement.
Given the conflicting information, our advice is that you should get at least a basic travel health insurance plan for your own safety and peace of mind if nothing else.
Where Can I Get Travel Insurance for Ecuador?
You can get travel insurance from a local insurance company or you can simply purchase a plan online. There are many good travel insurance comparison websites that act as brokers between the companies and clients. These comparison marketplaces, like Insubuy, allow tourists to browse through different plans by different companies and compare between them so they can choose one that is best suited for them. This is one of the easiest and most convenient methods of getting travel insurance.
However, you can also visit a local travel insurance company in person, and get an insurance plan that way.
Moreover, if you are traveling as part of an organized tour, then your tour agency can often offer travel insurance as part of the package. Although this can sometimes be a good deal, more often than not, travel insurance purchased through tour agencies tends to be over-priced, and you may not get all the coverage you would otherwise get.
Regardless of how you choose to get travel insurance, make sure you read the policy carefully so you know what you are agreeing to. Sometimes, you can think you have more coverage than you actually do.
What Is Covered With Ecuador Travel Insurance?
Most travel insurance plans include coverage for at least the following:
- Medical emergencies. Traveling to a new country always comes with a set of risks. So if you need emergency medical assistance or you get sick while in Ecuador, then travel health insurance covers any costs of medical treatment. What conditions or activities are covered depends on the specific policy.
- Trip cancellation or interruption. This type of insurance will reimburse you for the loss of any non-refundable reservations or flight tickets in case you have to cancel your trip to Ecuador or cut it short. Note, however, that not all reasons for cancellation are considered valid for reimbursement (e.g. if you missed your flight because you overslept, your travel insurance company isn’t going to cover you.)
- Theft, loss, damage of possessions. If your possessions are lost, stolen or damaged during your trip to Ecuador, your insurance will reimburse you for the loss, but only up to a certain amount.
- Emergency evacuation or repatriation. If you are not able to receive a medical care service in Ecuador, and your life is in danger, then this type of insurance will cover the cost of air ambulance or other repatriation services.
Most insurance companies will offer coverage for “optional” add-ons for things that are not always included in a standard plan, such as:
- Medical emergency as a result of engaging in “adventurous” activities
- Coverage for expensive items or electronics. These things are usually not covered under standard luggage coverage, so you may need to purchase them extra.
Ecuador Travel Health Insurance: Covered Activities
You won’t be able to use travel insurance to cover medical costs if you get into an accident because of recklessness (such as drunk driving) or because you were engaging in activities not included in the policy (e.g. scuba diving without an instructor or bungee jumping).
Usual holiday activities (swimming, kayaking, surfing, cycling, etc) are almost always covered under a basic policy. On the other hand, things like scuba diving, rock climbing, bungee jumping, or sailing may be covered under specific circumstances (for example, if you have an instructor with you).
How Much Does Travel Insurance for Ecuador Cost?
The price of travel insurance for Ecuador varies, depending on the following factors:
- The duration of your stay. Most companies charge by the day, so the longer you stay in Ecuador, the more you have to pay for travel insurance.
- Your age. Another defining factor in travel insurance pricing is your age. Senior citizens will have to pay more for the same plan because they are more likely to make a claim.
- How much coverage you need. If you get a standard plan, with health and trip cancellation insurance, it will be cheaper than if you decide to get additional coverage for things like adventurous activities and personal liability.
- Where you purchase your insurance plan. Insurance plans are priced differently in different countries or between companies.
As a general rule, you can expect to pay between 4% to 10% of the overall trip cost on travel insurance.
When Should You Buy Travel Insurance for Ecuador?
You should buy travel insurance at least two weeks before you intend to travel. Of course, health coverage will begin once you are in Ecuador, but in the meantime, you will be covered for trip cancellation or delay.
Insurance companies may not accept to reimburse you for cancellations if you have purchased the insurance plan within the 2 weeks before departure.
Healthcare in Ecuador for Tourists
Ecuador has a public and private healthcare system. Most tourists and expats choose to use private healthcare facilities since they are known for higher quality and are usually better equipped. Either way, tourists or expats cannot benefit from the free public healthcare system.
The quality of medical care is also good, and you will be well taken care of if you get into an accident or become ill. It’s still not on exactly the same level as some Western countries, however, so if you need a major emergency medical intervention, you may need to be evacuated out.
Although medical costs in Ecuador are lower than in the US or EU countries, private healthcare in Ecuador for tourists can still be too high to comfortably pay out of pocket.
Is Ecuador Safe to Visit?
Ecuador is – mostly – safe for tourists to visit, as long as you don’t wander into the no-go zones and exercise safety precautions. This South America country has some of the most diverse landscape and wildlife in the world and tourism has been increasing steadily in the last few years. But, it is still considered as a medium-risk country to visit.
Common risks in Ecuador include mugging, pickpocketing, and scams. You are advised to keep your belongings safely tucked away, be mindful when using ATMs, avoid moving around late at night, and not to flash expensive items or electronics in public, especially in the popular tourist areas.
There is an increased risk of violent crime as well. You should also be wary of taxi robbery in some coastal towns, such as Guayaquil, Machala, Manta, Playas, and even the capital, Quito.
Because of how diverse Ecuador nature is, there is also an increased risk of certain diseases, such as malaria, yellow fever, and dengue fever, especially in the Coast region and Amazon Rainforest.
Do I Need Vaccinations for Ecuador?
The World Health Organization advises travellers to make sure they are vaccinated for the following before travelling to Ecuador: chickenpox, hepatitis A, hepatitis B, Influenza, measles, meningitis, mumps and rubella (MMR), pneumonia, polio, rabies, shingles, Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis), typhoid, and yellow fever. Make sure to consult with your physician regarding vaccination requirements.
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