7 Best Costa Rica Travel Insurance Plans for US Citizens in 2022

Updated on October 11, 2022, by Matthew H. Nash – Licensed Insurance Agent

With fantastic weather, welcoming people, and an extraordinary natural landscape, Costa Rica has been a favorite travel destination of US citizens for decades. Amidst the uncertainties around travel these days and the heightened potential for flight cancellations or delays, medical emergencies, and luggage issues, having the best Costa Rica travel insurance policy is more important than ever. In this article, I will explain the type of coverage you need, what you should expect to pay as well as the difference between the top plans. Read more about our unbiased ranking methodology and advertiser disclosure.

4.9
  • SwiftScore
      Our SwiftScore is a unique and proprietary insurance ranking system objectively comparing key metrics which are most important to Costa Rica travelers. Learn more at the end of this page.

STARTING PRICE
FOR 2-WEEK TRIP TO THE COSTA RICA

$131.00

CAN YOU CANCEL YOUR TRIP FOR ANY REASON? 

Yes

BEST
 WEBSITE
FOR

Comparing Policies

  • Compare dozens of the best Costa Rica travel insurance policies from all the major providers in one place
  • Easily filter for the features you want and get support from their award-winning customer service team
  • Founded in 2013, TravelInsurance.com has helped hundreds of thousands of travelers find affordable insurance coverage
4.8
  • SwiftScore
      Our SwiftScore is a unique and proprietary insurance ranking system objectively comparing key metrics which are most important to travelers. Learn more at the end of this page.

STARTING PRICE
FOR 2-WEEK TRIP TO THE COSTA RICA

$89.66

CAN YOU CANCEL YOUR TRIP FOR ANY REASON? 

Yes

BEST
POLICY
FOR

Travelers Aged 55+

  • Pre-existing medical conditions are covered for a reasonable fee and they offer “cancel for any reason” as an add-on
  • $2,000 COVID quarantine coverage available w/ Safe Travels Voyager plan
  • Founded in 1998 and underwritten by Nationwide and GBG Insurance
squaremouth
4.8
  • SwiftScore
      Our SwiftScore is a unique and proprietary insurance ranking system objectively comparing key metrics which are most important to travelers. Learn more at the end of this page.

STARTING PRICE
FOR 2-WEEK TRIP TO THE COSTA RICA

$76.44

CAN YOU CANCEL YOUR TRIP FOR ANY REASON? 

Yes

BEST
WEBSITE
FOR

Filtering Plans

  • This comparison website has the most comprehensive filters especially for Covid-19 which helps you search for the specific benefits you need
  • They have “Zero Complaint Guarantee” which promises a fair claims process
  • Established in 2003, Squaremouth has consistently been recognized for it’s exceptional customer service
4.7
  • SwiftScore
      Our SwiftScore is a unique and proprietary insurance ranking system objectively comparing key metrics which are most important to travelers. Learn more at the end of this page.

STARTING PRICE
FOR 2-WEEK TRIP TO THE COSTA RICA

$88.00

CAN YOU CANCEL YOUR TRIP FOR ANY REASON? 

Yes

BEST
POLICY
FROM

An Established Brand

  • Well rounded, inexpensive travel insurance plans from an established and top rated global insurance company
  • AXA has plans that cover pre-existing conditions and their “Platinum” plan covers “cancel for any reason” with an optional add-on. They also offer helpful 24/7 Worldwide Travel Assistance Services
  • Founded in 1959 and underwritten by Nationwide
4.7
  • SwiftScore
      Our SwiftScore is a unique and proprietary insurance ranking system objectively comparing key metrics which are most important to travelers. Learn more at the end of this page.

STARTING PRICE
FOR 2-WEEK TRIP TO THE COSTA RICA

$87.29

CAN YOU CANCEL YOUR TRIP FOR ANY REASON? 

No

BEST
POLICY
FOR

Adventure Travel

  • Covers almost all adventure activities for a reasonable price for U.S. residents up to age 70 (worldwide up to age 65)
  • Can insure up to 9 people in one family and the signup process is super easy
  • Founded in 2002 and underwritten for U.S. travelers by Nationwide Insurance
4.2
  • SwiftScore
      Our SwiftScore is a unique and proprietary insurance ranking system objectively comparing key metrics which are most important to travelers. Learn more at the end of this page.

STARTING PRICE
FOR 2-WEEK TRIP TO THE COSTA RICA

$139.00

CAN YOU CANCEL YOUR TRIP FOR ANY REASON? 

Yes

BEST
POLICY
FOR

Family Travel

  • Their “Trip Interruption for any Reason” feature allows you to get a 75% reimbursement for any additional expenses if you decide to go home early from your trip
  • They have a variety of insurance products to suit any travel needs
  • Founded in 1993 and underwritten by Nationwide Insurance
3.6
  • SwiftScore
      Our SwiftScore is a unique and proprietary insurance ranking system objectively comparing key metrics which are most important to travelers. Learn more at the end of this page.

STARTING PRICE
FOR 2-WEEK TRIP TO THE COSTA RICA

$22.50

CAN YOU CANCEL YOUR TRIP FOR ANY REASON? 

No

BEST
POLICY
FOR

Long-term Travel

  • Ideal for digital nomads and long-term travel, available to anyone anywhere
  • Scored lower because short-term travel coverage isn’t as robust as competitors
  • Founded in 2018 and is underwritten by Lloyds of London

travel insurance
4.9
  • SwiftScore
      Our SwiftScore is a unique and proprietary insurance ranking system objectively comparing key metrics which are most important to travelers. Learn more at the end of this page.

STARTING PRICE
FOR 2-WEEK TRIP TO THE COSTA RICA

$131.00

CAN YOU CANCEL YOUR TRIP FOR ANY REASON?

Yes

BEST
WEBSITE
FOR

Comparing Policies

  • Compare dozens of travel insurance policies from all the major providers in one place
  • Easily filter for the features you want and get support from their award-winning customer service team
  • Founded in 2013, TravelInsurance.com has helped hundreds of thousands of travelers find affordable insurance coverage

Costa Rica travel insurance FAQs

What is not covered by travel insurance?

Travel insurance typically covers unforeseen and unexpected events. While you can buy comprehensive policies, they will not cover changes or cancellations resulting from personal preferences. For example, if you decide that going on vacation may not be a financially wise choice at the moment and cancel your trip, do not expect your travel insurance provider to reimburse you. Another example would be if you and your travel companions have a falling-out before the trip and no longer want to travel together. You can always purchase a Cancel for Any Reason (CFAR) package from Seven Corners for more flexibility with your travel plans.

Also, most insurance providers offer upgrades for travelers with pre-existing medical conditions. These cover almost all medically documented conditions, save for pregnancy. Be aware that once you pay for your trip (deposit or in full), you will only have a short window of 14-21 days to purchase such upgrades. Ask your provider to clarify their terms.

Does travel insurance cover adventure sports and extreme activities?

Costa Rica is a dream country for Americans who love adventure sports and extreme activities. Whether you plan to go surfing, ziplining, climbing, white water rafting, diving, mountain biking, or beyond, this tropical paradise has it all. And you’ll be pleased to know that many travel insurance providers cover these types of experiences.

I recommend using SquareMouth.com so that you can filter for “Sports & Activities.” Type in the specific activities you plan to participate in during your time in Costa Rica, and SquareMouth will show you all of the policies that include them. Before purchasing, it is always good to read each policy’s details in full.

What to do if you’re in an emergency in Costa Rica?

Costa Rica, like the US, uses 911 for all emergencies, and it is a free call from landline and mobile phones. If you do not have a phone but are in a crowded area, shout out “nueve, uno, uno!” for someone to call 911 on your behalf.

If you or any other travelers insured on the same policy have a medical emergency, call your insurance provider immediately. They will have a dedicated customer support hotline in which the agents will arrange transportation to the nearest hospital that meets US standards.

Does travel insurance cover cancellation due to Covid or other communicable diseases?

Coverage varies between providers, but most standard travel insurance policies cover trip cancellations should you or your travel companion come down with COVID-19 before your trip.

However, the COVID-19 pandemic may impact elements of travel that most standard insurance plans do not cover, including negative test requirements, international border closures, quarantine restrictions, or an insured party’s fear of traveling in this ever-changing landscape. If these potential issues concern you, I suggest buying a Cancel for Any Reason (CFAR) upgrade as this will guarantee you are covered regardless of what happens.

Companies are constantly developing new plans, so using a comparison website such as TravelInsurance.com will help you explore the latest policies. I recommend at least $50,000 in emergency medical coverage and $100,000 for medical evacuation. If you have already purchased a plan, you can always reach out to your provider to see if they have a policy rider covering trip cancellations due to communicable diseases.

Does your credit card give you travel insurance?

Credit cards sometimes offer “travel protection” at no extra charge for cardholders. If your credit card company does, be aware that coverage will only apply to the aspects of your trip you paid for using said card, such as flights, rental cars, or accommodation.

Please note: Most credit card companies do not provide emergency medical or emergency evacuation coverage. Overall, their “travel protection” is far less robust than insurance policies purchased from companies specializing in travel insurance.

Are rental car accidents covered?

Standard travel insurance plans do not cover auto accidents while in Costa Rica. However, many companies have upgrade packages that will. Be sure to read the upgrade policy details to ensure they cover your needs as some do not include damage done to RVs, luxury cars or long-term rentals. If your travel insurance provider does not have what you’re looking for, you can usually purchase a separate insurance plan from your rental car company.

Does travel insurance cover an Airbnb or short-term rental that goes wrong?

When it comes to trip interruptions and cancellations, coverage for vacation rentals differs from one provider to the next. However, the most comprehensive travel insurance plans will usually include them. If your policy does not, you may want to get a “Cancel for Any Reason” (CFAR) upgrade package. It is worth noting that maximum CFAR reimbursements are for 50-75% of your trip costs.

What about canceled flights?

Insurance plans reimburse for flight cancellations if they are the result of approved reasons, such as inclement weather, employee strikes, or your travel provider ceasing their services for 24 hours or more due to a natural disaster. Should you cancel your flights, most travel insurance providers will reimburse for the following reasons: injury, death, or illness of any insured traveler or their immediate family members. Additional approved reasons include jury duty summons, civil unrest or sudden military deployment.

Most common problems while traveling in Costa Rica and how to avoid them:

Illnesses

Health risks in Costa Rica are low, even for malaria and dengue fever. The most significant risk to any traveler’s health is the wildlife. Keep your distance from all animals and avoid feeding them. Snakes pose one of the greatest threats since there are 22 venomous species. Always look down when you’re walking on trails or anywhere in the jungle, and never put your hand down to steady yourself without first looking. Also, avoid wading or swimming in lowland rivers as they are home to crocodiles and caimans (slightly smaller than crocodiles).

Accidents

Aside from unfortunate encounters with wildlife, visitors to Costa Rica are prone to get injured while participating in adventure sports or extreme activities. These injuries may include twisted ankles, broken bones, cuts and more. Also, travelers often have moped accidents due to their inexperience driving them, the poor quality of the roads and their inexperience with Costa Ricans’ driving habits.

Muggings

Petty theft is relatively common in Costa Rica, especially in urban or crowded areas. Pickpockets love to operate on public transport, so keep your bags visible and close to your body. The national bus hub in San José, the Coca-Cola terminal, is also a famous place for pickpockets and muggers.

Also, you will want to avoid using piratas, which are unlicensed, private taxis since the drivers have been known to rob tourists. To be safe, stick with licensed taxis (red with yellow hats on their roofs and yellow triangles on their doors), licensed airport taxis (orange), and SEEtaxis (porteadores), which are private chauffeurs. Uber is another option as they are making headway into the country.

Regardless of where you are, remain aware of your surroundings and do not leave valuables like cameras and phones out when you are not using them. If you have anything stolen, report it to the nearest police station within 24 hours. Remember to bring your passport with you. Should you wish to file a claim for stolen property, ask the police for a copy of the denuncia (police report) and submit it to your travel insurance provider.

Emergency resources for Costa Rica

Phone numbers

Dial 911 from any landline or cell phone to reach police, fire or medical emergency services. If you need the Red Cross, dial 128.

US embassy or consulate details

The US Embassy in Costa Rica is located in the capital city of San José. Please visit their website for the address and phone number.

If you would like to take extra precautions, you may list your trip by joining the Department of State’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program. Once registered, you will automatically receive travel advisories for Costa Rica. It will also help the Embassy connect you or your family should an emergency arise on either end.

Other local knowledge that is helpful for travelers

Currency

The national currency in Costa Rica is the colón or colones (plural). Additionally, US dollars are often accepted, especially in touristy areas, but expect to pay a higher price should you choose to pay in USD. If you decide to use US dollars, have clean, crisp bills of smaller values ($20 or less) on hand, as locals can be suspicious of large or overly worn bills. Regardless of which currency you pay in, change will always be given in colones. To get the best exchange rates, use your debit card to withdraw colones once you are in Costa Rica.

Local Customs

Costa Rica may be a very laid-back country, but it is also a very religious country, with more than 85% of the population identifying as Christian. Therefore, topless or nude sunbathing is unacceptable and can even get you fined. And if you visit churches or cathedrals, be sure to wear a shirt that covers your shoulders and upper arms and skirts and shorts that are long enough to keep your knees covered.

Mobile Phones and Wi-Fi

Buying a local SIM card is a cheap and easy way to text, call locally and access the internet while on the go. SIM cards are available at any shop selling mobile phones for service providers such as Claro, Kolbi or Movistar. You will also find Wi-Fi in many hotels, cafes, shopping malls and restaurants. The further outside a city or tourist hub you get, the more challenging it will be to find reliable Wi-Fi.

Driving

Driving in Costa Rica is no easy feat. Locals are known for being unruly drivers, rarely yielding to stop signs, obeying traffic lights, or adhering to speed limits. The fact that so many streets outside the capital–toll highways excepted–are unpaved, unnamed, and short on signage compound the challenges of driving in this Central American paradise. Having a GPS and 4WD rental will make a world of difference in your driving experience. Remember to go slowly and be extra cautious during the rainy season (landslides) or while in the mountains (fog).

It is essential to mention that most rental car companies in Costa Rica place a hold of $1,000-2,500 on your credit card in case of damage. This often catches visitors off-guard, so make sure you have enough available credit. They will remove the hold if you return the car in the condition you received it.

Also, keep in mind that rental car companies will list cars for very low daily rates but often do not disclose that their rental agreements require the purchase of liability insurance. This can tack on an extra $12-25 per day to the total you anticipate paying.

Taxes

Costa Rica charges a $29 departure tax for each person leaving the country. Coming from the US, most airlines will include it in the total cost of your ticket. Look at the line item charges on your airline booking receipt to verify this. Sometimes, the exit tax will get listed as something else on your ticket, so I recommend calling your airline for further information if it is not apparent.

If you were not charged, you will have to pay this fee before checking in for your flight. You can do this at the airport, using US dollars, colones, or a combination of both currencies. Additionally, any hotels and resorts will allow you to prepay the departure tax. Remember to get the appropriate receipt and be prepared to pay a $2-10 service fee. Watch out for a now-common scam in which people wearing official-looking uniforms occupy empty check-in desks at the airport and try to extort an additional departure tax from you.

In 2019, the Costa Rican government rolled out a new VAT (value-added tax) of 13%. This tax applies to all goods and services, except food and medicine. Always check your receipts to verify that you are only being charged VAT and not IVA (old sales tax). If you notice both on your receipt, you are being overcharged. Request a refund for the IVA, and be sure to take your business elsewhere.

Tipping

While tipping to the extent we do in the US is not expected, the custom is still quite common. In a restaurant or café, tipping 10% of your bill is standard. Other practices include 10% of your bill when in a restaurant or café, $1 per bag for hotel porters, $1-5 for hotel concierge, and $1 a day for housekeeping services. Tipping taxi drivers is not expected but always appreciated.

A final note about travel insurance for Costa Rica

I have spent dozens of hours researching travel insurance, including getting quotes and comparing coverage from all the most popular brands. Regardless of where you’re going, I am confident that you will also find that TravelInsurance.com offers the best way to compare policies with the ideal combo of coverage and price.

I wish you and yours an incredible journey.

SwiftScore Ranking Methodology

  • Average price for a 2-week vacation based on a 35-year-old California resident traveling to the Costa Rica with a $3,500 trip cost
  • Coronavirus coverage
  • Cancel for any reason (CFAR)
  • AM Best rating of the underwriter
  • Key policy details including cancellation, interruption, emergency medical evacuation, and baggage & personal effects
  • Ease of sign up
  • Policy language clarity
  • User reviews