Update on new travel insurance requirements for visitors to Cuba

From May 1st people travelling to Cuba from the UK will be required to provide proof of travel health insurance that will provide coverage for medical services they may need while on the island.

According to a directive issued by the government of Cuba, any foreign visitor who does not have a travel medical insurance policy from an insurer in their home country may be required to buy coverage from Cuban companies upon arrival at any of that nation's sea or air ports. This requirement will apply to all tourists and other visitors; Cubans living abroad visiting family or friends; and foreigners temporarily living in Cuba. It will only exempt diplomats and representatives of accredited international organizations.

The government announcement states that, "Upon demand after their arrival, travellers shall present a policy, insurance certificate or travelling assistance card valid for the time span they will stay in Cuba."

All Cuba-bound visitors should make sure they buy travel insurance at home when making their travel plans, and that they carry adequate proof of coverage. This can include a copy of the insurance policy booklet, the invoice or policy document or an emergency assistance card, to show Cuban authorities on their arrival if requested. Most out-of-country travel policies issued in the UK that have full medical benefits should meet the Cuban requirements for coverage.

Though Cuban insurance companies will be offering insurance policy options to foreign travellers who have not purchased coverage in their home countries, the coverage benefits are far lower than those provided by UK insurers and do not cover such essential elements as repatriation to a hospital at home, emergency evacuation to a mainland facility or travel of a family member to the patient's hospital bedside.

The Cuban plans listed in the government announcement offer various benefit options that are all much below the cost of repatriating an injured person, or their remains, back to the UK. Cuban insurers are not familiar in dealing with the acquisition of hospital beds in foreign countries for patients requiring repatriation. Cuban insurance policies are mostly designed to handle medical situations on the island, in domestic hospitals, hotels or clinics.

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