Protect yourself on your Caribbean getaway.
The Dominican Republic is one of the Caribbean’s most stunning tourist destinations. Visitors flock there each year to take in the country’s natural beauty and vibrant culture. The Dominican Republic has the highest peak, lowest elevation and largest lake in the region — not to mention the first cathedral, castle, fortress and monastery in the Americas, as well a bustling ecotourism scene.
There’s a lot to love about the Dominican Republic, and having the right travel insurance can help you get the most out of it.
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What does travel insurance for the Dominican Republic cover?
The specifics vary from policy to policy, but basic things to get coverage for include:
- Medical emergencies. If you get sick or injured in a foreign country, bills can pile up fast. A policy with adequate medical coverage can protect you from financial ramifications and get you the care you need.
- Lost or stolen items. If your luggage gets lost at the airport or your camera gets snatched by a thief, your insurer can reimburse you. Comprehensive plans will also reimburse you for any emergency clothes or toiletries you need to pick up if your luggage is significantly delayed.
- Coverage for cancellations or delays. If your trip gets delayed because of an illness or you get stuck in the country for an extra night due to inclement weather, your insurer can cover any costs. This includes paying for a new flight, extra hotel nights and lost deposits. If your trip is canceled altogether, they can reimburse you for any nonrefundable costs.
What won’t I be covered for?
Exclusions also vary from policy to policy, but you’ll rarely be covered for:
- Failure to obey signs and warnings. Natural hazards are not always signposted, but when they are you are required to obey any signs and warnings. Failure to do so typically means you are not covered for resulting loss or injury.
- Improperly secured possessions. If you have not taken all reasonable steps to secure your belongings then you cannot claim losses for theft or damage. Reasonable steps include utilizing hotel safes, keeping valuables out of sight, not leaving belongings unattended and locking your rooms and vehicles.
- Traveling to an unsafe area. If you get sick or injured while traveling to an area that the US Department of State has issued an advisory against, your insurer’s ability to help may be limited.
Top travel concerns for the Dominican Republic
Travel insurance can help protect you from financial consequences, but caution is always your best first line of defense. Risks to watch out for include:
- Hurricane season. Hurricane season is from June to November. This is when storm surges, heavy rain and resulting flooding and mudslides are most likely to occur, but you should remain aware of these potential hazards all year round. Make sure you have a clear understanding of how your travel insurance covers natural disasters.
- Crime. To minimize risks, avoid public transportation and avoid traveling alone, especially after dark. Be wary of accepting invitations, rides or unsolicited requests. Theft can also be an issue, so try to leave your valuables at home if possible and don’t keep your wallet in your back pocket.
- Disease. Zika, dengue fever and other mosquito-borne illnesses are at their peak from May to November, while rabies are a potential threat all year. Wear long sleeves, use insect repellent, avoid contact with wild animals and seek immediate medical attention if you are bitten or scratched. Water-borne, food-borne and infectious diseases are a general issue, so take all appropriate precautions and see a doctor immediately if you feel sick.
- Dangerous roads. Road rules in the Dominican Republic are routinely ignored by local drivers while aggressive driving; poorly maintained and lit roads; crime and farm equipment, animals and bicycles on the roads also contribute to the risk. Avoid driving at night if possible, keep your doors locked and windows closed and contact police in the event of an accident.
- Swimming hazards. The oceans of the Dominican Republic are inviting, but also dangerous for those unfamiliar with local conditions. Strong undertows may be present on beaches and you cannot assume there will be any lifeguards around, so check conditions with your hotel or other authorities before going in the water.
What happens if I have a medical emergency in the Dominican Republic?
In the event of a medical emergency you should plan on either paying out of pocket and then claiming costs later or having a travel insurance policy that pays for medical emergencies up front. Finding specialists in the event of a serious illness or injury can also be difficult and may involve additional travel and expenses. It’s also a good idea to familiarize yourself with the three different types of hospitals in the Dominican Republic:
- Most reasonably sized towns have at least one standard public hospital. Medical care is free for eligible residents, but “extras” like stitches, x-rays, bedding and food and similar are expected to be provided by the patient. It is likely that the majority of staff will not speak English.
- Combined public and private hospitals with advanced facilities and equipment can be found in the capital, Santo Domingo, as well as in the second-largest city, Santiago. Health care is not free and costs typically run into thousands of dollars for broken bones, surgery or serious illnesses. These hospitals accept payments via travel insurance and will generally be able to provide any required procedure.
- Local clinics can be found in almost all towns. These are smaller than the above hospitals, and the quality of treatment may vary. Tourist areas often boast high-quality clinics with English-speaking staff, but the local clinics in more isolated locations are less reliable.
Who do I contact if something goes wrong?
In the event of an emergency, contact:
- Your travel insurance provider. Their 24/7 helpline should be clearly printed on your policy.
- Emergency services. You can reach police, fire and ambulance dispatch by dialing 911 in the Dominican Republic.
- US embassy or consulate. If you lose your passport, get into legal trouble or if there’s a countrywide emergency, contact the nearest US embassy or consulate.
The Dominican Republic is one of the Caribbean’s most popular tourist destinations, and it’s easy to see why. Whether you’re looking forward to a few days of sunbathing on the beach or a month of heart-pounding adventure, pick up a travel insurance policy before you leave to keep you — and your bank account — safe on the journey.
Frequently asked questions