From educational trips to family visits, find the right travel insurance for your trip to Cuba.
Cuba is a beautiful country, with a lot to learn, photograph and explore. While the country is safer than you might expect, it’s still a good idea to pick up a comprehensive travel insurance policy before you leave to keep you and your bank account safe from any mishaps on your Cuban adventure.
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Can I travel from the United States to Cuba?
In early 2015, President Obama relaxed a strict trade embargo that the US had in place against Cuba for more than five decades. As well as affecting commerce and financial dealings between the US and Cuba, this change also relaxed the travel restrictions for Americans who want to visit the country. While you still can’t visit Cuba for purely recreational reasons, there are 12 types of travel to the country that are permitted for Americans, including family visits, professional research, journalism assignments, public performance, religious activities and educational reasons.
Restrictions on Americans in Cuba
While Americans can now visit Cuba, they are prohibited from interacting financially with entities under the control of the Cuban military or intelligence services. There is a list of prohibited companies available, which includes 27 hotels and a number of shops in Havana and Old Havana at the time of writing.
Do I need travel insurance for Cuba?
The Cuban government requires visitors to purchase medical insurance in order to gain entry into the country. Basic medical insurance is usually included in plane ticket prices if you’re traveling from the US, but the US Department of State recommends that you add additional coverage for medical evacuation in case you become ill and don’t have access to the medical care you need. Keep in mind that even with supplemental insurance, you’ll most likely have to pay any costs not covered by your Cuban provider up front and seek reimbursement from your insurer later — it’s often difficult or impossible for US insurers to pay Cuban hospitals or companies directly.
Aside from medical coverage, you can also get travel insurance for:
- Delays. If your flight is delayed, your insurer can reimburse you for additional accommodations or lost deposits and cancellation fees if you miss a scheduled event.
- Cancellations. If your trip is canceled due to unforeseen events, your insurer can reimburse you for your plane ticket plus any deposits or cancellation fees.
- Lost or stolen luggage. If the airport loses your luggage or your camera gets snatched on your way to the hotel, your insurer can reimburse you.Back to top
What doesn’t travel insurance cover?
Travel insurance exclusions vary from policy to policy, and it’s a good idea to read the fine print carefully before you leave. Common exclusions include:
- Inebriation. If you injure yourself or someone else while drunk or on drugs not prescribed by a doctor, your insurer can deny your claim.
- Ignoring local laws. If you break local laws, your insurer can refuse to pay out. It’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with local laws before you leave home, as Cuba has some restrictions you might not expect. For example, you aren’t allowed to take pictures of military personnel.
- Acting recklessly or irresponsibly. If you act in a way that an insurer could argue was reckless or irresponsible, they have the right to deny your claim.
Risks of traveling to Cuba
While Cuba is a generally safe country to visit, like any new destination, it does have risks:
- Theft. Keep a close eye on your luggage at the airport at all times and avoid packing any highly valuable items in your checked baggage. Make sure your passport and travel documents are secure at all times, don’t wear expensive jewelry or unnecessarily advertise your wealth and avoid unlicensed taxis.
- Poor road conditions. Cuban roads can be quite dangerous. Signage is poor, roads are often in bad condition and you’ll be sharing the road with pedestrians, bicycles and even horse-drawn carts.
- Food poisoning from street food. Due to lack of proper hygiene laws for vendors, street food can be unsafe for tourists.
- Bugs. Ticks, fleas and mosquitoes can carry a number of diseases in Cuba. Wear long sleeves, use insect repellent and reconsider traveling to Cuba if you’re pregnant — cases of Zika have been reported.
Who should I contact in an emergency?
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- Your insurer. Your insurer should have a 24/7 helpline available and clearly displayed on your policy.
- Cuban emergency number. The number for police, fire and medical emergencies in Cuba is 106.
- US embassy. If you run into legal trouble, lose your passport or if there’s a countrywide emergency, contact the US embassy.
Travel tips for Cuba
- There are two currencies in Cuba. The CUC (Cuban convertible peso) is commonly used by tourists, and the CUP (Cuban peso) is used more often by locals. Be wary of paying for goods with one currency and receiving change in the other currency — the CUC is significantly more valuable.
- Carry cash. US credit and debit cards are rarely accepted in Cuba.
- Take pictures and carry receipts. There are strict regulations in place for US citizens visiting Cuba. Make sure to keep receipts and take pictures showing that you stuck to your stated reason for visiting.
- Check for updates before you leave. Regulations on US citizens visiting Cuba are volatile and change regularly. It’s a good idea to check for updates both before you book your trip and before you leave.
- Bring paper maps. Your cell phone probably won’t work in Cuba, so it’s a good idea to bring paper maps of anywhere you might visit.
Airline loses your luggage? Street food didn’t get along with your stomach? Even with caution and a safe destination, there’s always a chance that something will go wrong while you’re traveling abroad. A travel insurance policy will have your back if there’s a bump in the road so you can relax and enjoy your trip carefree.