From its vibrant culture, to it’s tropical climate and endless unspoilt beaches, Cuba is one part of the world that should be on every traveller’s bucket list. But before you start packing, make sure you have the right travel insurance policy for your trip.
Check out our guide to finding the right insurance for your trip to Cuba.
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Travel insurance for Cuba is a must. It is a mandatory requirement for anyone visiting the country to take out comprehensive travel and medical insurance and you will be expected to present your insurance policy on arrival.
Travel insurance can also protect you from the specifics risks in Cuba as well as common travel risks such as:
- Stolen and delayed luggage
- Cancelled trips
- Personal liability
- Overseas medical emergencies
If you’re going to Cuba you’ll want to bare the following risks in mind before you buy your travel insurance policy in order to make sure you get the right cover for your trip. Things can go wrong no matter where you travel, but the following are risks that are more likely to occur in Cuba:
- Pickpocketing, theft and even assault. These can be problems for travellers, particularly in big cities like Havana. 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 and avoid wearing expensive jewellery or unnecessarily advertising your wealth.
- Cuban roads can be quite dangerous. Signage is poor, road conditions can be atrocious in some parts and you’ll also be sharing the road with pedestrians, bicycles and even horse-drawn carts. Many of the taxis are unlicensed as well.
- Motorcycle accidents. You can hire a motorcycle in Cuba, however you are then open to the common risks of motorcycle driving as well as road dangers.
- Food poisoning from street food. Due to lack of proper hygiene sanctions along the street, food can be unsafe for tourists who aren’t use to street food.
- Animal bites. In particular if you’re going camping or hiking.
Current travel warnings
There are currently no warnings against travelling to Cuba. However, Cuba is currently classed as having a high risk of Zika virus transmission. Travellers are advised to practice strict mosquito bite avoidance and pregnant women to postpone non-essential travel.
Asistur is a Cuban travel insurance provider. It specialises in providing a wide range of insurance solutions to foreigners who arrive without cover or who arrive without adequate cover for certain activities.
You can purchase Asistur travel insurance at the airport or in Havana at the company’s offices.
- Visas. You’ll need a Tourist Visa or Tourist Card if you are planning on visiting Cuba. This will give you up to 30 days stay, but you can apply to extend this once you are there. Children will also need a Tourist Card.
- Return ticket. Anyone visiting Cuba is required to show a return ticket upon entry into the country. So make sure you book a return.
- Airport tax . There is a mandatory airport tax that anyone travelling to Cuba must pay. This is usually included in your airline ticket price but it is worth checking with your airline.
- Valid passport. Shock – you’ll need a valid passport to travel to Cuba.
- Don’t rely on ATM’s. A common problem faced by foreign travellers to Cuba is difficulty withdrawing cash, typically due to a lack of ATMs and a similar lack of working cash machines.
- Withdraw money at the airport. Cuban currency is not traded internationally so you cannot stock up on cash before you leave home; you’ll have to wait until you arrive in Cuba to get the money you need.
- Beware of the surcharge for USD. It’s also worth pointing out that, as the US embargo is still in place you’ll still be hit with a huge surcharge (10 per cent) when you convert US Dollars into Cuban Convertible Pesos. It’s worth sticking to sterling or currencies such as Euros, Swiss Francs or Canadian Dollars.
- Debit cars. Debit cards are highly recommended in Cuba as they can be used in outlets stores and to pay for trips. Additionally, Debit cards from both Mastercard and Visa should work with ATM’s whilst credit cards will not. If you do have a Mastercard Credit Card or a Visa Credit Card, you can withdraw money from Cuban banks such as Cadeca so long as the card is not issued in the US.
- Hurricane season. Hurricane season runs from June to November and while this shouldn’t put you off travelling to Cuba, it’s always good to be well informed and prepared in advance. Travelling during this period can mean you to access cheaper flights and hotel deals.
- Watch your valuables. Don’t leave your valuables unattended in a public place and make sure to keep your wallet in your front pocket.
For over 50 years a trade ban has existed between Cuba and the US. In early 2015, President Obama relaxed the trade embargo which resulted in commerce and financial dealings. This change also relaxed the travel restrictions for Americans who want to visit Cuba.
- Contact your insurer. You can contact your insurer to receive emergency and medical assistance. Many insurance providers offer 24/7 call centres for this very purpose
- Cuban emergency numbers. Police – 106, ambulance – 104, fire department – 105.
- British Embassy If you are in Cuba and need urgent help you can call the British Embassy on +537 214 2200 or visit the Embassy at the following address:British Embassy in Havana
Cuba Calle 34, No 704
- Do you know Cuba. Familiarise yourself with Cuba and the risks you may face while travelling there – this will help determine your insurance needs.
- How long are you going for? Is a single trip travel insurance policy right for you, or should you consider an annual multi-trip policy?
- What will you be doing in Cuba? Will you just be sightseeing or will you be indulging in adventure activities? Remember that there are many activities and events that you may need extra cover for.
- Will you be taking any valuables? Do you really need to take your laptop and top-of-the-line camera? If so, remember that most insurers put limits on the cover they offer for high-value items.
- Do you have any medical conditions? Any conditions that already exist when you purchase a policy may not be covered by your insurer.
Travel insurance is an essential requirement when visiting Cuba, and it’s vital that you take the time to shop around for the right policy by looking at features, benefits and exclusions of multiple policies
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. When making a big financial decision, it's wise to consider getting independent financial advice, and always consider your own financial circumstances when comparing products so you get what's right for you.