Last week we asked recent Canadian travelers to Cuba if they had been asked for proof of travel insurance when entering the country. This is in reaction to the Cuban government’s new directive that all foreigners would require health insurance coverage for their visit. Here’s what we are finding.
When the Cuban government made its announcement last April, it specified that it would accept proof of Canadian provincial health insurance coverage as well as private insurance for purposes of allowing entry. Anyone without such coverage, however, would have to buy Cuban insurance at the port of entry.
So far, Canadians returning from vacations in Cuba are telling us that they have not been asked for proof of travel insurance—either private or provincial—and neither have they been required to buy Cuban insurance. So far so good. We would appreciate your feedback if you have visited Cuba or are anticipating a trip this winter.
Certainly, it would not do Cuba much good to set up impediments to its lucrative tourism industry, but it also needs to make sure that visitors who have medical emergencies while on the island need to be able to pay their bills before leaving. And so, they issued the directive.
Some prospective tourists took the directive to mean that the Cubans would accept government insurance as payment in full for services rendered. No such luck. The Cubans are very aware that Canadian provincial governments for the most part do not deal directly with foreign hospitals or doctors and even if they do reimburse travelers for their medical costs, the share they pay is ridiculously small.
As for the Cuban insurance being offered to tourists, it is bare bones, very small limits, no air repatriation to the traveler’s home country, nothing comparable to the multi-million dollar coverage offered by Canadian travel insurers.
So the advice to foreigners to Cuba remains the same: buy proper supplemental travel insurance at home, before your leave on your vacation, and make sure you have identification and proof of coverage in case you are asked by border agents, as you certainly will be by doctors and clinic and hospital staffs attending to you.
And please, continue to let us know of your experiences as the winter tourism season to Cuba heads into high gear.