Thursday, April 15, 2010

THIA Warns All Visitors to Cuba of New Travel Insurance Requirements

Apr 15, 2010 08:00 ET
THIA Warns All Visitors to Cuba of New Travel Insurance Requirements

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - April 15, 2010) - Effective May 1, 2010
Canadians visiting Cuba 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."

Martha Turnbull, president of the Travel Health Insurance Association of
Canada (THIA) urges all Cuba-bound visitors to 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 Canada that
have full medical benefits should meet the Cuban requirements for
coverage," says Ms. Turnbull.

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 Canadian 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," says Ms. Turnbull.

Most Canadian policies provide at least $1 million in medical and
repatriation benefits. The Cuban plans listed in the government
announcement offer various benefit options ranging from approximately
$7000 to $25000 for sickness or medical benefits. Some, but not all,
offer a $7000 benefit for the return of deceased remains, or
repatriation of patients requiring care in hospitals at home. An actual
air repatriation to Canada can cost $25,000 (CAD) or more.

Ms. Turnbull also notes that the assistance capability of the Cuban
insurers is not familiar in dealing with foreign government insurance
plans or 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.

About THIA. THIA is Canada's national organization representing travel
insurers, brokers, underwriters, re-insurers, emergency assistance
companies, air ambulance companies and allied services in the travel
insurance field. Its website is

For more information, please contact
Travel Health Insurance Association of Canada
Martha Turnbull
Cell: 905-816-2495

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