I'm going to travel in South America (Peru, Bolivia & Chile) for a month. Is travel health insurance necessary / a requirement?

I mean those kind of insurances for emergencies, so that if I recover in a local hospital I'm covered with the costs.

  • As opposed to covering the costs out of pocket? – Karlson Mar 21 '13 at 21:02
  • Patrick - "should I?" is subjective, and against the rules in the faq. I'm editing the question to be less subjective, but please be careful about these in the future, or they'll risk closure. – Mark Mayo Supports Monica Mar 22 '13 at 0:02
  • And indeed as seen by some of the answers, it's just too subjective still. I was hoping someone would cite a law or something, but it comes down to polling on opinion, and I'm unsure how to improve it in its current form. I'm closing for now, but if you edit it to be non-subjective, you can flag to reopen. – Mark Mayo Supports Monica Mar 22 '13 at 4:37

Absolutely yes. Medical emergencies are one of the few things you definitely need to be insured against, as they can bankrupt most people. Since most regular health insurance policies don't cover treatments abroad, you need extra insurance.

  • Which are the health insurances for South America (Peru, Bolivia, Chile) I can buy online ? – aneuryzm Mar 22 '13 at 8:26
  • @Patrick: Many insurance companies offer travel health insurance with global coverage. The company you get your normal health insurance from may have an add-on offer, which probably reduces the beaurocratic process. – Michael Borgwardt Mar 22 '13 at 8:30
  • I've called them and I've been told that I actually need to buy a travel insurance from my home country. (I'm resident in the Netherlands, I have a dutch basic health insurance, but I've italian passport). – aneuryzm Mar 25 '13 at 11:15
  • I remember last trip I've done in Asia, I bought a medical insurance online, and it was very easy. Can you suggest me any company ? – aneuryzm Mar 25 '13 at 11:16
  • @Patrick: not really, I'm German and just got the one from my regular health insurer. – Michael Borgwardt Mar 25 '13 at 11:35

Mere mortals usually think that travel-insurance is a really really good idea.
But it is never "necessary" if not required as a condition of travel by some third party.


  • You are a risk taker

and / or

  • You are immensely excited by the prospect of having to self fund long stays in hospital, long term disabilities, liabilities for damage caused in error to property or people, treatment for exotic diseases, loss of fares or deposits, unexpected accommodation costs, kidnapping (insurance may or may not relieve you of this thrill), and more,


  • if this excitement, for you, exceeds

    • the consequences of them happening x the probability of them happening,


  • no-insurance may well be the way to go.


  • Hence: Mere mortals usually think that it is a really really good idea.


A personal experience:

On a visit to China I was bitten lightly by a friendly factory guard dog while playingh with it. (We were and remainded the best of friends).

I was introduced to the logical considerations of potential Rabies infection and its relative prevalence in China. I underwent a course of injections - 1st in China, two more a week apart as I subsequently travelled in Australia. Final one in NZ on my return home.

Total cost the better part of $1000.
Only on returning home did I find that my travel insurance was invalid! (Free Gold VISA travel insurance does NOT apply to travel with a business component).
Had the dog actually had Rabies or if it did have and the injections did not work then I could have died rather unpleasantly (insurance helps only a little) or needed very very substantial ongoing care. Rabies kills almost everyone who is actually affected so maybe not the very best example. Choose eg tetanus and try again.

Paid travel insurance would have cost me about 1/3 of the Rabies treatment costs.

  • wait - travel insurance would have cost you $300? That's insane, a travel health insurance policy costs about $10 to $15 here! – Michael Borgwardt Mar 22 '13 at 8:32

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