Insurance in Costa Rica
Most insurance in Costa Rica must be bought from the state owned insurance company, Instituto Nacional de Seguros (INS) or from CCSS (CAJA), but this will be changing soon. With the passage of the Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA), the insurance market in Costa Rica will be opened to competition so in the next few years, you may have far more options than now.
Medical and Health
Auto and other Vehicle
Health and Medical Insurance Costa Rica (Also see this page)
INS handles most types of insurance, but there are several international insurance carriers that offer far more robust health insurance policies with lifetime limits of $5 million and they will pay no matter what country you are in when the expenses are incurred. Some even have reduced premiums if you specify that expenses will ONLY be incurred in one country or in Central America. One of these is BUPA (this is NOT an endorsement and is placed here only as an example) but there are many others.
Note: While you cannot buy health insurance in Costa Rica from any other company than INS or CCSS, these policies are perfectly legal to purchase and many have payment arrangements already in place with several private hospitals in Costa Rica.
This will change in the coming years after the passage of the Central American Free Trade Agreement which ends these monopolies.
Do some research on this by Internet because you DO have options!
There two major plans available for health insurance for purchase here in Costa Rica.
INS (Instituto Nacional de Seguros)
INS offers medical insurance. The group plan offered by the Association of Residents of Costa Rica would save about 10% of the cost of the premium. There is a limit of about $17,500 per year, and it does not cover pre-existing conditions or check ups. Dental work, eyeglasses and cosmetic surgery are only paid if they are needed as the result of an accident. Claims are based on a table rating types of treatment administered. Costs vary with age and sex. This plan pays 70% of prescription drugs, examinations, doctor visits, hospitalization and treatment and 100% of surgeons’ and anesthetists’ fees. The patient is free to choose the doctor. Approximate annual premiums for men up to age 59 are $550, between ages 60 and 75 $1020. Dependants under 19 are about $245 per year. Women aged 19 to 59 would pay about $885 and between 60 and 75 $1,305.
NOTE: Currently, the lifetime benefit is only $17,000. This is very low, but $17,000 here spends a lot more than in the USA. Currently, intensive care in a private hospital runs about $3,000 per day. At that rate, you can chew through your benefit pretty quickly. There are several companies worldwide that sell health insurance policies that cover you anywhere in the world and are perfectly legal in Costa Rica. Most have a $2 million limit and are not much more expensive than INS.
An alternative to the INS plan is the CCSS (aka CAJA) plan. (Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social) This is the government medical plan that most Costa Ricans have. Payment for every employee is compulsory. The plan covers pre-existing conditions, doctor visits, prescription drugs, examinations, hospitalization, dental and eyes. There is no limit on annual amounts paid out by the plan. A doctor and clinic is assigned to the patient. Lines and the processes can be long, but you will get decent care!
The cost through the Association of Residents of Costa Rica, ARCR, is very reasonable - $37.00 per month for a family where the principal insured person is over 55 years of age, and $58.00 per month where the principal insured is under the age of 55. For those under 55 there is a compulsory pension fund payment in the premium. Family includes spouse and dependants under the age of 18 years.
As of March 2010, membership in CAJA is a requirement for any form of residency and this is even if you have insurance from another company.
Vehicle and Car Insurance Costa Rica
When the license plates are purchased a small amount of compulsory personal liability third party insurance is provided. This is paid when the plates are purchased or renewed. It is too low to be considered effective - supplementary insurance is highly recommended.
Collision, fire, theft, personal liability and property damage coverage can be purchased from INS. When receiving quotations on car insurance the normal term is six months. Once your car is insured anyone with a valid license is permitted to drive it. For the year 2003 approximate annual full coverage would be $1000 for a vehicle with a value of $10,000, $2,000 for a value of $20,000.
Example: In 2010, full coverage for my 2009 Nissan X-Trail was $1,600.00 per year.
Homeowners Theft Insurance
This insurance covers FORCIBLE ENTRY only. The annual premium is about 1¾ % of the sum value of the items insured, but depends upon the location and on the security of the insured premises. It is necessary to insure all items within the premises except cash, securities and jewelry, which cannot be insured. You cannot select to insure only the high-risk items.
Homeowners Building Insurance
In Costa Rica it is advisable to be insured for earthquake as well as fire, water damage and natural disaster. It is possible to insure the house, the house plus contents, or the contents alone. The cost for a complete package in 2003 is 0.2753% of the value of the building per year.
There are four classes of coverage.
- ‘A’ covers fire and lightning.
- ‘B’ covers damage from riots, disturbances, hurricane, wind, explosion, smoke, falling objects, vehicles & resulting fire.
- ‘C’ covers floods and landslides,
- ‘D’ covers earthquakes, tremors and resulting fires. C & D are sold jointly. It is possible to purchase A alone, A + B, A + CD
This means that full coverage for a $100,000 home would cost $275.30 per year.
Homeowners Liability Insurance
Estimated annual premium for an average household would be $200 to $300 per year. As Costa Rica is not a litigious country, this coverage is not so important for the common householder.
Electronic equipment insurance
The rate is up to 5% of the value of the items insured. This includes computers, faxes, telephone answering machines, photocopiers, cellular phones, etc. It covers damage caused by lightning, power surges and fire. If theft and all risks are to be included it is higher. Payment is based on straight-line depreciation over five years, so the policy is good only for newer items.
Life Insurance Costa Rica
Previously life insurance was available only in colones, and the devaluation factor made it impractical. INS now has a program of life insurance in dollars. The policy is part insurance, part savings and double indemnity for accidental death. The savings portion is guaranteed to pay 4.5% interest, but currently is yielding 7.5% (2004).
Note: This is the INS program. International life insurance is available everywhere. See any agent in almost any country for more info.
Some banks now offer policies for their depositors.