Ideally, all travelers should have a travel insurance policy, which will provide some security in the case of a medical emergency, or the loss or theft of money or belongings. It may seem an expensive luxury, but if you can’t afford a travel health insurance policy, you also probably can’t afford medical emergency charges abroad if something goes wrong.
- If you need to make a claim on your travel insurance, you must produce a police report detailing loss or theft. You also need proof of the value of any items lost or stolen. Receipts are the best bet, so if you buy a camera for your trip, for example, hang on to the receipt.
- Colombian law stipulates that in emergency situations hospitals must treat you, whether or not you can pay. If you don’t have the Spanish to insist on this right, you may have difficulty getting treatment.
In short, travel insurances for Colombia serve about two things:
- To reimburse your bookings in case of unforeseen problems.
- To pay or reimburse your medical issues (in case of emergency)
1. Colombia Trip cancellation or interruption coverage beyond your control (+)The travel insurance company could reimburse the non-refundable booking of your canceled Colombia trip.
Death of a relative: Yes
Break up with your girlfriend: No
2. Travel accident or Medical emergency while traveling to Colombia (+)
You’re injured in an accident and need emergency medical treatment. The travel insurance will cover your expenses.Examples:
You break your arm: Yes
A painful toothache: Yes
Health checkup or a vaccine: No
3. Medical repatriation from Colombia (+)
You’ve got a serious accident and you need a medical evacuation. Your Colombia travel insurance takes care of everything.
Helicopter evac: Yes
Medical expenses at home: No
4. Somebody steals your luggage in Colombia (+)
You can ensure your expensive electronic stuff.
Someone stole your computer: Yes
You forget your computer on a table: No
More on Health and safety
- here are very few public toilets in Colombia. In their absence use a restaurant’s toilet. Museums and large shopping malls usually have public toilets, as do bus and airport terminals and some supermarkets.
- You’ll often (but not always) find toilet paper in toilets; it’s wise to carry some with you. Never flush toilet paper. The pipes are narrow and the water pressure is weak, so toilets can’t cope with paper. A wastebasket is normally provided.
- The most common word for toilet is baño. Men’s toilets will usually bear a label saying señores, hombres or caballeros, while the women’s toilets will be marked señoras, mujeres or damas.
- Bus-station restrooms will usually charge COP$800 to COP$1000 plus COP$200 to COP$300 for toilet paper.
Dangers & Annoyances
Keep your wits about you, avoid dodgy parts of town and be extravigilant after dark, and Colombia should offer you nothing but good times.
- Avoid wandering off the grid, especially without checking the security situation on the ground.
- Be cautious when using ATMs after dark; avoid doing so entirely on deserted streets.
- Carry a quickly accessible, rolled bundle of small notes in case of robbery.
- Avoid drug tourism.
- Be very wary of drinks or cigarettes offered by strangers or new ‘friends.’
- Beware of criminals masquerading as plainclothes police.
- The border towns of Cúcuta and Maicao are best avoided at present due to the ongoing crisis in Venezuela.
Government Travel Advice
Government websites with useful travel advisories:
- Australian Department of Foreign Affairs (www.smartraveller.gov.au)
- British Foreign Office (www.fco.gov.uk)
- Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs (www.travel.gc.ca)
- German Federal Foreign Office (www.auswaertiges-amt.de)
- New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs (www.safetravel.govt.nz)
- US State Department (www.travel.state.gov)