South America generally has more affordable healthcare than other continents, and its healthcare system has improved significantly over recent years. Emergency healthcare is free for citizens and visitors alike in many countries in South America, such as Brazil and Argentina; however, complex surgeries won’t likely be free.
Despite this, medical bills can still get expensive depending on the injury or illness, particularly if the condition is complicated or life-threatening.
Most travel insurance policies include cover for medical expenses; as such, make sure you’re getting an adequate level of cover that works for you. If you have any pre-existing conditions, disclose these to your insurer so that you may have coverage for claims related to your condition as well – always remember to read your PDS to understand how your insurer does or doesn’t cover pre-existing conditions.
While the availability of quality healthcare may be high in some countries, it can wear thin in developing countries. Depending on your itinerary, you may want to consider getting travel insurance that includes emergency repatriation.
This type of cover will ensure that you can be evacuated back to Australia as soon as possible if required. Note that most insurers will provide 24/7 assistance in emergency situations. Any necessary evacuation will be managed by your insurer and it’s important that you contact them immediately if anything happens.
Cover for medical expenses is vital to any trip. Accidents and illnesses are unexpected mishaps that can potentially be life-threatening and derail your holiday.
Having adequate medical cover will not only provide “peace of mind” but can help protect you from financial hardship if the unexpected happens. It’s always important to check your PDS to ensure that you have the cover you need and are aware of the policy limits, conditions and exclusions.
As a traveller in South America, you may be a target for petty theft. It’s not uncommon for travellers to carry their backpacks on their front to prevent thieves from stealing their belongings.
However, in the case that you lost your luggage or personal belongings, this benefit may cover you for lost goods. There are usually limits as to how much you can claim, so make sure you read your policy’s PDS for more details.
South America is a vast continent that’s rich in landscapes. As such, you may want to engage in several thrilling activities, including:
Insurers don’t always cover high-risk activities as a part of their standard cover. If you intent to participate in high-risk activities, you may want to consider getting an adventure cover add-on if your policy allows it. This add-on will provide additional cover in the case of any mishaps during your adventures.
If you’re planning on road tripping to Bolivia’s Salar de Uyuni (salt flats) or through Argentina’s Seven Lakes with a rental car during your travels in South America, you may want to consider getting car rental excess cover.
If you are involved in an accident or your rental is broken into, you may be liable to pay an excess to cover the damage costs, which can sometimes be thousands of dollars.
While most roads throughout South America are in good condition, going off the beaten track may take a toll on your rental.
Furthermore, driving laws and vehicle safety standards aren’t as strict as Australia, meaning there’s a chance you could get into an accident in South America. According to the World Health Organisation, the road death toll in South America is, on average, three to four times higher than Australia.3
Alternatively, if you’re planning on motorbiking your way through the continent, consider getting motorcycle and scooter cover.
There has been some volcanic activity in Chile in recent years that have affected travel. If you’re planning on travelling to a country that has had volcanic activity warnings in the past, it would be a good idea to ensure that your policy covers volcano and ash clouds with natural disaster cover for greater peace of mind.
Cover for volcano and ash cloud will help ensure that you’ll be covered if volcanic activity severely disrupts your travels or puts you in medical risk. Make sure you read your insurer’s PDS to find out exactly what you’re covered for as this can vary between insurers.
If your flights get cancelled or delayed, cancellation and delay cover can cover you for any financial losses regarding accommodation bookings or deposits for activities.
Furthermore, if you need to cancel your holiday prior to leaving Australia, your cancellation cover may be able to cover a portion of your losses. This may include cover for reasons such as:
1 Igarapé Institute. 2017. The world’s most dangerous cities. Accessed 9 September 2020.
2 International Travel Vaccination Centre. Travel Health Advice for South America | ITVC. Accessed 9 September 2020.
3 World Health Organisation. (2018). Death on the roads: Based on the WHO Global Status Report on Road Safety 2018. Accessed 10 September 2020.