South America generally has more affordable healthcare than other continents, and its healthcare system has improved significantly over recent years. Emergency medical assistance is free for citizens and visitors in many countries in South America, such as Brazil and Argentina, but ongoing or less urgent treatment may not be covered. Medical bills can get expensive depending on the injury or illness, particularly if the condition is complicated or life-threatening.
Depending on your insurer and your level of cover, your travel insurance medical cover may include:
Having adequate medical cover to cover medical expenses in South America can provide peace of mind.
If you have any pre-existing medical conditions, disclose these to your insurer with your application so that your insurer can assess whether they can offer coverage for pre-existing conditions.
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.
This benefit may cover your belongings if they are stolen, lost or damaged. Coverage may include your luggage, cash, credit cards and personal travel documents such as your passport or ID card.
If your flights are cancelled or delayed, cancellation and delay cover can cover you for incidental expenses while you wait for your flight to be rescheduled and possibly cancellation fees if your carrier is unable to reimburse you fully.
If you need to cancel your holiday prior to leaving Australia, cancellation cover may cover some or all of your financial losses in the event of a family emergency, natural disaster or similar event.
South America is a vast continent packed with thrilling activities such as:
Insurers don’t always cover high-risk activities as a part of their standard cover. If you intend 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 may provide additional cover for hospital and medical care or cancellations. Without this cover, any financial losses due to high-risk activities may not be covered.
If you’re planning on driving to destinations like Bolivia’s Salar de Uyuni or Argentina’s Seven Lakes, you may want to consider car rental excess cover or motorcycle and scooter cover, as you may not always be covered by a standard international travel insurance policy if your rental car gets damaged or you are involved in a vehicular accident.
However, in most cases you cannot get rental excess cover for two-wheeled vehicles and will need to pay for theft or damages out of pocket. If you are going to ride a motorcycle when overseas, you may want to consider a policy that includes cover for losses relating to riding a motorcycle.
Driving laws and vehicle safety standards in South America aren’t as strict as in Australia, meaning there’s a chance you could get into an accident. This is due to poor road infrastructure, a lack of following road safety rules and minimal accommodations for pedestrians and cyclists.2
If you’re planning on travelling to countries that have had volcanic activity warnings in the past, like Chile, it could be wise to ensure your policy covers volcanic ash clouds with natural disaster cover for peace of mind if volcanic activity disrupts your travels or puts you at medical risk. Read your insurer’s PDS to find out exactly what you’re covered for, as this can vary between insurers.
1 Institute for Economics and Peace. Global Peace Index 2022. Accessed November 2022.
2 Global Road Safety Facility. The World Bank & Road Safety in Latin America and The Caribbean. Accessed November 2022.
3 International Travel Vaccination Centre. Travel Health Advice for South America | ITVC. Accessed November 2022.