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Compare Travel Insurance Travel Insurance Tips Travel Insurance for Cuba

Cuba travel insurance

06 March, 2020 By Crystal Moran

If you're travelling to Cuba, you'll need travel insurance. As of 2010, Cuba requires all travellers to have travel insurance to enter the country. If your travel insurance doesn't meet their requirements, you'll have to buy another policy from Cuba's tourist-assistance company Asistur. Not sure about Cuba travel insurance or visa requirements? We're here to help.

Travel to cuba

Steeped in revolutionary history, salsa and sun, this large Caribbean island offers a sensory experience like no other. With its sugary-white sandy beaches lining the north coast and the chance to meander through tobacco fields, puff on cigars, salsa the night away, and go cruising in a vintage Chevrolet, you need to book a trip to Cuba yesterday.

A city trapped in a time warp since the late 1950s, Cuba's capital Havana is a mix of faded glamour, crumbling colonial architecture and the telltale scaffolding and cranes of a country on the rise. Head further out and you'll encounter rural farming communities, seaside cities and untouched natural environments. Cuba's melting-pot history of Indigenous culture, colonisation and revolution make it a must-see destination.

Cuba and compulsory travel insurance

Mandatory travel cover for entry

In May 2010, the Cuban Government declared that all travellers to Cuba must have travel insurance in order to enter the country. While it's always a good idea to have travel insurance wherever you go, you won't get into Cuba without it. Your policy must have sufficient medical and repatriation benefits, and spot checks are conducted at the airport during the customs and immigration processes.

If you don't have travel insurance, or your travel insurance doesn't meet their standards, you'll be required to buy a policy from Cuba's 
tourist assistance company, Asistur. This will only include medical benefits, and not the full suite of cancellation and luggage cover from an Australian brand. If you refuse to have any travel insurance, you'll likely be deported.

American underwriters 

Due to US embargoes and sanctions on Cuba, American insurance companies or Australian brands underwritten by American underwriters may not cover travellers to Cuba. Generally speaking, if an insurer can't pay claims to Cuba, it won't appear in their destinations lists or searches. In order to get around the sanctions and cover travellers, some brands offer a 'Worldwide' policy when you type in Cuba - but we highly recommend giving them a call to confirm that they will cover Cuba under a Worldwide policy (conditions can change quickly, so always check before you buy). 

which travel insurance covers cuba?

Looking for travel insurance to Cuba? We've checked the purchased paths and policy documents of leading insurers to find out which brands cover Cuba, and whether you need a Cuba or Worldwide policy. 
General Advice Warning: The contents of this article were accurate at the time of writing. Insurers change their policies from time to time, so some information may have changed. You should always read the Product Disclosure Statement of your chosen insurer to understand what is covered and what isn't. The information provided is of a general nature only and does not take into account any personal objectives, financial situation or needs. Before making a decision you should consider the appropriateness of the information having regard to your personal circumstances.

why you need travel cover in Cuba

Travel insurance is a must for every holiday, but it's in Cuba, it's legally mandatory. Additionally, there are some issues specific to travelling Cuba you may need to watch out for.

Food poisoning, typhoid and hepatitis 

Central and South America can have different food handling standards than what you are used to, and there is a risk of contaminated food or water, particularly if purchased from the street or in less metropolitan areas. The medical coverage on travel insurance can cover for hospital stays, evacuation to Australia if medically-necessary, and even flying a family member to be with you if you're a solo traveller. 


If you're hiking or heading to rural areas, there is the risk of rabies-infected animals. Again, the medical cover from your comprehensive travel insurance can help here, particularly with the cost of expensive post-exposure shots if you are bitten.

Cuba's dangerous roads

Signage is poor and traffic lights are incredibly uncommon in Cuba, and roads are shared with pedestrians, bicycles, bicitaxis (bicycle taxis), cars and even horse-drawn carriages. Additionally, once you're off the main road, you'll find road conditions can be atrocious and most taxi drivers are unlicensed. Having travel insurance in Cuba can help cover you if you're injured or your luggage is damaged in an accident.

Pickpocketing, theft or assault

Of all the countries is South and Central America, Cuba is often regarded as one of the safest and friendliest. A cultural push away from consumerism and wealth-hoarding means that everyone is Cuba has enough, but not much more than that. This means that compared to many countries, you're less likely to be robbed or pickpocketed (you may face haggling or scams though). With increasing western influence, pickpocketing and thefts are becoming more common, so having cover for yourself and your items can be a smart choice.

Lost or delayed luggage

Cuba operates on 'Cuba time', and lost, delayed or broken into luggage is not uncommon. A comprehensive travel insurance policy includes cover for baggage delays and lost or stolen items. You can learn more about making a travel insurance claim here.

Cuba's hurricane season

Hurricane season occurs between June and November, and is typically of most concern during mid-August to October. Provided you purchase comprehensive travel cover before a hurricane or potential hurricane is widely published, you'd be covered if your trip is cancelled or your flights are delayed due to bad weather or natural disasters.

Tourist cards and visas for cuba

The visa situation might seem complicated - and many dodgy online vendors will try to take advantage - but understanding Cuba's visa situation can be simple and inexpensive.

Tourist Cards for Cuba: 30 days or less

isitors from Australia who are staying for 30 or days or less only need a Tourist Card. This is a small slip of paper which costs $25USD. Many airlines will automatically include your Tourist Card in your airfare, and will give it to you on your flight into Cuba (this is particularly common through Canadian airlines). Other airports will have Tourist Cards for sale at the last airport you travel through to Cuba - ask your travel agent or the check-in staff if you're not sure. If you somehow miss them, you may be able to purchase your Tourist Card at Havana's José Martí International Airport - but remember to bring $25USD in cash - Cuba doesn't have card readers at immigration.

Extending your Tourist Card: 30 to 60 days

If you're staying for 30 to 60 days, Australians can extend their Tourist Card from 30 days to 60 days. To do so, visit the local Identification and Immigration Office in whichever part of Cuba you're in, and bring:
  • your original Tourist Card
  • your passport
  • 25CUC worth of sellos (stamps) from a Cuban bank, and the receipt
  • A receipt of payment from the Casa or hotel you've been staying at
Remember, this is a Government office, so try to dress more conservatively than you might have been for the rest of your trip.

scams in cuba

While most comprehensive travel insurance policies include cover for theft of cash from your person, or for fraudulent activity on your credit card, 

Cuba Milk Powder Scam

A scammer, typically a woman and often holding a baby will ask unsuspecting tourists to buy a bag of milk powder from a nearby shop for their starving baby. After it's been paid for and the tourist has left, the woman and the shop owner will split the money, and the bag will go back on the next kindhearted stranger.

Cuban Cigar Scam

If someone is offering you cigars from the street, chances are they are fakes or rejects, or in poor condition. Instead, head to the official shops called La Casa de Habanos. They really aren't particularly expensive, and make great gifts or souvenirs. 

Money Changing Scams

There are two currencies in Cuba, the CUC (convertible peso) and CUP (national peso). The CNP is popularly used in more rural areas, and by locals. The CUC is the currency used by tourists, and the currency most transactions will be conducted within the bars, restaurants, hotels, and Casas in the major cities. This currency is worth about 24 times the CNP - which is a fact scammers will take advantage of. Make sure you check your change is in CUC, not CNP. 

Casa Scams

The Cuban Government regulates a kind of nationalised Airbnb, called Casa Particulares, whereby locals can rent out rooms or apartments to holidaymakers, which the government inspects to make sure it's safe and clean. If someone offers to let you stay in their Casa, but it doesn't have the blue T white background sign, chances are it's not regulated and may be unsafe. Additionally, scammers mimic real Casa owners, and wait outside the airport with offers to take you to their Casa, only to take you to someone else's house and demand a finder's fee which will then be passed on to you. Organising your accommodation before you arrive via a listing site can help. We've used this Casa Particulares site before - just be sure to book a week or two in advance, as the Internet is limited in Cuba, and it may take a few days to hear back. 

Vaccinations for cuba

While having great medical coverage on your travel insurance is a great idea, prevention is better than a cure. While there are no compulsory vaccinations for entry, the World Health Organisation and Centre for Disease Control recommend a range of different vaccinations for travel to Cuba, depending on what you plan to be doing. Speak to your doctor for more information.

Routine vaccinations

Being up to date on your routine vaccinations, for Measles, Mumps, and Rubella (MMR), Tetanus, Diptheria and Pertussis (TDAP), Chickenpox (if you haven't contracted it), Polio and your yearly Influenza (flu) shot is highly recommended. You're not only protecting yourself, but you're helping protect people in Cuba and at home by reducing your risk of infecting others.

Most travellers

If you can, getting vaccinations for Typhoid and Hepatitis A are highly recommended, due to the increased risk of contaminated food and water. If you're drinking bottled water, refusing ice in your drinks, and only eating cooked food, your risk would be reduced, whereas more adventurous eaters might find themselves in trouble. These vaccinations can take a few weeks to take effect, so speaking to your doctor as soon as you're thinking of travelling is highly recommended.

Some travellers

If you're travelling in rural areas, going hiking or are likely to come in contact with animals, the Rabies vaccine is recommended. If may have sexual experiences with a new person, get a tattoo or piercing, or are likely to come in contact with needles, the Hepatitis B vaccine is also recommended.

choosing the right travel insurance for cuba

Not sure how to choose the best travel insurance for your trip? Here are a few things to watch out for:

Single trip or multi-trip

If you're only doing one trip this year, a single trip policy may be the cheapest and best option for you, whereas if you're going on multiple vacations in a twelve month period (to Cuba or to other destinations), then an annual travel insurance may less expensive than several single trip policies, and more convenient. This will depend on which destinations you're going to, how many trips you're going on, how long those trips will be, and how old you are. In some cases, having a few single trips might work out to be cheaper - so shop around and compare travel insurance quotes.

Medical-only or comprehensive

Are you just looking for the medical cover mandatory for Cuba, or are you looking for something a little more comprehensive, which covers for lost luggage, flight delays, natural disasters, and family emergencies

Pre-existing conditions

If you're got a pre-existing medical condition, make sure that you declare it on your policy. Some insurers don't offer this functionality, and will exclude all claims related to your condition. Check out our guide if you're not sure which insurers offer travel insurance for pre-existing medical condition cover.

Optional add-ons

Going on a cruise to Cuba? What about doing adventure activities like scuba diving or hiking? Are you bringing high-value cameras or laptops? Make sure your policy covers them, and understand whether they are automatically covered, or you need to buy an optional add-on. 

Emergency help for Australians In Cuba

If you're in an emergency situation, give your insurer's 24/7 emergency hotline a call. They can offer guarantees to hospitals, organise evacuations if medically-necessary, or assist with claims information. Also, keeping these details handy may help, depending on the emergency:

Important numbers

Country code: 53
Emergency: 106
Directory Assistance: 113
Police: 106
Fire: 105

Australian Embassy in Mexico

Australian Embassy in Mexico is responsible for Cuba
Ruben Dario 55 Col. Polanco, Mexico City, 11580 Mexico
Phone: +52-55-11012200

Foreign Embassy in Australia

Embassy of the Republic of Cuba in Australia
17 Terrigal Crescent, O'Malley, ACT 2606
Phone: +61 02 6290 2151
Email: [email protected]

Cuba Travel Insurance FAQs

Will my travel insurer cover travel to Cuba?

Most travel insurance providers cover trips to Cuba. The exception to this is that American insurers, or Australian brands underwritten by American companies - due to sanctions, they may not be allowed according to US law. Some of these insurers will get around it by offering cover to Cuba on a 'Worldwide' policy instead. Check our Cuba travel insurance table above, and check your policy wording or call your insurer. 

What I have an emergency travel claim in Cuba?

If you're in a medical emergency, all reputable travel insurers have a 24/7 hotline you can call or email. Get yourself to a hospital, and contact the emergency hotline. These teams, typically staffed with medical and logistics professionals, can approve guarantees of payment to the hospital, liaise with your doctors and family, and arrange transfers or evacuations back home. If you are hospitalised, you must get in touch as soon as possible, otherwise insurers may decline your claim.

What if I want to extend my trip to Cuba?

Fell in love with Cuba? Australians can extend their Tourist Card to 60 days at any local immigration office. Just remember to contact your insurer to extend your travel insurance policy. Many brands now let you do it online. 

What is the milk powder scam in Cuba?

One of the most common scams in Cuba is folks, typically women, begging for foreigners to buy a bag of milk powder for their baby. Once a kind-hearted stranger does so, they then return the bag of milk to the store and splits the money with shop keeper. Not the end of the world, but may not be the best use of your money. Consider tipping bartenders and service staff at restaurants a little higher instead.

What do I do if I'm robbed in Cuba?

If you've involved in a robbery, report it to the police, ideally within 24 hours. This will help with any travel insurance claims for stolen items. Contact your insurer if the police refuse to give you a report to ask for advice.

What vaccinations do I need for Cuba?

Most doctors recommend that you have your routine MMR, TDAP, Chickenpox, Polio and Influenza (Flu) shot. Additionally, some travellers are recommended to have additional vaccinations for Cuba, depending on the activities they're doing.

Does travel insurance cover hurricanes in Cuba?

Provided you purchase your comprehensive travel insurance policy before a natural disaster like a hurricane occurs, you'll generally be covered. If you purchase after it has been published in the media or appeared as a government warning, this would generally be considered a known event, and you're unlikely to have provision to claim.

Contributor Crystal Moran

Crystal Moran

With a research and journalism background, and certified in Tier 2 General Insurance General Advice, Crystal is passionate about investigating customers’ tricky travel questions and helping them find the answers they’re looking for. A writer and filmmaker whose favourite trips have been to film festivals in Cuba and South Korea, and campervanning around the USA, she loves getting to know new people and seeing a glimpse of the world through their eyes.

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