Belize announces that all travelers to the country, whether vaccinated or not, must buy special health insurance to cover Covid from February 15, 2021.
In the announcement, the BTB said the move was an effort “to further protect the health and wellbeing of international visitors and Belizeans from COVID-19.”
It will, they say, help to “protect travelers against incurred medical and non-medical expenses if they test positive for COVID-19 during their stay in Belize.”
Belize Tourism Board Announces New Safe Travel Requirements pic.twitter.com/us45OIhcQb
— Breaking Belize News (@belizemedia) January 13, 2022
So far, what we know about this Belize Covid insurance is what we see in last night’s press release.
The cost of the insurance is US$18 per person. This $18 will provide the traveler with up to $50,000 in medical expenses if they need hospitalization or treatment for Covid.
It will also cover up to $2,000 of lodging expenses to cover their quarantine should they receive a positive Covid test while in Belize. Belize currently requires a ten-day quarantine for those who test positive.
The insurance will also cover emergency services such as air evacuation, and expenses incurred due to pre-existing conditions. It also covers cancellations and other expenses that may come with being stuck in Belize with a positive Covid test.
The BTB recommends travelers buy this insurance in advance of travel. It will, however, be available to buy upon arrival in Belize, either at the airport or any land border.
Belizean citizens and residents (residents meaning those with QRP or Long Stay status) are exempt from buying this insurance. Everyone else has to buy it.
It’s also worth pointing out that it doesn’t matter if you’re vaccinated or not – you’ll still need to buy the insurance. This separates Belize from Costa Rica, which has a similar insurance mandate, but only for unvaccinated travelers.
The other protocols to enter Belize remain the same:
All travelers over the age of 5 need to present a negative Covid test (taken within 96 hours of arrival for a PCR test or 48 hours for a rapid antigen test), regardless of vaccination status. Tests are available to take upon arrival in Belize, at a cost of $50. Travelers entering through a land border need to take a test right there – Belize won’t accept prior tests at the border, only at the airport.
If you’re positive upon arrival, you’ll be automatically quarantined at your own expense for ten days.
All travelers still need to book their accommodations in advance at Gold Standard facilities, as per existing guidelines.
— Belize Tourism Board (@belizevacation) September 1, 2021
On the face of it, $18 isn’t a bad price to pay for this insurance.
Especially when you compare with Costa Rica, which can cost hundreds of dollars for unvaccinated travelers, depending how long they’re staying in the country.
It’s still unclear how the BTB will sell this insurance, at least for those buying it in advance of travel. It will, we assume, be available through the BTB website or some other official Belizean channel. Some hotels are also saying they’ll include this insurance in their pricing, or cover it themselves for their clients, according to the San Pedro Sun.
Another question is whether other insurance companies can sell it or not. In Costa Rica, when they introduced mandatory Covid insurance in August 2020, it was first limited to the state insurance company to sell. They set an exorbitant price and it caused outrage.
The Costa Rican government backtracked and allowed other companies to sell this insurance, and the price went down. But, as Belize’s price is already very low, this might not be an issue. After all, is it worth it for other companies to undercut $18?
It’s also worth noting that this $18 covers travelers for a period of 21 days only. What will people do if they’re staying longer than 21 days? Will they need to repurchase another three week’s worth of insurance? How will that work?
The BTB hasn’t released any further details yet, but their site says this will happen “soon”, and to keep checking.
— The San Pedro Sun (@SanPedroSun) January 14, 2022