(QCOSTARICA) The Ministry of Economy, Industry and Commerce (MEIC) authorized the use of travel policies, issued by international insurers, on the first reopening flight of Juan Santamaría International Airport, despite the fact that a government decree has not yet authorized them.
La Nacion reports that it received confirmation from the Dirección General de Migración y Extranjería (DGME) – Immigration service – and the Costa Rican Tourism Institute (ICT) that MEIC personnel validated international insurance for some of the tourists on the Iberia flight that arrived in the country, from Madrid, Spain, Monday night.
“Within the immigration control process, various cases of passengers who presented insurance vouchers that did not correspond to INS insurance were detected, which were endorsed by MEIC personnel at the same air terminal,” reported the Immigration communications unit.
The entity stressed that, on the Iberia flight with 210 passengers, there were tourists who bought the policy from the State insurer, the Instituto Nacional de Seguros (INS). But foreign insurance products that met Covid-19 coverage were also validated.
The MEIC reported that of the total number of travelers, 23 had insurance purchased abroad.
“The work of the MEIC was limited to verifying in situ that the international policies were in force and that they had coverage greater than the minimum required by the decree, which was US$20,000, and of course, that they were issued in the name of the tourist,” confirmed the MEIC in writing.
The MEIC and ICT explained that international policies were accepted for Spanish flight, as an exceptional measure by the Emergency Operations Center (CEO) to safeguard travelers.
The Ministry stressed that the decision was made only for the first flight to arrive in the country after the reopening of the air borders.
“At the airport, the MEIC, verified that it (insurance) complied with the minimum requests by the (Costa Rican) Government,” said the ICT, through its press office.
The Comisión Nacional de Emergencias (CNE) is the body in charge of convening the CEO, which has representation from the majority of public institutions in charge of dealing with the coronavirus pandemic.
The exceptional measure was applied despite the fact that the Executive Branch itself established in the protocol for the reopening of the Juan Santamaría airport and Executive Decree 42513-MGP-S that only the entry of vacationers who had a policy authorized Costa Rica’s insurance regulator, the Superintendencia General de Seguros (Sugese).
The policy must have coverage of up to US$20,000 for medical expenses and up to US$4,000 of accommodation expenses for COVID-19 disease.
To date, only the INS has Sugese-approved traveler insurance with those conditions, though the Sugese reported that other operators had applied for approval.
The obligatory nature of a policy with high prices, ranging from US$275 to US$965, depending on the age of the tourist, has been criticized by the private sector (associations of airlines and travel agencies), as it represents a barrier to the entry of tourists to the country.
Several operators have reported cancellations by tourists in Europe and Canada, countries authorized to operate commercial flights to Costa Rica, as well as
Friday last, President Carlos Alvarado, ordered his Minister of Tourism (ICT), Gustavo Seguro, and Minister of the Economy (MEIC), Victoria Hernández, to evaluate the innsurance issue.
Both the ICT and MEIC ministers confirm they are working on a proposal to accept travel insurance issued abroad.
Segura stressed, on Tuesday, August 4, at a press conference, that in the next few days they will present guidelines to accept international policies
“Insurance must be solid and guarantee the coverage that Costa Rica needs to protect the health of Costa Ricans and the finances of our health system,” said the hierarch.
The ICT reported that the exceptional measure was only approved for the Iberia flight. At 5:51 pm today, Wednesday, August 5, the Lufthansa flight from Frankfurt, Germany, arrived in Costa Rica.
This is the second commercial flight (that is not a repatriation flight) to arrive since the reopening of the air borders that were closed on March 18.
Immigration stressed that tourists will be required to meet the requirements dictated by the executive decree, that is, the INS policy with COVID-19 coverage, the negative test for coronavirus and to complete the online epidemiological form of the Ministry of Health.