Compare travel insurance for South America

It doesn’t get much more inspiring. Whether you’re visiting the Galapagos Islands, taking the Inca trail to Machu Picchu, visiting vibrant Rio, horse riding in Patagonia, or touring Argentina, your South America holiday will be hard to top. But before the fun truly starts, it’s time to get the less exciting stuff out the way, starting with travel insurance…

It doesn’t get much more inspiring. Whether you’re visiting the Galapagos Islands, taking the Inca trail to Machu Picchu, visiting vibrant Rio, horse riding in Patagonia, or touring Argentina, your South America holiday will be hard to top. But before the fun truly starts, it’s time to get the less exciting stuff out the way, starting with travel insurance…

Coronavirus (COVID-19) update: please check the latest government travel advice that sets out what you need to do, if anything, before you travel abroad and before you return home. You should also check the latest travel advice and entry requirements for each country you visit or transit through. Travel rules can change at short notice, so check the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) for the latest information.

Josh Daniels
Travel Insurance expert
minute read
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Posted 14 JANUARY 2022

Do I need travel insurance for South America? 

Travel insurance may not be the first thing that comes to mind as you daydream about carnivals and coastlines, Inca and Mayan remains or peaks in the Andes, but just imagine if: 

  • your flights are cancelled
  • your luggage is lost
  • your camera is stolen
  • you become ill or injured 

From covering medical costs to helping replace lost items – if something goes wrong, travel insurance means you can still enjoy your holiday. 

These are just some of the reasons people compare South America travel insurance options before jetting off.

Customers with more serious pre-existing medical conditions

If you have a serious health condition, the price you pay for travel insurance is likely to be more expensive. However, there are still many providers out there and you should be able to find affordable cover. Whatever happens, don’t be tempted to lie to an insurance provider, because if you do and then need to make a claim, it could be rejected.

When you declare medical conditions on our website, we’ll only show quotes from insurance providers who will cover all declared medical conditions, with no exclusions. 

MoneyHelper has launched a directory of insurance providers who may be able to provide quotes over the phone if you have more serious medical conditions. Find more information at MoneyHelper or by calling them on 0800 138 7777.

How much is travel insurance for South America? 

If you're travelling to South America, you’ll need worldwide travel cover. How much you pay for a policy will depend on a number of things, including how long you’ll be away for, what activities you're planning and whether you have any pre-existing health conditions. 

When you compare with us, a worldwide travel insurance policy can cost from £12.38 for a week’s cover***. 

It’s usually cheaper to get a worldwide travel policy that excludes the USA, Canada, the Caribbean and Mexico. So, if you’re not planning to visit any of these areas during your trip, you should be able to keep costs down. 

***Based on Compare the Market data for a worldwide travel insurance policy for a 20 year-old with no pre-existing medical conditions travelling for one week. Prices correct as of January 2022.

What will South America travel insurance cover? 

As far as the basics go, a good South America holiday insurance policy should include: 

Medical care – most policies include medical coverage, so if you get ill or injured while on your trip to South America, your policy will cover the cost of your care and transport back to the UK if needed. 

Your belongings – always check that your luggage is covered for theft or damage, and what the individual item limits are on the policy. This is especially crucial if you’re bringing expensive equipment with you, like a laptop or specialist camera. More on baggage cover

Travel problemscancelled, delayed or missed flights can all be covered by travel insurance, which is handy if you plan on hopping from destination to destination. Delayed bags are typically covered in your policy too, but it’s always good to double check. 

Personal liability – if you have an accident that inadvertently affects others on your trip, personal liability cover could help if you get sued for damages.

Legal fees – you shouldn’t need this, but it’s great peace of mind to know your travel insurance covers you for legal expenses in case a dispute arises. 

Coronavirus – you may also want cover if you need to either cancel or extend your trip because you’ve been diagnosed with COVID and can’t travel because you need to self-isolate. Some policies will offer this type of cover but not all providers will, so check the policy to make sure it offers you the cover you require.

What should my travel insurance to South America include? 

When you’re searching for holiday insurance to South America, it’s a good idea to make sure it includes access to private healthcare. While there are public health services in South America, the facilities are often very basic and waiting times can be long. Without sufficient travel insurance, you’d have to cover healthcare costs yourself – which could run into thousands of pounds.

You should also check that the policy you’ve chosen covers you for all the countries you plan to visit. And if you’re planning a trek up the Andes mountains, make sure your holiday insurance covers travel to high altitude.

South America travel insurance exclusions 

Before you commit to buying South America holiday insurance, there’s a few exclusions to be aware of. Providers typically won't cover: 

  • Medical treatment for pre-existing health conditions that you haven’t declared to your insurance provider. Make sure you’re as honest and accurate as possible when you apply for insurance, otherwise you may find you’re not covered if you need to make a claim.
  • High-risk activities and sports – like rock climbing, diving and surfing – won’t usually be covered by a standard policy.
  • Treatment for illness that could have been prevented with a vaccine ahead of travel.
  • Reckless behaviour, drunkenness or drug use – you won’t be able to claim for events that were illegal or injuries sustained while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
  • Travel to destinations against government or Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) advice.
  • Events such as terrorism, natural disasters, civil unrest and pandemics.

What else should I consider when I choose my travel insurance? 

Think about what sort of activities you’ll be doing on holiday so you can make sure your travel policy covers you for them. 

These could include: 

  • Extreme sports – this can cover you for things like climbing the Andes, diving with sharks in the Galapagos Islands and trekking in the Amazon rainforest.
  • Winter sports – get cover for skiing in Patagonia or snowboarding in Chile.
  • Golf travel insurance– South America has some of the world’s finest golf courses, from Olivos in Argentina to Brazil’s Olympic course. You can add golf insurance to single or annual trip cover, if it’s not already included in your standard policy. 

How you plan to spend your time in South America will determine whether you need to add to your policy’s existing features.

Do I need a visa for South America? 

If you have a British passport, you won’t need a visa to enter any country in South America as a tourist. But you must make sure you have at least six months left on your passport.

In many South American countries, including Chile, you’ll be given a tourist card on arrival, which you must fill in and hand over to the immigration authorities when you leave. 

If you’re travelling to South America via the USA, you’ll need an ESTA to prove your eligibility to enter the States.

Where can I compare travel insurance quotes? 

We can help you find the right travel insurance at the right price for your trip to South America. Whether you’re looking to cover a backpacking adventure or a couples’ holiday, we’ll help you compare a range of competitive quotes to get the peace of mind you need.

Frequently asked questions

What travel insurance do I need for backpacking in South America?

If you’re planning on backpacking in South America, it’s a good idea to have backpackers’ insurance, which is aimed at people who want to travel for long periods of time, often to several different countries. If your trip is likely to include adventure sports and activities, you might also need extreme sports or winter sports cover.

What vaccinations will I need for South America?

Every South American country has its own vaccine requirements, including COVID jabs, so always check the FCDO’s entry rules before travelling. In certain places you may be asked to prove you’ve been inoculated against yellow fever and your GP may recommend a tetanus or hepatitis A jab. Your travel insurance won’t cover you if you get ill from a disease that could have been prevented with a vaccine.

When is the best time to visit South America?

This really depends on where you go, but in some countries like Peru, it’s best to avoid the rainy season between January and March. For the most part, South America is a year-round destination – but note that the summer season is from November to February and the winter season lasts from June to August.

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