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What travel insurance do I need for South America?

What travel insurance do I need 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…

Patrick Ikhena
From the Travel team
minute read
Do you know someone who could benefit from this article?
Posted 28 OCTOBER 2019

Why do I need travel insurance for travelling to South America?

Did you know you’re joining a fairly exclusive group? While 91% of UK adults have travelled internationally, only 8% of us have so far made it to South America.

So why do we need cover? Well, while it 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, 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 main reasons why people compare the best South America travel insurance options before jetting off.


On 7 September 2020, the Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) updated the list of countries that are exempt from its ongoing advice against all non-essential international travel.

If you choose to travel overseas to a destination where the FCDO is advising against non-essential travel at the time of your departure, then your insurance policy will be invalid, and any claim likely to be rejected.

For domestic travel, please check the local public health rules for the destination you wish to travel to within the United Kingdom.

For more information, please see our coronavirus and travel insurance page.

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 should my South America travel insurance cover?

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

Fancy trying your hand at some extreme sports? It’s easy to arrange additional cover for especially adventurous activities, just make sure you’re covered for everything from high-altitude hiking to white water rafting.

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

Medical coverage – 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. What’s more if you have any pre-existing conditions, you can easily get coverage that’s specific to your needs.

Your belongings – always check that your luggage is covered for theft or damage, and also 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 helps should 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, should you need them.

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