Update March 12, 2019 – While the Galapagos Islands supposedly requires health insurance, the mainland does not. And it is unclear if the policy is even enforceable on the archipelago. Our recommendation is to travel with a basic health insurance plan that includes emergency evacuation. This may be available through your HMO (Tricare for military families and retirees works for overseas travel – call to arrange for coverage).

As of May 1, 2018, Ecuador requires all tourists to have travel health insurance. If you’re like me, that requirement sends you into a frenzy of question asking. Fortunately, I have a go-to confidant when it comes to all things travel insurance, my friend Erin Fish at Wanderwell.

Ecuador’s Travel Health Insurance Requirement

Until recently, only travelers requesting a visa were required to show proof of travel health insurance. And although the passage of a new law made it mandatory for all tourists to show proof of travel health insurance earlier in 2018, complications with how to enforce compliance forced the government to postpone implementation until later this year. There is still some debate among lawyers and travel agencies about how and when the law will be fully enforced.

In the meantime, the lack of clarity leaves travelers in a bind, especially those who already have trips planned for the immediate future. Our recommendation is to go ahead and purchase a low-cost plan. Travel health insurance is a good idea, no matter your travel circumstance.

Questions About Travel Health Insurance

I have never purchased travel health insurance before. Until recently, most of our overseas travel has been under the auspices of my husband’s military assignments overseas. But we are about to hit a new phase in our life where travel decisions are completely our own. So I know that we will be purchasing a travel insurance plan that best fits our needs. I also know that our needs may not be your needs. That’s why I turned to Wanderwell for answers to the following questions.

Injured While Hiking? Travel Health Insurance could help. | Photo from the Napo Province, ©Angela Drake

Are all travel health insurance plans built the same?

For single-trip travel, there are generally two types of travel insurance plans that may be appropriate:

  • Trip Protection style coverage is designed to insure the investment of your trip, including trip cancellation, trip interruption, personal effects, trip delay, and more.  It also includes travel medical coverage and Emergency Medical Evacuation.
  • Travel Medical-only coverage is very comprehensive short-term international health insurance.  It includes Emergency Medical Evacuation and a small number of trip interruption benefits. However, it does not cover the investment of your trip.

In the travel medical-only category of plans, there are also multi-trip plans, which cover members for all trips under a designated trip length. For example, a plan could cover 40 or 60 or 80 days of travel during the upcoming year.

High altitude hiking got you down? Travel Health Insurance could provide the fix. | Photo taken at Quilotoa Crater Lake, Cotopaxi Province ©Angela Drake

What basic items Should A travel health insurance plan Include?

When purchasing a travel health insurance plan, travelers should look for these key components:

Travel Medical Only

  • Deductible – usually, the most cost-effective route is to have a $0 deductible for single-trip plans.
  • Medical benefit – these generally start at $50,000, but over 90% of Wanderwell clients opt for benefit amounts of $100,000, $500,000, and $1,000,000.
  • Emergency Medical Evacuation

Trip Protection

  • Medical benefits – should include Emergency Medical Evacuation and other benefits list under Travel Medical Only
  • Travel Delay
  • Baggage coverage
  • Trip cancellation & interruption

What questions should a traveler about travel health insurance?

  • What is the deductible for my plan?
  • Are medical benefits included? If yes, are medical benefits limited to an «emergency»?
  • For how long can I travel with this plan?
  • Does the plan include coverage for Emergency Medical Evacuation?
  • What are the Trip cancellation & interruption limits?
  • What is the Travel Delay limit?
  • What are the Baggage coverage limits?
  • Is coverage for pre-existing conditions included?
  • Does my plan include access to a contracted global provider network?
Snorkeling got you down? Travel Health Insurance could provide the fix. | Photo taken in the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador ©Angela Drake

Can families benefit from purchasing a family policy?

Some carriers offer policies that include no premium charge, or reduced premium charges, for travelers under the age of 18 as long as an adult is also on the plan.

Do pre-existing conditions really matter?

For US residents and citizens, Travel Medical-only plans should include coverage for pre-existing conditions IF the member is also enrolled in a primary domestic health insurance plan. Please note, Medicaid and Veteran’s Administration health plans generally do not constitute primary domestic health plans.

If a traveling US resident or citizens with a Travel Medical-only plan is not enrolled in a primary domestic health insurance plan in the USA then the benefits generally do not include coverage for pre-existing conditions.

For trip protection style benefits, coverage can vary significantly from carrier to carrier. Generally, these plans can include coverage for pre-existing conditions as long as the travel insurance plan is purchased within 14 to 21 days after making the initial trip payment of any kind for the relevant trip.

Does travel health insurance cover adventure activities?

In most cases, adventure sports such as high-altitude trekking, mountain climbing, kayaking, rappelling, canyoning, or mountain biking are excluded from coverage.  Some carriers offer adventure sports riders or upgrades to include some of these adventure sports in the coverage.  Be warned, upgrades include an added charge.  Always check with the carrier to confirm the list of activities included in their list of adventure sports. Furthermore, coverage can be excluded when the traveler is participating in adventure activities as part of an organized competition.

Too much ceviche? Travel Health Insurance could provide the fix. | Photo taken in the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador ©Angela Drake


Did you have any further questions that I might have missed? Please ask them in the comments below or feel free to send us an email. Members of NYAA can send us a private message via my profile.


As a travel consultant, I cannot legally sell or receive a portion of sales from travel insurance. But my clients and readers need travel insurance options. I decided to search for a company from the list of registered B-Corporations. These are companies that «use the power of business to solve social and environmental problems.»

My research led me to Wanderwell. They are a perfect partner:

Wanderwell is a social enterprise committed to environmental conservation and sustainable business practices. These values are highlighted in our commitments as a Certified B Corp and a devoted business member of 1% for the Planet. We encourage our customers, as well as our business and travel networks to focusing on social impact, environmental stewardship, and sustainable travel.

Erin and Consultant/Ambassador Lauren Shey are helpful problem solvers willing to exchange answers for questions!  Check out their website and peruse the travel health insurance options. Or send them an email. I know that they will happily tackle any travel insurance problem and find the answers you need.

Erin Fish
Co-Founder -Wanderwell Travel Insurance

In the meantime, feel free to drop us a line or leave a comment. We want your next trip to Ecuador to be a perfect one.