Are you planning a trip to Saudi Arabia in the foreseeable future? If so, perhaps you intend to visit the capital Riyadh, with its spectacular 302m-high Kingdom Centre skyscraper and its 19th-century Masmak Fortress. Alternatively, perhaps you’re heading to the Red Sea beach resorts to the north, close to the borders with Egypt, Israel and Jordan. Or you might be a Muslim pilgrim on Hajj and Umrah.
Well, depending on whether it’s your first time in Saudi Arabia and what you’re getting up to, it’s worth considering taking out health coverage for the duration of your trip. This can help set your mind at ease so that you can focus on your holiday, business trip or family visit. With this in mind, read on to learn about travel insurance for this Kingdom in Western Asia! What’s more, if you need a visa for Saudi Arabia, visit our dedicated page too.
Why Buy Travel Insurance for Saudi Arabia?
Typically you take out health and travel insurance for Saudi Arabia to protect yourself financially against any eventualities that might befall you before, during or after your trip. The types of policy include:
- Cancellation coverage. If your flights or trip are cancelled, you can recoup the cost of the airline tickets, hotel or accommodation, and any other reservations you have made.
- Personal possessions protection. Are you taking an expensive smartphone or laptop with you to Saudi Arabia? If these items are stolen, lost or otherwise misplaced, you can recover their value with insurance to more easily replace them.
- Injury or illness protection. If you fall ill or have an accident in a Western country like the UK, Canada or Australia, you’re likely to be covered by your country’s national health service, so you don’t strictly need insurance. However, if you fall ill while abroad then insurance makes sure the provider will cover the cost, rather than you. This can be important as foreign hospital bills can easily reach 5 or 6 figures.
So given the sorts of things you can get insurance for, when would you do take out a policy? Well, it depends in part on your personality and predisposition. If you’re a more cautious guy or gal, then getting travel coverage can help you relax and enjoy Saudi Arabia while you’re there. Similarly, if it’s your first time there you might feel more disposed to take out a policy.
Another factor to help you decide whether to get coverage is the sort of trip you’re making. What will you be doing in Saudi Arabia and how long will you be there? If you’re going on an adventure tour, for example, to take a Jeddah Desert Safari by quad bike or spend a night at the Al Wahbah volcanic crater, then you might feel more disposed to take out a policy. Similarly, if you’re visiting for a few weeks, compared to a hop-over visit, then insurance might seem more worthwhile too.
A further factor to keep in mind when you’re deciding whether to get insurance is if you’re travelling alone or in a group. For a start, travel policies for individuals tend to be costlier. Secondly, if you’re visiting Saudi Arabia with your partner and kids, it can help take a load off your mind to know that their possessions and health are insured while you’re there.
How to Get Travel Insurance to Saudi Arabia?
One good option is to look at a specialist travel insurance website such as Expat Financial. You can compare several available plans and get quotes from a number of well-known companies including Cigna, Allianz, GeoBlue and the International Medical Group (IMG).
Before you buy a particular policy, it’s helpful to collate and compare the available options to ensure they meet your budget and requirements. Here are a few questions to keep in mind while you do:
What’s the cost of the policy?
It can be tempting to go for the cheapest options. However, these often cover fewer eventualities and pay out less. If several policies provide the same coverage yet one is cheaper, only then is it clear that that’s a better option.
What amounts does the insurance cover you for?
If you’re buying insurance to protect your personal belongings, what limit does the policy pay out to? After all, if you’re taking a 4,000 USD Apple MacBook to Saudi Arabia, you’ll need to ensure your policy covers its whole value. Otherwise, if it’s misplaced then you could be obliged to shell out too, on top of the cost of the policy.
In other cases, if your possessions have a low monetary value, it can often be cheaper to replace them if they’re misplaced than to buy insurance.
If you’re taking out an injury or illness policy, how much are you covered for? For example, 100,000 USD might seem like a lot of money (and in most circumstances it is!) That said, if you have an accident quad biking in the desert and need a rescue helicopter to fly you to the nearest hospital, the medical bills can easily reach 5 or 6 figures. So if you’re doing something adventurous or risky, it can be worth shelling out for a high-value policy.
What does the policy cover you for?
If you’re going on an adventure tour, then make sure your policy protects you for the activity you’re undertaking. Of course, coverage for riskier activities will typically be more expensive.
Similarly, if your priority is to insure your Google Pixel phone, then make sure that object is covered too; the latest models will typically cost more to cover.
Who does the policy cover?
If you’re travelling with family members, you can generally expect the cost per person to be cheaper than if you’re visiting alone. However, family insurance will typically cover family activities, so if you’re doing something wilder together, it’s worth making sure that activity is covered too.
In addition, it’s worth noting that the coverage you’re eligible for and the price you pay will depend on a number of factors about yourself too. Most importantly, these include:
- Your age (typically, policies get pricier the older you get).
- Your nationality (people from developing nations are costlier to cover).
- Your health (if you have any pre-existing conditions, your coverage could cost more or you might have to find a specific provider to give you a policy).
For example, if you’re visiting Saudi Arabia with an elderly relative (over 70) or a newborn baby, then normal policies may not cover them. You’ll have to ask your provider for guidance in this case or seek coverage tailored to these demographics.
Only then, once you’ve got a clear picture of the price you’re paying and what you’re protected against, you’ll be in a strong position to buy your travel insurance for Saudi Arabia.
Do I Need Travel Insurance for Hajj and Umrah?
You may know that Hajj, the pilgrimage to Mecca, is obligatory for all able-bodied Muslims who’re able to support their families in their absence, at least once in their lifetimes. Fortunately though, there’s no need to buy insurance for Hajj.
This is because, according to an agreement by Saudi Arabian insurer Tawuniya and the country’s Hajj and Umrah Ministry, pilgrims to Mecca automatically receive insurance. They obtain this when their travel visa is issued to them.
Under the automatic policy, each pilgrim is covered for 30 days for sums up to 100,000 Saudi Riyal (roughly 26,600 USD). It covers emergency medical care, delays and cancellations, plus other eventualities.
To avail of this coverage, pilgrims need only show their passport at a Saudi Ministry of Health hospital or a private clinic accredited by the Health Insurance Council.
Reportedly, it’s common for pilgrims on Hajj to suffer foot injuries! This is because pilgrims must run in circuits barefoot over the hot marbles of the Holy Temple for several hours. With this in mind, this automatic insurance could be useful for religious visitors to Saudi Arabia.
Other Considerations About Travel Insurance for Saudi Arabia
While you’re researching your coverage to the Kingdom, it can also be useful to keep in mind the following points:
- Always obey the rules and regulations of your coverage. Otherwise, if you make a claim it could be rejected. For example, if you decide to go scuba diving in the Red Sea, then ensure you dive only up to the depth covered by your policy.
- Obtain your travel insurance before you enter Saudi Arabia. This is because many providers only allow you to buy coverage while you’re outside the country. If you try to buy a policy in the country, you may be more susceptible to local scams.
- If you make a claim, gather and present as much evidence as you can. For example, if you visit a Saudi hospital or clinic, then ask for documentation and receipts of the treatment you’ve received and how much it cost. This will ensure that your claim is processed efficiently.
- Only stay in Saudi Arabia for the duration covered by your policy. If you buy 30-day coverage for the month of April, then remain in the country while it’s valid. Clearly, if you stay in the Kingdom after your policy expires and something happens, you’re not covered. If you think this is a possibility, consider renewing your policy in advance.
- Take note of your policy provider’s phone number and keep it with you while you’re travelling. You may need to contact them to make your claim and explain the circumstances of what’s happened. In addition, please find below the phone numbers of Saudi Arabia’s emergency services:
- Ambulance – 997
- Fire – 998
- Police – 999
- Traffic police – 999
We hope that this article gives you all the information you need to buy travel insurance ahead of visiting Saudi Arabia. Have a safe, accident-free trip!