When I speak with short-time travelers in Indonesia, I am baffled to realize only a few have a proper travel insurance or a medical evacuation insurance. Among long-term residents and expats, there are also many who do not have health insurance, particularly among those without a working permit.

The objective of this article is to convince you that spending a few dollars per day on an insurance is not a waste of money. Even if you are on a tight budget, you can get a cheap one (as low as 3$ per day if you take a yearly subscription - check here) that will at least save your ass in case of a serious illness or accident. If you cannot afford it, then you probably should not travel to Indonesia.

Why you need a travel insurance in Indonesia
While you certainly need insurance everywhere, there are even more reasons to get it when you travel in Bali, Jakarta or the rest of Indonesia:

You are exposed to more risks
There are several risks specifically related to being in Indonesia. Some are unfortunately too common: Dengue fever, malaria, dog bites, food poisoning or motorbike accidents are really not that rare. If you've lived in the country long enough, you probably know a few people who had these problems.

There are generally lower safety standards in everything in Indonesia: Construction, food, transportation, roads, activities, etc. This increases the likelihood of an unfortunate event as well. You can read more tips about this topic here: WorldNomads Travel Safety Tips.

Medical care in Indonesia is very expensive
According to the AAMI, a day in an intensive care unit in Indonesia can cost up to 3,000$. Even in the cheapest hospitals you can expect to pay 800$/day.

Facebook groups like Bali Expats or Jakarta Expats are full of horrible stories of people who had their lives ruined in a few minutes because they did not plan their trips properly. Here are just a few examples (click on the photos for the whole story):
Some of them actually had an insurance, but they didn't read the fine prints. Not having a a motorbike license is often a reason for not being reimbursed for instance. I will give you tips later in this review on what you should be looking for to make sure your risky activities are covered.

More banal problems can be quite costly as well. Among my friends, several ended up in shitty situation for common accidents or diseases:

First one hit his head by diving into a pool: 1000$ in Sanglah Hospital (local one) for a few stitches and X-rays.

Second one got bit by a street dog in Legian: 3,000$ including anti-rabies medication.

Third one got a very bad case of dengue fever combined with malaria. He went into a coma and he had to stay 4 weeks in hospital. Total bill: 25,000 dollars. Luckily, he was covered and everything was paid for. It was after this unfortunate event that I rushed to get an insurance actually.

Private hospitals will never accept you if you cannot pay
In Indonesia, the decent hospitals are run as a strict business and not a charity. If you arrive bleeding to death after an accident, the doctors will not treat you until they make sure you can pay. If you can't, you'll be left outside. It's as simple as that.

An American will probably understand that. For a French, this concept is a bit hard to grasp as we are used to get healthcare for free.

Hospitals will overcharge you
You should know that as a foreigner with or without a working permit, you will be charged more for medical treatment in Indonesia. Expect to pay at least 2 times more than locals, more if you don't have a resident visa.

Many doctors have a poor ethic. If they can find a way to inflate your final bill, they will probably do it. It is a bit like going to a random auto repair shop in Europe: Most likely you will be charged for stuff you don't need.

Serious accidents will need a medical evacuation
Since many hospitals cannot treat the most serious patients, medical evacuation is often needed. To give you an idea of current prices:

Evacuation from Indonesia to Singapore: From 25,000$ to 50,000$
Evacuation from Indonesia to Australia: From 40,000$ to 70,000$
Evacuation to Europe: Up to 100,000$

Don't expect compensatory damages
The concept of third party responsibility is foreign to most Indonesians. If you are hit by an Indonesian drunk driver, don't expect you'll get any money from the person who was responsible. Actually, even if he is at fault, he could possibly still manage to get money out from you if he is a well-connected assh*le. The same thing apply if you have an accident within your hotel or while doing an activity with a company. If you are dealing with a local company, don't even think about getting compensatory damages.

What types of insurance do you need in Indonesia?
The type of insurance you need in Indonesia depends on your activity (working, retired, tourist, etc), your length of stay, your activities and your area of travel.

Travel Medical Insurance:
An insurance that will cover your medical bills for a limited duration (usually less than 90 days) when you are traveling outside of your home country. If you are traveling to Indonesia, it is the minimum you should get. For expats it is not necessary as long as they have an expat insurance.

Travel Insurance:
A generic term for an insurance that will cover several aspects of a trip: Medical problems, but also flight cancellation, theft, lost luggage, etc.

There are several websites where you can get a price estimate for your travel insurance in Indonesia. You can check WorldNomads which is a partner of Lonely Planet and Rough Guides. Among the famous ones you also have SmartTravel from AXA and Travel Guard from AIG.

You can find more options in your home country. The advantage of WorldNomads is that it is very easy to apply online and you do it even if you've already left home.

You can also search through the comparator Insure My Trip.

International Health Insurance or Expat Medical Insurance:
Travel insurance is for travelers and covers emergency situations. If you live permanently in Indonesia, you need coverage for regular health expenses such as dental care, optics, medical check ups, pregnancies, cancer treatment, etc. Those are typically not included in Travel Insurance policies.

Expats working in Indonesia should subscribe to the mandatory BPJS health insurance scheme. It is cheap, but don't expect to much from it. Many will also have their employer's insurance.

For the other expats without a company plan, you can either purchase a normal travel insurance for long term travel (but then you won't be covered for non-emergency situations) or purchase a dedicated Expat Health Insurance from a private company.

The latter is usually more expensive, but you should consider that you'll get more reimbursements as well. Reputed companies include Allianz, April-International, AXA, GMS, etc.

Repatriation/Medical Evacuation Insurance: An insurance that guarantees your medical evacuation will be paid for if needed.  The cost is usually reasonable, as little as 150$ per year, and it can save you tens of thousands of dollars. Remember that for serious injuries, you will not be able to be treated properly in Indonesia. This insurance is particularly needed if you plan on visiting remote areas.

If you purchase an insurance from WorldNomads, it is already included.

Things to check before purchasing a travel insurance

The obvious first step before purchasing a travel insurance is to make sure you don't already have one. You are probably aware that when you buy your plane tickets with a Visa or Mastercard, you are entitled to some kind of (limited) insurance. If you are traveling on a tour group, you may also already have one automatically added (though you can refuse it and buy your own instead).

Once you know for sure that you will need a travel insurance in Indonesia, you should be careful to check the following:

What is the maximum payable amount that I can get?
I think 200,000$ is the minimum amount to get considering how high some hospitals bills can be in Indonesia.

Is the medical evacuation included or not?
If not you will have to pay extra with another company. This is an essential part of your insurance and you need a high ceiling as well (minimum 150,000$).

Can you contact your insurance company 24/7? Can they approve a quotation 24/7?
This is a must in case of a major emergency. If you cannot prove quickly that you can pay for your treatment, the best hospitals may refuse you.

Do you have to advance the money?
Some insurance can give a guarantee to the hospital that your bill will be covered so you don't need to pay upfront.

Are there any exclusions?
There are always a lot of exclusions (things that the insurance does not cover). Read carefully to avoid any surprises. If you are planning to do dangerous sports and outdoor activities in Indonesia, ask for instance if surfing, scuba diving, diving, rafting, hiking, jet-skiing or paragliding are included.

What is the motorbike situation?
Motorbikes are a major cause of accidents for foreigners in Indonesia. Be careful as almost all insurers require a valid international license for the driver (even if you are a passenger). A specific motorbike license is also required for vehicle with more than 150cc. If you were drunk, high or not wearing a helmet at the time of your accident, you can also say good-bye to any potential claims.

What if you hurt someone?
Check if you can get reimbursement for third party damages.

The website of WorldNomads provides a lot of great tips to help you choose the right insurance. You can also make a simulation for your trip so you'll know exactly how much it will cost you and how long you will be protected. Don't forget to read the fine print very carefully to make sure you won't have any unexpected surprise.

How to save money on travel insurance?
The companies I've mentioned before are quite affordable. You'll only pay a few dollars per day for coverage. You can try to make a test on WorldNomads to see how much you will pay depending on your age, your country of origin, and the number of people you want to protect.
Click to get a a travel insurance quote from WorldNomads
If the amount is really to big for you, there are a few ways to lower the price even more:

Buy longer
This need some commitment, but naturally the longer you purchase, the cheaper it get. I made a test on WorldNomads for myself and got the following:

  • 7 days travel insurance to Indonesia (for a French): 26.70 euros (3.8 euros per day)
  • 4 weeks travel insurance to Indonesia (for a French): 93 euros (3.3 euros per day)
  • 365 days travel insurance to Indonesia (for a French): 804.30 euros (2.2 euros per day)
Make your own simulation here: Quote from WorldNomads.

Buy for several people at once
If you travel with your girlfriend or your family, you should choose the same reputed company for everybody.

Don't insure flights and valuables
This is what I do. Considering I travel alone with cheap flight tickets, last minute hotels bookings and few valuables, I don't really care about getting reimbursements on those things. The only thing I care about is not jeopardizing my whole life with an accident I can't afford to have.

Choose high deductibles and excess
Your insurance deductible and your excess are minimum amounts your insurance will charge you on any claims, not matter what. If your deductible for an accident is 1,000$, the insurance will reimburse you any medical expenses above 1,000$.

The philosophy of choosing a high deductible is the same as the previous point: It is for people who only want help if they are in big trouble. Having to pay 1,000$ from your own pocket sucks, but you can always find the money.

Don't buy it from your airline
When you book a flight, your airline or your tour operator will offer you to buy an insurance. Those are usually pretty bad deals and the prices are not interesting.

Compare
You can use Insure My Trip to search for the best deals. Be careful with cheap insurance companies though. If they can give a very cheap price, it probably means they don't reimburse much. You cannot have it all.

Rely on your credit card insurance only
This is possible but you must know the limitations of this strategy. In general, when you pay your trip with a classic Visa or Mastercard, you get 3 months of insurance with maximum reimbursement of less than 15,000$ (please check again with your banker to be sure). This ceiling is really too low in my opinion. You also have a lot of restrictions on what you can claim as well as high deductibles.

What insurance do you use?
This article would be greatly improved with your input. Which insurance did you choose for traveling to Indonesia? Did you succeed in making claims? If you are an expat, do you have a health insurance? Do you recommend it?

Personally, I have an expat insurance company that only insure French nationals. The name is CFE, if you are French and need more information about it you can email me thibaud@jakarta100bars.com. I pay 100 euros per month and I've made 2 claims that went well. The main one was for a gallbladder infection that kept me a week in Kasih Ibu hospital in Denpasar. The total bill was 7,000$ for 8 days and I had 5,000$ reimbursed.

2 comments to '' Yes, You Need Travel Insurance for Indonesia. Here's Why: "

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  1. Those expats without proper insurance probably have accustomed themselves to "local ways of thinking". AKA think positive, all in God's hands, etc

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  2. Very important and valuable article!
    Many thanks

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