When I speak with tourists visiting Indonesia, I am often shocked to learn that they don't have proper travel insurance or medical evacuation insurance. Among long-term residents, there are also many who do not have health insurance, particularly those without a working permit (typically the digital nomads).

The objective of this article is to convince you that spending a few dollars per day on insurance is not a waste of money, especially during this COVID-19 pandemic.

Even if you are on a tight budget, you can get cheap insurance (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 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
When you are in Indonesia, you are probably exposed to more risks than in your home country. In Europe for instance, things like dengue fever or malaria are pretty much non-existent. It is also statistically less likely to be a victim of a motorbike accident, a rabid dog bite, an accidental drowning, or food poisoning.

These are not rare, unfortunately. If you've lived in the country long enough, you probably know a few people who had these problems.
Generally speaking, there are lower safety standards in everything in Indonesia: Construction, food, transportation, roads, activities, etc. This increases the likelihood of an unfortunate event as well.

Finally, people who are on holiday tend to be less careful. In Bali, you may be tempted to take out your helmet when riding your motorbike, or you may ignore the red flags posted on the beach. It's perfectly human to feel the need to let go of your worries.  But just make sure that you are covered if anything goes wrong.

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:
Even small problems can turn into a nightmare. Among my friends, several ended up in distress because of minor accidents or diseases:

The first one hit his head by diving into a pool: 1000$ in Sanglah Hospital for a few stitches and X-rays.

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

The 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 insurance actually.

Private hospitals will never accept you if you cannot pay
In Indonesia, 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.

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 well-connected. The same thing applies 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:
This is 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.

Travel Insurance:
This is a generic term for 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, for instance, which is a partner of Lonely Planet and Rough Guides. What I like about it is that you can apply online, even if you've already started your trip. They have also included coverage for any illness related to COVID-19.

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 checkups, 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 too much from it. Many will also have their employer's insurance.

For other foreigners without a company plan, you can either purchase 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, or GMS.

Repatriation/Medical Evacuation Insurance: This insurance covers the cost of your medical evacuation if needed.  The price 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 insurance from WorldNomads, it is already included.

Things to check before purchasing a travel insurance

The obvious first step before purchasing 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 an organized tour, 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 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 hospital 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 vehicles with more than 150cc. If you were drunk, high, or not wearing a helmet at the time of your accident, you can also say goodbye to any potential claims.

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

How to save money on travel insurance?
The price of your insurance will depend on your country of residence, your destination, the length of your stay, your age, and the number of people insured.

Here are a few ways to save more money:

Buy for a longer period of time
This needs some commitment, but naturally the longer you purchase, the cheaper it gets. 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 usually do. Considering I travel alone with cheap flight tickets, last-minute hotel 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, no matter what. If your deductible for an accident is 1,000$, the insurance will reimburse you for any medical expenses above 1,000$. If you choose a high deductible, you will normally get cheaper insurance.

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 often push you to purchase cheap travel insurance. The offer may sound alluring, but if you read the fine prints, you will realize that they cover very little, with plenty of restrictions.

Don't hesitate to shop around until you find the best deal. Be careful with cheap insurance companies though. If they can give a very cheap price, it probably means they don't disburse much. You cannot have it all.

Which travel insurance do you use in Indonesia?
This article would be greatly improved with your input. Which insurance did you choose for traveling to Indonesia? Did you succeed in making claims?

6 comments to '' Why You Need Travel Insurance in Indonesia "

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

  2. Very important and valuable article!
    Many thanks

  3. quote: "If you arrive bleeding to death after an accident, the doctors will not treat you until they make sure you can pay. ...An American will probably understand that."

    This is incorrect. In the US everyone receives treatment in case of an emergency, regardless of insurance or nationality. It is illegal for a medical professional or facility to turn away a person in need of medical care.

    And unlike in France, you're not going to die by incompetent doctors giving you "free" healthcare. (may my uncle's soul rest in peace)

    1. Yes sure, French doctor are incompetent and US doctors are the best.

      Still, life expectancy in France is 82 and in the US it is 79 (same as Cuba).

    2. Loool American doctors are better because you have to pay? By that logic my Hugo Boss shoes are 6 times better than the converse I'm wearing now (they're not in case you can't sense the sarcasm).

      Life expectancy in the US is FALLING. Lovely medical system you have there.

  4. Hello Thibault, world nomad is currently not offering coverage for indonesia, any other suggestions?