Saudi Arabia announces mandatory health insurance for tourists
They say that if there is a final frontier of tourism left, it’s Saudi Arabia. The country is the birthplace and spiritual home of Islam, and rich in attractions and culture. A beautiful country that most international non-religious tourists have always dreamt of visiting. The country, in September 2019, finally opened up its doors to the world with open arms, in its attempt to tap into this highly lucrative non-oil economy.
In this article by Pacific Prime, we will explore this recent announcement, provide some important tips to consider, including the things not to do, and explain the mandatory health insurance that you must have in place before traveling to Saudi Arabia.
Saudi Arabia introduces mandatory health insurance for tourist
If you are planning to travel to Saudi Arabia as a tourist in 2020, then you will need to meet 2 essential requirements:
There’s nothing surprising about getting a visa, as it is pretty much a normal procedure, but in the case of mandatory health insurance – this is considered essential to getting the visa approved itself.
To begin, let’s take a look at the Saidi Arabia eVisa mandatory insurance policy, and what it pertains to.
Saudi Arabia eVisa Mandatory Insurance Policy
For people applying for a visa, the eVisa to Saudi Arabia includes a mandatory insurance policy that is linked to the eVisa for entry into the country.
The Saudi Government has announced that, so far, the eVisa is available to citizens from any of the 49 countries announced. The eVisa is pitched by the government and associated agencies as a quick and easy way of applying for a visa to Saudi Arabia, which for most people will come as welcoming news.
How is the mandatory health insurance policy issued?
The mandatory health insurance policy is issued by one of the government-approved insurance providers and is sent by email to applicants along with the eVisa, once the electronic visa for Saudi Arabia has been approved.
What if you want to secure health insurance separately?
As long as you present a valid insurance certificate or documents stating that you are medically covered inside Saudi Arabia for the duration of your stay, it should be fine to do so.
However, you should examine carefully the insurance plan so that it will meet your needs and give you enough assurance, should the worst happen, and you require medical treatment and cover for the corresponding costs. A health insurance broker can help you with such comparisons and will advise on crucial benefits and limits to consider.
Mandatory health policy from the Council of Cooperative Health Insurance (CCHI)
The mandatory health policy is like any other insurance policy available in the market, but varies according to the cover required by the traveling individual. Here is the break down of the maximum cover available under the plan, which includes the benefits:
- Medical tests
- Emergency treatment
- Premature birth treatment
- Injury due to a traffic accident
- Emergency dialysis
- Medical evacuation (both within and outside of Saudi Arabia)
- Repatriation (including the cost of the person accompanying the mortal remains)
- Emergency dental treatment
- Maternity (pregnancy) expenses
For the above to be covered, a premium of SAR100,000 (USD $26,666) is due for the policy to be granted. Of course, this is the maximum plan available that individuals can choose from according to the article by ITIJ, however, other plans are available at lower premiums.
Important tips for travelers in Saudi Arabia
Although Saudi Arabia is generally safe to travel and explore, there are a few precautions that visitors to this new frontier should carefully consider to avoid getting into legal trouble:
Avoid breaking the Lese Majeste laws
The warning here is to not publicly criticize in any way, shape or form, the government, King, royal family, or flag of Saudi Arabia, especially on social media platforms. It is illegal to do so, and foreign travelers to the country are not exempt. Anyone caught breaking the law can find themselves sentenced, as severely as a local, and the punishment could include a public flogging, prison sentence, and deportation.
Be discreet with your partner
If you are traveling with your significant other, it is important to bear in mind that LGBTQ relations, marriage, and rights are illegal in Saudi Arabia, and can be punishable by flogging, jail, and even death. Therefore it is best to be discreet and restrain from showing public affection by respecting the local laws and customs.
Carry personal ID every you go
Local authorities, like the police force, are able to request identification at a moment’s notice, especially at security checkpoints, so having your passport or a photocopy of the ID will come in handy for those nervy times.
Respect the custom and don’t eat, drink, or smoke in public
If you have plans to travel to Saudi Arabia during the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, then be warned that eating, drinking, or smoking in public is forbidden during the month of Ramadan.
Don’t bring or import pork into the country
Importing pork products is forbidden and is therefore considered a banned substance. The best advice is to leave food containing pork at home, before you travel, to avoid security having to rummage through your belongings at immigration.
Taking pictures of buildings
Photographing government buildings, military installations, and palaces are not allowed. Always check for signage or ask officials if photography or videography is permitted.
Red is banned on Valentine’s day
If you and your partner are planning a beautiful Valentine holiday in Saudi Arabia, then think again. The romantic day of celebrating love and relationships in Saudi Arabia is not considered an Islamic celebration. The government has consequently banned flower and gift shops from selling anything red during this period.
Need more information on mandatory health insurance?
For travelers new to the MENA region, which includes Saudi Arabia, finding a suitable health insurance plan can be a challenging task. However, with the help, experience, and support from a global insurance broker, such as Pacific Prime, the right plan can be secured at the right price. If you are traveling with your family, consider securing family health insurance.
For more information, feel free to contact our team of experts, or visit our website to view the health insurance plans we provide today!
His expert view and wealth of knowledge on insurance can also be found in his blogs for China, Dubai, Hong Kong, and Singapore.