INS (Instituto Nacional de Seguros)

INS offers medical insurance.  There is a limit of about $17,500 per year, and it does not cover pre-existing conditions or check ups. Dental work, eyeglasses and cosmetic surgery are only paid if they are needed as the result of an accident. Claims are based on a table rating types of treatment administered. Costs vary with age and sex. This plan pays 70% of prescription drugs, examinations, doctor visits, hospitalization and treatment and 100% of surgeons’ and anesthetists’ fees. The patient is free to choose the doctor. Approximate annual premiums for men up to age 59 are $550, between ages 60 and 75 $1020. Dependants under 19 are about $245 per year. Women aged 19 to 59 would pay about $885 and between 60 and 75 $1,305.

NOTE: Currently, the annual benefit is only about $17,000. This seems very low, but $17,000 here spends a lot more than in the USA.  Currently however, intensive care in a private hospital runs about $3,000 per day.  At that rate, you can chew through your benefit pretty quickly.  There are several companies worldwide that sell health insurance policies that cover you anywhere in the world and are perfectly legal in Costa Rica.  Most have a $2 million limit and are not much more expensive than INS.


Lost Radio Part 4

Well we are almost over the hump.  This week I got the new locks installed along with a new radio that I now take out every time I leave the car unattended.  Next week we are going for the paint job for the damage that was done by the bone head trying to jimmy my lock.  We are also going in for more security for the car.  We found out that unless there is an earthquake our alarm doesn’t go off, so what good does that do me.  This new alarm system will activate if someone tries to break my lock or my window.  Honestly I thought that I already had that but apparantly not.

Now I have this stack of receipts and legal documents (the sworn statement that I didn’t call INS when the car was broken into actually had to be signed by my lawyer, already gave one statement to the INS saying the same thing???) and another document that shows that I actually own the car…..all of this falls into the WHY catagory which I explained why I don’t go there.

So now my WONDERFUL Insurance Agent, Eric Morales is going to take all the documents and receipts to the INS for me so that I don’t have to go down and experience the frustration.  You gotta love him for that.  I have to write ANOTHER letter stating that it is ok for him to represent me and pick up the check for me but that we worry about next week after we get the final bills on the work done.

Apparantly lawyers here are used to all the paperwork because when I called Sergio (my lawyer) he knew exactly what I needed, this made my life much easier.  All I had to do was give him a few specifics then he ran with it and produced this legal size paper that looks official with all it’s stamps or timbres.

You must have good lawyers and good insurance agents that look out for your best interest or you can really get into trouble here but that is a subject for a different day.

I’m basking in the glory of this whole process almost being complete.  And I never asked WHY once.



I have hesitated to write about this because it sounds so silly but it is so true and a large part of my existance in Costa Rica.
It always happens that something occurs here in Costa Rica and you want to know WHY they do what they do.  I am and have always been a why person, even when it came to learning Spanish, I wanted to know WHY everything had to be male or female, why the word so had 8 letters in spanish and other such sillies as that.  Things arise everyday where I find myself wanting to ask WHY is something done this way or WHY did they do that.  This was such a part of my person living in the US where everything seemed to make sense or by asking WHY you could get logical reasoning for why something  was done the way it was.  Since living in Costa Rica I have learned that asking WHY can send me to an early grave.

My latest blog entry about my car radio would be a classic example of how many WHY’s come to mind when dealing with INS or the car repair folks. Why do I need to go a dozen different places to get my radio and locks replaced?  Why do I have to wait 1 1/2 hours in the 3rd place I have been for someone to look at my car and see that the radio really isn’t there?  Why do I have to go pick up the parts myself?  Why can’t someone else do this for me?  And so on…
I tell people when they move here to try to take the word WHY out of their vocabulary.  Even when someone explains WHY they do something or the way that they do it, it won’t make any sense to us Gringo’s as it would always be much easier if they would do it the way we did it in the states but they never do.

This was my first taste of Costa Rican culture shock.  I had to get over asking why all the time.  Now when I find myself thinking WHY I switch channels in my brain and say, that’s just the way it is, I don’t need an explanation because it won’t make sense to me anyway.

This may sound idiotic but it works.  I live a much more stressfree life by not asking WHY all the time.  I have resigned myself to it’s just the way they do things and move onto something else.

I could give you a dozen or so examples of how this comes up in our daily lives but if you live here for awhile you will see for yourself it’s much easier to live here if you don’t question WHY all the time.  If you start to question WHY something is the way it is….bite your lip and move onto another topic.  Trust me it is the only way to live happily in Paradise.


Lost Radio Part 3

Well I finally got an appointment to go to the INS shop in Curridibat on this past Saturday.  We had an appointment for 8:30 and got out at 10:00.  Not too bad but all they had to do was look at the car to see the damage that was done and in order for them to do this we had to go sit in a waiting room for an hour and a half.  They finally gave me the report of what was wrong with my car, several pages of stuff that makes absolutely no sense to me.

I’m supposed to go get the parts then take it to a shop to have them install them.  Door handles (locks) in one place, radio in another place.  AFTER all this work is done I have to present a document showing that I do infact own the car and another, filed with an attorney, stating why I did not call INS at the time of the incident which means another trip to the lawyers office.

I present these documents with all their legal stamps/timbres along with receipts for the work that was done to my car and the parts that I purchased, then I am supposed to get reimbursed the full amount I have paid less 10% deductable.

This requires ANOTHER trip to INS which I am hoping my insurance agent will go for me.  I have to write another letter stating that it is ok for him to go in my place to pick up the check.

Now we have to rent a car so that ours can be worked on for a few days.  First I have to take it to the body shop to see how long they are going to need to make room for us, then how long it will take to get it back.  This should be another fun filled week.

By the way, I found out that the way they punched out my lock is what they do when they are stealing cars.  They punch out the lock then hotwire the car.  I feel very uncomfortable leaving my car parked anywhere for fear of it getting stolen since the first half of an attempt has already been made.


Lost my radio

Sounds like a song doesn’t it.  Unfortunately for me it’s not.  I lost all my songs with my radio yesterday.  We can’t nail down where it happened but know that it was in Escazu in one of two guarded parking lots.  So much for paying the watchingman to watch my car.

We were very fortunate that all we lost was the radio.  Last time someone wanted my Pioneer pop out radio, they popped out my window to get it.  This time I’m not real sure how they got into the car, whether they jimmy’d the lock or Lord only knows how.  My window and door were in tact.  I have seen crow bars taken to door frames to bend an opening big enough to get a hand through and unlock it….breaking the window would have been easier I think.

This is a common problem with car radio’s in Costa Rica, your likely to go through 3 or 4 depending on how long you have the car.  We have an alarm and everything too so it’s a mystery.  Makes me wonder if the doors really lock when you hit that security button on the keychain.  I know to check for it next time.

Another point to this story is that the radio and my car is insured with INS (the country’s monopoly on insurance).  But to get this paid for you have to go through so much red tape it’s a royal pain in the neck or so I have been told.  I’m going on Thursday to start the process so I will write again once it is done to let you know how much fun I had.

One side note…I should have called the traffic police 800 800 8000 to report the radio being stolen from where it happened.  Problem was I didn’t realize that it was gone until I was on my way home.  This would have made my Thursday go a little quicker as I wouldn’t have to start out at the police department in San Jose.

More on the story of my radio later…


International Insurance

There are several international insurance carriers that offer far more robust health insurance policies than INS.  Some have lifetime limits of $5 million and they will pay no matter what country you are in when the expenses are incurred.  Some even have reduced premiums if you specify that expenses will ONLY be incurred in one country or in Central America.

Note:  While you cannot buy health insurance in Costa Rica from any other company than INS or CCSS, these other policies are perfectly legal to purchase and many have payment arrangements already in place with several private hospitals in Costa Rica. This is one way to get around one of the great monopolies of Costa Rica-INS.

You can do some research on this by Internet or contact Guardian Angels at for some of your options with International coverage.