Home insurance is easily obtained. Costa Rica has only one insurance company, the INS (Instituto Nacional de Seguros – National Insurance Institute), a mixed public/private capital enterprise with majority government ownership. At this time, only INS is allowed to sell insurance in Costa Rica. If you can get insurance from abroad that will cover your Costa Rica real estate assets, it is definitely a plus.
INS sells insurance directly at its many offices throughout the country, or you can purchase a policy directly from a registered agent. It will cost the same, but a responsible agent (not all are – be careful) is preferable, as you will get advice and help with the red tape if, along the line, you have to file a claim.
There are certain things you should know:
a) The value of the items being insured is determined by the applicant, using Actual Cash Value (depreciated value). INS does not have appraisers.
b) Insured values and premiums are in Colones, not in dollars. Because of Costa Rica’s annual 16-18% currency devaluation against the US dollar, it is best to periodically revise your policy.
c) All policies have deductibles which in most cases are fixed by INS. There are few policy options. Deductibles average 20% per claim on most policies.
d) Insurance binders do not exist; formal applications have to be completed and signed, and in most cases the item must be inspected and the premium paid before insurance becomes effective.
e) INS (probably because it is a monopoly) is one of the largest and most solid insurance companies in Central America. It reinsures a large percentage of the risk internationally.
Types of policies available:
HOMEOWNER’S FIRE AND NATURAL DISASTER POLICY – Can cover the house, the house plus contents, or the contents alone, against the following:
Coverage "A" (Basic Coverage) - Fire and Lightening
Coverage "B" - Winds, Hurricanes, Cyclones, Falling Objects, Explosions, Smoke, etc.
Coverage "C" - Floods, Landslides
Coverage "D" - Quakes, Tremors, Volcanoes
The rate is 0.2436% per year for ABCD based on the estimated cost of rebuilding. The value of the land does not enter the picture. In other words, insurance for a house worth $100,000 would cost $243.60 per year.
HOME THEFT INSURANCE – This covers only instances of forcible entry and covers the list of ALL items in the house EXCEPT cash, jewelry and securities which cannot be insured. INS will accept the risk for works of art, collectors' items, antiques, etc. but this is not automatic. Theft premiums average 1% per year of the total specified on the list of insured items. The exact premium you pay depends on the features and location of the home. It may take a month or more to get theft insurance coverage operable.
HOME OWNER'S LIABILITY – This covers the amount awarded by Costa Rican courts for incidents taking place within the confines of the house. As Costa Rica is not a litigious country, this insurance is not important for the average householder.