Insurance in Puerto Rico
Moving to an island is exciting.
Exploring new locales, enjoying year-round tropical weather, and trying Caribbean food are just some of the exciting new things to discover when you move to Puerto Rico. Part of enjoying the island life is also adapting to some of the differences between living on an island and living on the mainland.
Depending on where you’re moving from, finding local insurance may be different but can be easy to adapt to once you’re familiar. We interviewed two well-reviewed insurance brokers, HUB International CLC (Carrion, Lafitte & Casellas) and Seguros Javier Calderón, for more details about insurance options and what to expect for Home, Auto, and Medical insurance.
Policies are similar to what you will find in the states but did you know that hurricane and/or windstorm are covered in most plans, along with earthquake, hail, lightning, and fire coverage? However, flood coverage is often not included, and is an added feature in your policy that is needed if you live along the coast.
Your homeowner policy will cover repairs to your home if damaged, as well as additional living expenses if you’re temporarily unable to live in your home because of an insured disaster.
One thing to note if you have employees working from your home is that any damage they may suffer is not covered in the homeowner policy. Instead, as HUB/CLC International suggests, you should get a Workers’ Compensation policy with the State Insurance Fund (Spanish acronym: CFSE).
If you buy a car on the island you’ll quickly discover that you need to pay for the compulsory annual insurance and sticker for your windshield. This only has basic coverage of up to $3,000 when you’re in an accident with another vehicle. It’s the minimum legal requirement and getting additional insurance is a good idea.
Car insurance policies in Puerto Rico are similar to those in the states, with a range of options for automobile, property, medical, and liability. It’s easy to compare your options with standard terms and coverage amounts with your previous insurance from the states. However, as you decide which insurance plan to get, who you sign up with may be the difference between an easy claim process or a more complicated one. As Mr. Calderón of Seguros Javier Calderón points out “price is always important, but service (both by the producer and the carrier) is paramount. Also, bigger is not necessarily better. Bigger offices may be slower and more bureaucratic.”
If you have recently moved you’re probably still under your existing medical plan from the states. You may want to look into switching that sooner than later since many State plans don’t have coverage for Puerto Rico or only cover emergency service.
If you do plan to have medical insurance you’ll notice that the cost is significantly less than in the states for comparable coverage. You can get an individual supplemental plan if you’re concerned that your US-based company doesn’t provide adequate local coverage. And for those with a company in Puerto Rico with employees based in the states you should also discuss this with your broker or provider, as their insurance coverage may not be standard in your PR policy.
It's also worth noting that the Affordable Care Act (or Obamacare) is not fully implemented in Puerto Rico. Some of the provisions of ACA, like no lifetime limits and no discrimination based on medical history, are in place in PR. However employers are not required to provide health insurance and individuals are not penalized if they do not have any coverage. For more info about ACA and Puerto Rico, the goverment published a list of FAQs (in Spanish).
Brokers and Providers
Whether you’re used to working with an insurance broker for policy bundles or going directly to the insurance provider, both options have benefits and drawbacks. Some providers give you easy online sign up for the exact product you’re looking for without trying to upsell you. But if you’re looking for more hands-on guidance and a single point of contact for multiple policies, a broker may be the better option for you.
Another important thing to consider when you’re picking your insurance is the language. If you aren’t strong in Spanish yet and want to be sure that you can reach someone in English when you need to, sign-up with one of our trusted brokers. We’ve already met with them so there’s no need to worry about whether they (or their staff) will understand what you need.
The information in this article is not legal advice and does not guarantee what your insurance policy may cover. Speak to your insurance provider or broker for specific details of your plan.