Table of contents
Costa Rica Robbery Insurance: What You Need to Know
When a reporter asked Willie Sutton why he robbed banks, the “gentleman thief” supposedly said, “Because that’s where the money is.” Unfortunately, this is the same reason foreigners are disproportionately targeted by thieves in Costa Rica.
While Costa Rica is among the safest countries in Latin America, theft, burglary and robbery are not uncommon here, and tourists and expats are favored targets.
If you own a home in this country, you surely already have homeowners insurance, but it’s important to understand what it covers when it comes to theft or robbery.
Costa Rica has some unusual definitions for these crimes, and it has ways of insuring them that you may find odd.
What is ‘robo’?
Some homeowners insurance policies cover only the structure, insuring your house but none of its contents. It’s important to be sure you also have insurance that covers the contents.
This type of insurance generally covers “robo,” which is any kind of theft, burglary or robbery of your home in which force or violence is used on property or people (“fuerza o violencia contra las cosas o las personas”).
This would cover a burglary in which nobody is home and a thief breaks a window to get in and steal your valuables — because he used force to break a window.
This would also cover a home invasion or armed robbery in which the bandits physically confront the victims and steal their property — because they used force, violence or intimidation.
What is ‘hurto’?
What most homeowners’ insurance would NOT cover is “hurto,” which is usually translated “theft,” and is very similar to “burglary,” but has an unusual definition for insurance purposes.
“Hurto,” translated “pilferage” by insurers, is described as “an act through which a person illegitimately seizes material goods without using intimidation or violence to people or goods.”
We asked Gustavo Arias, the owner of Grupo Arco Seguros in Liberia, what this would mean in the real world.
He said this means that if a maid you invite into your house swipes your laptop while you aren’t looking, that’s not covered by normal homeowners insurance. She didn’t use force to enter the house, and she didn’t use intimidation or violence.
What if you step outside your house for five minutes to hang the clothes from the washer on the clothesline, and you don’t lock your door, and some passerby sees your laptop inside and swipes it? That wouldn’t be covered either, Arias says, because the passerby didn’t have to use force, intimidation or violence to steal your property.
However, you can insure your laptop separately so that it’s covered in any eventuality.
Subscribe to our newsletter
to stay up to date
Insuring high-value items
Another important thing to know, Arias said, is that if you have any item inside your home worth more than $2,000, you need to declare its value when you buy your coverage and insure it separately.
For example, if you have an antique Swiss clock on your wall worth $5,000, and you haven’t insured it for its true value, you would get only $2,000 for that clock if it were stolen, Arias said. However, he added, if you do choose to insure the clock separately, you don’t have to prove the clock is worth $5,000 at the time you insure it.
It’s also important to understand that cash, jewelry and cellphones are not covered by ordinary homeowners insurance. But most items of value can be insured separately.
So how much does homeowners insurance cost? Arias said you can expect to pay $200 to $250 a year for each $100,000 of a home’s total value, including the structure and the contents. So for example, if your house is worth $80,000 and its contents are worth $20,000, you might pay $235 a year to insure it all against fire, flooding, natural disaster and robbery.
Why get an alarm system
One of the best ways to protect your property against robbery in Costa Rica is to install an alarm system. It probably costs less than you think to install a basic alarm system to detect any unauthorized entry to your home.
In addition to an alarm system, we like the deterrence offered by Blink Outdoor, a wireless battery-powered HD security camera with infrared night vision. It’s built to withstand rain and runs for up to two years on two AA lithium batteries. You’ll get motion detection alerts on your phone, and you can see, hear, and speak to visitors in real time on the Blink app.
If an alarm is ever activated, these camera systems allow us to look and see what’s been recorded on video, and if necessary to send our staff to the property or call the police.
If you are a property owner represented by Special Places of Costa Rica, our staff will monitor both your alarm system and your security cameras while you are away and take action if there is any disturbance.
We have actually caught thieves using these alarms, including one man who started his day breaking into an alarmed home in Catalina Cove and ended his day behind bars at the local jail.
These systems provide peace of mind far better than just hoping nobody breaks into your place.
Contact Special Places at email@example.com if you would like more information about either robbery insurance or alarm systems. We will steer you toward the best, most reliable and most honest providers, and our advice is free.