Insurance Industry Requests Mandatory Insurance for Tourists Visiting Georgia

Georgia plans to launch discussions on mandatory insurance for tourists visiting the country, Devi Khechinashvili, Head of Insurance Association of Georgia, announced.

Khechinashvili says that along with the increase in tourist numbers, the spending on tourists within the Georgian healthcare system is also increasing. He notes that too many tourists come to Georgia without insurance and as a result the healthcare system is struggling to cope.

“As we, Georgians, need travel insurance when we go abroad, I think we need to ask the same of foreign tourists visiting our country. It doesn’t matter where they buy this insurance, the main thing is having adequate limits for medical expenses,” he said.

The Head of the Insurance Association believes that regulations should be introduced which protect the interests of both the tourists and the state healthcare system.

“At the moment, there is a normative act about insurance, but no-one controls this at the border, so it is necessary to start discussions on this issue,” he noted.

Khechinashvili explained that the issue was raised by the insurance industry during a meeting with Health Minister Ekaterine Tikaradze.

“Discussions are sure to be launched because this is a very important problem that needs to be resolved,” he added.

This is not the first time the insurance industry has raised the issue of uninsured tourists. Earlier this year, Khechinashvili said that tourists who are visiting Georgia visa or visa-free are not asked for insurance upon entering the country, however, where visas are required it also states that insurance is necessary. According to him, in emergency cases, the state is obliged to serve uninsured tourists free of charge, which naturally affects the state budget.

Khechinashvili also noted that some Georgian clinics face financial difficulties with foreign insurance companies who complicate the procedures of transferring compensation for injured tourists.

Earlier this year, the Head of insurance company GPI Holding, Paata Lomadze, said that uninsured tourists who enter the country must be asked to buy insurance in Georgia.

“Buying insurance in Georgia is such a simple procedure and it will help us avoid the disputes and financial risks that Georgian medical institutions currently face,” he said.

Georgia hosted 2,697,624 tourists (+8%) and 4,961,918 international travelers (+7.8%) in January-July 2019.

In addition, 1,099,474 international travelers visited Georgia in July 2019. The increase compared with the same period of last year is +5.8%.

Most international travelers came from Azerbaijan (+13.1%), Russia (-6.4%), Turkey (+9.6%) and Armenia (+3.2%).

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia says that a citizen of a foreign country who seeks to enter Georgia generally must first obtain a Georgian visa. Certain international travelers may be eligible to travel to Georgia without a visa if they meet the requirements for visa-free travel. The visa policy of Georgia is comparatively liberal, allowing citizens of 98 countries to enter, reside, work and study in Georgia without the need to obtain either a visa or a residence permit. In addition, the Georgian government approved the list of 50 countries whose visa and/or residence permit holders may enter Georgia without a visa for an appropriate period and under appropriate conditions.

In all cases, the ministry says that foreign citizens must be able to present all the required documents at the Georgian state border:

• Travel Document/Passport

• Document proving purpose of travel

• Proof of accommodation

• Travel and health insurance

• Document proving sufficient financial means

By Thea Morrison

Image source:

16 September 2019 17:39