Buying travel insurance, whether a simple baggage loss policy or a more comprehensive plan, can bring you peace of mind on your travels. But what about family members who are traveling from abroad to the United States (USA)?
If you have parents or other relatives visiting from another country, here’s what they should consider when buying travel insurance for their journey.
Is Travel Insurance Mandatory?
First and foremost, travel insurance is generally not mandatory for a visit to the United States.
Visitors from other countries do not need to purchase any type of travel insurance to enter the United States if they are visiting for a short period of time. With that said, some types of travel insurance are highly recommended, such as medical travel insurance.
A simple doctor visit here in the United States can cost hundreds of dollars, if not more. An ambulance ride or a trip to the emergency room can set you back thousands of dollars. The United States isn’t exactly known for its affordable healthcare, so travelers visiting from other countries should absolutely consider some form of medical travel insurance to cover them on their trip.
COVID-19 Requirements for Entry to the United States
Before we review medical travel insurance and other types of travel insurance a visitor to the United States will want to consider for their trip, let’s quickly review what COVID-19 policies remain for entry to the United States.
As of June 12, 2022, travelers entering the United States no longer need to show a negative COVID-19 test or any kind of COVID-19 recovery documentation regardless of their citizenship or vaccination status.
However, non-citizen non-immigrants traveling to the United States by air are still required to show proof of vaccination against COVID-19.
This order does not apply to U.S. citizens, permanent residents, and U.S. nationals.
Types of Medical Travel Insurance
Travel medical insurance includes a wide breadth of medical and health-related coverage outside of one’s home country, and can cover events such as accidents, medical emergencies, emergency evacuation, and even repatriation.
This type of insurance is geared towards travelers visiting another country, whether it’s a business trip or a vacation. It is also ideal for those engaging in long-term work or study abroad, or even for expatriates residing in a foreign country.
While it’s easy to find a travel medical insurance policy, keep in mind that every policy will list exclusions to coverage. For example, some medical travel insurance plans will cover medical treatment for emergencies and accidents, but they might not include repatriation (returning someone to their home country), emergency evacuation or medical coverage for pre-existing conditions.
Be sure to read the fine print of your plan before buying to ensure this type of comprehensive plan covers what matters most to you. If it does not, you can frequently buy supplemental coverage to fill any gaps.
Medevac (medical evacuation) insurance offers coverage specifically for emergency medical evacuation services. It may also cover emergency evacuations due to security or political risks.
This type of insurance can cover your transportation to the nearest hospital, and it may also cover the cost of your return home. A benefit of medevac insurance is that you generally get to decide what hospital or facility you want to be transported to. General travel medical insurance plans typically do not let you choose your hospital, so if hospital selection is important to you, be sure your plan includes this benefit before buying.
Medevac insurance can also assist with family communications and provide language translation services if needed.
Certain evacuation plans are designed specifically for security and political evacuation coverage. These plans offer assistance when you are in an unsafe place and need to be transported out of an area quickly, usually due to terrorism or local political turmoil. It is unlikely that visitors to the Unites States would need this type of insurance, but it is good to understand all your insurance options.
Travel accident insurance is a special type of travel insurance plan that acts as a form of life insurance and insurance against accidental death and dismemberment (AD&D) when traveling abroad. Travelers can be paid the benefit of the plan even if they have other life insurance coverage.
Travel accident insurance will typically cover the following:
- Accidental death and dismemberment
- Travel assistance services
- Emergency evacuations
There are a variety of situations that can be covered under this type of plan, including death, losing your eyesight or hearing, or losing a limb while traveling on a plane, bus, or ship that is licensed to carry passengers.
Since this is a more specialized type of travel insurance, it may not be necessary for relatives visiting the United States unless they’re engaging in risky work on their travel. This insurance is ideal for journalists, war correspondents, frequent business travelers, government employees, and aid workers.
Pre-Existing Medical Condition
Most travel insurance companies will consider an injury, illness or medical condition a “pre-existing condition” if it is present a certain number of days before buying your plan (usually 60 to 180 days, depending on the plan). A pre-existing condition is typically excluded from coverage under a travel medical insurance plan. For example, if you broke your leg a month before your trip and then suffer an infection related to that broken leg while on your trip, any costs incurred to treat the infection would be excluded from coverage because they are related to a pre-existing condition.
Many comprehensive travel insurance policies will offer coverage for pre-existing medical conditions, but the traveler must first qualify for and secure a pre-existing medical condition waiver. This waiver will allow your travel insurance company to process a medical claim related to a pre-existing condition. Without it, medical records showing the existence of a pre-existing medical condition would be used to reject the claim.
Factors that Affect Travel Insurance Cost
Your relatives may be wondering how much travel insurance will cost, whether it’s a comprehensive plan or a plan targeted to travel medical insurance only.
The answer is, it depends. Many factors contribute to the total cost of a travel insurance plan, such as the age of your relatives, how long they’ll be visiting the U.S. and the type of travel insurance plan they choose. The activities that your relatives will be engaging in can also affect the cost. For example, if they need coverage for back-country skiing or mountain climbing, they would likely need to purchase supplemental coverage for these “extreme” activities or risk not being covered for the activities at all.
Fortunately, it’s quick and easy to get quotes online to see how travel insurance prices look for an upcoming trip to the United States.
The United States is an exciting place to visit for all types of travelers, whether it’s for business or leisure. If you have relatives visiting, it’s a good idea to consider the unexpected costs that can accompany a visit and to be prepared.
TravelInsurance.com is a great place to start when looking for a variety of travel insurance plans. The best part? You can compare plans from different travel insurance companies to see what best fits your budget and peruse important coverage options.
All you need to get started is some preliminary information about your trip, like trip cost, trip dates, number of travelers, age of travelers, and residence, and you will be ready to view quotes and buy insurance from top travel insurance companies.
Compare and Buy Travel Insurance
Compare and buy travel insurance online with comprehensive coverage (including trip cancellation and trip interruption coverage)