“Why You Should Always Purchase US-based Visitors Insurance When Traveling to the USA” By Rajeev Shrivastava, CEO and Founder, VisitorsCoverage
The number of Indians traveling to the United States is expected to hit 1.19 million this year and grow to an estimated 1.41 million by 2022. Many of you reading this may have heard stories of family and friends who have traveled to America without visitors insurance and ended up with huge medical bills, or worse, financial insolvency. America does not have a universal medical system and it is well-known that it has some of the highest medical costs in the world. Traveling for business or personal reasons without adequate visitors travel insurance is a risk not worth taking for yourself and your family.
How do I know if I need visitors insurance?
is always recommended for international travel, but especially for travel to the United States. While the US does not require travel medical insurance for entry, many other countries do. Some countries and regions, like Cuba and the Schengen region of Europe, require certain citizens to have a visitors insurance policy to gain entry. In the Schengen countries, at least 30,000€ of medical travel insurance coverage is required to obtain the Schengen visa. While this may be adequate coverage for a minor illness or injury in the EU, it would be woefully inadequate for any hospital visit or stay in the United States.
When traveling to the United States, you always want to purchase your travel insurance from a US-based travel insurance provider so that you can have numerous policy options and pricing to choose from.
Don’t think that you will be a “lucky” traveler and be safe from having a medical mishap
Travelers have been known to injure themselves while traveling to the airport or while at the airport waiting for their flight. Injuries have occurred while disembarking from tour buses or cruise ships, but most injuries that happen abroad are no different than injuries or illnesses that could happen at home – but you won’t be at home, and if in the United States you would be looking at a minimum of 105,000 INR (1,500 USD) just to be admitted to an emergency room.
What kind of travel insurance coverage do I need to have when traveling to America?
The most important travel coverage you will need when traveling to the United States is medical coverage. It is recommended to have up to $2 million USD in coverage when traveling to the United States. If you can afford more, purchase more—it is not uncommon to accrue $2 million USD if a serious illness or injury requires hospitalization and surgery in the US.
Travelers need to think about flight cancellations, emergency evacuation for both medical and global incidents such as California earthquakes, Florida hurricanes and Midwest tornadoes when visiting the United States.
In addition to medical mishaps, foreign visitors could potentially be denied border entry, have their luggage or passports lost or stolen and need to consider being covered for emergency evacuation and emergency reunion with a family member in the US if they fall seriously ill or seriously injured. Repatriation back to your home country in the case of serious injury or illness or repatriation of your remains is sobering, but a necessary coverage option to consider, as is “Cancel for Any Reason” coverage which is the only coverage that will repay a portion of your prepaid expenses due to civil unrest.
How does trip insurance differ from travel insurance?
“Travel insurance” is often used interchangeably with “trip insurance” which is protection for a travelers’ financial investment made for a trip. Travel medical insurance provides different benefits than trip or travel insurance. Trip insurance generally does not provide medical coverage, but rather coverage for trip-related mishaps, such as flight and trip cancelations or interruptions. All airlines offer trip insurance to their customers before paying for their flight, typically with only one provider offered, and many travelers will click this option, not realizing that there are many more options for purchasing trip insurance with more comprehensive coverage.
Trip insurance would cover the aforementioned scenarios including loss of passports and luggage, border entry denial and Cancel for Any Reason coverage, which allows cancellation of your travel up to two days prior to departure due to family illness or death, work reasons, a natural disaster or civil unrest in the city you are planning to visit. Cancel for Any Reason coverage allows you to recoup up to 75 percent of prepaid expenses should you cancel your travel plans.
Benefits of purchasing a US-based visitors travel insurance policy:
While policies purchased in India are typically less expensive than US-based policies, this is usually because the coverage limits are lower and you may not have coverage for cancellation of your trip should there be an emergency such as family death or illness.
Your medical coverage protection will be more comprehensive because they are based in the US and can negotiate fees directly with the providers without any middlemen.
Your options range from less expensive policies that have a range of deductibles to purchasing comprehensive plans within preferred provider networks (PPOs) where you may only have to pay a reasonable co-pay or pay nothing at all should you or a family member require medical treatment.
If you need immediate assistance you may not be able to reach the Indian company due to different time zones, secondly, you will have to pay all medical or trip cancellation costs up front and file for reimbursement when you return home, which could take months.
Purchasing a travel insurance policy in India may seem like a good deal as your vacation costs add up, but this is one expense you can’t afford to “go cheap” with.
Rajeev Shrivastava, is CEO of VisitorsCoverage Inc
., an InsurTech company operating in the travel insurance space with a mission to simplify travel insurance for travelers.