Simple and Flexible Travel Insurance in the USA
Buying travel insurance in the USA is an important step in covering financial setbacks that might occur during traveling.
You must get travel insurance for yourself in case you fall in any of the following categories:
- US citizens traveling outside the US
- Visitors to the US
- Business travelers working overseas
- Expats and long-term travelers
- Missionaries and foreign aid workers
- US residents traveling outside the state
Types of Travel Insurance for USA Visitors
Whether you wish to purchase travel insurance for parents visiting the USA or for yourself, it’s important to examine each of the many options available. Here’s a breakdown of each major type of travel insurance in the USA.
1. Package (Comprehensive Trip Insurance)
Package travel insurance is the most commonly purchased coverage, as it is comprehensive. It includes benefits such as trip cancellations, trip delays and interruptions, medical and dental costs, evacuation and luggage problems. Such plans can also be customized to cover other expenses like pre-existing medical conditions, adventure activities, rental car collision, pet care, credit card, passport services, sports equipment, roadside assistance and identity theft assistance. By securing travel insurance for non-us citizens, travels can move about with peace of mind.
2. Travel Medical Insurance
Travel medical insurance covers medical and dental treatment costs as well as emergency evacuation expenses during travel. It can be purchased for a single trip or multiple trips depending upon traveler’s requirements. Though it does not cover other benefits like trip cancellation some travel insurance plans do provide coverage of costs related to baggage or trip delay.
3. Evacuation (Medevac) Insurance
Medevac plans cover charges related to emergency medical evacuation to the nearest medical facility that can provide the required care. A major advantage of this kind of travel insurance in the USA is that it includes coverage for expenses related to sending minor children home and even the emergency reunion of family. Some plans may include AD&D benefits, as well as trip interruption and lost luggage costs.
4. Travel Accident
Travel accident insurance covers unexpected losses that occur due to flight or travel accidents. Such plans provide accidental death and dismemberment protection for the insured and his family. This plan is ideal for frequent travelers and may include coverage for medical and dental expenses, emergency evacuation, and baggage loss and pre-existing conditions.
5. Annual Travel Insurance
Annual travel insurance provides health insurance in the USA for foreigners, covering multiple trips within one year. These plans can also be renewed. The benefits of annual travel insurance in the USA are the same as package travel insurance plans.
6. Specialty Travel Insurance
Specialty travel insurance provides coverage for specific expenses like term life or car rentals. Hence, these are ideal when a traveller wants to cover a specific risk. It supplements the benefits that are already covered in the travel insurance plan.
Online Policy Purchase: Find Travel Insurance in the USA Today
One can buy travel insurance in the USA from many sources. But it is always best to compare the travel insurance plans from all companies to find the best rates, policy terms and conditions. When you purchase travel insurance from comparison websites, you can request instant quotes. After receiving quotes, you can purchase by filling an online application form. You can make the payment through credit cards, some debit cards, check or e-check.
On successful submission of a complete application form, you will receive a purchase confirmation and policy documents via an email. You can also review the visitor insurance USA plans before making the purchase decision.
It must be noted here that optionally, an application may be made in paper form for buying some insurance policies such as those related to Patriot series, Atlas Travel, Inbound Guest, Inbound USA, Liaison Choice, Liaison Elite etc.
Get to Know the Organizations Involved in Travel Insurance in the USA
Administrators of travel insurance primarily design the plan, its benefits, premium and exclusions. These include the following organizations:
- Travel Guard
- Seven Corners
- HTH Worldwide
- Travel Insurance Services
Underwriters are the insurance companies that are responsible for paying the claims. To check the reliability of these companies, it is important to know the A.M. Best rating of these companies, as this reflects the financial standing of the company.
Major companies underwriting travel insurance plans include the following:
- Sirius International
- National Union Fire Insurance Company of Pittsburgh
- Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company
3. PPO Networks
A PPO network is a network of healthcare providers, including doctors, hospitals, clinics, labs and other related entities that have been contracted to provide services at negotiated rates. Here are some networks to check out if you’re interested in a PPO.
- First Health Network
- Coventry Network
- United Health
Categories of Travel Medical Insurance
Medical Insurance for US Residents Traveling Outside the US
For US citizens traveling overseas, medical insurance plans provide coverage for medical expenses, including the cost of hospitalization, emergency medical evacuation and repatriation. Such plans can be short-term or long- term insurance plans.
While short-term plans include medical coverage for vacations of less than a year, long-term plans are ideal for those working overseas. Short-term plans include all healthcare expenses but exclude preventive care expenses. In addition, short term plans provide only limited coverage for pre-existing conditions. But to the contrary, long term plans are comprehensive and cover pre-existing, preventive care and other benefits for mental, vision and dental care.
Medical Insurance for US Citizens Traveling Inside the US
This relates to medical insurance for US citizens residing abroad for any reason like work or studies etc. and who return to the US for a short period. As a note, the visit should be a temporary one where the US citizens return to their country of residence since they have the intention of leaving soon.
Major plans for US residents traveling inside the US are as follows:
- Diplomat America-For a maximum visit period of 364 days and includes the maximum lifetime coverage of $50,000 to $1000,000. Benefits include coverage for accident, medical, sickness, AD&D and travel assistance.
- Patriot America-It is for US citizens who have continuously resided outside the US for 6 months and who already have a current health plan in force. It covers a period of 5 days to 2 years and provides maximum coverage of $50000 to $1000000 depending upon the type of benefit availed.
Trip Cancellation Policy
Trip cancellation travel insurance plans cover the events that are not known to the buyer on the date of purchase. It seeks to refund your money in case you are unable to travel due to an unknown situation covered under the policy. It is also available when you have to cut short your trip due to some emergency. It includes coverage for trip cancellation, trip interruption, emergency medical evacuation, trip delay, lost or delayed luggage and cancellation for any reason.
Some trip cancellation plans will cover treatment costs related to pre-existing conditions if the plan is purchased within a certain number of days of having paid for the trip.
Types of Travel Medical plans
Single Trip Travel Medical
This type of plan is ideal for business travel or leisure travel. It covers a trip period of 5 days to 6 months and provides medical insurance coverage for medical expenses incurred plus emergency medical evacuation charges during the trip. It also includes pre-existing conditions. However, the traveler needs to have a primary health plan in order to be eligible to purchase this plan.
Multi-Trip Travel Medical
Multi-trip plans cover a period up to 12 months where the traveler can have unlimited trips over the year. However, every trip must last a period of 70 days. It provides insurance coverage for medical expenses incurred during the trip plus emergency medical evacuation charges. For sickness and accidents, maximum coverage is up to $250,000 and for medical evacuation, the maximum coverage offered is $5000, 000. The traveler needs to have a primary health plan in order to be eligible to purchase this plan.
Long-Term Major Medical Insurance
These plans can be renewed annually and offer comprehensive coverage. They allow the insured to stay on the same plan for a long period. It is available for both US citizens and foreign nationals and is ideal for immigrants and expats living abroad. The extended travel may be between 3 to 5 years. The benefits include coverage for in-patient, out-patient, prescription, maternity, pre-existing conditions, preventive care, emergency evacuation and repatriation. However, it does not include coverage for trip interruption and lost luggage.
Popular Travel Insurance in the USA
Group Travel Insurance Plans for Students and Visitors
These plans provide coverage for US citizens traveling abroad or non-US citizens visiting US. There are two popular group insurance plans:
Patriot group insurance is designed for groups traveling outside their home country. It offers insurance coverage for sports and activities, emergency evacuation, repatriation and adventure sports rider. For expenses incurred due to terrorism, the maximum coverage available is up to $50,000. It also includes coverage for pre-existing conditions.
Altas group Insurance
Atlas is designed for groups traveling internationally. It provides sports coverage for activities like skiing, snowboarding, water skiing and snorkeling. For expenses incurred due to terrorism, the maximum coverage available is up to $50,000. It also includes pre-existing conditions coverage.
Travel Guard Silver (for Trip cancellation)
Travel Guard Silver is a comprehensive travel insurance in the USA plan that provides benefits for trip cancellation, baggage delay or loss, trip delays, and overage for medical expenses, including emergency evacuation, as well as pre-existing medical conditions. It is most ideal for families as one child below 18 can be added with each adult without any additional premium.
The maximum coverage allowed for accidental death is $25,000 but is available only if purchased within 15 days of making the payment for the initial trip. For medical evacuation, the secondary limit is $150,000 whereas for medical expenses, the secondary limit is $15,000.
Atlas International (Comprehensive) (for Medical insurance for US residents traveling outside US)
It is available for a period of 5 days to 364 days. It covers expenses related to a visit to any hospital or doctor. It offers a policy coverage of $50,000 to $2,000,000. It is a comprehensive plan and hence covers a percentage of the treatment costs. The benefits include coverage of expenses related to medical treatment of a new injury or illness, evacuation, baggage delay, lost luggage, dental, trip cancellation, accidental death, terrorism coverage and trip cancellation.
Appropriate Time to Buy Medical Insurance
One can buy travel health insurance up to the day before your departure but if your policy benefits depend upon your first trip payment, you may not enjoy some benefits of your plan. To avoid claim denials later on, it is best to buy a travel medical insurance well in advance. You can add additional costs like plane tickets later on. Follow these tips to get the timing right:
- If you want coverage for trip cancellation, you should purchase the policy after your first trip deposit is made.
- If you need coverage for a pre-existing medical condition, make sure your insurance policy covers this as close to that first payment as possible.
- If you do not want coverage for trip cancellation and only need medical coverage, it is advisable to have the policy in place before traveling. Some plans do allow you to buy the policy even after reaching the destination within a certain number of days.
Steps to Use Medical Insurance
In order to claim medical insurance, the first step is to check the plan provider network i.e. the list of providers your insurance company works with.
Contact the service provider and have your medical ID card handy to prove you have insurance coverage. You can also call the number on your card for assistance.
It must be noted here that keeping the previous medical records during travel is generally not required, but it is best to keep them when the traveler has a current/chronic condition. Such documents will be required in the event a claim needs supporting documents.
Learn About Pre-Authorization of Insurance Claims
When the insurance company authorizes treatment in advance, it is referred to as pre-authorization. It is basically a provisional authorization of insurance claim where the insurer confirms to a hospital that the claim is admissible. This starts by filling out a pre-authorization form. You need to fill this form and submit to the insurer. Pre-authorization of a claim is not a final acceptance. The insurer scrutinizes final bills and related documents after patient discharge and then, makes the final claim settlement.
While some insurers give the option of direct billing to them by the hospital, others provide for reimbursement. In direct billing, the hospital or doctor sends medical bills directly to the insurer while in reimbursement, payment is first made by the insured who can get the claim reimbursed by the insurance company.
Finding Healthcare Facilities to Seek Medical Treatment
In case you are seeking medical treatment while you have a travel health insurance plan, the following are some tips to help you find health care facilities.
- Check your medical insurance plan to see if any specific doctors or hospitals are pre-approved
- Search directory for available healthcare facilities.
- Before making an appointment, check hospital and doctor accreditations
Exclusions from Medical Insurance
The following situations are typically excluded from the coverage of medical travel insurance plans.
- Losses due to venereal disease, AIDS virus, pregnancy (except complications of pregnancy), or abortion.
- Losses due to mental, psychological, or nervous disorders
- Losses due to nuclear radiation or radioactive contamination.
- Losses incurred while the insured is participating in an unlawful act.
- Losses due to the insured intentionally causing bodily harm, including suicide.
- Losses incurred while the insured is legally drunk or under the influence of drugs.
- Extreme, high-risk sports
- Travel costs for medical tourism
- Losses for tickets or tours won as an award or by redeeming frequent flier or credit card miles
- Losses due to war (declared or not), military actions, civil disorder, and riots.
In summary, it is best to get trip insurance if you have non-refundable trip costs that you stand to lose should the trip be canceled. It is good to get travel insurance if you are traveling outside your country of residence where your local health insurance does not cover treatment costs. Happy travels!