So you want to travel to the land of the free, excellent. First things first, you should start thinking about getting a good insurance policy. Hospitals and doctors in the USA are insanely expensive, so getting into an accident or getting sick might make a serious dent in your life savings if you are not insured.
Coverage included in your Credit Card
If you have a Visa or Mastercard credit card from your bank back home, you might already have travel insurance included. Usually these policies are limited to 60 days or 90 days, so that’s one of the things you should verify. They are only valid if you leave from your home country and return back there within that stipulated time period.
Hence if for example I am a UK citizen but I have already been in Spain for 100 days and now want to travel to the United States for a 2 week holiday, the travel insurance from my credit card won’t cover me. The only way to get cover is to return back to the UK, if only for one day, and restart the 60/90 day counter. When you file a claim the insurance company will ask for your tickets and if you don’t have the departure and return tickets from your home country they will refuse to settle.
Buying Single Trip Travel Insurance
Another option is to contract a separate travel insurance policy for the single trip to the USA that you will be making. There are loads of companies offering one-off travel insurance policies. For digital nomads, the number one choice is World Nomads. You can use the widget below to get an instant free quote on travel insurance from this company.
You will see a wild range of prices for travel insurance. To be able to understand why there are such price variances, we need to dig deeper into the differences between policies.
The first basic difference is between limited and comprehensive travel coverage. Comprehensive Coverage Plans are a little more expensive, but they provide better coverage and more protection. Most of the Comprehensive Plans provide percentage-based coverage. Depending on the plan you choose, the Comprehensive Plans would typically cover from 75% to 100% of the bill after the deductible, up to policy maximum.
Even if you have multiple medical issues and make multiple visits to a doctor, you need to pay your deductible only once. Take a look at the video below to understand why comprehensive coverage insurance plans are more expensive and why they should be preferred by most travelers.
Now that we have taken a look at comprehensive coverage plans, let’s have a brief look at limited coverage visitor insurance plans before moving on to other points. Limited coverage plans are Basic Medical Plans. The insurance pays only a pre-defined fixed dollar amount for each medical service, and the remaining amount becomes your liability.
One important distinction is that you get no travel-related coverage like trip cancellation, baggage loss, trip interruption, etc. If you are traveling with valuables this might be an important factor that will sway you towards comprehensive coverage. If, on the other hand, you are a low-budget backpacker you will no doubt be leaning towards limited cover insurance.
If you have a medical emergency while in the USA you will need to keep a copy of all bills, receipts, and itemized services. You will then need to fill in a claim form (usually downloadable from the insurance company’s website), supply a copy of your passport, I-94 form, and a cover letter providing a brief description of what happened in the accident or hospitalization.
While in the USA and attending a doctor you should show them your insurance documents and the staff will guide you on what you need to do. Usually you will pay yourself and then file a claim later and get reimbursed by the insurance company. However for urgent situations or expensive procedures the hospital will contact the insurance agency directly and arrange details with them so as not to delay the treatment.
Claims generally need to be filed within 90 days from the service was obtained. The time taken for evaluating a claim is subjective to each case. It may take a few weeks to several months depending on several factors. By proactively providing the required documents, and following up with the insurance company, you can minimize administrative delays and help speed up the process.
Hope this will be helpful to you when dealing with insurance before your trip to the United States.