The U.S.A is the country of the American dream and thousands of British tourists head there each year to enjoy its huge cities, incredible national parks and magical theme parks. America supersizes everything - including the medical bills. Going on a trip to the U.S.A without medical cover could not only cost you a lot of money but also your health.
Travel Insurance USA
The medical care in North America is some of the best in the world and you can be sure that the treatment you receive will generally be of a high standard. However, this high level of quality comes at a price. Health care isn’t free in the land of the free.
The USA medical system isn’t the same as our NHS. It relies almost completely on private health insurance and because the government doesn’t put any price limits on what hospitals can charge, the prices can become astronomical. Prices can vary state by state, city by city and can even vary within the different hospitals within the same city. So, it’s important to know that the price you may pay in one hospital could be wildly different from the price you pay in another.
Even some minor complaints could leave you out of pocket by a few hundred dollars. If you don’t have medical insurance you will be expected to pay this upfront and if you can’t pay then you may risk not being treated at all. Many hospitals will even ask for a large deposit in order to begin treatment.
In the case of emergencies you will be admitted to the nearest hospital. If this hospital is private then you will probably be moved to a “public hospital” when you are stable enough. However, these hospitals also aren’t free. You will be billed for your treatment afterwards and if you can’t pay then you will be taken to court and perhaps even prosecuted.
It is not mandatory to have travel insurance to enter the U.S.A unless you are over 60 years old. If you are over 60 but can’t show appropriate documentation you may be denied entry.
Things you should look for when buying travel insurance for the USA
Valid in the USA: Due to the high prices of the medical care in the U.S.A it is often classed separately and depending on your policy you may have to choose either worldwide or specific U.S cover. Be careful! Many worldwide policies exclude the U.S.A.
Cancellation coverage: Holidays to the U.S.A can be expensive so make sure that the policy will cover cancelled hotel reservations and plane tickets should something happen before or during the trip. Domestic flights in the US are not covered by the same protection we expect in the UK.
Full medical coverage and evacuation coverage: The plan should cover all potential medical expenses, including ambulance transport. Make sure that the level of medical coverage is high enough and that if there is an excess on the policy that you are able to pay it. You may not expect the potential cost of medical treatment. Be aware that many medical procedures and hospital stays in the US easily bankrupt an american middle class family unless they are covered by insurance.
Lost, stolen or damaged gear or luggage: The U.S.A is generally safe although safety can vary hugely depending on where you are. Tourists need to be cautious and follow general safety guidelines.
Dangerous activity coverage or exclusion: The range of activities on offer in the U.S.A vary widely. In particular you should pay attention to activity bolt-ons. Activities such as trekking and hiking, which many people would consider relatively normal, may not be included in your policy. If you plan to use firearms when you are there, either for hunting or in a firing range, you should also check the activities covered by your plan.
Car Accidents: The biggest cause of accidents for tourists in the U.S.A are car accidents so make sure that you buckle up and that driving is included as part of your plan, or that you are covered separately.
Travel insurance to the USA including terrorism cover
Due to high profile recent events in the U.S.A such as September 11th and recent shootings, travellers may be worried about their safety when going to the United States on holiday. It makes sense that you may want to have protection that will cover in the unlikely event of an attack included as part of your travel insurance policy.
How do Insurance companies define terrorism
In most travel insurance policies terrorism is described as “an act of violence, other than civil disorder or riot, that is not an act of war, declared or undeclared, that results in loss of life or major damage to property, by any person acting on behalf of or in connection with any organization which is generally recognized as having the intent to overthrow or influence control of any government.”
Civil disturbance and acts of war are classed separately. So, while in cases such as the recent terrorist attacks in Barcelona would be categorised differently than if you were caught up in the civil unrest in Egypt. Terrorism is counted as a distinct type of event and would not be covered by your insurance.
We would recommend that you keep calm and separate the likelihood of a tragedy due to terrorism happening and your likelihood of being involved. The possibility of being caught up in a terrorist incident is very small. Widespread media coverage has made these incidents seem much more likely than they actually are. Only about 300 tourists have been involved in terrorist attacks since 2002. In fact, the likelihood of being caught up in a terrorist attack is less likely than being hit by lightning.
Our advice is to keep things in perspective and check the government guidelines before you go. If you feel that you would feel more secure then you can also make sure your trip is protected by an insurance policy which covers against terrorism. Very few insurers cover this beyond emergency medical treatment. However, there are some insurers such as Safe Journey who provide terrorism cover as an additional supplement. It isn’t a substitute for regular travel insurance though, so you will have to think whether it is worth the extra cost for your peace of mind.
The best travel Insurance Policies for the USA
The most important thing to consider when buying travel insurance for the USA is definitely the level of medical care the insurer provides and also how widespread their networks of hospitals are. In the US it’s really important that your insurer has a wide network of hospitals for you to choose from to make sure you can find something nearby should an emergency strike.
Additionally, make sure your insurer has a 24 hour medical assistance line so that you get approval for your claim quickly when you arrive at the hospital. This will speed up the process hugely. Although very uncommon these days, avoid any insurer where you have to pay and claim a refund later. Otherwise you may end up unable to get treatment if you can’t afford it yourself.
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Insurance Case Study
According to British Newspaper the The Telegraph a British woman became trapped in America after falling ill during a visit to her daughter in the United States.
Denise Griggi who is in her sixties was rushed into hospital with a heart condition and spent two weeks in extensive care where she racked up a bill of £300,000. This comprised of £200,000 of medical fees and nearly £100,000 to get her home from the U.S.A.
They later found out that their travel insurance had been denied in the United States possibly because she hadn’t declared a congenital heart condition.
Her husband Dario was forced to return to the UK to continue working so he could pay for his wife’s treatment. In the end, Denise ended up flying back to the UK on a normal flight against medical advice.
We would advise that anyone in Denise’s situation to get an independent report from a specialist in repatriation to see if there could be any other options for repatriation other than an air ambulance. There may be cheaper options. For example, it may be possible to fly first class, accompanied by a doctor or nurse, which might cut the cost of repatriation to tens of thousands.
Additionally, we would recommend that all of our customers read the terms and conditions of their policy very carefully and ensure that they declare all pre-existing medical conditions before travel. No matter how insignificant it may seem it could invalidate any future claims. Better to be safe than sorry!