Visitors Insurance: What It Is, What It Covers & Why You Need It
A journey outside your home country involves lots of forethought and planning. Where will you stay? What sights will you see and activities will you take part in? Will there be a language barrier, and is it time to brush up your skills? While these are all common considerations, if you're visiting America, there's one more item you should add to your list: a visitors insurance plan.
Even if you have health insurance at home, it will likely not cover you while you are abroad. Visitors to the U.S. need a specialized travel insurance plan that can help ensure that your healthcare needs are met in the short-term.
What is visitors insurance?
Visitors insurance is ideal for citizens of other nations taking trips outside their home countries, or for relatives coming to visit individuals currently staying in the U.S. While your regular health insurance may provide you typical medical coverage, a visitors insurance policy will ensure that you also have coverage during your international trip.
Regular insurance plans usually don't provide coverage when policyholders travel outside their home country. A visitors insurance plan helps ensure that you aren't left holding the entire bill for expensive foreign healthcare services.
Visitors insurance plans can be used on many different types of short-term trips, including for business trips and holiday vacations. Other plans are also available for those using visitor visas, tourist visas (B2 Visa), business visas (B1 Visa) and other temporary visas.
What does it cover?
In a nutshell, a visitors insurance policy provides coverage to the individual policyholder in the event that he or she experiences an illness or injury during their trip. With this policy, visitors can get medical care and other assistance they need.
Depending on the type and level of coverage you select, your visitors insurance plan can provide coverage for:
- New illnesses or injuries that happen during the trip
- An accident that results in an injury
- Emergency medical evacuation
While each plan is different, some things that are typically not covered include:
- Preventative care services like routine checkups, physical examinations, immunization shots, etc.
- Major dental issues
- Maternity and childbirth needs
- Vision-related services, like a checkup or the purchase of new eyeglasses
- Pre-existing medical conditions
Visitors Insurance Plans: Limited and Comprehensive
Different plans will provide varying levels of coverage, so it's important to choose a plan that fits your medical and travel needs. However, because health issues like accidents and illnesses are nearly impossible to predict, it can be difficult to determine which type of plan is best for you.
Thankfully, we're breaking things down to make it a bit clearer and easier to make this choice. Basically, there are two different types of plans:
This is a more cost-efficient plan that offers less expensive premiums and more basic coverage. These plans have fewer benefits and have predefined coverage amounts, also known as a schedule of benefits.
These plans are typically renewable and cancellable, and provide basic medical coverage during the trip. Some plans also cover acute onset of pre-existing conditions. Certain policies will limit the healthcare facilities policyholders can visit according to the provider's PPO network, where others have no PPO, enabling individuals to see any doctor.
Plans falling in this category are usually a bit more expensive, but offer better coverage than limited plans. Comprehensive insurance plans provide medical coverage during travel, are renewable and cancellable and most include coverage for acute onset of pre-existing conditions. Depending on the provider, some plans require policyholders to visit doctors within the PPO network, where others don't carry this stipulation.
There are also a wide variety of options when it comes to available comprehensive coverage plans, including our Liaison Travel, Safe Travels and Patriot plans.
For our full list of available visitors insurance plans, check out our website.
For What Situations Can You Use Visitors Insurance?
If you become injured or sick and need to go to the hospital, you can show your visitors insurance ID card to the hospital medical reception staff, who will typically verify your benefits. You may have to make a deductible payment there, but usually the bill will be sent directly to the insurance provider. If the injury or illness requires immediate medical assistance, but doesn't represent an imminent threat, you can also visit an urgent care facility with your visitors insurance.
You can meet with a local doctor and get the information and medical treatment you need. Simply present your visitors insurance card and request an itemized service bill, which you will need for filing your visitors insurance claim later on.
If the doctor provides you with a prescription for medicine, this is another situation where your visitors insurance plan is beneficial. While you will make the upfront payment to the pharmacist for your medicine, you can use the receipt to file a claim and be reimbursed through your insurance provider later.
Once you've received your medical services and/or medicine, you simply need to download and complete the claim form and provide certain documents like a copy of your passport or visa, copies of receipts, etc. From here, the claims department will verify the details and make the necessary payments for your claims.
While payments can take four to six weeks or more, your visitors insurance provider takes care of the heavy lifting so you can avoid dealing with the complexities of an unfamiliar healthcare system. Click here to learn more about how to use a visitors insurance policy.
Getting Ready to Travel?
If you're visiting the U.S. from another country, or are taking any type of trip abroad, be sure that you have the visitors insurance you need.