What Is Visitors Insurance, What It Covers, & Why You Need It

What Is Visitors Insurance, What It Covers, & Why You Need It

When planning a trip to the United States from your home country, there are many things to consider. Where will you be staying? What sights will you plan to see and what activities will you be taking part in? What items do you need to pack? Among these common considerations, you may also consider whether or not visitors insurance is a necessity for your travels.

What Is Visitors Insurance?

Visitors insurance is short-term travel medical insurance designed to offer coverage for necessary medical care for unexpected injuries or illnesses when traveling outside of your home country. Visitors insurance is ideal for individuals who are traveling internationally or for relatives who are visiting family members in the United States.

Visitors insurance plans are suitable for a variety of trips abroad, including for business and holiday. There are also plans available for those who are traveling on visitor visas, tourist visas, business visas, and other temporary visas.

What Does Visitors Insurance Cover?

A visitors insurance policy provides coverage to the individual policyholder in the event that they experience an unforeseen illness or injury during their trip. With this policy, visitors can get necessary medical care and other assistance that they may need while abroad.

Depending on the specific plan and level of coverage you select, a visitors insurance plan can provide coverage for: 

  • New illnesses or injuries that occur during your trip, after the effective date of your policy
  • Emergency services including hospitalization and surgery
  • Emergency medical evacuation

Different plans may offer various benefits, which is why it is important to compare visitors insurance plans to find the policy that fits your specific needs. Most importantly, however, you can have peace of mind with a visitors insurance policy knowing that you’ll have financial protection in the event of an emergency medical situation.

What Doesn’t Visitors Insurance Cover?

Since visitors insurance is a short-term medical coverage plan, these plans do have exclusions as to what is covered.

Medical care that typically isn’t covered by visitors insurance includes: 

  • 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

Each plan's exclusions will vary, so it’s important to read and understand a policy’s description of benefits to understand what isn’t covered under a visitors insurance plan.

Is Visitor Insurance Mandatory?

Visitors insurance is not currently mandatory in order to travel to the United States. However, it is often recommended that any traveler to the United States or to a country abroad has adequate medical coverage as accidents or illnesses are always a possibility. 

Why Visitors to USA Need Travel Insurance

Having a visitors insurance plan, or also referred to as a travel medical insurance plan, is crucial for any traveler coming to the United States. In the U.S. medical costs are exorbitant, with most hospital stays averaging in the thousands of dollars. Without insurance, a medical emergency in the U.S. can leave a traveler with a huge bill and financial stress.

It’s also important to note that most health insurance plans in your home country will not cover you internationally. This leaves most international travelers vulnerable to expensive medical bills in the event that they need to seek medical care while in the U.S.

How to Find a Visitor Health Insurance Plan

Finding a suitable plan for your visit to the U.S. depends on various factors such as the traveler's visa type, age, coverage duration, home country, and citizenship. You also want to consider which benefits are important to you, whether you want a high policy maximum, low deductible, emergency medical evacuation, pre-existing conditions coverage, and more.

The best course of action is to compare your visitor insurance plan options and to choose the policy that best fits your needs and budget.

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.

There are two different types of visitor insurance plans to consider:

Limited Coverage

Limited coverage visitor insurance plans are 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.

Comprehensive Coverage

Comprehensive coverage visitor insurance plans 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.

Comprehensive coverage plans are typically recommended for those visiting the United States, as they offer the most adequate coverage and the least potential out-of-pocket expenses.

What Can Visitors Medical Insurance Be Used For?

Visitors insurance can be utilized in a variety of necessary medical situations while traveling abroad.

Hospital Visits

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 direct billing is offered. However, in some instances, you may have to pay upfront for your care. 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.

Doctors Appointments

You can visit a local doctor if you require necessary medical treatment. Simply present your visitors insurance card and request an itemized service bill, which you will need for filing your visitors insurance claim later on.

Pharmacy Prescriptions

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 can be reimbursed for eligible expenses through your insurance provider later.

How Do Visitors Insurance Claims Work?

Once you've received your medical services and/or medicine, you simply need to download and complete the claim form from your insurance provider and provide certain required documents such as a copy of your passport or visa, copies of receipts, doctor’s notes, 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. Learn more about the visitor insurance claims process.

Be sure to keep copies of all relevant medical documents, payments, receipts, prescriptions, and doctor’s notes as these will be necessary when filing a claim.

Travel With Confidence

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.

Frequently Asked Questions


Which insurance is best for visitors to USA?

We recommend comprehensive visitors insurance plans such as the CoverAmerica-Gold plan which offers 100% coverage of eligible medical expenses up to the policy maximum after your deductible is met.


Does visitors insurance cover pre-existing conditions?

While most visitor insurance plans do not offer pre-existing conditions coverage, some offer limited coverage or coverage for the acute onset of pre-existing conditions. Learn more about pre-existing conditions.


Where can I buy visitors insurance?

You can buy visitors insurance directly on our website. Compare visitor insurance plans here.


Does visitors insurance cover hospitalization?

Visitors insurance can cover hospitalization for necessary medical treatment for a new injury or illness that occurs after the effective date of your policy, depending on the treatment received and other factors. Read your policy’s description of benefits for more information on what your plans cover.


Do I need travel insurance to visit USA?

Under most circumstances, visitors to the USA are no required to have travel insurance, although it is highly recommended to protect you in the event of a medical emergency abroad.