Travel insurance for the USA

If you’re planning a trip to the states, you should consider your USA travel insurance options to cover the costs of medical treatment, loss or delays.

If you’re planning a trip to the states, you should consider your USA travel insurance options to cover the costs of medical treatment, loss or delays.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) update: please check the latest government travel advice that sets out what you need to do, if anything, before you travel abroad and before you return home. You should also check the latest travel advice and entry requirements for each country you visit or transit through. Travel rules can change at short notice, so check the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) for the latest information.

Josh Daniels
Travel Insurance expert
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Last Updated 14 NOVEMBER 2022

Do I need USA travel insurance?

If you’re joining the 3.8 million Brits travelling to America every year, arranging holiday insurance would be a smart move.

Medical care in America can be very expensive for a tourist, and you never know what might happen. It’s a good idea to make sure your US travel insurance includes emergency healthcare and repatriation – it’s better to be safe than sorry.

As well as medical cover, the right travel insurance policy will also include cover for things like cancellation, lost and damaged baggage.

We work with 42 travel insurance brands[1], including:

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Correct as of June, 2022

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Customers with more serious pre-existing medical conditions

If you have a serious health condition, the price you pay for travel insurance is likely to be more expensive. However, there are still many providers out there and you should be able to find affordable cover. Whatever happens, don’t be tempted to lie to an insurance provider, because if you do and then need to make a claim, it could be rejected.

When you declare medical conditions on our website, we’ll only show quotes from insurance providers who will cover all declared medical conditions, with no exclusions.

MoneyHelper has launched a directory of insurance providers who may be able to provide quotes over the phone if you have more serious medical conditions. Find more information at MoneyHelper or by calling them on 0800 138 7777.

How much is travel insurance for the USA?

If you're travelling to the USA, you’ll need worldwide travel cover.

Bear in mind that the cost of travel insurance for America will vary, depending on the level of cover you need for your trip, what activities you're planning and any pre-existing conditions, et cetera.

For example, an annual policy, which includes multi-trip cover, will cost more than a single-trip travel insurance. Meanwhile, if you’re going to be taking part in high-risk activities, like water sports, you can expect to pay more than a standard travel insurance policy.

What will USA travel insurance cover?

A multi-trip or single-trip USA travel insurance policy will typically include cover for:

  • Medical care. If you were to fall ill or have an accident, the policy may cover the cost of medical treatment.
  • Damage, loss and theft of luggage . Your travel insurance should cover you for replacing clothes, gadgets and toiletries.
  • Holiday cancellation cover. This can help you recoup some of your holiday costs, should you need to cut your trip short or cancel altogether in certain circumstances. It’s important to arrange your holiday insurance when you book your trip, so you’re covered straight away.
  • Flight cancellations and delays. Cover for things like a missed connection isn’t included in all policies, so make sure you check the policy T&Cs to see what protection you have.

Policies will vary depending on the provider and the level of cover you choose. So it’s a good idea to have a proper read through the policy details before committing to one.

What should my travel insurance to the USA include?

When you’re searching for holiday insurance to the USA, the most important thing is to ensure that it includes proper access to healthcare while you’re there. Although the American healthcare system is considered one of the best in the world, it’s also known to be one of the most expensive, and it’s heavily privatised.

If you don’t have sufficient cover, you’re unlikely to receive treatment unless you pay for it out of your own pocket. Doing so could end up costing you thousands, possibly even hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Along with cover for medical expenses and hospital benefits, at the very least, your travel insurance to the USA should include personal accident and liability cover.

USA travel insurance exclusions

Before you invest in USA holiday insurance, there’s a number of exclusions to watch out for. A few situations that insurance providers typically won’t cover include:

  • Pre-existing medical conditions. If you’ve been diagnosed with a condition that could require specialist care while you’re in the USA, it’s vital you declare this when you’re buying your insurance. Otherwise your policy may not cover you for it. In some cases, you may have to pay extra or seek out specialist holiday insurance.
  • Medical treatment if you’re injured or involved in an accident while you’re under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
  • Injuries or accidents caused by winter sports or extreme sports. Typically, you’ll have to pay extra to cover sports such as skiing, rock climbing or surfing.
  • Events such as terrorism, natural disasters and civil unrest. Some policies offer limited cover for terrorism-related incidents, but you’ll need to clarify this with your insurance provider. Make sure that, at the very least, you’re covered for emergency medical expenses resulting from a terror attack.

What else should I consider when I choose my travel insurance?

It’s important to think about what activities you’ll be doing on your trip and make sure your insurance policy covers you for them.

These could include:

Do I need a visa for the USA?

If you have a British passport and are travelling as a tourist, you won’t need a visa. That’s because the US has a Visa Waiver Programme (VWP) that lets you in for up to 90 days. But you must make sure you have an Electronic System for Travel Authorisation (ESTA). This lets you visit the USA for under 90 days without a visa and you’ll need to get this before you travel. One application costs around $14, or just $4 if your application is rejected.

Does the GHIC cover me for the USA?

No, while the GHIC (Global Health Insurance Card) was introduced as a replacement for the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), it doesn’t offer the cover its name suggests. The GHIC is limited to EU countries and Switzerland. In future, the GHIC scheme may expand to other countries, outside of Europe.

This means it’s important to get a travel insurance policy for your trip to the USA, to provide protection and peace of mind.

Any other tips for trips to the USA?

There’s a lot to see and do in the States. Here’s a few more travel tips to help you on your way:

  • Vaccines – visit your doctor four to six weeks before you travel, to check whether you need any vaccinations or boosters.
  • Tipping – America’s tipping culture can be a minefield. Here’s a rough idea of how much you’re expected to tip:
    • Airport and hotel porters:  $2 per bag or $5 minimum per trolley
    • Bar staff:  between 15 and 20% per round, or a minimum of $1 per drink
    • Hotel maid service:  between $2 and $4 per night
    • Waiting staff at restaurants: 15 to 20%, unless a service charge has already been added to the bill
    • Taxi drivers:  between 10 and 15% 
    • Parking attendants: a minimum of $2.

To avoid extra charges when paying with a card in shops and restaurants, or withdrawing money from an ATM, always choose to pay in the local currency. And consider using a specialist travel money card to get the best rates.

Where can I compare travel insurance quotes?

To find the right US travel insurance for you at the right price, we’re here to help. Whether you’re looking to cover a once-in-a-lifetime road trip or a family holiday, we’ll help you compare a range of competitive quotes to get the peace of mind you need.

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