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Travel insurance for the USA

If you’re planning a holiday to the States, it’s important to get the right travel insurance for your trip. Find out everything you need to know with our guide.

If you’re planning a holiday to the States, it’s important to get the right travel insurance for your trip. Find out everything you need to know with our guide.

Written by
Rachel Lacey
Insurance and money expert
Last Updated
30 JANUARY 2023
6 min read
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Do I need USA travel insurance?

Whether you’re planning an adrenalin-fuelled trip to the theme parks of Orlando, sightseeing around New England or shopping in New York, it’s important you arrange your travel insurance before you go.

Medical care in America is notoriously expensive, but with the right travel insurance policy, you can be confident that if you have an accident or fall ill, you won’t have to worry about bills. In addition to emergency treatment, tests and hospital stays, it will also cover the cost of repatriation if you need to go back to the UK for treatment.

But travel insurance isn’t just there for medical emergencies. It also includes cover for cancellation and delays, and lost and damaged baggage.

Customers with pre-existing medical conditions

If you have a serious health condition, your travel insurance is likely to be more expensive. Whatever happens, don’t lie to an insurance provider, because this could mean your claim is rejected. When you declare any medical conditions on our website, we’ll only show you quotes from insurance providers who will cover them, with no exclusions.

If your condition is more serious, MoneyHelper has a directory of insurance providers who may be able to provide quotes over the phone. You can call them on 0800 138 7777.

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How much is travel insurance for the USA?

If you’re travelling to the USA, you’ll need worldwide travel cover, which can cost from £17.30 for a one-week trip[2].

Bear in mind that the cost of travel insurance for America will vary, depending on the level of cover you need for your trip and what activities you’re planning.

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

[2] Based on Comparethemarket data for a worldwide travel insurance policy for a 20-year-old with no pre-existing medical conditions travelling for 1 week. Prices correct as of March 2024.

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 fall ill or have an accident, the policy should cover the cost of medical treatment. 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. Look for policies with at least £5m of cover for medical expenses. Some travel insurance policies cover up to £10m.
  • Damage, loss and theft of luggage . Your travel insurance should cover you for replacing clothes, gadgets and other personal possessions.
  • Holiday cancellation cover. This can help you recoup some of your holiday costs, should you need to cut short your trip or cancel altogether in certain circumstances. This is why it’s important to arrange your holiday insurance as soon as you book your trip, so you’re covered straight away.
  • Flight cancellations and delays. Cover for a missed connection isn’t included in all policies, so make sure you check the policy to confirm it offers the protection you need.

Policies will vary depending on the provider and the level of cover you choose. So it’s a good idea to find out what’s covered, how much excess you’ll need to pay and what’s excluded, before making your choice.

What isn’t covered by USA travel insurance?

Before you buy USA holiday insurance, there’s a number of exclusions to watch out for:

  • Pre-existing medical conditions you’ve not mentioned. 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 buying your travel insurance – otherwise your policy may not cover you for it. You might have to pay a bit more, but it will be worth it for the peace of mind.
  • Medical treatment if you’re injured or involved in an accident while 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.
  • 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:

  • Winter sports insurance  – cover if you’re planning to ski or snowboard in the United States.
  • Cover for high-risk sports  – offers cover for activities such as diving, mountain climbing or kayaking.
  • Golf travel insurance  – this will make sure your clubs are properly covered and will cover the cost of green fees if bad weather or illness force you to cancel.

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. But there’s still some red tape to contend with.

Under the US Visa Waiver Programme (VWP) you can stay in the States for up to 90 days without a visa, but you need to gain approval through the Electronic System for Travel Authorisation (ESTA) scheme before you travel. It costs $21 (reduced to $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 plus Switzerland. In future, the GHIC scheme may expand to other countries outside of Europe.

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 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.

When you’re paying by card in shops and restaurants, you might be given the chance to pay in Sterling, but it’s always better to pay in dollars to avoid any unnecessary conversion charges. You may also want to consider using a specialist travel money card to get the best rates and avoid the charges some cards impose on overseas transactions.

Where can I compare travel insurance

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

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