Do you need travel insurance to enter the US? 

Do you need travel insurance to enter the US?

The US has been a top destination for tourists from all over the world. Ever since the travel rules were relaxed, travelers have been finding opportunities to explore the vast country. However, the main setback of traveling to the US is the exorbitant medical charges and expensive lifestyle. It becomes highly impossible for many to afford hospital and medical bills during a medical emergency. It can cost you some hundred thousand to million dollars. 

Travel insurance has been a great savior for travelers coming to the US. Apart from travelers, international students and exchange visitors opt for insurance policies for their temporary stay in the country. It is not mandatory for visitors to buy an insurance policy, but it is highly recommended to cope with the rising medical costs. 

The law does not mandate visitors to carry a travel insurance policy to enter the country if they are willing to take the risk and pay the medical bills. However, the law is different for international students and exchange visitors. Let us understand it better. 

Travel insurance for visitors coming to the US 

Though the US has the best healthcare system in the world, it is also the most expensive. A simple trip to a doctor’s chamber for flu can cost you a few hundred dollars, while a visit to the emergency room can run thousands of dollars. The healthcare costs are so high that it is not just unaffordable, but it is clearly out of reach for most people who do not have any insurance supporting them. 

While coming to the US for leisure, business, or meeting your family, you may fall sick or run into an accident. Without an insurance policy, you will be held responsible for paying all the medical bills and hospital charges. If the situation is severe, the bills can go up to a million dollars. You do not want to burden yourself or your family with massive amounts in such unexpected situations. 

Travel insurance is not going to eliminate all the risks associated with getting sick in the US; it can help with reducing the financial risk associated with medical bills to a great extent. Typically, the plans cover medical expenses, hospital stays, urgent care, doctor’s visit, COVID-19 treatment, acute onset of pre-existing conditions, emergency medical evacuation, AD&D (accidental death and dismemberment), repatriation of remains, and more. 

Travel insurance for students and exchange visitors coming to the US 

Exchange visitors come to the US on J1/J2 visas. The US Department of State has set minimum insurance requirements for J1 and J2 visa holders. The sponsoring organization might also have additional insurance requirements, which exchange visitors should be aware of. 

The following are the requirements: 

  1. 100,000 medical benefits per accident or illness. 
  1. $25,000 for repatriation of remains. 
  1. $50,000 for medical evacuation of the visitor to their home country. 
  1. $500 maximum deductible allowed per illness or injury. 
  1. Plan to be underwritten by an insurance corporation with- 
  • An A.M. Best rating of “A-” or above,  
  • Or an Insurance Solvency International Ltd. (ISI) rating of “A-I” or above,  
  • Or a Standard and Poor’s Claims Paying Ability rating of “A-” or above, 
  • Or a Weiss Research Inc. rating of B+ or above. 

International students on F1/F2 or M1/M2 visas do not have to adhere to any strict State Department guidelines regarding insurance. They need to check with their institutions about the insurance requirements, or else they may not enroll in classes or training programs. 

Why do you need travel insurance? 

Travel insurance is not required when entering or visiting the US. If you are only planning a short trip, unforeseen circumstances can always arise. If you need to cancel your trip or cut it short for any reason, a travel medical insurance plan can help to reimburse you for your losses. 

While the cost of travel insurance may seem like an added expense, it could save you a lot of money eventually. Therefore, it is always wise to purchase an insurance policy before embarking on any trip, no matter where your destination may be. 

These plans are designed to protect travelers from unexpected setbacks and can be bought for domestic and international trips. There are diverse types of policies available, and coverage varies. Some common types of coverage include trip cancellation, medical expenses, lost luggage, and travel delays. You can buy it from a variety of sources, including travel agencies, airlines, and insurance providers. When choosing a policy, it is important to read the fine print and understand what is covered before making a purchase. 

Are there any risks involved while traveling to the US without insurance? 

Without travel insurance, you may be responsible for all your medical expenses if you are injured or become ill while on your trip. Some policies cover trip-related expenses that cover non-refundable trip costs like hotel bookings, event reservations, cruises, and more. 

Travel insurance can also provide coverage for lost baggage and flight delays, as well. As a result, it is important to consider the financial risks associated with your vacation. Briefly, your policy gives you financial backup when things do not go as per plan.  However, it is crucial to understand what your plan can cover during the trip. Therefore, reviewing the policy is necessary. 

What to consider before choosing a policy? 

Travel insurance is an important consideration for any trip, whether you are traveling for business or pleasure. As you can opt for several policies online, it is vital to choose one that meets your medical and travel needs. The first step is to consider the type and the length of the trip you are taking. . If you are planning a month’s leisure trip, the coverage needed could be different than a five-days business trip. 

Next, you must also consider the activities you will be doing while on your trip. If you are planning on taking part in any adventure activities, make sure your policy covers those activities. Finally, you must review the policy brochure before buying it. It can rest assured you of getting the right coverage you need at the price you are paying. 

What is the claim process? 

Making a claim on your travel insurance policy requires you to gather the necessary evidence. First, you need to assess what you are making a claim on, such as medical bills, lost luggage or items, canceled itinerary, etc. Second, you need to gather all relevant documentation like itemized bills, police reports, receipts, etc. 

Third, you will need to contact your insurance company and file a claim. You will usually need to file a claim within the stipulated time, e.g., within 90 days (about 3 months) after seeing a provider or 3-14 days (about 2 weeks) of the events occurring. Each travel insurance policy is different, so you should check the Terms and Conditions. 

Fourth, the insurance company will then investigate the incident and decide whether you are covered and the benefits associated with the claim. Next, the insurance company will decide on the merits of your claim. If your claim is approved, you will receive reimbursement for your expenses. However, if your claim is denied, you may need to make an appeal to get compensation. 

How much does a travel insurance plan cost? 

The cost of travel insurance coming to the US depends on varied factors. There is no one cost or policy that fits everyone. There are four major factors that can determine the plan’s cost- traveler’s age, trip duration, policy maximum, and deductible. Younger travelers tend to pay less premium than senior travelers for the same plan because elder adults have more health risks associated with them. 

Furthermore, when you choose a higher policy maximum, the premium increases. But, if you choose a higher deductible, the premium is reduced. In short, the plan’s cost depends on the variables you choose. Besides these factors, there are comprehensive and fixed benefit plans. If you opt for a comprehensive travel insurance plan, you need to pay a higher premium than with a fixed benefit plan. 

Moreover, if you choose optional benefits like adventure sports, personal liability, chaperone and faculty leader, evacuation rider, and more, you need to pay an extra premium. It is wise for an insurance provider, like us,, and understand how to choose a travel insurance plan before visiting the US. 


US law does not demand travelers to buy a travel health insurance policy to enter the country. However, it is always recommended to buy one. It is not easy to find the right policy when so many plans are available online. is a trusted insurance provider in the US and has been helping clients since 2003. For any help, call us and get your issues resolved.