Many people ask the question, "Is travel insurance required to enter the United States?"
The short answer is no. Purchasing travel insurance is not mandatory for entering the United States as a tourist on a B1/B2 visa.
That is different from Schengen countries, where Schengen travel insurance is required to get the Schengen visa, a visa for more than two dozen countries in Europe.
Millions of tourists travel to the United States every year and visit famous tourist spots, such as New York, Niagara Falls, Washington, D.C., Florida, Las Vegas, the Grand Canyon, California and more. Many of them go through the arduous visa process. Many are preparing for the trip of their lifetime. As the United States is a vast country with many tourist places, most tourists visit anywhere from a few weeks to a few months.
Among all other preparations, it is important to remember that travel insurance is vital while traveling to the United States.
The biggest health-care system in the United States is private. There is almost no government health care or free facilities. In fact, U.S. citizens and residents are required to purchase adequate health insurance and keep it year-round.
Many visitors traveling from countries with socialized medicine (such as the U.K.) may not realize the importance of buying travel insurance. Your health care in your home country will not cover you in the United States. The U.S. government is not going to provide free health care to you as a tourist.
Travelers from countries where health care costs little (such as India) just may not realize the importance of having proper travel medical protection, as they are used to being able to pay out of their pocket for health care. (Even so, many poor people are not able to afford even that extremely low-cost treatment. However, here the reference is specifically to those people traveling to the United States. Those who can afford to travel to the United States can easily afford to pay out of pocket for treatment in their country.)
Even though the United States has the best health care in the world, it is also among the most expensive. A simple visit to the emergency room may easily cost a few thousand dollars.
U.S. health-care costs are so high that it is just not affordable and clearly out of reach for most people who don't have proper medical insurance.
You can't avoid the unexpected, while traveling to the United States you may run into many sudden illness or injuries. Without proper travel insurance, you will be responsible for all of that out of your pocket. You do not want to burden yourself or your host relatives with massive health-care bills in unexpected situations.
While travel insurance will not eliminate all the risks associated with traveling to the United States, it can reduce it a great extent.
Apart from coverage for emergency medical expenses, travel insurance can also provide coverage for emergency medical evacuation, repatriation of remains, loss of checked luggage, AD&D, emergency assistance and much more.
While granting a visitor visa to foreign tourists, the consular officer at the U.S. Consulate may want to ensure that the visitor will not become a financial burden on U.S. taxpayers. Therefore, if they think that a specific visitor is more likely to fall ill, they may ask for proof of proper travel insurance.
It is not possible to say with any guarantee how many visa applicants are being asked and whether travel insurance would improve one's chances of getting a visitors' visa, but it is worth considering.
All visitors' visa holders must pass through an inspection by a Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer at the U.S. airport. Among other things, a CBP officer may want to make sure that a visitor is not going to be a burden on the United States. Therefore, especially in case of elderly visitors, they may want to see proof of proper travel insurance before letting anyone enter the United States if they feel that they are more likely to encounter a medical emergency while visiting.
Not everyone will be asked for proof. Just because the parents of your friend and in-laws of your cousin were not asked to show such proof, it does not necessarily mean that your parents won't be asked either.
In any case, it is necessary to carry proper travel insurance while visiting the United States. Buying it upfront from a U.S.-based company before traveling to and bringing proof will give you additional peace of mind and a worry-free vacation.
There are many U.S.-based travel insurance plans available to choose from. You can get instant quotes from multiple products, compare them side by side and make an immediate purchase online. For any questions or help in selecting the right travel insurance plan for the United States, U.S.-based licensed insurance agents are available seven days a week.