What is tourist insurance?
Tourist insurance is an international visitors insurance when you travel outside your home country. It is a short term travel health insurance.
What does tourist insurance cover?
Tourist insurance will generally cover any medical conditions, injuries or accidents that may occur after the effective date of the policy. It will not cover any pre-existing conditions, preventive check ups or elective procedures. However, some plans do cover acute onset of pre-existing conditions up to some extent up to a certain age.
I am healthy. Why do I need tourist insurance?
It is a common myth that healthy people do not need tourist insurance. The possibility of you experiencing a new medical condition is the same for any given age whether you are healthy or not. Tourist insurance is not for sick people, it is for something unforeseen and unexpected that happens to an otherwise healthy person.
When you are traveling outside your home country (international travel), tourist visa insurance would cover you against jet lag problems, stomach upset, diarrhea, motion sickness, urinary tract infections, fever, flu, pneumonia and many other such things which may happen to an international traveler.
I already have health insurance in my home country. Why do I need additional tourist insurance?
The insurance in your home country may not provide adequate coverage outside your home country; even if it provides international coverage, it may be emergency only (no minor ailments) and it would be considered out of network, with high deductible, high coinsurance and high out of pocket maximum. Additionally, it will not cover other travel related benefits such emergency medical evacuation and repatriation of mortal remains. Regarding health insurance, if you were to fall sick or get injured in a foreign country, many hospitals may require upfront payment or a guarantee of payment before they treat you, even in a life threatening emergency, and your domestic health insurance may not be able to provide them with such a guarantee. You could find yourself having to arrange for a large sum of money, which may not be possible for most people. Therefore, it is of utmost importance to purchase tourist insurance.
I may most likely need the tourist insurance because of my pre-existing conditions due to my age. However, tourist insurance does not cover that. What is the use of tourist insurance?
Tourist insurance is a short term travel medical insurance and it is not meant to cover everything, so you cannot eliminate the risk completely. However, most people can reduce the risk of financial exposure to a large extent by purchasing tourist insurance that covers acute onset of pre-existing conditions up to some extent up to a certain age.
I have heard that U.S. hospitals cannot refuse treatment in cases of a life threatening emergency. Therefore, why should I waste my money buying tourist insurance?
Even though it is true that U.S. hospitals can not refuse treatment in a life threatening emergency, that does not mean that they have to provide the complete treatment; in cases where there is no insurance and treatment is needed for a life threatening emergency, only stabilizing treatment is provided. Also, this does not mean that treatment would be free. Hospitals can and will demand payment from whoever sponsored your trip to the U.S. or whoever took you to the hospital. They need a financial guarantor who has social security number. Please note that most hospitals are private hospitals that run their business for profit so you should not assume that you would be the first tourist to receive treatment and that they would not know how to handle such patients. Over time, hospitals have mastered the skill of getting payment out of you and/or your relatives. Therefore, it is best to be safe and purchase tourist insurance while visiting USA, as the healthcare costs are very high in the U.S.
My credit card company says that they will provide tourist insurance when I travel. Why should I buy tourist insurance in that case?
You should really read the details of the tourist insurance provided through credit card companies. Many times, the coverage amount is so small that it will not be sufficient at all. Some of them may cover only car rental damage or something similar but not if you were to get sick or injured in a foreign country. Most credit card companies do not provide adequate tourist insurance and that is why there are insurance companies that provide tourist insurance.
I am visiting a foreign country for a very short duration. What can really happen to me in that short duration? Why should I buy tourist visa insurance in that case?
Anything can happen to anyone at any time, even in a short term international trip. If you are going on a short trip, tourist insurance will be very low cost and you should have even more reason to purchase it to protect yourself from unforeseen sickness, injuries or accidents.