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Visitors Medical Insurance - Purchase Procedures FAQ
Q: When I called, someone answered the phone call that sounded like an Indian person. Is this an Indian company? Is your call center based in India?
A: No. We are a U.S. based company, based in Plano, Texas. And all the companies we sell insurance from are based in the U.S. too or have the U.S. administration.
A significant portion of our business is to offer insurance to people of Indian origin who are visiting the U.S., we get many calls from such people. Therefore, we have several people in our office that are U.S. citizens of Indian origin that can understand your needs very well. But all the calls are answered from Plano, Texas, USA (In Dallas metroplex area). Every single person that answers phone calls in our office is knowledgeable and an experienced licensed insurance agent in the USA, ensuring excellent customer service. We do NOT have any call center in India.
Q: I visited IMG's web site and I don't see Visitors Care plan that are offered on your web site. Are those products really offered by that company? Have they stopped offering those products? Is it legitimate?
A: Those are limited release products and not all insurance agents can sell them and IMG does not offer them directly. They are designed keeping a very specific client market in mind (mostly Indians traveling to USA), and therefore a small handful of insurance agents are able to offer these plans, and as we are the leading insurance brokers in United States for international medical insurance, we are able to offer these insurance plans to you.
If you still have doubts or concerns, please call us at (866) INSUBUY.
Q: You have so many plans for visitor medical insurance. How do I decide which one to purchase?
A: We have different plans to suit your individual needs based on the amount of premium you are willing to pay up front, your age and also the amount of risk you want to share in case you need to use the insurance. In general, higher premium plans provider better coverage and you would end up spending less from your pocket when you get sick or injured. Please look at the side by side comparison of various plans that we offer.
A: Online: You can purchase it instantly online, if you are paying by credit card. It can be effective on the day you specify, as early as the next day after your purchase. Purchasing online is simple, fast and hassle free. There is no other paperwork required neither is there any need for any membership into any organization. Our web site is a VeriSign Secure web site and you can verify that by clicking on the 'lock' displayed on web browser or VeriSign logo in the left side bar. We are also a Better Business Bureau accredited business, to give you further peace of mind that we are a reliable company to work with. Our web site is also certified 'McAfee Secure' that assures that the data you enter is secure with us.
Phone: We can also take your application over the phone.
Fax: You can fax us the application and if paying by check or money order, please fax us the check/money order. We will process your application as soon as we receive your fax and will send you confirmation of coverage by fax or email. You still need to send us the physical check or money order. However, the fulfillment kit will be mailed only after the check/money order is cashed.
Mail: You can send us the application along with payment by credit or check/money order enclosed with it. We will process your application as soon as we receive it. However, the fulfillment kit will be mailed only after the check/money order is cashed.
Q: What information would you require if I want to purchase an insurance plan?
A: In most plans, you need date of birth and passport number for each insured person. In some plans, passport number of only the primary applicant is required. In IMG plans, passport number is optional. You do not need to send any paperwork or any medical reports to us or to the insurance company. You can complete the entire process completely online. Insurance can be effective as early as the next day after your purchase or any other future date you specify.
Q: When I apply online for my parents, the application asks for passport number only for my father, but I don't see any place to enter my mother's passport number.
A: In many insurance plans, only one passport number per family is required.
Q: What should I select as the period of coverage for effective date & end date?
A: In most plans, insurance coverage can be purchased in the increments of days, most plans as little as 5 days, to suit your needs. Effective date for insurance coverage can be the date of departure from home country, or it can be any other later date specified by insured. If you would like to be covered for any medical emergencies (for covered expenses) during your journey also, and if your relatives are coming from India to the U.S., it is advisable to put the start date one day in advance as the effective date is 12.01 AM where the insurance company (Eastern time, Pacific time etc.) is located on the day you specify. This will work only for the plans that have worldwide coverage, and not only USA coverage.
A: Yes. Anyone can purchase the plans online as proxy on behalf of their family members or friends.
A: Certainly. You can buy insurance from anywhere in the world as long as you can make the payment in US dollars, preferably using a credit card.
Q: Can I buy the insurance after my parents arrive in the U.S.? Is there any disadvantage?
A: You can certainly buy the insurance after your parents arrive in the U.S. In that case, they would not be covered if some medical problem were to arise during the travel time. Insurance will start as early as the next day or any future date you specify. However, some people get too busy with them after their parents arrive and don't purchase the insurance right away. They remember the insurance only when one of them gets sick or injured. It would be too late at that time to buy the insurance as it would be considered a pre-existing condition and not covered by any insurance plan from any company anywhere. Insurance is not for people who are already sick.
Q: Both of my parents are planning to visit me. Should I buy one combined policy for them or a separate policy for each person? What are the advantages and disadvantages?
A: Whether you buy one combined policy or separate policy for each person, the total price remains the same as price is for each person and just added together. All the coverage is per person also. The policy maximum and deductible is per person.
However, we recommend that you buy a separate policy for each person.
If you want to buy a different product, buy a different policy maximum, or choose a different deductible, buy for a different duration, or in some plans if any of the persons is 70 years of age or above, the only way to achieve that is to buy separate policy for each person.
Otherwise also, there are many advantages in buying a separate policy for each person. Just in case one parent wants to go back early, you can renew the policy for the other parent. You can't achieve that if you put them together in one policy. In case, one parent has a claim, and the other parent with no claim is going back early (or both are going back early), you can get a refund for the parent who never claimed, in the insurance products that give a refund after the effective date. In other words, you have the ability to do different things for each person.
The only disadvantage in having a separate policy is that, if you buy a renewable plan, and you want to renew for both persons, you may have to pay a renewal fee (let's say $5) per person, instead of $5 per policy. But looking at the advantages described above, it is worth buying a separate policy for each person.
The only time a combined policy should be purchased is when the dependent child (under age 18) is to be included in the policy. Dependent child rates are lower than child alone rates.
A: Most plans provide coverage up to age 69. There are some plans that provide coverage up to age 79 and there are a few plans that provide low coverage for age 80+.
Q: Do I need to take any physical exam or do I need to submit my previous medical records?
A: No. Most of the plans that we offer can be purchased online. Certain long term plans require you to fill medical history questions online, and are subject to underwriting.
A: When you purchase insurance online, you would receive an immediate confirmation of your insurance details by email. It is essentially your virtual id card. Please keep a copy of this email and it's also wise to print it for your records.
If you fax us the application, you can receive the confirmation by either fax or email generally within 1 business day.
In any case, generally by the next business day, a traditional insurance card will be sent by regular postal mail. This is your health insurance card and it will contain essential details such as your name, policy number, group number, insurance company's phone number to verify the benefits and the address in USA where the claims should be submitted. You will also receive the details of benefits paid under this plan as well as its limitations & exclusions.
Exceptions: In all Seven Corners plans (such as Inbound USA, Liaison International etc.), you will get the fulfillment by mail, only if you select an appropriate option when applying online. In Atlas America/International, if you choose 'Online Fulfillment - Yes', you will get the documents only by email. If you choose 'Online Fulfillment - No', you will get them by email as well as by mail.
For all IMG plans, if you choose 'Express' delivery, you will get it by courier at an extra charge of $20.00
Q: Can I buy the plan initially for one month to see how it works out and then later buy it again?
A: You certainly can do that, but it can be quite disadvantageous in most plans. Unless the plan is renewable, you may be subject to a new deductible, new co-insurance and new pre-existing conditions clauses. Please be very careful if you decide to do it.
You should buy a plan that is renewable.
Q: I would like to buy the insurance for 6 months for my parents. Do I have to pay for all 6 months at once or can I pay monthly?
A: Buying and paying is one and the same thing. If you would like to buy the insurance for 6 months, you will have to pay for all 6 months up front at once.
Alternatively, if the plan is renewable, you can purchase it for
one month and then renew it month by month. All the plans may not
be renewable monthly.
E.g., Patriot America, Patriot America Plus must be purchased for a minimum 1 month initially to be renewed monthly later.
When you renew Visitors Care, there is a $5 renewal fee and your deductible will start all over again.
Diplomat America or Visit USA-Healthcare are not renewable at all.
Most renewable plans charge a $5 renewal fee. However, the overall premium will be the same whether you buy all for 6 months or monthly.
Therefore, if you are not sure how long your parents will stay, provided the plan is renewable, we suggest that you purchase initially for 3 months and renew it accordingly.
A: There is a big advantage of renewal. In many plans, even when you renew, you will have to pay the deductible only once during the policy period and not every time you renew the policy. In some plans, where you have to pay 20% (or 10%) co-insurance for first $5,000, that would also be accumulative and you would have to pay just once instead of paying every time within the new policy period.
Q: My parents are quite healthy and coming to the USA to visit us. Do we really need visitor health insurance for them?
A: Health insurance is for future protection for medical problems. And as future medical problems or injuries/accidents can't be predicted, you never know what would happen in future. Medical treatment in the USA is very expensive, it is always advisable to buy medical insurance from a reputable company.
Q: Why should I unnecessarily spend money on health insurance right now? Insurance plans offered on this web site provide instant coverage. In case any of my parents get sick, I can always get instant coverage at that time. Can I not?
A: When you don't have health insurance, you can not be calling from your cell phone on the way to the hospital emergency room and expect instant coverage. Such a condition would be considered a pre-existing and will not be covered.
You must have heard 'You can't be digging a well when you are thirsty'.
A: The price per person remains the same whether you buy for both parents together or one person at a time. Some insurance plans charge you an application fee and/or renewal fee. The only advantage by putting both parents in one application is that you don't have to pay an application fee and/or renewal fee per person. (typically something like $5, $10 etc.)
Also, if you put both parents in one application, you can't renew or cancel insurance for just one person. This happens quite often when your father is bored here or has some business and wants to go back early while mother would like to stay more. If that may be a possible situation for you, consider making a separate application for each person. You also need to make separate applications if both parents are going to stay a different duration or you want a different policy maximum for each parent.
Q: Both my parents and in-laws are traveling to the U.S. together. Can I get a group insurance for them so that it is cheaper?
A: No, you require a minimum of 5 persons for a group health insurance. Moreover, many insurance plans are not available to purchase as a group purchase.
Q: The application asks for AD&D beneficiary (or common carrier AD&D beneficiary)? Whose name should I put in there?
Generally, it should be the name of the close relative. E.g., if you are buying for your parents, write your name and the relationship is son/daughter/child. If you are buying for your in-laws, write your husband's/wife's name and the relationship is son/daughter/child. However, you can write anyone's name there. Just by writing your name in the beneficiary field, you do not automatically become liable for the medical expenses in case the medical expenses are not covered by the insurance company because it was either pre-existing conditions, not a covered expense or expenses are beyond what is covered in the policy.
Q: My father's date of birth is December 13, 1948. Assuming I buying the insurance in the year 2008, do I have to select the age as 59 years or 60 years?
A: If your father already had a birthday this year, the age is based on the current year - birth year. Therefore, in 2008, it would be 2008 - 1948 = 60 years. If your father didn't have a birthday this year yet as of the effective date, the age is based on the current year - birth year - 1. Therefore, in 2008, it would be 2008 - 1948 - 1 = 59 years.
Assuming that your policy is going to be effective on September 5, 2008, the age would be 2008 - 1948 - 1 = 59 years. If the policy were to be effective on December 24, 2008, the age would be 2008 - 1948 = 60 years.
Q: While choosing the age, do I have to choose the completed number of years or the running year? E.g., my father's current age is 59 years and 10 months. Do I have to choose 59 years or 60 years?
A: You have to choose the completed number of years. Therefore, in your case, your father is 59 years old and you should choose the age accordingly.
Q: My mother does not have a last name. She has only one name. However, the application asks for both first and last name. How do I fill the application?
A: If the person has only one name (whether it be first or last name), put that name into last name column and put 'FNU' into the first name. In other words, even if you have only a first name, put that name into the last name column and first name should be 'FNU'.
That is exactly how the U.S. consulates also write in the visa stamp in such cases.
FNU stands for First Name Unknown.
Q: My father has 2 parts in the first name. However, he does not have last name. However, the application asks for both first and last name. How do I fill the application?
A: Some examples of this situation are Chaman Lal, Sunder Rao, Harpreet Singh (or for females, Rama Devi, Prem Kumari etc.)
In such situations, you can put the first word in the name as the first name and second word in the name as the last name. Anyway, when the insurance card is printed, both names will be listed one after another in the same line, and the cards does not specify which one is first name and which one is last name.
e.g., Sunder as first name and Rao as last name even if Rao is not actually your last name. e.g., Rama as first name and Devi as last name.
Q: My father has a middle name as well in addition to first and last name. However, the application does not ask for it. How do I fill the application?
A: Some examples of this situation are Ram Kumar Sharma, Suresh Ramaniklal Patel, Srinivas Sunder Krishnamurthy etc.
In such situations, you can put the first and middle name as the first name(such as Ram Kumar), and the last name as the last name (such as Sharma). Anyway, when the insurance card is printed, all the names will be listed one after another in the same line.
Or you can choose to ignore the middle name.
Q: Why do I have to buy visitors insurance for my visiting parents? Why can't I just add my parents as my dependents in my group health insurance through my employer?
A: In the United States, at least for the insurance purposes, your dependents are your legally wedded spouse and your minor children under the age of 18 (up to 26 years if they are attending school). Your parents are not considered your dependents. Therefore, you can't enroll them in your group health insurance through your employer.
No matter how dependent your parents are on you, financially, emotionally or in any other way; they can not be considered your dependents in the USA.
Q: Why do I have to buy visitors insurance for my visiting parents? Why can't I just buy domestic health insurance from well-known companies like Aetna, Cigna, United Healthcare, Blue Cross Blue Shield etc?
A: The companies you mentioned are called domestic health insurance companies and provide health insurance only to United States citizens, permanent residents and legal temporary workers. Even though exact criteria varies from state to state and company to company, those companies require a Social Security Number (SSN) or Individual Tax Identification Number (ITIN) and proof that the person has been continuously staying in the U.S. for the past 6 months, 1 years, 2 years and so on. In case the person is not a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, they may accept only certain visa holders, such as an H-1B visa, but not an H-4 visa.
In any case, there is no domestic health insurance company that offers insurance to tourists to the United States. That is exactly why you have to purchase visitors health insurance.
You may ask, but why don't they offer visitors health insurance?
The answer is more complicated, but we will try to explain this in short and try to simplify it as much as possible. Domestic health insurance companies are required to provide certain minimum benefits, including pre-existing conditions, unlimited life time benefits, and so on. Therefore, if they give insurance to visitors, they will have to follow all those state mandated rules. However, because the domestic insurance companies don't know the exact health status of the visitor, there is no prior health history available in the U.S., insurance companies wouldn't be able to analyze the risk they are getting into. Therefore, they simply don't offer coverage to visitors to the United States.
Please keep in mind, even when domestic health insurance companies offer short term health insurance to U.S. residents, none of them cover pre-existing conditions. Therefore, even if any one offered health insurance to visitors, it wouldn't necessarily provide any better benefits than the visitors insurance.
Furthermore, a visitors insurance plan is a short term plan that you can purchase instantly and provides coverage from the next day onwards. On the other hand, people eed to enroll into domestic long term health insurance plans only during the open enrollment period, typically towards the end of the calendar year and beginning of the calendar year. Also, please note that domestic health insurance plans are many times restricted to one state or geographical area (Remember, United States is not United for insurance purposes. Every state has their own rules). Most domestic health insurance plans don't cover individuals over the age of 65 years as U.S. individuals are expected to enroll into Medicare. Furthermore, they don't provide benefits like emergency medical evacuation, repatriation of remains, lost luggage etc. that visitors insurance plans generally provide and very recommended for travelers.
Q: I heard that pre-existing conditions can't be excluded in the group plan. Can I buy group visitors insurance?
A: Even though the next paragraph below applies to domestic customers, it is necessary to explain that first to answer the question.
Even though domestic group health insurance plans that you normally get through an employer provide wider coverage than the domestic individual health insurance plans, that is not always the case. No matter what insurance company, the bottom line is how much the insurance company is getting from a particular block of business vs. how much they are paying back in claims. Therefore, if the husband and wife decides to open up a small business and wants group health insurance, in most case and in most of the states, it wouldn't be any significantly different from the individual health insurance they could get as the couple. Obviously, they can't get the same kind of benefits and pricing as the employer that has 10,000 employees. That is because, out of 10,000 employees, even if 100 are sick, the other 9,900 are relatively in good shape and therefore, they overall make money. However, if there are only two people in the group, and one of them is very sick, the insurance company would be in an overall loss.
Visitors insurance is available on a group insurance basis only for 5 or more travelers. That simply provides the convenience of one application and is generally 10% cheaper than the equivalent individual insurance. It does not provide any other additional benefits such as covering pre-existing conditions etc. If it did, the insurance company would still end up losing money in that block of business.
Q: Why should I purchase the individual visitors insurance? Why can't we form a big group of all the people who go to XYZ temple or church, all the people who visit XYZ web site related to activities such as immigration, all the people who are members of XYZ organization and so on? Wouldn't that be cheaper and provide better benefits?
A: No, it does not work like that. You can get true group health insurance (other than travel group insurance, described above) only if the participants are employees of a specific company and work for that specific company as full-time employees. In other words, the major reason for those members to be together is to work at the employer's place and not to enroll into the group health insurance. In other words, getting group insurance is secondary to the employment purpose. The employees are a tightly controlled group and there is a significant effort involved to be a part of that group. Also, there are restrictions like the minimum level of participation requirement and so on.
That does not work out like that for loosely defined groups such as everyone going to XYZ temple or church. That way, the majority of the people who would join that group would be the ones that need the insurance. In other words, "Do you have pre-existing conditions that you would like to get treated? Just visit XYZ temple, sign up, pay small fees and get your surgery done, and then say, goodbye". That means, the insurance company would get most of the relatively sick people in the group as there is no obligation for everyone to join the temple group. And the insurance company would end up giving away more money than they collect. The same concept would apply for any other groups made up in this manner.
Q: If I am a U.S. citizen and also a citizen of another country (dual citizenship), while purchasing any of the insurance plans, can I use any of the citizenship?
A: No, for these insurance purposes, if you are a U.S. citizen, you must be considered a U.S. citizen. Even if you are additionally a citizen of some other country, you are still U.S. citizen and you need to look at all the plans accordingly. You can't use your other citizenship to try to circumvent the online application if you are otherwise not eligible to purchase the plan.
FAQ about Risks of Purchasing Fixed Coverage.
Disclaimer: The information within this article is intended as a broad summary of benefits and services and is meant for informational purposes only. The information does not describe all scenarios, coverages or exclusions of any insurance plan. The benefits and services of an insurance plan are subject to change. This is not your policy/certificate of insurance. If there is any discrepancy between the information in this article and the language of your policy/certificate wording, the language of the policy/certificate wording will prevail.