Do I Need Travel Insurance for the USA?

antoine fruchard Antoine Fruchard  updated on September 19, 2020

Just like 3,8 millions Brits each year, you’re planning a super exciting trip to the USA?

But have you ever found yourself in a situation where you had to get emergency treatment abroad in one of the most expensive medical care system in the world?

Hence, you’re probably wondering how to find the best travel insurance for visiting the USA.

In the below ultimate guide for travelling from the UK to the United States, we will tell you everything you need to know about travel insurance for your trip: is it compulsory, what key features should you pay attention to, how much does it cost, what are the driving requirements and what are the emergency contact details you need to know in the USA? Let’s get started.

Why do I need travel insurance for the USA?

Imagine you are involved in a car accident during your trip and you have to face significant healthcare expenses.

Medical care in the USA are among the most expensive cares in the world. A surgery for stomach bug with repatriation to UK may cost you – as tourist with no US healthcare insurance – around £100 000 (and around £30 000 for a few days stay at the hospital without repatriation).

Unfortunately, it happens much more often than we think (especially in the US where distances are huge), and it could leave you with significant medical costs to pay out of your pocket if you didn’t apply for travel insurance before leaving.

Here is a list of the most common unexpected costs arising during people’s trips:

What if….How much does it cost on average in the USA?How much will you have to pay without travel insurance?How much will you have to pay with travel insurance?
You need air rescue£29 000£29 000£0 until medical expense limit is reached
You need to stay a few days at the hospital£30 000£30 000£0 until medical expense limit is reached
You need a surgery for stomach bug with repatriation to UK£100 000£100 000£0 until medical expense limit is reached
You need dental care£2000£2000£0 – if planned in policy
Your baggage has been lost at the airport£780£780£0
Someone stole your money£200£200£0 until limit is reached
Fees self-paid or not depending on travel insurance

For as cheap as a few pounds per day, “Comprehensive Travel Insurance” is a contract which fully covers you for your trip to the USA.

Travel insurance is not mandatory for anyone holding a valid UK passport but is, however, absolutely necessary. It is one of the highest value-for-money insurance products to consider as it gives you complete peace of mind. Comprehensive travel insurance is here to provide you with both financial compensation as well as assistance during your trip.

What are the best travel insurance policies for the USA?

How can you choose between the plethora of travel insurance policies on offer and find the least expensive policy? Many insurers, even some small ones, offer very good value for money deals.

We’ve come up with a selection of small and big actors offering tempting deals. Among them you’ll find:

Travel insurerTravel insurance priceOur reviewsSee insurer offer
logo world firstFrom £31,12
  • Provides all travel insurance types with 4 levels of cover (all rated 5 stars by Defaqto): Standard, Premier, Exclusive, Superior
  • 4,8/5 on TrustPilot (very good customer care according to reviews)
  • Offers dedicated family travel insurance
  • No credit or debit card fees guarantee
  • Possibility to apply for travel insurance 12 months in advance
  • UK-based customer service and claim team
  • Reimburse within 14 days
Get quote
logo js travel insuranceFrom £32,14
  • Provides cover for up to 75 years old for a single trip
  • Offers cover for 500 different sports
  • Provides all travel insurance types with 3 levels of cover: Silver, Gold and Platinum
  • Medical compensation range is £5M – £10M
  • Also provides cover for cruise and winter sports
  • Up to £500 laptop cover
Get quote
logo explorer travel insuranceFrom £34,56
  • 4,58/5 rate on Reviews
  • Provides all types of travel insurance with 2 level of protection: Gold and GoldPlus
  • Medical compensation for up to 85 years old
  • Dedicated customer service according to reviews
Get quote
logo travel insurance 4 medicalFrom £36,18
  • 4,8/5 consumers reviews rate on TrustPilot / 5 stars on Defaqto
  • Specialist insurer providing full cover for up to 1000 medical conditions (including Alzheimer’s, HIV, cancer etc.)
  • Includes cover for pregnant womenUK based-call center
  • Provides all travel insurance types with 3 level of protection
  • Medical compensation limit minimum is £3MAlso provides cover for cruise and winter sports
Get quote
Travel Insurance for the USA comparison

*Quotes above are for a 30 years old person applying for a one week trip to the USA travel insurance.

Even better, use our comparison tool to find the best deal for you! At Safe, we’ve checked out hundreds of travel insurance providers and we are now able to allow you to compare dozens of holiday insurance deals in only a few seconds without giving any personal details.

Always remember to check limits and excess amounts, maximum number of days per trip and exclusions in insurer’s policy terms and conditions booklet. 

Which travel insurance type do I need for the USA?

You can apply for different insurance types depending on your type of trip, from frequent luxury or business travel to cheap holidays to the USA.

The most common ones are: 

Travel insurance typeExplanationMain features
Single trip insuranceThese travel insurance policies are for one-off holidays. You will be covered from the start of the journey until the end. You can decide the number of days you want to be covered for. Covers for the period of the stay.
Annual multi-trip insuranceThese policies are made for frequent travellers going away for holidays, business trips or for any other reason several times a year. You would need to check whether it is more competitive to buy two or three single trip insurance policies or an annual multi-trip policy.
You can most often choose between a worldwide, worldwide excluding the USA, Caribbean and Canada or Europe travel plan.  
Covers for a period of 12 monthLength of each trip usually limited to 31 days (but can vary from 10 days to 90)/
Sometimes there is an age limit (66 years old on average).
Long stay and gap year insuranceThese plans are made for students or any british resident wanting to explore the world, including for backpacking,  gap year trips or for any other long stay reason.Usually covers periods between 90 days for up to 18 months.
For gap year trips,, there might be some age restrictions (from 16 to 45 only, for example).
Types of travel insurance for your trip to the USA

What are the must-have features for travel insurance? 

Each travel insurance policy is different, since it is the insurer who determines the content of the contracts it offers: guarantees, compensation limits, deductibles, travel insurance prices, etc. 

However, all contracts on the market must include at least the following guarantees, applicable in the USA abroad:

  • Medical expenses: compensation by the insurer for your health expenses during your stay (consultation, analysis, emergency treatment, longer hospital stay, etc.).
  • Repatriation assistance to the UK: financial and logistical support by a dedicated 24/7 team for your early return to your country of residence if it proves necessary. 
  • Trip cancellation and cover for delayed or missed departure: compensation if you need to cancel your trip for whatever reason or if you missed your departure.
  • Personal liability: compensation for any damage or injury made to a third-party (consider adding it as extra if not included in standard cover).
  • Baggage: compensation for any lost or theft of baggage while travelling(consider adding it as extra if not included in standard cover).

Most of the time, travel insurers offer different formulas. Cover types involved are usually the same, but the compensation limits and deductibles vary. 

Main guaranteesCover you should get for your travels to the USAMin – max limit amount you should get for your trip to the USAGood to check
Medical travel insurance
  • Any emergency transport, medical procedures and treatments at the hospital
  • 24/7 assistance team and helplines
Average £1 million limitAre private or public hospitals included in your policy?
Will there be advance fees?
If you haven’t declared any pre-existing medical conditions or a pending diagnosis, any claim related to healthcare will be declared as invalidated by your insurer.
Are dental emergency treatments included?
Will any “accompanying person” fees be reimbursed?
Trip cancellation / curtailment
  • Illness, injury or even death of you or one of your relatives at the time of departure
  • Very bad weather conditions at your destination
  • Terrorist attack at your destination
Minimum £2000 limitIs it included as standard or as an option?
Will you get compensation if you cancel your trip for “all justified reasons”?
Which reasons exactly are included to get compensation for your trip cancellation?
Baggage 
  • Compensation for baggage and belongings theft or loss up to the limit known
  • No receipt required
Minimum £1500 limitIs it only valid during return transport or during the entire stay?
Do you need the receipts for any belongings for baggage claims?
Missed departure, delay Compensation if you miss your flight or train when it is beyond your control or if your journey is delayedMinimum £500 limit (minimum £200 limit for delay)Are all justified reasons for missed departure covered? 
How many hours delay to get compensation?
RepatriationCost of repatriation before or after your original ticketReal feesIs any transportation mode included (by alternative schedule flight or by air ambulance)?
Personal liabilityCompensation for any damage or injury made to a third-party during your trip up to the limit knownAverage £2 million limit What is the limit by article and valuables (don’t focus on overall limit only)?
Legal expensesLegal fees for claiming compensation to another personAverage £15000 limitDoes it cover any lawyer fees (including appointment fees)?
Must-have features of your travel insurance to the USA

Always keep in mind that the USA have among the most expensive medical care system in the world. Be sure to get the right medical expenses compensation limit while applying for travel insurance.

What are the nice-to-have features for travel insurance?

Main guaranteesCover you should get for your trip to the USAMin – max limit amount you should get for your trip to the USAGood to check
Money and cashCovers for loss or theft of money or equivalent such as chequesMinimum £500 for money (pre-paid tickets, travellers cheque etc.)

Minimum £200 for cash
How long can you make a claim to the police to be covered? 
Is there a 24-hour claim limit?
Dental emergency Covers for emergency dental careMinimum £250What is included in emergency dental care? 
Cosmetic will most of the time be excluded
Loss of passport or documentationCovers additional fees such as accomodation or travel replacement as a result of loss of documentationMinimum £250How many nights are covered?
Do you need receipts of any additional fees incurred?
Nice-to-have features for your travel insurance to the USA

Which upgrades could you add as extras for your travel insurance?

Additionally, you may tailor your policy for your trip to the USA with optional extras such as:

  • Business trip cover
  • Sport, winter sport, extreme sport cover
  • Schedule Airline Failure (at least £1500 covered)
  • Gadget insurance
  • Cruise cover
  • Etc. 

What does your travel insurance to the USA not cover?

Most travel insurers will not give financial compensation for: 

  • Any claim made as a result of pre-medical condition or pending diagnosis undeclared at the time of purchase
  • Any claim made as a result of you being under drugs or alcohol
  • Difficulties due to natural disaster, war, civil unrest (watch out for strikes)
  • Any claim made as a result of a terrorist attack (except if you took this cover as an option)
  • Pregnancy and childbirth complications during travel.

We would advise you to thoroughly check your policy booklet for the main exclusions before leaving home. 

What else should you pay attention to while shopping around for travel insurance for the USA?

While shopping around for travel insurance for your trip to the United States, always pay attention to:

  • The compensation amounts you will get for a claim by consulting our up-to-date reviews on each insurer (especially for medical expenses, trip cancellation, personal liability, baggage and personal belongings)
  • The deductible amounts you’ll have to pay in case of claim (don’t forget that you’ll need to pay the excess on each claim)
  • The exclusions you may have in your policy (strike, cancellation trip due to the carrier defaulting etc.)
  • Coverages included in policies or available as upgrades (winter sports, business trip etc.)
  • The claim process (100% online? How many days do you have to make a claim?)
  • The maximum duration of each trip included as standard (at least 31 days)
  • The upper age limit (if you are a senior travelling).

How much is travel insurance to the United States?

For example, the table below gives you indicative quotes for travel insurance policy for the USA.

AgeWorldwide cover (incl.USA) – single trip policy*Worldwide cover (incl. USA) – annual multi-trip policy*
18 – 35From £31,12From £45,97
36 – 50From £37,85From £53,42
51 – 64From £41,54From £61,16
65+From £54,74From £100,84
Average cost of travel insurance for the USA depending on age range and travel policy

*Those quotes are for an individual travelling with no pre-existing medical record. Single trip quotes are for a 7 days travel.

It is, however, quite difficult to give precise ranges of how much a travel insurance will cost you for the USA, as prices are based on a wide range of criteria. It will mainly depend on:

  • If you’re going for a single or annual multi-trip as mentioned above
  • If you’re subscribing to upgrades such as cruise, business or gadget cover
  • If you have pre-existing medical conditions 
  • The length of your stay in the USA
  • If you’re travelling alone, with your partner, a group or your family
  • The financial limits you’d like to get in case of a claim
  • The excess amount you’re willing to pay
  • What will you be doing in the USA (e.g. winter or extreme sports)?

You could get as cheap as £10 for a 7 days trip depending on your medical condition, your age, and if you go for an economic contract. Check out most affordable premiums on our comparator.

Is travel insurance for the USA mandatory?

No, travel insurance is not a legal requirement to enter the american soil.

However, medical care costs in the USA can be prohibitive and you may not want to face those kind of expenses if, as a tourist, you are not covered by any health insurance contract in the USA.

We strongly advise you to go for a travel insurance especially if you are travelling to the USA, and to carefully check medical expenses compensation amounts.

Do I need a visa for the USA?

No. As a british citizen tourist, you will not need to apply for a US visa as long as:

  • you have a British Passport;
  • you will stay in the USA for a total duration of 90 days maximum.

With the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) in the USA, you are, as a british citizen, allowed to enter the american soil without a visa for a period of 90 days. You will only be asked to register for an ESTA (Electronic System Travel Authorization) at least 72 hours in advance to avoid any problem. Your ESTA form will be valid for a period of 2 years as long as your passport remains valid.

If you aim to stay for more than 90 days in the USA, you will need to apply for the corresponding visa.

Do I need a passport to go to the USA?

Yes, you need a valid UK passport to enter the american territory.

What else should I know before travelling to the United States?

Is the USA safe to visit?

This is what the Foreign Travel Office writes about the USA:

Around 3.8 million British nationals visit the USA every year. Most visits are trouble free. Take out comprehensive travel and medical insurance before you travel.

On 7 January 2020, a magnitude 6.4 earthquake struck around 10 kilometres off the coast of Puerto Rico. Although the aftershocks have subsided, there remains structural damage in the south-west of the island. If you’re in this area, you should exercise caution if travelling by road to Ponce and the south-west coast.

Snow storms during winter can cause delays and cancellations throughout the major airline hubs in the USA.

You will need to get a visa or an Electronic System for Travel Authorisation (ESTA) visa waiver to enter or transit the USA as a visitor. Restrictions apply depending on the type of passport you hold, your nationality, criminal history, and countries you may have recently visited.

Terrorists are very likely to try to carry out attacks in the USA. Attacks could be indiscriminate, including in places visited by foreigners. You should monitor media reports and remain vigilant at all times.

You should be alert to the dangers of car and street crime.

The Atlantic hurricane season normally runs from 1 June to 30 November. The Pacific hurricane season runs from 15 May to 30 November. Forest and brush fires (wildfires) are a danger in many dry areas.

If you’re abroad and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the nearest British embassy, consulate or high commission.

How to drive a car in the USA?

To be able to drive and rent a car in the USA you will only need:

  • a valid UK passport;
  • a full UK driving licence held for over a year.

Except in Georgia, the only state where you will need to show an International Driving Licence together with a biometric passport.

Healthcare in the USA for british citizens?

Around 3,8 million brits travel to the USA every year. British people are not, in any case, covered by the UK National Health System nor by the EHIC card while they are travelling to the UK.

The USA medical care are very expensive and a few days stay at the hospital could easily cost ten of thousands of dollars. This is why we definitely advise you to get covered for any medical expense you may face while travelling to the USA by getting the appropriate travel insurance for your trip.

As a tourist with limited stay on the american soil, the best option to be covered in case you have injury or sudden illness in the USA is to apply for a travel insurance with significant medical expenses compensation limits.

How to contact the British Embassy in the USA?

Depending on where you are located, you can contact:  

British Embassy Washington
AddressBritish Embassy Washington
3100 Massachusetts Avenue, NW
Washington DC 20008
USA
Phone (if you’re in the USA)+1 202 588 6500
9am to 4pm Monday to Friday (excluding public holidays)
Except for emergency situations 24/7
Phone (if you’re in the UK)020 7008 1500
British embassy contact details in Washington
British Consulate Atlanta
AddressBritish Consulate General Atlanta
133 Peachtree Street, NE
Suite 3400
Atlanta GA 30303
USA
Phone (if you’re in the USA)+1 404 954 7700
9am to 4pm Monday to Friday (excluding public holidays)
Except for emergency situations 24/7
Phone (if you’re in the UK)020 7008 1500
British embassy contact details in Washington
British Consulate Boston
AddressBritish Consulate General Boston
One Broadway
Cambridge MA 02142
USA
Phone (if you’re in the USA)+1 617 245 4500
9am to 4pm Monday to Friday (excluding public holidays)
Except for emergency situations 24/7
Phone (if you’re in the UK)020 7008 1500
British embassy contact details in Washington
British Consulate Boston
AddressBritish Consulate General Boston
One Broadway
Cambridge MA 02142
USA
Phone (if you’re in the USA)+1 617 245 4500
9am to 4pm Monday to Friday (excluding public holidays)
Except for emergency situations 24/7
Phone (if you’re in the UK)020 7008 1500
British embassy contact details in Washington
British Consulate Chicago
AddressBritish Consulate General Chicago
625 N Michigan Avenue, Suite 2200
Chicago IL 60611
USA
Phone (if you’re in the USA)+1 312 970 3800
9am to 4pm Monday to Friday (excluding public holidays)
Except for emergency situations 24/7
Phone (if you’re in the UK)020 7008 1500
British embassy contact details in Washington
British Consulate Houston
AddressBritish Consulate General Houston
1301 Fannin Street
Suite 2400
Houston TX 77002
USA
Phone (if you’re in the USA)+1 713 210 4000
9am to 4pm Monday to Friday (excluding public holidays)
Except for emergency situations 24/7
Phone (if you’re in the UK)020 7008 1500
British embassy contact details in Washington
British Consulate Miami
AddressBritish Consulate General Miami
1001 Brickell Bay Drive
Miami FL 33131
USA
Phone (if you’re in the USA)+1 305 400 6400
9am to 4pm Monday to Friday (excluding public holidays)
Except for emergency situations 24/7
Phone (if you’re in the UK)020 7008 1500
British embassy contact details in Washington
British Consulate New-York City
AddressBritish Consulate General New York
1 Dag Hammarskjold Plaza,
885 Second Avenue
New York City NY 10017-6927
USA
Phone (if you’re in the USA)+1 212 745 0200
9am to 4pm Monday to Friday (excluding public holidays)
Except for emergency situations 24/7
Phone (if you’re in the UK)020 7008 1500
British embassy contact details in Washington
British Consulate San Francisco
AddressBritish Consulate General San Francisco
1 Sansome Street, Suite 850
San Francisco CA 94104
USA
Phone (if you’re in the USA)+1 415 617 1300
9am to 4pm Monday to Friday (excluding public holidays)
Except for emergency situations 24/7
Phone (if you’re in the UK)020 7008 1500
British embassy contact details in Washington
British Consulate Los Angeles
AddressBritish Consulate General Los Angeles
2029 Century Park East, Suite 1350
Los Angeles CA 90067
USA
Phone (if you’re in the USA)+1 310 789 0031
9am to 4pm Monday to Friday (excluding public holidays)
Except for emergency situations 24/7
Phone (if you’re in the UK)020 7008 1500
British embassy contact details in Washington