Travel Insurance

Is it Mandatory to Have Travel Insurance for USA?


(Last Updated On: December 22, 2018)

Many people who travel to the US for the first time on a tourist visa, face the dilemma of whether to get a travel insurance or not. If you ask whether it is mandatory, the answer is no. There is no compulsion for you to have travel insurance, unless you are applying for a J1, H1 or F1 visa, all of which require a person to get US health insurance coverage.

But you will certainly be wise to get travel insurance for a lot of reasons.

The US Healthcare System is Expensive

Emergencies can happen at any time and travel insurance helps you avoid unexpected costs. The cost of medical treatment and doctor’s fees is very high in USA, despite the nation having the best doctors and infrastructure in the world. Spending a night in a US hospital could cost you around $751 on average, according to an article on Finder. A comprehensive travel insurance package can cover such expenses. It can also provide assistance in finding a good hospital or clinic, since major insurers always have ties with such facilities in US. Some packages also cover ambulance fees, along with in-patient and outpatient treatment expenses.

Need for OTC Medicines

We often buy medicines over-the-counter in our day-to-day lives, which do not require a doctor’s prescription. When you are travelling to the US, you can indeed carry them with you, along with a valid doctor’s prescription and report. But, if you fail to do so, and you are in dire need of any medication, you might have to pay exorbitant doctor fees to procure them. The medicine you need might not be available over-the-counter in the US. A travel insurance policy can help you in this regard too.

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Baggage Loss and Other Emergencies

When travelling abroad, always be prepared for the unexpected. This doesn’t only pertain to health issues, but other incidents like baggage loss, missed flights, bad weather, accidents and injuries resulting in emergency medical evacuation, that can affect your travel plans and cause significant financial losses. Travel insurance can aid in repatriation of remains, if such a situation arises. It can provide for expenses like accommodation for travelling companions and food costs.

Visa Requirements and Other Reasons

The consular officer at the US Embassy or Consulate will want to make sure that you do not become a financial burden on the US tax payer. Consider the fact that millions of tourists visit America every year, and the list of emergencies is long. While it is not mandatory to have travel insurance, it is worth considering that they might deem it inappropriate to travel without one.

This is particularly applicable for senior citizens. When passing through the US Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) for security screening at the US airport, they might want to see proper travel insurance documents for elderly people, who they think are likely suffer a medical emergency.

On a vacation, you want to ensure peace of mind. Travel insurance can surely provide you with that.


Having lived in 3+ countries, worked for companies small and big in USA, Middle East & India, I have a lot of stories to share about international travel, immigration and living as an NRI in the US. Add me on WhatsApp if you have any queries (+001-408-489-4785)