B2 Visa Travelers
Posted By Karthik

Should I Buy Travel Insurance from India or USA?


Travelling to the US? Great. Have you decided on buying travel insurance? Confused about whether you should buy travel insurance from India or USA? Well, this article can help.

According to data published by Statista, approximately 1.17 million visitors travelled to the US from India in 2016 alone. This number is expected to increase to about 1.5 million by 2022. While the numbers are definitely growing, what is encouraging is that Indians are increasingly arming themselves with travel insurance to take care of unexpected situations during their trip.

When you are travelling from India to the US, buying visitor insurance from an India-based insurance company might give you access to a less expensive policy. However, what I have realized is that you might face some issues in purchasing visitor medical insurance in India, which makes it highly beneficial to buy visitor insurance from USA.

Buying Travel Insurance from India vs USA

Competency

India: In India, people often buy travel insurance when they buy their airline tickets. Travel agents who sell overseas travel insurance plan aren’t really trained for their job. Most agents aren’t regulated by government authorities for insurance either. They sometimes aren’t aware of how healthcare in the US works and are unwilling or unable to help you when you get into a problem in the US.

US: To be able to sell insurance in America, a company needs to be licensed as an insurance provider. The broker/agents are required to undergo stringent training, followed by an exam, under the regulation of the department of insurance.

Experience

India: Travel insurance is still a novel concept in India. Private companies selling visitors insurance are relatively new and don’t have enough experience. It might happen that hospitals or doctors in USA do not recognize your insurance and you might be required to pay upfront.

US: Experience is a very important factor is gaining recognition. The longer you are in the business, more people will know you. In the US, most insurance companies have been in business for years now. They know exactly how the US healthcare system works. In addition, insurance companies are rated as A-, A, A+ or A++, which tells you how trustworthy the company is.

PPO Network

India: Not all Indian insurance companies have a PPO network (Preferred Provider Organization), which is a network of hospitals and doctors that are contracted with the insurance company. This can be a good thing, since you can go to any doctor of your choice. But, are you sure any doctor and hospital in the US will consider your visitor insurance without a PPO network? I doubt.

US: In the US, visitors insurance works through a PPO network. During times of emergency, all you need to do is visit a doctor or hospital that is part of this network and your insurance will be recognized instantly. This means that you can get cashless facilities, with the insurer taking care of the expenses. On the other hand, you could visit a doctor or hospital outside the network, but in this case, you will need to pay for all medical costs and be reimbursed by the insurance company later.

In India, companies might not give you an insurance card, which is the first thing receptionists will ask you for when you visit a doctor or hospital in the US.

Due to the above mentioned reasons, most health care providers do not bill Indian insurance company directly and the traveller ends up paying the medical bills upfront, which is can burn a hole in their pocket.


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.

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