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Travel insurance for the USA

We can help you with the main things you need to know about USA travel insurance and documentation before you set off, so you can have a safe and stress-free trip.

Getting travel insurance for your trip to the USA only takes a few minutes. Select ‘Get a quote’ if you’re ready to compare cover, or read on to find out about the different types of travel insurance you can get for the USA.

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Important information

All insurance products exclude cover for known events. These are global events that can put you in danger and/or disrupt travel. The Covid-19 pandemic is an example of this. This exclusion applies if the event was declared as a ‘known event’ when you bought your insurance.

If you travel against Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) advice or fail to comply with your destination’s entry requirements, you won’t be covered by any travel insurance you buy.

The FCDO is currently warning of storms in the southwest parts of the USA, especially around Southern California*. There is a risk of road closures, travel disruption and power outages. Their advice is to follow weather forecasts and guidance from local authorities.

*Correct as of February 2024

Do I need travel insurance for the USA?

Travel insurance isn’t a legal requirement if you're going to the USA. But, it’s worth considering for a number of reasons.

Firstly, travelling to the USA involves long-haul flights, often with connections and layovers on the way. This leaves more opportunity for delays or cancellations that could affect your travel plans. Travel insurance covers you if your holiday is cancelled or affected by unforeseen circumstances.

The USA is also notorious for having extremely high healthcare costs. You could end up with a bill for tens of thousands of dollars should you need medical care. Travel insurance is designed to cover these costs, so it’s worth considering when you book your trip.

Choosing the right policy for your trip

To travel to the USA, you need a worldwide policy including Canada, the USA and Mexico. These policies tend to be more expensive than other types of travel insurance because they’re designed to cover higher medical expenses.

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Single-trip travel insurance

This covers you for 1 trip to a single country. Depending on the insurer, this could be for a month or longer. If you're planning on visiting multiple states in the USA, a single-trip policy should still cover you.

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Annual travel insurance

Sometimes known as multi-trip insurance, this is for people who make multiple trips in a 12-month period. It usually covers you for an unlimited number of trips for the duration of your policy, but each trip is usually limited to 31 days.

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Backpacker travel insurance

This could be useful if you're visiting the USA as part of a wider trip including multiple other countries. These policies cover you between 1 and 18 months and may be ideal for gap year travel or sabbaticals from work.

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Business travel insurance

This is additional cover that you can add to your travel insurance policy. It provides cover for any business equipment, like a laptop, while you're abroad. It can also cover company money that's lost or stolen.

What our travel insurance expert says

"It’s important to consider buying travel insurance for the USA. Along with healthcare costs, you want peace of mind that your holiday is covered for unforeseen circumstances such as flight cancellations and unexpected accommodation changes. This is especially important considering how much more expensive these can be compared to a trip closer to home.

"There’s also the risk of loss, theft or damage of your personal belongings and travel documents to consider."

Matthew Harwood, Home & lifestyle insurance expert at Confused.com
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What does travel insurance for the USA cover?

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Most travel insurance policies cover:

  • Medical expenses and repatriation. If you fall ill or have an accident that requires medical attention, a travel insurance policy can cover these costs. This is especially important in countries like the USA where medical care is very expensive.
  • Lost, stolen or damaged luggage. Travel insurance covers the cost of replacing any clothes, belongings or toiletries if anything happens to them during your trip.
  • Flight cancellations. Travelling to the USA often involves multiple longer flights. If any of these are cancelled, or delays mean you miss other travel arrangements, a travel insurance policy can cover the costs.
  • Cancellation or curtailment. If your trip is delayed or cancelled due to unforeseen circumstances, you should be able to claim the costs back through your insurance.
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Most policies exclude cover for:

  • Extreme sports and activities. Activities like skiing or skydiving aren’t normally covered by standard travel insurance. They typically require a specialist policy.
  • Pre-existing medical conditions. Some insurers cover pre-existing conditions as long as you declare them when you buy insurance. But, some conditions may require a specialist policy.
  • Natural disasters such as wildfires, flooding and cyclones aren’t uncommon in the USA. These types of events are often not covered by travel insurance.
  • Travelling against FCDO advice normally means you can’t get travel insurance, or aren’t covered by existing policies.
  • Incidents relating to drug or alcohol use. Incidents that occur while you’re under the influence are usually not covered by travel insurance.

How much does travel insurance for the USA cost?

The price you pay depends on your personal circumstances. For example, if you have any pre-existing medical conditions, you could see much higher prices. You might also find that the number of insurers who offer you cover is more limited.

Policy type Price
Single-trip travel insurance
£7.051
Couples travel insurance
£29.152
£55.543

1Cheapest policy for 1 week in the USA, 30 year old with no medical conditions

2Cheapest policy for 1 week in the USA, 30 year old couple with no medical conditions

3Cheapest policy for 1 week in the USA, family of 4 with no medical conditions

Medical care in the USA

The Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) doesn’t cover the USA, which makes travel insurance more essential.

It’s worth considering having extra money set aside for any medical expenses you might have to pay while in the USA. Speak to your travel insurance provider before you make any payments. They should cover any costs, but they might advise you to pay while they process your claim.

Before you travel to the USA, TravelHealthPro recommends that most travellers get a tetanus vaccination. Some may also require a rabies vaccination.**

Travel insurance for activities in the USA

It’s important to consider the types of activities you want to do when you buy travel insurance. Not all policies cover all activities, and any you add are likely to come at an added cost, so you should choose a policy that suits your needs.

  • Winter sports insurance covers activities like skiing or snowboarding. This type of insurance is designed to cover the costs of ski trips that are cancelled because of bad weather, piste closures, or lack of snow.
  • Activity travel insurance covers adventurous activities, like hiking or skydiving, that are not normally covered by standard travel insurance.
  • Cruise travel insurance covers missed departures and excursions if you’re cruising around the USA.
  • Golf insurance covers loss, theft or damage of any golfing equipment you take with you on your trip.

Do I need a visa to travel to the USA?

No, if you're travelling from the UK you normally don't need a visa for the USA. This is because the UK is on a list of 40 countries that don’t need an official visa, thanks to the Visa Waiver Program (VWP). But, you do need to apply for an Electronic System for Travel Authorisation (ESTA). This essentially gives you authorisation to enter the USA for up to 90 days in a single trip. It's valid for 2 years (or until your passport expires, whichever occurs first).

It costs £17 to apply for an ESTA*, so make sure you factor this into your travel budget.

You should apply for an ESTA as soon as you book your trip. But it's normally recommended that you apply no less than 72 hours before you depart. You may be denied boarding or entry into the USA if you arrive at the airport without an ESTA.

*Correct as of February 2024

USA travel tips

  • Money: The currency is the US dollar. Debit and credit cards are widely accepted. But it’s best to take a combination of cards and cash. Remember to contact your bank before you travel to avoid any restrictions or blocks on payments while you’re in the USA.
  • Safety: The FCDO warns that there’s a high risk of terrorism in the USA and suggests being vigilant in crowded places, such as transport or public events. They also recommend
  • reading the US Department of Homeland Security’s advice on what to do in an active shooter incident.
    British embassy:
    The British embassy is in Washington D.C. There are also consular services available in major cities such as: Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York and San Francisco.
  • Climate: The climate in the USA varies greatly depending on where you’re travelling to. It can range from tropical weather in states like Hawaii and Florida, to arctic conditions in Alaska. There’s a high risk of extreme weather, including extreme heat, snowstorms, and hurricanes. There’s also a risk of earthquakes, tornadoes, and wildfires.
  • Driving in the USA: You need a full UK driving licence, as well as a 1949 International Driving Permit (IDP) to drive in the USA. Requirements may vary between states. You need to apply for an IDP before you travel outside of the UK. Check road conditions before driving and keep plenty of food and water in your car as some areas are very remote.
  • Time difference: There are 4 time zones in mainland USA: Eastern Standard Time (EST), Central Standard Time (CST), Mountain Standard Time (MST) and Pacific Standard Time (PST). There’s also the Alaska Time Zone and Hawaii-Aleutian Time Zone outside of the mainland.
  • Other information: The national legal age for buying alcohol is 21 in the USA. You should always carry a form of personal ID proving you have permission to enter or remain in the USA. 

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