Golden Gate Bridge in the evening

Best* travel insurance for the USA

Find travel insurance for your trip to the USA with unlimited medical cover.

While the USA is a great holiday destination, it can be very expensive ... especially if things go wrong. Travel insurance can protect you from costs associated with:

  • Lost luggage
  • Cancelled flights
  • Personal liability
  • Missed connections
  • Medical issues

Don't get caught out. Protect yourself with the right travel insurance in these situations. Continue reading this guide to find out more information about travel insurance USA.

Compare travel insurance quotes including policies with unlimited medical expenses cover

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Do I really need travel insurance for the USA?

Travel insurance is worth considering no matter where you’re travelling. After all, an airline is just as likely to lose your baggage in New York as it is in New Delhi. However, there are some other more specific reasons why you might want to take out the *best travel insurance for USA holidays, before heading for the America.

  • Medical bills. Most Australians have heard horror stories about the American healthcare system. Unfortunately, some travellers are under the impression that they are covered by Medicare or their private health insurance while overseas, they are mistaken. Even going to the hospital for a couple of hours in the USA can end up costing you thousands. According to statistics from Smartraveller, medical evacuations can cost on average of between AU$75-$95,000. Travel insurance for the USA can help you cope with the financial strain in situations such as these.
  • Inclement weather. From devastating tornadoes in the Midwest to the wildfires in California, the US is home to some extreme weather, which can cause significant disruptions to travel plans. Having adequate travel insurance for America means can minimise the loss of pre-paid travel costs.
  • Driving on the wrong (right) side of the road. Road trips are a popular activity for many people visiting the US. However, road trips can be dangerous as you are driving on the opposite side of the road, and as such your natural responses are backwards.

How much will it cost me and is it worth it?

When you consider the high cost of health care, having travel insurance with medical benefits is a smart financial move. The average cost of a hospital stay per night in the USA is $751.06**, which is difference of $652.61 from the $98.51 you would pay for a travel insurance policy.

Average costing policy vs the cost of a hospital per night

The average cost of a policy for a two week trip to the USA, is $98.45* for a 21 year old. This policy includes cover for unlimited overseas medical and hospital expenses.

Losses you could also be liable for include

  • Cost of treatment
  • Medication
  • Other non-medical travel expenses e.g. bringing a relative over

*Travel insurance prices last obtained on November 2015. Prices subject to change.

**Cost of hospital bed based on WHO Department of Health Systems Financing (2011) estimates.

How safe is the USA? 10 popular destinations and their safety concerns

The USA features various travel spots that are unique in their own right. These destination however, are not without travel risks.

new-york-pano1. New York City, New York

The city that never sleeps is a must-see travel destination that thrives on the company of visitors. From the Brooklyn Bridge to the Empire State building, prepare to be thrilled by what many consider the 'Concrete Jungle".

Travel risks

  • Crime is a serious problem in some neighbourhoods of Queens and Brooklyn. Stay in the good areas.
  • Keep an eye out for scammers such as unlicensed taxis.
  • There is an increased risk of suffering personal injury when exploring a fast-paced, frenetic and crowded city.

2. Los Angeles, California

From the bright lights of Hollywood to the eccentric vibe of Venice Beach, there’s a whole lot to see in LA.

Travel risks

  • LA has plenty of high-crime areas that are unsafe for tourists, such as Compton.
  • Poor air quality
  • Huge freeway traffic jams
  • Ever-present risk of earthquakes

3. Chicago, Illinois

The Windy City features powerful culture, history and some fantastic dining.

Travel risks

  • The Windy City has its fair share of dodgy neighbourhoods you’d be well advised to stay away from, including the South Side.
  • Keep an eye out for beggars and scammers around major tourist attractions.
  • Watch out for thieves targeting your baggage and personal belongings while on the train.
  • Unpredictable weather (including snow in spring) that can wreak havoc on travel plans.

4. Washington, D.C.

Visiting the White House and some of the other most important sites in American history is enough to attract travellers from far and wide.

Travel risks

  • Keep in mind that Americans take security around government buildings very seriously.
  • Make sure you following security guidelines at all times.
  • Roadblocks and detours (for the motorcades of politicians and visiting dignitaries) can cause travel delays.

5. Las Vegas, Nevada

This is the land of extravagance, extreme highs and extreme lows.

Travel risks

  • Vegas has its share of drug-related crime, so be aware of your personal safety, particularly at night,
  • Heat waves in summer are extreme and frequent.
  • Be wary of the fact that enjoying a big win might make you a potential target for pickpockets.

6. San Francisco, California

The majestic Golden Gate Bridge, picturesque Yosemite National Park and famous clam chowder makes visiting San Francisco an item on every traveller's bucket list

Travel risks

  • Make sure to be wary of beggars and scammers at tourist spots.
  • Earthquakes are a common occurrence in the Bay area, and it’s a potential cause of travel delays.
  • Some locals are not so welcoming of Australians. The disconnect between lower income locals and the wave of foreigners capitalising on the expanding tech scene may displace locals against you.

7. Hawaii

Journey to the birth place of surfing and visit volcanic sites.

Travel risks

  • Make sure you’re a competent swimmer. Water safety is a major concern for many travellers.
  • Be aware of petty crime.
  • There is potential for travel disruption posed by volcanic activity.

8. Grand Canyon, Arizona

The Grand Canyon is a break taking sight that makes it a must-see spot in the States.

Travel risks

  • Make sure to enjoy the canyon from behind any safety railings. Falls can be fatal.
  • The terrain of the Grand Canyon should not be taken lightly.
  • Travellers should make sure not to embark on any hikes or treks beyond their physical capabilities.

9. New Orleans, Louisiana

The Big Easy has a reputation as a soulful city, one that is home to the lively French quarter and delicious creole cuisine.

Travel risks

  • Crime is a high possibility in New Orleans, where many impoverished locals are still finding their feet after Hurricane Katrina. Be careful, especially at night.
  • Extreme weather events are a possibility in this part of the world.

10. Florida

Disneyland, the climate and the beaches attract tourists to Florida from all over the world

Travel risks

  • Be aware of the potential for extreme weather conditions that could disrupt your travel plans.

Which policy is right for me?

When taking out travel insurance for the USA, you can generally choose from single, couple, family or group cover. As well as choosing between no-frills policies and comprehensive policies. The *best travel insurance for USA travel really depends on what you're looking for and your travel needs.

  • Single trip travel insurance. Single trip USA travel insurance covers one trip and one trip only. It is a standard travel insurance policy.
  • Annual travel insurance. Do you travel overseas regularly? If so, an annual travel insurance policy might be right for you. Annual travel insurance provides all of the benefits of a single trip policy but remains in effect for a 12 month period. It's also cheaper than buying multiple policies throughout the year, not to mention a time saver. Use our quote engine to calculate how much an annual policy would cost you and see if that is less than a bunch of single trip policies.
  • Group travel insurance. Group policies normally cover trips such as tours or school trips where a group of travellers are going on a holiday together.
  • Family travel insurance. A family policy covers you and the members of your family who are travelling with you.

What exactly can travel insurance cover me for in the USA?

Travel insurance for you holiday to the states can offer you the following benefits for protection in case anything happens to you:

  • Medical emergencies. If you suffer a medical emergency overseas, your policy may cover:
  • Ambulance transportation
  • Medical evacuation
  • Medical and hospital costs
  • Emergency dental expenses

If you need to be medically repatriated back to Australia, many policies provide cover for this as well.

  • Hospitals cash allowance. Hospital cash allowance is different to overseas medical expenses protection. Hospital cash allowance provides you with a daily allowance so you can pay for things like phone calls home and food.
  • Personal liability. Your USA travel insurance covers your legal liability in situations where you are liable for bodily injury or property damage to a third party. Some basic policies end their level of cover there.
  • Lost cancellation fees and lost deposits. If unforeseen circumstances such as losing your job or the death of a family force you to cut your trip short or cancel it altogether, this type of cover can help you with cancellation fees or prepaid deposits which you are unable to recover. Most of the *best travel insurance for USA policies have this feature.
  • Luggage delay's. If a travel provider misplaces your luggage for an extended period of time, you’ll receive the funds you need to buy emergency clothing and toiletries.
  • Luggage and personal effects for lost and stolen luggage. If your luggage and personal belongings are lost, stolen or damaged, you’ll be reimbursed for the cost of their repair or replacement.
  • Delays. If your journey is disrupted due to circumstances beyond your control, you’ll receive a benefit payment to cover the costs of additional meals and accommodation expenses.
  • Accidental death benefit. Your loved ones will receive a benefit if you die as a result of an injury sustained during your journey.
  • Stolen credit cards. If your credit cards are lost or stolen on your holiday, you’ll be covered for the cost of their replacement and for any loss you suffer due to their fraudulent use.
  • Lost travel documents. If your passport or important travel documents are lost or stolen, you’ll be covered for the cost of their replacement.
  • Alternative transport expenses. If unforeseen circumstances delay your trip and mean you’re be unable to arrive to a pre-arranged event (for example a wedding) on time, you’ll be covered for the cost of alternative transport expenses.
  • Rental vehicle excess. If your rental car is involved in an accident, stolen or damaged, your policy covers the cost of the rental company’s insurance excess.

Activities you might need additional cover for in the USA

Getting the *best travel insurance for USA really depends on the holiday you have planned. If you are planning on engaging in activities not normally covered by travel insurance USA, you may wish to add one or more optional covers to your policy for an extra cost. These cover options include:

    • Golf insurance. If you’re planning a golfing getaway to some of the top courses in the US, this could be the ideal cover for you. This includes cover for the loss, theft or damage of golf equipment that either own or decide to hire. If accidental injury or sickness mean you are unable to play, the cost of your unused green fees are covered as well.
    • Ski insurance. If you're planning a ski holiday in Colorado the you'll need ski insurance. Ski insurance covers:
  • medical expenses
  • emergency medical rescue
  • hire equipment if you ski gear is lost or damaged
  • loss or damage to your own or hired equipment
  • reimbursement for unused ski passes
  • piste closure
  • alternate accommodation due to piste closure.
  • Cruise insurance. Cruise travel insurance for the USA is specialist cover if you are planning on spending any part of your trip in open waters. It covers you for both medial treatment and evacuation should you experience an illness or injury on the cruise.

I'm renting a car in the USA, am I covered?

Cars If you rent a car in the USA, travel insurance can cover you in the following ways:

  1. Rental excess charges
  2. The cost of returning your rental vehicle to the company if you are unable to drive

Make sure your policy has rental excess cover

While the company you're hiring the car from will offer you insurance for third-party and motor damage, you will be charged the cost of the excess if the car is damaged, stolen or involved in an accident. Make sure you compare travel insurance policies with rental excess cover.

I paid for my trip with my credit card, can I use the free travel insurance?

Some credit cards will offer complimentary travel insurance if you pay for your trip with the card. Although this may sound enticing, you should be aware of the limitations of free credit card travel insurance. Some of the drawbacks include:

  • A cap on some benefits including overseas medical cover. Adequate medical cover is vital in the USA, something which credit card travel insurance may not be able to meet.
  • Exclusions for some adventure activities. Skiing and snowboarding activities are usually excluded.
  • High excess charges. Some credit travel insurance policies can charge up to $500 in excess when you make a claim

The dos and don'ts of buying travel insurance

  • Do compare travel insurance policies. Side-by-side comparisons is a great way of comparing travel insurance for the USA. By using’s comparison tool, you can get a quote in seconds and compare what you are getting for your money.
  • Don't buy your cover from a travel agent without considering excess charges. If you want the best travel insurance deal for USA travel, you must be aware of price mark-up's by travel agents. Policies are generally upwards of 30% more expensive than going direct to the insurer.
  • Do read the PDS.When comparing policies, take the time to understand the intricacies of the products, its features and exclusions. Ignorance may be bliss, but it'll cost you.
  • Don't buy the first policy.To get a good idea of how much you should be paying, you need compare a range of travel insurance USA policies.

Find the out the best way of taking your travel money to the USA

Remember to declare your pre-existing medical conditions

Pre-existing medical conditions

When applying for travel insurance for your trip to the USA, it’s essential that you disclose any pre-existing medical conditions you have. If you fail to do so and a pre-existing condition results in a claim, your insurer will most likely refuse your claim.

Don’t assume your condition is covered

Every year, you'll hear cases of travellers who have piled up huge medical bill in the USA and find themselves uncovered for a pre-existing medical condition. Check with your insurer to determine whether or not cover is available. Some conditions, such as diabetes or allergies, are automatically covered, while certain pre-existing conditions can be covered after assessing your individual circumstances. Other pre-existing conditions will simply be excluded from cover. If you assume that your condition will be covered and you are hospitalised overseas, the cost to you could be substantial. When you consider that it costs more than $750 to spend just one night in a US hospital, the importance of being upfront and honest with your insurer about your medical situation becomes very clear.

Flying to the USA

More informationDetails
Average flight time to the USA
  • 19 hours and 26 minutes
Which airlines can I take to the USA?
  • Air France
  • Air Canada
  • Alaska Airlines
  • AirAsia X
  • Delta Air Lines
  • American Airlines
  • Qantas
  • Jetstar
  • Virgin
  • United

USA entry requirements

Entry requirements for visitors to the USA are quite strict, so it’s important that you’re fully aware of all the relevant criteria you must satisfy before leaving home. Business and leisure travellers who wish to stay for less than 90 days can be admitted under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) on the Electronic System for Travel Authorisation (ESTA). All Australian passport holders need to apply for an ESTA before visiting the United States, preferably at least 72 hours before they depart for the United States.

How much does it cost?

The ESTA costs USD$14, and you can apply online. Travellers who do not have an ESTA before travelling may not be allowed to board their flight or may experience delayed processing or be denied entry to the United States. Make sure you apply early as travel insurance usually won’t cover you for cancellations that arise due to your visa not being processed in time.

Laws you must follow in the USA

While there are many similarities between the laws in Australia and the United States, a key difference you should be aware of is the difference in laws between different states. For example, while the federal legal drinking age in the US is 21, other laws such as gun ownership can differ substantially between states.

  • Some medications that are able to be purchased in Australia without a prescription may require you to get a prescription in the United States.
  • If you’re travelling in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona or southern California, whether by car or on public transport, don’t be surprised to have your passport and visa checked by local authorities.
  • If you are on the road, regularly remind yourself that Americans drive on the right-hand side of the road, not the left.
  • Be careful when it comes to the subject of marijuana. While the sale and possession of marijuana for medical and non-medical use is legal in states like Colorado and Washington, its use is illegal in many other states.

Who do I contact in an emergency?

If you find yourself in an emergency in the USA, some of helpful contacts include:

    • Your travel insurer. Your travel insurance brand will have an 24/7 helpline for claims and medical emergencies.
    • National emergency hotline. You can reach this service by dialing 911.
    • Australian Embassies and Consulates. You can find the contact details of Australian Embassies and Consulates in the USA below.

I have some more questions about the USA and insurance

Can I buy travel insurance for America from my travel agent?

No, this is not a good idea because travel agents add a hefty commission to the price of the policies they sell. You can save yourself a whole lot of money by purchasing a policy direct from an insurer.

How do I choose a policy?

Consider the trip you have planned — where you’re going, what you’re doing and how long you’re going for. Then think about whether you want budget cover to protect you in worst case scenarios or if you want comprehensive cover against a broad range of risks.

Can I get cover for my pre-existing medical conditions?

The exact treatment of pre-existing conditions differs between insurance providers. While some allow you to take out cover for certain conditions, others exclude all pre-existing medical problems from your policy. Speak to your insurer for more information.

Does my winter sports policy cover me on a black run?

Check the fine print before you travel but yes, typically policies cover you on any run within a ski resort that is deemed safe.

Find travel insurance for your trip to the States

Regardless of how young or old you are, getting the *best travel insurance for USA holidays is a must. It’ll offer the financial protection you need to enjoy a fun and safe holiday, ensuring you don’t end up out of pocket if something goes wrong. In order to ensure you end up with the right level of cover for your needs, do plenty of research and shop around for a good deal.

Compare the *best travel insurance for USA

**Price based on quote for basic policy for a 2 day trip for 18 year old traveller to the USA. Please note that prices are subject to change.

*Disclaimer: The offers compared on this page are chosen from a range of products has access to track details from and is not representative of all the products available in the market. Products are displayed in no particular order or ranking. The use of terms 'Best' and 'Top' are not product ratings and are subject to our disclaimer. You should consider seeking independent financial advice and consider your personal financial circumstances when comparing products.
Picture: Shutterstock

Richard Laycock

Richard is the insurance editor at He is on a mission to make insurance easier to understand.

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2 Responses

  1. Default Gravatar
    SashOctober 2, 2016

    Looking for a quote for Fiji citizen travellers to USA

    • Staff
      RichardOctober 4, 2016Staff

      Hi Sash,

      Thanks for getting in touch. The travel insurance brands in the do offer travel insurance to some non-Australia residents depending on their circumstance. Please head over to our travel insurance for non-residents article to review these conditions.

      All the best,

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