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G1G Travel Insurance - Medical, Trip Protection, and Visitor Insurance

Visitor Medical Coverage 101

By [email protected] July 7th, 2015

What is Visitor’s Insurance?

Visitor Insurance refers to Visitor Medical Coverage for non-U.S.A. citizens traveling to the United States for short-term or long-term travel. Popular among relatives visiting family, Visitor Insurance is a sure fire way to financially and medically protect visiting parents and relatives during their stay in the U.S. While the United States' healthcare system provides excellent treatment and care, receiving affordable access to that treatment is next to impossible without the right Visitor Medical Insurance. Additionally, while the treatment and care are exceptional in the U.S., medical costs are the highest in the world, and could leave you with a hefty bill.

Visitor Insurance can go a long way in safeguarding your visiting family or friends by providing excellent and affordable health coverage. Visitor Insurance covers most medical emergencies and offers financial protection against illness or injury, as well as trip protection coverage to safeguard flight reservations or accommodations. 

The question isn't, 'should I get Visitor Insurance' for my visiting relative, rather, 'which one should I get them?' A question we will help you answer in the following article. Or, simply navigate back to the homepage, answer four simple questions, and select from the carefully curated policies we have selected for you. Though, we recommend you read this first.

Visitor Insurance, like any other kind of Travel Medical Insurance, offsets (or absorbs) the cost of care and treatment. The amount you pay for insurance depends on the type of policy you purchase, as well as, a few other factors, such as the age of the insured and the duration of their trip.

To buy a policy, you need to have a little bit of information ready. Whether you’re buying for a friend or a relative, have the insured's full name, passport number, and date of birth on hand. You’ll also be asked to specify a plan’s start and end date. There are, however, a few things to keep in mind about dates. If you’re buying a Fixed Benefit Plan (more on those in a little bit), the start date should be the day the insured arrives in the U.S. since in-flight benefits do not apply.

Comprehensive Coverage Plans(more on these in a bit) include international coverage, providing benefits to and from the destination. Since these plans include various Trip Protections, choose a start date that includes the day the insured boards the plane. Often, these plans can be activated during the travel period as well, so if you forget to purchase before the departure date, it might not be too late to get a policy. If you’re buying insurance for someone who has already arrived in the US/Canada, the earliest start date available is the day after you purchase the plan. 

In general, it’s advisable to purchase these plans in advance of the insured’s arrival in the US.

How to decide between a Fixed-Benefit Plans or Comprehensive  Coverage:

Typically, the most confusing aspect of choosing a Visitor Insurance Plan is deciding between a Fixed Benefit Plan or a Comprehensive Coverage Plan. We’ve put together some highlights on each of these plans to help you reach your decision.

Fixed-Benefit Plans are also known as Economy Coverage Plans, Limited Benefit Plans, or Share Policies Plans. A Fixed Benefit Plan, depending on how much risk you're willing to accept, might not provide you with coverage in all the areas you want. If you are looking to cut down on cost and willing to assume a bit of a higher risk, however, a Fixed Benefit Plan might be the right one for you. Be sure to read the policy details before selecting a plan, which will be presented in accompaniment to each policy we curate for your selection on the Customize page.

Here's what else you need to know:

Fixed-Benefit Plans always have less expensive premiums (upfront cost for the policy) compared to Comprehensive Coverage Plans. Usually, they are around 50% of the cost of a Comprehensive Plan.

With a Fixed-Benefit Plan, you can see most doctors and seek care in most hospitals. Unlike Comprehensive Coverage Plans, Fixed-Benefit Plans do not come with a provider network, which offer discounted fees, waived co-pays, and the option of direct billing.  

The amount the policy pays for treatment is pre-determined according to a benefits summary. The benefits summary lets you know exactly how much your plan covers for a given hospital visit, procedure, or course of treatment. Any costs that run in excess of the coverage offered by the plan falls on the insured. Which means, in the event of a significant medical emergency, a Fixed-Benefit Policy will prove to be more costly to you than if you had a Comprehensive Coverage Plan. 

For Fixed-Benefit plans, the deductible is applied per illness or injury. For example, if you visit the doctor for cold or flu-like symptoms, a deductible is required. However, if you visit the doctor again for another unrelated claim, then your deductible is due again.

We only recommend these policies for shorter duration trips (under 30 days). As mentioned previously, these trips are ideal for individuals who are willing to take on a certain degree of risk, if budget is a priority.

What you need to know about Comprehensive Coverage Plans:

Comprehensive Coverage Plans, also known as Premium Policies, offer more expansive and flexible coverage than Fixed-Benefit Plans. 

Comprehensive Coverage Plans have slightly higher premiums (up front costs) than Fixed-Benefit Plans, but offer a broader scope of coverage and result in major savings in the case of a significant medical emergency. These policies often have higher limits to cover costly claims, such as Emergency Medical Evacuation, a service that commonly exceeds $50,000. 

With Comprehensive Coverage, your deductible is applied only once during the life of the policy. Meaning that a deductible payment will be required for your first claim, any subsequent claim will not require a deductible. Keep in mind that deductibles are cumulative. In an instance where a claim doesn’t fulfill your entire deductible, a separate claim would require you to contribute toward your deductible. For example, if your policy holds a $500 deductible and an office visit cost $200, a separate claim of $300 would be required for your deductible to be met.

Comprehensive Plans come with a co-pay.  The most common form of co-pay in Visitor Medical Coverage is an 80% - 20% split of the first $5000 of medical expenses. Meaning you incur 20% of medical expenses, up to a total of $1000, and your insurance covers the rest, up to your policy’s maximum (more on that in a little bit). Many products offer discounted co-pays for those who receive treatment within the product’s provider directory (PPO). Common discounts include a 90%-10% split or, and in some cases, a complete waiver of the co-pay. Look for discounted co-pays in your policy details.

Don't let provider networks scare you off Comprehensive Coverage Plans. More often than not, provider networks for Visitor Insurance Policies are more comprehensive than those of domestic health insurance policies. You’ll have numerous treatment options to ensure you see the right medical professional.

 

Before choosing between Fixed Benefit plans or Comprehensive Coverage plans, it is important to assess your budget and your comfort with taking on risk. Those two factors will dictate which plan is best for you.

Selecting your Maximum Limit and Deductible:

As explained previously, a deductible is an amount you are required to pay on a claim before the provider begins to pay. A policy maximum is a total amount the provider is willing to pay for all services. A policy’s maximum limit and the deductible are up to you, which is why we have installed easy-to-use sliders on the Customize page. This enables you to personalize your plan and decide what deductible and maximum coverage is right for you.

An important factor in choosing a maximum limit and deductible is the length of your trip. If the visitor is staying longer trip than 30 days, consider a higher maximum, since the risk of illness and injury increases over time. Shorter trips (30 days or less) usually require coverage for serious illnesses and accidents, those that require immediate medical attention. For such trips, select a high maximum but offset the cost by selecting a higher deductible.

These are just our suggestions and finding the best combination is ultimately your decision and an important one at that. Factors such as age, trip duration and length of stay, all play a part in this decision. 

What about the Acute Onset of Pre-Existing Conditions? 

Some policies offer coverage for the Acute Onset of Pre-Existing Conditions but note the word 'Acute,' meaning sudden and unexpected. For example, if you are anticipating a heart surgery for a known ailment and choose to have it done in the U.S., this will NOT be covered. If, however, you suffer from a heart attack that resulted from a previously known heart problem, that will be covered. But, this coverage is limited, so see your policy details.

Read more about the Acute Onset of Pre-Existing Conditions here.

To learn more about what is considered a medical emergency, read this.

Another consideration for the Acute Onset of Pre-Existing Conditions is age. The older an insured person, the less coverage that person can receive, and plans do not offer the Acute Onset of Pre-Existing Conditions benefit to people over age 70. 

Now you are a master of Visitor Insurance and ready to purchase! But just in case you aren't, don't hesitate to call our 24/7 helpline, where we can explain it in more detail to you. To make a purchase, navigate back to the homepage, answer those four simple questions I mentioned earlier, and you will be on your way! 

We also encourage you to take advantage of our other educational resources by selecting the Learn button at the top of this page. At G1G, we want you to be an informed consumer, and we’re happy to answer any questions you might have about any of our products, including our Visitor Insurance coverage.

Enjoy the journey!

**All values shown above are subject variation from actual figures. For final pricing and details, please continue to the product application. **

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