Travel insurance for holidays in the USA

USA travel insurance

The USA is one of our favourite holiday destinations. With such variety on offer – from weekends shopping in Manhattan to a week in California or a road trip across the continent – there are so many memories to be made.

But don't head off without doing some reading first. To help you, here's our quick guide to travelling to the US of A. First tip? Get a good travel insurance with adequate medical cover from World First.

We offer a choice of great value policies that will give you all the benefits and cover you'll need for your trip to the USA – whether it's for a long weekend, a one-off family holiday, an extended trip or even a backpacking tour. Heck – as they say – we can even cover you for your nuptials if you decide to skip town and head to Vegas with our optional Wedding cover.

But the point is that we can cover you for just about anything – including 150 activities and extreme sports – and have a policy to suit the way you travel. So if you like the sound of £10million emergency medical expenses and gadget cover – as well as cancellation, loss of baggage, documents and money – then our great value Superior policy will be right for you. However, if you prefer to keep it cheap and cheerful (but never lacking) then our Economy option will give you all the essentials – cancellation, public liability £1million medical expenses and personal luggage – at a fraction of the cost. And, of course, it will give you access to 24/7 emergency assistance wherever you get to and whatever you get up to. Even in Vegas.

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"This is the third time I have used World First for a two-month trip to the United States and I have found their service excellent."

"As a passenger who is over 80 with some medical problems, finding travel insurance for a two-month trip to visit my son and family in the US is not easy. This is the third year I have used World First and I have found them easy and courteous at all times, particularly when going through medical screening. "

Heather Mcwilliams

5 stars

Reviewed by confirmed purchaser

Your quick guide to travelling in the USA.

Official language(s):
English

Currency:
Dollar ($) (USD)

Capital:
Washington DC

Emergency Services:
911

Dialling code:
+1

Entry requirements: The perfect start

Let's start with the obvious. If you're anything like most travellers, you'll probably have a few questions about the process of getting into the US. After all, it's no secret that US immigration can be tough. Even seasoned travellers to the US can get caught out.

Here's how to plan your entry for a smooth start to your holiday.

Before you leave

If you're a British citizen travelling for business or pleasure, you can visit the USA for up to 90 days without a visa. However, you must get authorisation for travel before you leave. This is done online using the USA's Electronic System for Travel Authorisation (ESTA). Just fill in your travel details on the ESTA website, pay the $14 admin fee and your application will be processed. Travelling with children? Remember they need their own passports.

During your journey

During your journey your airline or carrier will ask you to supply details of your passport, country of residence and address of your first night's accommodation in the US. Don't be alarmed. It's all part of the immigration process.

Arrival

Upon arrival in the US, a Customs and Border Protection officer will guide you through the inspection process. Firstly, the officer will review your travel documents and ask questions about the length and purpose of your stay. The officer will then scan your fingerprints and take your photograph with a digital camera.

It's worth taking a moment to swot up on the Transportation Security Administration's security measures before you travel. The TSA also has a free helpline to assist passengers with disabilities or medical conditions who are worried about the security process. Just call +1 855 787 2227 (Monday to Friday) if you have questions.

Healthcare: Medical bills can be extremely costly

You probably already know that big is best in the USA. Huge food, huge skyscrapers and huge spirit are all part of the thrill. Unfortunately, the medical bills can be huge too. Healthcare isn't available for free like it is in the UK. An emergency, such as a heart attack, could cost more than £40,000 to treat.

It means that solid medical cover is an essential part of your travel policy, unless you've got extremely deep pockets in your trousers (or pants, as they say). Take out a USA travel insurance policy with World First and we'll give you up to £10 million of medical cover. That includes 24/7 emergency assistance as well as cover for lost medication and repatriation costs. We'll even cover your pre-existing medical conditions.

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Laws and customs: Carry your passport

Keeping your passport safe is always a niggling concern on holiday. For some, that means keeping it safely stored in the hotel. Fine. But don't try that in the USA. US Federal Law requires that all foreign nationals carry their passports at all times while visiting the country.

Terrorism

Even if it's just for a split second, the risk of a terrorist attack is something that crosses the minds of many UK travellers visiting the US. The advice? Don't panic, but stay vigilant. The DHS National Terrorism Advisory System (NTAS) provides up-to-date public information about credible threats. For current alerts, visit the US Department of Homeland Security website.

All World First policyholders are insured against disruption caused by any kind of terrorism – with the exception of chemical warfare.

Laws and customs: Tipping

The USA is not the place to be frugal with your tips. Cafés, restaurants, bars and hotels will expect 15% on top of your bill unless they state otherwise. Try not to worry too much. After you've experienced the fantastic American hospitality and customer service you'll probably feel like offering a few extra cents anyway.

Banking: Need a dollar?

For obvious reasons, it makes sense to only carry the amount of cash you really need. All major credit and debit cards are accepted in the US, so there's very little danger of getting caught short. You'll also find plenty of ATMs. And travellers cheques can be exchanged for cash at all banks in exchange for a flash of your passport. Banks are open Monday to Friday from 8.30am to 5pm.

Extreme weather and natural disasters

You'll be aware that the USA gets its fair share of extreme geological events. Yes, the risk might be small, but there's a chance your holiday could be disrupted by a snow storm, a hurricane, a tornado or even an earthquake. So where does that leave you if extreme conditions disrupt your travel plans?

One thing's for sure: your airline will not pay compensation if your flight is cancelled or delayed due to inclement conditions. However, they are legally obliged to get you to your destination as soon as it's reasonably possible. But what if you can't even make it to the airport and miss your flight?

We've got you covered. That's what.

We'll reimburse you for expenses, such as accommodation and travel, incurred by missing your flight as a result of extreme weather or a natural disaster. We're one of the few insurers to offer this cover. To find out more, call us on 0345 90 80 161.

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Hurricane season

For weather experts, the hurricane season in the US is a pretty exciting time. For everyone else it can be devastating. The hurricane season typically runs from June to November and can affect the whole of the southern USA. You can monitor the progress of storms on the US National Hurricane Centre website.

Healthcare: Can you travel with medication?

It might sound hard to believe, but in many cases you will not be able to take medication on holiday with you. There are a few exceptions, such as if your condition is very serious or if alternative drugs are not available, but generally the restrictions are tight. You can find out more on the Homeland Security's website at www.cbp.gov or by calling the FDA's Division of Import Operations and Policy on +1 888 463 6332.

Crime

Violent crime, including gun crime, rarely involves tourists. But it's still important to research your destination before travelling. Seek local advice about the areas to avoid and be smart. For example, it's not very wise to go flashing your jewellery or carrying valuables in rundown areas. It's also a good idea to try and stay on main roads if you feel vulnerable.

Laws and customs: Driving

Hiring a ride for your US adventure? Each state has different driving regulations and an International Driving Permit is recommended. If you have a photo card driving licence, bring the paper counterpart. And make sure your car rental insurance covers occupants of your vehicle as well as third party claims. Learn US traffic laws before you leave (it's not as easy as simply driving on the other side of the road) and be aware of the speed and drink driving limits.

Electricity: Powering a happy holiday

The electrical current in the USA is 120 V, with a cycle of 60 Hz. If you're taking appliances with you, you'll be able to pick up a three-prong to two-prong converter here in the UK for under £5.

Time zones: Size matters

Everyone knows the US is big. That begins to really hit home when you realise it has six different time zones. They are: Eastern Standard (GMT - 5), Central (GMT - 6), Mountain (GMT - 7), Pacific (GMT - 8), Alaskan (GMT – 9) and Hawaiian (GMT – 10).

Healthcare: Travelling with HIV

Travellers with HIV are now free to enter the USA without a visa. And we can give you the medical travel insurance you need for a hassle-free holiday. Did you know we were the first UK travel insurer to offer a policy to travel-lovers living with HIV? Insure with the experts.

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When is a visa necessary?

In most cases it's possible to enter the USA without a visa, but there are exceptions. Take a look in your passport. If you're described as a British Subject, British National (Overseas), British Overseas Territories Citizen, British Dependent Territories Citizen, British Protected Person or British Overseas Citizen you will need to apply for a visa.

A visa will also be necessary if:

  • you intend to stay longer than 90 days
  • you are visiting the US for a reason other than business, pleasure or transit
  • you are conducting official government business
  • you have been arrested
  • you have a criminal record
  • you have a serious, communicable disease
  • you have been refused entry to the US on a previous occasion
  • you have been deported from the US
  • you have overstayed during a previous visit

USA: Know Before You Go

For up to the minute travel news, check out the Foreign & Commonwealth Office's website. Their Know Before You Go site has information on all risks to all travellers in more than 255 countries and territories around the world, including the USA.

See the latest information at Know Before You Go HERE.

Follow the FCO on twitter HERE.

Of course, if you have any questions about our USA travel insurance, please call us on 0345 90 80 161 or email info@world-first.co.uk.

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