Florida travel insurance
Of all the places to travel in the USA, Florida is the most popular destination for Brits. And there's very good reason. Florida is just around 9 hours flying time from London and has a tropical climate, with winter highs in Miami of around 25 degrees and summer highs of around 27 degrees in Key West. It has hundreds of miles of fabulous beaches, varied and interesting wildlife including manatees, alligators and cetaceans and a thriving scene for theme parks, especially around Orlando. Among those are SeaWorld, Disneyland, Legoland Florida and Universal Studios. Florida also has vibrant cities like Miami, which is famous for its art deco architecture, beach scene and fantastic food.
It's no surprise then that Florida attracts over 60 million visitors a year (in total) and is one of the USA's most visited states. For us Brits it's the most visited place outside of Europe. We love it – but we must not forget that it isn't Little Britain and there are lots of things to learn for first time visitors.
So, to help you on your way, here's our quick guide to travelling to Florida. Our first bit of advice, of course, is to get good travel insurance with the right level of emergency medical expenses cover. Medical treatment in the USA can cost you more than an arm and a leg!
So talk to us before you go.
We offer a choice of great value policies that will give you all the benefits and cover you'll need for your trip. 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.
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Your quick guide to travelling in Florida.
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Entry requirements: The perfect start
Florida is one of the United States of America, so it has the same rigorous visa requirements as the rest of the country. So, to make a good start, here's how to plan your entry.
Before you leave
If you're a British citizen travelling for business or pleasure, you can visit Florida for up to 90 days without a visa thanks to the Visa Waiver Programme. 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 admin fee and your application will be processed. Please remember that children will 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. It's all part of the immigration process.
Upon arrival in Florida, 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
Like everything else in the USA, medical bills can end up being HUGE if you get ill or need medical treatment. Healthcare isn't available for free like it is in the UK and you'll have to pay for everything. An emergency, such as a heart attack, could cost more than £40,000 to treat.
What this means is that good medical cover is essential for all trips to Florida – unless of course you are extremely rich! Our Florida travel insurance policies will cover you for up to £10 million in medical expenses, depending on the type of policy you choose. Our policies also include 24/7 emergency assistance as well as cover for lost medication and repatriation costs. We can even cover your pre-existing medical conditions at a price that's fair.
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Laws and customs: Carry your passport
Keeping your passport safe is always a concern on holiday. For some, that means keeping it safely stored in the hotel, but not in Florida. US Federal Law requires that all foreign nationals carry their passports at all times while visiting the country.
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
Florida 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.
Money: getting your hands on hard cash!
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. Banks are open Monday to Friday from 8.30am to 5pm.
Extreme weather events
Florida gets its fair share of meteorological events, especially around hurricane season in the autumn. So there is a risk that your trip might be disrupted by a hurricane or a tornado. You can monitor the progress of storms on the US National Hurricane Centre website.
But where would a weather event like a hurricane leave you if it disrupts your travel plans?
Not stuck, that's for sure. Whilst your airline will not pay compensation if your flight is cancelled or delayed due to inclement conditions, they are legally obliged to get you to your destination as soon as it's reasonably possible. And if you can't even make it to the airport and miss your flight, we've got you covered.
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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Healthcare: Can you travel with medication?
It might sound hard to believe, but in many cases you may 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.
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 Florida adventure? There are a couple of things to remember. Firstly, drinking and driving laws are very strict, which means it's best to avoid ANY alcohol if you are driving. Also, it's illegal to carry alcohol in the car. So if you buy a six pack, pack it in the boot.
Secondly, if a school bus has its flashing lights on you MUST stop, whatever side of the road you are on, until the lights are switched off. And if it's raining enough to use your windscreen wipers you must also have your lights on. Finally, if you get stopped by the police, don't get out of the car. Wait until the officer approaches you.
If you have a photo card driving licence, bring the paper counterpart with you and make sure your car rental insurance covers occupants of your vehicle as well as third party claims.
Electricity: Powering your 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. The eastern part of Florida (which includes all the major towns and cities) fall in the Eastern Time Zone, which is 5 hours behind Greenwich Mean Time (GMT-5). The western part of the Florida falls in the Central Time Zone, which is 6 hours behind Greenwich Mean Time (GMT-6).
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 Florida travel insurance, please call us on 0345 90 80 161 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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