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Just an Atlantic Ocean away, America is the land of possibilities – not only for residents but also for travellers to this expansive country. From the bustling streets of New York City to the fantasy lands of its many theme parks, and from the party beaches of LA to the arid desertscapes of Route 66, its wide appeal lies in the unique offerings of each of its 52 states.
Holidaymakers from the UK will feel right at home in America, though key differences include its alcohol laws – you need to be 21 to buy alcohol and have ID to prove it – and the high cost of medical care, which is why most travellers opt for travel insurance when visiting the USA.
Most trips to the states are trouble-free. But it’s good to have holiday insurance for your peace of mind when you’re travelling, and know that you’re insured should any unexpected mishaps occur. Even basic levels of insurance offer you compensation if your trip is cancelled or shortened due to unforeseen circumstances. Our travel insurance also includes cover for emergency medical treatment and our emergency assistance helpline is available 24 hours a day should you need to seek their advice.
Choosing a higher level of cover provides you with protection for a wider range of situations and the monetary amounts that you may be entitled to claim will usually be higher. Subject to the policy rules you’ll be covered for difficulties like losing your baggage in transit, travel delay, becoming the victim of a theft abroad and dealing with stolen passports.
It’s especially key to take out travel insurance on Stateside visits as the high costs of medical care means that if you need emergency treatment and you don’t have insurance you could be left facing a medical bill running into thousands. And as it’s a long-haul flight, any problems with delays, cancellations and repatriation will cost significantly more than the price of the insurance.
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There are a number of things to consider when choosing the exact type of insurance. The most important aspect is that the location option picked should be ‘Worldwide inc. USA, Canada & the Caribbean’. Because it’s a top-tier choice, you’re also covered for most extra stops you might have along the way, whether that’s a layover in Iceland, a twin-destination trip in Canada, or a sunshine stop in the Caribbean. Just make sure you’re covered for the entire length of your trip.
After that, your options depend on the number of trips you’re planning to take over the year. If you know you’re only going to travel once or twice in the next 12 months then Single Trip Travel Insurance may be the best option for you. If you have more than a couple of jaunts planned, our Annual Multi-Trip Travel Insurance might well prove more cost-effective than buying a separate policy each time – and it cuts down on the hassle as well.
Single Trip policies have a maximum duration of 100 days for those 75 and under, and 31 days for 76 to 85 year olds. For longer stints to the States, have a look at our Long Stay Travel Insurance. It’s designed for holidays between three and 12 months.
Or if you’re studying in the United States, travelling to multiple locations, or just staying for over 12 months, then you should check out our Gap Year Travel Insurance. It gives you the freedom to settle somewhere temporarily, or to explore the world without worrying.
The cover level that you select is entirely your choice, and you should make your choice based on how comprehensive you want your travel insurance to be. If you’re not sure about the cover level that you should choose then here are a few things to bear in mind.
Medical care in the US is notoriously expensive. So suffering an unexpected medical problem while you are abroad can be difficult if you don’t have a way to pay for your treatment. However Flexicover Travel Insurance covers emergency medical treatment and the amount varies by cover level.
The length of your trip might also affect your decision. If you are flying multiple times to different states for example, you may want to get extra cover that protects you for travel cancellation, lost baggage or delays.
While if you’re planning a more adventurous holiday - whether that’s driving Route 66, exploring Yellowstone National Park or hopping across state lines – it’s better to have the peace of mind that a comprehensive policy can provide.
Of all the reasons to arrange travel insurance before travelling to the USA, medical treatment may be your priority. We have data of medical treatments in the USA costing six figures! So a trip to the hospital can easily mean that the poorly recipient might be asked for a deposit when they step into a hospital – and then face a hefty bill when they leave. That also doesn’t count the cost if you have to stay in the country under medical advice, or buy new flights for a speedy journey home.
Given the high prices check what the maximum pay-out is in each category of medical coverage. Our bronze, silver, gold and platinum levels offer a choice to suit different circumstances and budgets. That way, you’re free to enjoy the holiday knowing that you’re at least financially covered if there are any nasty surprises.
Are you taking your child on holiday this year? Or are they travelling alone? Either way we can provide a travel insurance policy to suit your needs. If you are travelling with your child, then you can just add them onto your policy, but if your child is travelling independently then you will need to take out a separate Single Trip policy for them. If you add your child onto an Annual Multi-Trip Travel Insurance policy then this allows for independent travel for all those insured including children.
If you need to make a claim after a trip to the States, here are a few things to remember:
1. Take Your Policy Documents With You
It’s a smart idea to download Flexicover’s policy wording on your phone, or slip a printed version in your travel folder. That way you’ll be able to make sure you know what’s covered and what isn’t, what the maximum limits are, and what excess you’ll have to pay. On the off-chance something happens, this info can come as a big relief and let you carry on with your holiday as normal.
Also keep the emergency assistance number, claims hotline and your policy number handy – it’s no good tucked away when you need it quickly.
2. Keep Your Supporting Evidence Safe
When you’re making a claim, you’ll mostly likely be asked to send any supporting evidence to show the claims team the full extent of what happened. Make sure that you get all you can to make the claims process go as smoothly as possible.
This might include police reports, photographs, original receipts, invoices, medical certificates, legal letters, perhaps even CCTV footage. If they’re physical, keep them together in a safe place.
3. Keep Your Receipts
You should also keep any receipts for expenses you’ve encountered because of the issue you’ve had, whether that’s new plane tickets, or substitute accommodation if you can’t get to your destination as planned.
4. If Your Personal Items Are Lost Stolen Or Damaged
If a personal item like a ring or handbag gets lost or stolen, you’ll need to report this to the local police within 24 hours. Make sure you get the written report from them (this will be at your own expense). You’ll need to provide this report when making your claim.
You’ll also need proof of ownership of the item. This should be a receipt for it, but bank statements, guarantees, instruction manuals or photographs count too.
When your personal items are lost, stolen or damaged at the destination, ask the service provider – like your accommodation, transport company, or tour operator - for a letter to confirm what happened. If it takes place while flying or at the airport, you’ll need a Property Irregularity Report.
Some caveats to be aware of: when paying out for claims, we take into account how much use you’ve already got from it, and wear and tear. Remember to check the limit for a single article, and valuables in total. You might want to take out optional gadget cover to cover your phone, laptop or tablet. Lastly, depending on the damage, we might repair your belongings instead of paying for a replacement.
5. If Your Baggage Is Lost, Stolen Or Damaged
When your luggage gets lost, damaged or stolen, you’ll need to follow the advice above.
If it happens while you’re flying or at an airport, you’ll also need to give formal written notice of the claim to the airline. Check with their conditions of carriage what their time limit is for this, or if your luggage is damaged, report this to the airline before you leave the baggage hall.
6. Check the time limit for claims
Most claims need to be made within a certain timeframe - check this as soon as you’re back, if not before. And while you can take your time, it’s best to kick things off as early as possible. That way, you’ll have all the documents to hand, the claim will be fresh in your mind, and you’ll have extra time to make the claim if you hit any obstacles.
The main emergency number in America is 911 – as you may already know if you watch enough American cop shows. Phone this in an emergency, and an operator will connect you to the relevant service.
As the USA covers everything from the chilly state of Alaska to the ever-sunny California, the weather varies greatly depending on what area you are visiting.
Generally speaking, in summer the southwest is hot and dry, but gets more humid as you travel towards the central and eastern states. In the northern states, summers are similar to the UK: warm to hot, and cool in the evenings. Winters are mild in the southern states but most northern states see icy and snowy conditions.
As a tourist, you need to show proof of a driving license issued in your home country. In some states you will also need to have an International Driving Permit (IDP) before you are allowed to drive as a tourist. Make sure to check the local laws on this before you travel to the USA and remember that Americans drive on the right-hand side of the road.
US border protection can be quite strict, so be prepared to prove the pills that you bring with you are prescribed. So you should take your prescription or doctor’s note. The medication should be in its original container, with the doctor’s instructions printed on the bottle. You should always take a little more medication than the duration of your trip, if this is permitted, just in case you hit any unexpected delays along the way. See the FDA website for more information about the regulations for your medication in the United States.
If you’re travelling to North America, you shouldn’t need any extra vaccines, but check Travel Health Pro for the latest health advice. It’s always best practice to check with your GP just in case.
As each state can govern differently, laws vary greatly depending on where you go, and similar laws might be enforced differently depending on where you are. Everything from crossing the road when you’re not at a traffic light (jaywalking) to controlled medicine, to LGBT+ laws are included in this. Check the FCO advice on local laws and customs before you head out.
Generally speaking, most people with a British Citizen ePassport travelling to the USA for under 90 days can use the visa waiver programme (Electronic System for Travel Authorisation, or ESTA). You need to apply for the ESTA online at least 72 hours before you set off. If you’ve been convicted of certain crimes, have travel links with Iran, Iraq, Sudan, Syria or Yemen, have an older passport, plus a few other cases, you’ll need to apply for a full visa. See the US Customs and Border Protection’s website for more details.
A full list of British embassies in the US can be found on the GOV.uk website
English is widely spoken in the States, but 12% speak Spanish as their main language.
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