Visitor Insurance FAQ
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) with common answers about visitor medical insurance for visitors to USA (United States of America), travel medical insurance for foreign travelers to Canada, or for citizens of any nation traveling outside his or her home country. The Visitor Insurance FAQ is a compilation of common questions asked by our clients and prospective customers, with the most relevant answers to each.
Fixed Benefit Plan (Scheduled Benefits Plan)
These policies are characterized by various benefit limits for each type of covered medical expense. These benefit limits typically are not the same as the policy maximum.
For example, a policy with a $50,000 maximum limit may feature upto a maximum of $2000 for surgery, upto a maximum of $500 for diagnostic services (X-rays, scans) etc. The maximum amounts for different situations are detailed in the policy brochure.
Typically you are required to pay an initial deductible for each injury or sickness and then the plan pays for the rest of the covered expenses.
Scheduled Benefits Plans have the lowest premiums, but the consumer must be aware that the benefits offered are relatively limited as compared to the Comprehensive Coverage Plans.
Examples of scheduled coverage or fixed benefit plans include Inbound USA underwritten by Lloyd’s, and Visitors Care underwritten by Sirius International.
Comprehensive Coverage Plan
These policies typically do not have benefit limits based on the type of medical expense. Usually benefits for covered medical expenses go all the way up to the policy maximum (less deductible and co-insurance).
Typically for all covered medical expenses during the policy period the insured pays the deductible plus 20% of the first $5,000; and then the plan pays 100% of the eligible medical expenses up to the policy maximum.
The details for each policy such as the policy maximum, medical expense eligibility etc. are listed in the policy brochure.
Comprehensive Coverage Plans have relatively higher premiums, but in turn offer better benefits than the Scheduled Benefits Plans.
Examples of comprehensive coverage plans include Diplomat America, Atlas America, Liaison Travel series, and Patriot series and more.
Buy American Insurance vs. Home Country Insurance Company
It is advisable to have insurance from a US-based provider or an American company while in the United States, even if the premium for these plans are more expensive. The reason is that while almost all Doctors/hospitals in the United States accept American insurance company cards, they will be reluctant to acknowledge overseas insurance coverage. The medical office can easily contact an American insurance company for clarification, while the same will not be true for an overseas insurance company.
Typically medical offices in the US will bill directly to known American insurance companies. For overseas insurance companies you most probably will have to pay the bill, and then try to get the claim reimbursed from the insurance company.
Compare insurance plans and purchase the policy the best meets your needs
It is precisely to help you make this decision that we built our insurance comparison facility or tool. Using VisitorInsuranceServices.com developed insurance comparison engine, you can evaluate and compare insurance plans from different companies or insurance providers based on their premium quoted cost, the policy deductible and their underwriter rating. This will help you identify the most suitable insurance plan with benefits that best suits for your specific coverage needs.
Buy visitor insurance coverage along with airline tickets
You should purchase the travel health insurance coverage only after being certain of your travel plans (having the passport/visa papers and the airline tickets in order). It is safest to start the travel medical insurance coverage from the date of departure from your native home country as many visitor health insurance plans offer coverage out of home country borders, and hence the traveler is covered in the international transit country, if the trip involves a long haul to an distant foreign destination such as United States of America or Canada. Also, most visitor insurance plans offer other benefits such as baggage loss, common carrier death benefit, etc. that is useful coverage in transit.
Visitor Insurance can be purchased by anyone on behalf of anyone
Yes. You can purchase the insurance coverage on behalf of others including parents visiting USA to be with their children in America, relatives traveling abroad, or friends visiting an overseas destination, and even in their absence.
Remember that you have an option to put the beneficiary as someone other than the USA visitor or foreign traveler, as many visitor medical insurance plans offer certain benefits such as Accidental Death and Dismemberment (AD & D) that is paid to the beneficiary in the case of an uneventful death of the visitor in USA or in any foreign country.
Information on Refund of Unused Premium
Some insurance plans do refund money if given enough advance notice, however since travelers medical insurance is typically for a short-term duration, they are often not refundable. If this situation is a concern for you, you should look out for insurance plans which are renewable. Such plans are available among the plans listed in our insurance comparison engine.
If plan premium is refundable for a given visitor medical insurance, usually unused or not expired whole month premium or daily premium is refunded depending on the plan. If there has been a claim in the policy during the active period, the unused premium is typically not refundable as insurance company considers this as earned. Also remember that insurance refund is at the option is at the discretion of the insurance provider, who as the insurance plan administrator usually charge a small administrative fee, typically USD 25 to 50, for the service rendered.
The travel medical insurance cannot be terminated without the written consent of the insured. It is best advised to respond or reply to the originally sent purchase confirmation email stating the exact reason for requesting the cancellation of the travel medical insurance plan during its validity. Also, a verbal request over the phone will not suffice as many insurance provider require the written consent.
ID Cards and Confirmation Email Serve as Proof of Purchase
When you buy insurance online, you will immediately receive a confirmatory email with details of the insurance purchased. This is the virtual insurance card, and it is prudent to print this and to keep a backup of this email. If you opt for off-line fullfillment, then you will also receive an insurance card from the insurance company by regular US postal mail to the address entered. Expedited delivery of paper ID cards is available for a fee to pay for courier charges. This ID card will have your name, policy number, group number, insurance company’s contact information such as the toll-free telephone number and the address where claims should be submitted.
Certain policies will issue only a single ID card in the name of the primary insured, if a single combined policy is purchased for spouse and/or kids, if any, who are also included at the time of purchase. The provider can always call the insurance company and confirm coverage for all the individuals included.
If you need a proof of coverage letter for visa purposes, you can login to the insurance company client area and print out the same also.
Quote, Compare, Review, and Purchase Selected Insurance Online
Purchasing insurance online is very simple. From our insurance comparison engine, you can click on the ‘Buy’ button for any given plan. This leads you to a secure framed page for the appropriate plan and complete the online application form below to enter data directly into the insurance provider company database. You have to complete the appropriate online application form and you will immediately receive an email confirmation acknowledgment which is the virtual ID card. The coverage will start from the start date as indicated on the application form. Within a week you will receive a package from the insurance company, which will include the insurance card and a hard or printed copy of the ID Cards along with details regarding the insurance plan coverage and benefits.
You can alternatively click the ‘Quote/Buy’ button on the specific product pages or also find a plan to purchase on the Quote buy Insurance Online page.
On the Plan Effective Date Selected
After comparing insurance plans and purchasing the selected insurance plan online, you will immediately receive an email confirmation acknowledgment which is the virtual ID card. The plan coverage will start from the start date as indicated on the form.
Next day coverage or same day coverage is available depending on the plan selected. Review the insurance plan brochure for exact details on coverage start date. Also, certain plans require to purchase the plan within a certain amount of days after arriving in the visiting country.
Purchase Insurance for Entire Duration of Stay
Yes, you can purchase visitor insurance for parents for only partial duration of the entire stay. However the purpose of purchasing insurance is in the event of unanticipated medical emergencies. One can never be sure when such an emergency can happen. Having purchased insurance for part of their stay will not help in the event of an emergency during the uninsured period.
Insurance Quotes are Typically on Daliy Basis
A month is calculated as 30 continuous days from the start date requested and it can include two partial calendar months. Always refer to the plan brochure for any plan specifics such as minimum purchase duration requirement.
Most plans are quoted on a daily basis, certain plans require purchase of minimum of 15 day period and are rounded to this period. Annual plans require purchase for the entire year (12 months) of coverage.
Minimum duration of coverage varies by plan choice
The minimum duration varies for different insurance plans. This information is presented in the ‘Plans benefits’ column in our at compare visitors medical insurance tool or comparison engine.
Also, always refer to the insurance plan brochure for any plan specifics related to minimum purchase duration requirement.
Insurance Companies are Rated by Independent Rating Agencies
The insurance companies are rated by an independent rating company A.M. Best rating. For all the plans, each insurance company’s A.M. Best rating is displayed in our visitor insurance compare tool or comparison engine.
Other rating agencies include S & P, Fitch, Moodys, etc.
Also, always refer to the insurance plan brochure for any plan specifics related to policy and provider ratings.
Passport number is optionally needed for Visitors Insurance
No, for visitors to USA a Social Security number (SSN) or Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN) are NOT needed to complete the application form, you can complete the form using the visitor’s passport number which ties the visiting individual to the policy.
For visitors to Canada, a Social Insurance Number (SIN) is also NOT needed to purchase a policy.
Save money by going to a provider within the PPO Network
This will vary for different visitor insurance plans. Some plans allow you to visit any medical practitioners, while others have their provider network also referred to as the PPO network.
In the latter case, if you visit a doctor/hospital within the provider PPO network, the fee will be a standard rate that has been agreed between the insurance company and the provider. In certain plans, the co-insurance portion of payment is waived for staying within the PPO network for any medical care received.
However, if you visit a provider outside of the insurance companies provider network, there may be a difference between the amount charged to you and the amount the insurance company considers usual, customary and reasonable (UC and R). In this event, you will have to pay the difference between the two amounts.
Search the PPO Network listings online
You can also get this information by calling the toll free number of the insurance company or by visiting the insurance company web site. Our insurance customer care page has links to PPO networks of many plans and also lists the toll free number, which also should be on the insurance card that you receive on purchasing the insurance plan.
Also, most of this information is online and a search for providers by zip code is also available.
Medical expense coverage varies by type of visitor insurance policy selected
This really depends on the type of visitor insurance policy selected. For example if your medical bill is $24,000.
Scenario 1: After deductible, policy covers up to a maximum of $50,000.
Here your expense is the only the first $100 deductible. Thus your final expense is only $100 while the insurance company will cover the remaining $23,900.
Scenario 2: Deductible is $100 with Maximum coverage of $50,000.
Policy covers 80% of first $5000 then 100% to the policy limit. So your expense is the first $100 deductible followed by 20% of first $5000, which is $1000. Thus your final expense is $1100 while the insurance company will cover the remaining $22,900.
Direct billing of claims is available with most plans within PPO Network
With regards to eligible medical expenses incurred in the plan, a common question is if the insured should pay the medical practitioner/organization initially and then get reimbursed or will the insurance company be billed directly. On purchasing visitors insurance from an American visitor insurance firm, you will receive an insurance card with details about your insurance. When you visit the doctor/hospital, the billing office at the hospital will usually make a photo-copy of your insurance card, call the insurance company to verify your policy, and will then bill the insurance company directly. You will have to pay the deductible amount.
In some instances if the medical office has not dealt with this particular insurance company, they might insist that you pay the bill on receiving medical treatment. In this scenario, you would get an detailed bill, which should be sent to the insurance company for reimbursement. VisitorInsuranceServices.com advises policy holders to visit hospitals and other care giving organizations with in the provider network or PPO network whenever/wherever possible.
Deductible is what you pay first out-of pocket
If your plan has a $100 deductible, you pay the first $100 of expenses and then the insurance company picks up the rest. The higher the deductible, the lower the premium cost and vice-versa.
Also, the deductible in visitors insurance should NOT to be confused with the term co-payment that usually applies to US health insurance plans. The deductible here is an accumulated amount of medical care costs over the plan duration, upon crossing this amount, the plan start reimbursing the visitor insurance plan subscriber.
Always refer to the visitors insurance plan brochure for the exact details.
Type of deductible varies by plan
There are different types of deductibles as noted below:
Per incident deductible: You pay the deductible every time you get a new medical ailment (be it sickness of accident related) before the insurance company pays anything. Inbound USA and Inbound Immigrant from Seven Corners have deductible per incident.
Per visit deductible: You pay the deductible every time you you visit a health care provider (doctor, hospital, laboratory etc.) before the insurance company pays anything.
Per policy period deductible: You pay the deductible only once during the entire policy period, irrespective of how many times you get sick or injured during the policy period.
Annual deductible: You pay the deductible only once in a year irrespective of how many times you get sick or injured during the entire year.
Always refer to the visitors insurance plan brochure for the exact details on the policy.
Co-insurance is what you along with insurance company
After your deductible is met, co-insurance is the percentage of the covered medical expenses that you, the insured person, must pay. This feature usually applies to comprehensive plans only.
For instance, if your visitors health insurance plan has an 80/20 co-insurance rate, your insurance plan pays for 80% of your eligible medical expenses and you are responsible for the remaining 20%.
Please reference your visitors insurance plan brochure for the exact details on your plan.
Corrections can be made as long as there is no premium change
You can call us or email us and we will have the changes made to your policy by the plan administrator, and have a corrected policy sent to you.
Typically the passport number is not absolutely required at the time of purchase by most visitor insurance plans, however, you can email the same and can be added to policy even after purchase.
Please remember, if the mistake made is in reference to the age of insured and moves the individual to a different age bracket, premium costs may vary (premium will be lower or higher depending on a lower or higher age bracket correction) and may involve cancelling the policy purchased and purchasing a new policy with the correct age entered.
Secure quoting browser frame from insurance company
Yes. The visitors insurance quoting and application forms are in a highly secure ordering environment so you can enroll in the visitor medical insurance plans with confidence. The insurance providers use Secure Socket Layers (SSL), for transferring information to process your orders. The SSL encrypts, or translates, your order information into a highly indecipherable code, which is processed immediately. You will remain in this secure zone for the entire purchase process.
Please note that even if our URL address on the quote / buy online page does not indicate https:, the frame below is connected via the https: secure protocol directly to the insurance company or provider quoting and purchase page. To verify this, right click on the frame below on the quote / buy page and check the frame info.
You can purchase with 100% confidence knowing that your visitors insurance application is safe to buy online.
AD&D Benefit is Paid to This Person
The AD&D Beneficiary is the person who receives the Accidental Death and Dismemberment benefit if the insured dies in an accident while insured under the policy.
Typical examples of beneficiaries is someone other than the insured, such as your spouse, your children or your parents or any other individual.
No medical check-up or proof of medical records required to buy the visitor insurance
No, there is no medical test required for purchasing any of these short-term visitor insurance policies. You can buy the policies online any time with any medical check-up requirement or proof of medical medical records, and get instant visitors coverage from the following day or the day you depart home country.
Please remember, insurance plan administrators may directly order a physician’s report when treatment is sought by the visiting individual in the USA, and this serves as the basis for claims administration for the insured.
Policy Period is the Duration of Coverage
A policy period represents the amount of time or the time duration you have purchased insurance. This usually refers to time period from the start of coverage to the end date of coverage during which period the policy is active.
In visitor medical insurance, policy periods can be as short as 5 days and as long as 36 months. For example, if you complete an application and pay for 6 months of insurance, the policy period for that program will be 6 months.
Combined policy or separate individual policies for visiting parents is case by case
The cost for both alternatives when purchasing visitors insurance will remain the same, in other words, there will be no price differential in the sum of quoted premium costs.
The main disadvantages of having separate policies are:
- You have to pay two renewal fees should you renew the policies.
- It can get cumbersome to deal with different companies should you choose to buy from different visitor insurance providers.
However, many advantages of having separate policies are:
- This gives you the flexibility to buy different policies for each of them depending of the specific needs of each of your parents. You might want to have different maximum coverage’s, different deductible or different coverage period’s, all of these can only be achieved through separate insurance policies.
- One of your parents might want to return earlier, you can claim a refund for this individual policy which you cannot do if it is a combined policy.
- Likewise, one of your parents might extend their stay. It will not be possible to extend the policy for only one person if it is a combined policy.
The passport number of primary insured binds policy for all individuals in family
In many visitor insurance quoting systems, only one passport number per family is required per application even if it includes more than one individual. One individual in the familly is refered to as the primary insured and his/her passport number binds the entire family of insured to same visitors medical insurance policy.
Most visitor insurance policies are renewable online
Most policies are renewable, however some of them are not. We have provided this information under the ‘Other benefits’ column in our visitor insurance compare compare engine. The same detail is available in the insurance customer care page.
Please note that certain visitors insurance plans such as Patriot America require minimum policy period of 3 months to be purchased initially for future renewal eligibility. Also, this is usually a minimum duration and a lifetime maximum that the same policy can be extended up to. Always refer to the insurance plan brochure for the latest details.
No medical check-up examination or health records is required to buy visitor insurance
No, there is no medical examination required to purchase the policy.
Please remember, insurance plan administrators may directly order a physician’s report when treatment is sought by the visiting individual in the USA, and this serves as the basis for claims administration for the insured.
UC&R stands for Usual, Customary and Reasonable
UC&R (Usual, Customary and Reasonable) charges represent the average or most common amount charged by providers for a particular service, treatment, or supply in the same geographic area. Typically information on rates for procedures is compiled into a data bank and updated periodically. So when a claim is submitted for a plan with UC&R benefits, the insurance company before making the claim payment reviews the UC&R rate and double checks that hospitals and doctors are not billing excessively for the particular service or procedure.
Most well respected plans from Blue Cross, Aetna, Lloyds, Unicare etc. follow the UC&R schedule. Visitors insurance plans offered by USA based insurance providers for the same industry wide practice to manage health care costs.
Pre-existing medical conditions before purchase of visitor insurance policy
Pre-existing conditions are medical ailments for which you have already received or are receiving treatment for. Some plans also include any condition that has manifested and left un-treated, for which you should have normally sought treatment for. Certain comprehensive plans offer coverage for acute onset or sudden relapse of pre-existing conditions with limited maximums and age cut-off criteria, such conditions include myocardial infraction (heart attack) or stroke.
Pregnancy, AIDS, cancer, high-blood pressure, and stroke are all forms of pre-existing conditions. Different insurance carriers have their own policies for pre-existing conditions. Some insurance providers offer coverage after a certain waiting period while others totally exclude certain conditions. Having a pre-existing condition obviously puts you at a higher risk for compensation than people without pre-existing conditions and is therefore more difficult to get insurance cover.
Always refer the visitor insurance policy brochure for exact plan wording and acceptability with reference to pre-existing condition coverage and what the look-back period for such ailments are.
HMO stands for Health Maintenance Organization
HMO (Health Maintenance Organization) is an insurance company that offers health plans, that provides medical care from an approved network of doctors, hospitals, pharmacies, laboratories, and other care givers. The patient needs to pay a preset minimum fee per visit. The HMO fees are usually lower than PPO (Preferred Provider Organizations) charges.
The advantages of HMO are:
- No or very low deductibles
- Comprehensive benefits
- Preventive care is often good
The disadvantages of HMO are:
- HMO plan includes only a particular chain of hospitals and doctors
- The patient must see doctors within the network
- The patient must get permission from the primary physician to see a specialist, or the HMO may not pay for the services
- HMO’s often refuse to pay for the emergency visits, if they don’t consider it as a true emergency
Important points regarding HMO plans is that once you have signed up for coverage and received your HMO plan, be sure to read your policy thoroughly and carefully. You should know answers to questions like:
- Which doctors, hospitals you may see?
- What procedures are covered and what aren’t?How are emergency visits handled? And what procedure you must follow to get the full coverage?
- How are emergency visits handled? And what procedure you must follow to get the full coverage?
- What kind of cases come under emergencies? (As they may deny coverage, if they don’t consider your problem as an emergency.)
- What is the co-payment cost? (i.e. How much you will have to pay per visit?)
- Find out the procedure for claims, if any.
PPO stands for Preferred Provider Organization
PPO (Preferred Provider Organization) allows patients to see a specialist without a referral from a Primary Care Physician (PCP). PPOs usually have a wider range of doctors to choose from when compared to HMOs. The direct access to specialists is good for people who have chronic illness, or in case of urgent care and emergencies. Patients can get appointments with their preferred specialists as and when required. Usually, a PPO plan will pay a greater percentage of the cost for a preferred provider and less for a non-preferred provider.
Advantages of PPO plan:
- Patient can visit any doctor and hospital. They are categorized as preferred and non-preferred providers
- PPO covers all preferred providers according to their policy
Disadvantages of PPO plan:
- For all non preferred providers PPO covers only 80% of all the expenses, depending on your insurance company rules. And rest has to be paid by you
Points about PPO plans include:
- Read your policy very carefully.
- Make sure that you are informed about the doctors and services that are considered preferred and which are non preferred
- Try to go to the preferred providers, as the PPO plan would give full coverage for them. You will only have to give the co-payment. For non preferred providers your co-payment is higher when compared to the preferred provider
- Find out the procedure for claims, if any
POS stands for Point of Service
POS or Point of Service plan, which combines the cost savings of a HMO plan with the flexibility of a PPO plan.
PCP stands for Primary Care Physician?
Also referred to as PCP, the Primary Care Physician manages your entire health care program. One has to first visit his/her primary care physician for any kind of medical problem. In case you require a specialist, then your PCP should refer you to a concerned specialist.
Please refer to the plan brochure
Yes, one can change his/her primary care physician maximum once a month. But it is always better to stick to one physician. Find out the rules form your insurance company. Normally to change your PCP, you will just have to call up the plan administrator with the new physician you want to be your primary care doctor, and then inform your insurance company about the change.
Chart Number refers to medical records number assigned
The cost for both alternatives will remain the same, in other words there will be no price differential. This is a number given to each patient, it refers to a file which has all the records of your prior tests, ailments, etc. This number makes it easy for the person at the reception to make your future appointments and is also a reference for your doctor. One has to always provide his/her chart number whenever you call or visit a doctor.
Preferred vs. Non Preferred providers for a PPO plan
PPO is a network of physicians that have agreed, by contract, to discount their rates for the respective PPO members. These physicians, specialists are known as preferred providers, and PPO members are free to see any of them, without any reference from their primary physicians.
PPO members may also see non-contracted providers, these are known as non preferred providers. The co-payment fee for seeing a non preferred provider is generally higher than the preferred providers.
Urgent Care vs. Emergency Services
Taking appointment for any ailment is a time taking process, hence every hospital provides urgent care and emergency care services. These are the quick medical care services provided by almost all medical centers.
Emergency services are those services required as a result of unforeseen injuries or acute illness, for which a delay in treatment would result in a permanent physical impairment, or loss of life. Such as heart attacks, strokes, poisonings, sudden inability to breathe etc.
Urgent care includes less serious medical conditions which require immediate attention. Such as fever, fractured bone, any cuts which require immediate attention, etc.