Explore Travel Insurance

Tiana Lee-CollinsWritten by Tiana Lee-Collins
Reviewed by Adrian Taylor
Last updated 29/09/2023

Key takeaways

While it’s typically a safe place to visit, the possibility of travel disruptions can make international travel insurance a key part of planning your trip to the USA. If you’re looking to travel, you should keep in mind the following:

  • Medical treatment is incredibly expensive in the USA, and without travel insurance you’ll be out-of-pocket for any medical bills.
  • Lost or stolen passports are common, so keep copies of your travel documents and make sure your travel insurance policy includes luggage cover.
  • Choosing a higher policy excess can lower the cost of your premium, but make sure you can afford to pay the excess amount you choose.
  • Cover will vary between insurers, levels of cover and add-ons, so consider what you want to be covered for and check the Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) to see if it’s included.

Travel insurance tips for USA

Catriona Rowntree's top travel insurance tips for the USA.

Why take out travel insurance for the USA

If you’re heading to the USA, it’s important you get international travel insurance so you can travel with confidence and peace of mind knowing you’re covered. Further reasons to take out a suitable travel insurance company include:

  • You can be financially protected in the event of an incident, and your policy may include cover for illness, injury, theft and travel delays.
  • You won’t be able to access Medicare or your private health insurance overseas, which is why medical cover is crucial for your trip.
  • If an unforeseen natural disaster occurs, you may be covered for cancellations, unexpected accommodation expenses or the rescheduling of your trip.


Choosing travel insurance for the USA

If you’re looking to compare travel insurance quotes and choose a policy, there are a few things you should think about when you get a quote:

  • Choose a policy with high or unlimited medical cover that includes repatriation, as medical costs in the USA are much higher than in Australia.
  • Consider any optional extras you may need depending on your travel plans including adventure activities, cruising or winter sports.
  • Read the fine print of your PDS to understand exactly what you’re covered for before purchasing so you don’t get caught out if you need to claim.

Adrian Taylor, General Manager

Expert tips for choosing the right travel insurance for the USA for you

Our travel insurance expert, Adrian Taylor, has insider knowledge on choosing the right travel insurance for the USA.

Declare your pre-existing medical conditions

Make sure you declare any pre-existing medical conditions so your travel insurance company can assess your application and whether your conditions can be covered. Medical treatment in the USA is incredibly expensive, so understanding any limits of your cover is vital.

Check if you’re covered for COVID-19

Many insurers will include cover for COVID-19 (coronavirus) as part of their top tier policies. However, always check the PDS to understand a policy’s inclusions, exclusions and limits regarding COVID-19 cover so you don’t get caught out if you fall ill.

Frequent travellers should consider annual cover

If you plan to visit the USA or other international destinations multiple times in a single year, it could be worth taking out annual multi-trip cover instead of a single trip policy. Travellers who venture overseas more than three or four times a year may experience greater value from annual cover.

All about travel insurance for the USA

Couple on holiday in New York with travel insurance for the USA

Do I need travel insurance for the USA?

Travel insurance is a great idea for every trip you take overseas, no matter the destination. However, in 2021-22 the USA saw the third highest number of Aussies needing consular assistance and the fifth highest for illness and hospitalisation cases.1

Smartraveller recommends a comprehensive travel insurance policy for the USA due to the high cost of medical treatment, even for minor issues.2 However, even a basic level of cover can provide benefits for medical costs, as well as personal liability cover in the event you injure another person or damage their belongings.

What should my travel insurance policy for the USA include?

As mentioned above, medical care is expensive in the USA, so you should consider including medical cover in your travel insurance policy, even if you don’t think you’ll get sick or injured.

If you’re planning to get active during your visit to the USA, consider adding cover for extreme and winter sports as an optional extra, as insurers may not automatically cover these activities.

To know what your policy covers, including its limits, sub-limits, inclusions and exclusions, read the PDS before purchasing a policy. Here are a few other ways travel insurance plans can help you during your visit to the USA.

Dealing with theft and lost belongings

Petty theft and pickpocketing are ongoing issues in the USA. In 2021-22, there were 253 cases of lost or stolen passports in the USA, the highest in any country for Australian residents.1

It’s important keep a close eye on your valuables; however, luggage cover may protect you from the cost of replacing stolen, lost or damaged belongings, including your electronics, passport, credit cards, cash, travel documents and other personal effects.

Medical treatment and medical expenses

While the USA has a reputable healthcare system, receiving treatment in a medical emergency can be incredibly expensive. Australia and the USA don’t have a Reciprocal Health Care Agreement, nor are you covered by Medicare or private health insurance overseas. But travel insurance may help to cover the cost of medical bills and overseas emergency assistance.

Travel insurance may also cover you if you need medical evacuation or repatriation from the USA, which could cost hundreds of thousands of dollars out-of-pocket.

Driving in the USA with an Australian licence

If you plan on driving across America, you’ll need a valid Australian or international driver’s licence.

If you’ve hired a rental vehicle, you need to be careful to observe the road rules of whatever state you’re in. A travel policy may help you pay the rental car insurance excess in the event of an accident, provided rental vehicle excess cover is included in your policy.

Trip cancellations and delays

Flights that don’t arrive on time are a common reason for travel delays and cancellations. Appropriate travel insurance could mean the difference between getting reimbursed for travel delays and swallowing the cost of cancellation fees, lost deposits and missing important activities.

It can pay to get travel insurance as soon as you make any deposits or pre-book accommodation so you’ll be covered for events which could disrupt your travel plans.

Natural disasters

Natural disasters have been known to occur in the USA, including earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, floods and wildfires. Check Smartraveller regularly before departure in case of a disaster, and while overseas keep an eye on local media and travel alerts. When you buy travel insurance, consider choosing a policy that includes natural disaster cover.

What does travel insurance for the USA exclude?

Hiker in the Grand Canyon USA
Like any type of insurance, there are some things that travel insurance won’t cover. Specific exclusions in your travel insurance cover may vary between insurers, which is why it’s important to always read a policy’s PDS before purchasing.

Here’s a list of some common exclusions you might find in your travel insurance policy:

  • Pre-existing medical conditions. Unless you declare your pre-existing conditions and your insurer agrees to cover them, any medical treatment or hospital expenses related to those conditions will not be covered.
  • Unattended luggage. If your luggage was stolen while it was left unattended in public, your insurer will likely reject your claim for loss.
  • Illegal and reckless activities. If you knowingly acted illegally or dangerously, your insurer may reject any claims resulting from your actions.
  • If your claim was caused by an incident where you were under the influence of drugs or alcohol, it may be rejected by your insurer.
  • Extreme and winter sports. Your insurer may not cover you for claims resulting from participation in extreme sports, winter sports like skiing, snowboarding and other adventurous activities like surfing. However, your insurer may offer cover for these activities as an optional extra.

You can find a longer list of what may and may not be covered in our travel insurance FAQs.


1 Australian Government: Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. Consular State of Play, 2021-2022. Accessed June 2023.

2 Smartraveller. United States of America. Last updated May 2023. Accessed April 2023.

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