The United States of America is a country that begs to be explored and experienced, all 50 states of it. Each region offers something a little different. In Yellowstone National Park, for example, you can experience the natural beauty of the South Central Rockies; maybe do a spot of hiking. But, venture west for a few hours, and you could be ‘dressed to the nines’ and playing baccarat inside The Bellagio casino in Las Vegas.

Thousands of Aussies make the trip to the United States of America each month – roughly 85,000 of us,5 in fact. And while it is typically a safe place to visit, we may want to protect ourselves from a broad range of things that could go wrong: theft, injury, cancellations, delays – the list goes on.

It’s because of this, that travel insurance should be a key part of your trip to the United States.

What travel insurances protects you from in the USA

Dealing with theft and lost belongings

Theft is becoming less of a problem nationwide, with a decrease in incidents each year since 2012.1 However, less crime doesn’t mean zero crime, and you should still be forever on the lookout for pick pocketing and other petty crime. Also, 1,378 emergency passports were issued in the United States between 2014-15, with the Los Angeles AUS consulate issuing the most (501).7 Don’t become a statistic, keep a close eye on the most precious item in your luggage!

Medical treatment

In 2011, the cost to stay in a hospital bed per day totalled $628.43 in USD (roughly $870 AUD, at time of writing).2 While it’s well-documented that the United States has great quality of healthcare,3 but that doesn’t mean you’ll want to pay through the nose for it! Travel insurance can help cover the costs for hospital stays, and even provide a small cash allowance for food, phone calls, etc,

Driving in the USA

The USA is a great place to explore, with the American Midwest offering stunning mountain vistas, while the east coast sports seaside and beaches as you dive deep into Florida. Renting a car is relatively easy, but you need to be careful to observe the road rules of whatever state you’re in. A travel policy should help you pay the rental car excess in the event of an accident.

Oh, and don’t forget to drive on the right side of the road (literally)!

Delays & cancelations

A quick look the ‘delay index’ from Flight Stats indicates that very few US airports show anything but a ‘low’ risk for flight delays. As of March 2016, the United States Bureau of Transportation Statistics reports that 81.55% of flights arrive on time.  As for those that don’t arrive on time, the most common reasons were non-extreme weather, airport operation issues, heavy traffic in the air, etc.4

Even though delays are relatively uncommon, it could happen to you. A travel insurance policy could mean the different of getting reimbursed for missing something important in your itinerary, and having to swallow the cost.

Getting the most from your trip to the US of A

  • As of a few months ago, the only things you typically needed to worry about getting vaccinated for when travelling to the United States were influenza and Hepatitis A. However, in early 2016, Hawaii experienced an outbreak of Dengue fever, meaning you’ll need to take extra precautions. These warnings come and go, so for up to date information, we highly recommend visiting SmartTraveller.gov.au.
  • As of 2014, security screenings have become more intensive when entering the United States.6 Because of this, you should leave plenty of time when travelling to ensure you aren’t late for anything. If you’re worried about how long you’ll be waiting, go to the website for U.S. Customs and Border Protection and try looking at the airport wait times for the location you’re travelling to. There’s plenty of historical data, so try looking at the same time last year to get a fair comparison.
  • If you’re an Australian citizen and carry a passport, you probably don’t need a visa to enter the United States, if your trip is 90 days or less. You will instead require an Electronic System for Travel Authorisation (ESTA), which is far less expensive, and can be applied for here. If you fail to apply for it early enough and are denied entry into the country, you won’t be able to make any claims on your travel insurance policy.
  • When you’re travelling home, be sure to charge your phone before leaving. Devices that cannot be switched on at security checkpoints in the US will not be allowed on the plane.6

Planning a trip elsewhere? Check out travel insurance for other popular destinations.

Sources

  1. https://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/crime-in-the-u.s/2015/preliminary-semiannual-uniform-crime-report-januaryjune-2015/tables/table-3
  2. http://www.who.int/choice/country/country_specific/en/
  3. http://www.ahrq.gov/sites/default/files/wysiwyg/research/findings/nhqrdr/nhqdr15/2015nhqdr.pdf
  4. https://www.transportation.gov/sites/dot.gov/files/docs/2016MayATCR.pdf
  5. http://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/DetailsPage/3401.0Mar%202016?OpenDocument
  6. http://smartraveller.gov.au/countries/united_states_of_america
  7. http://dfat.gov.au/about-us/our-services/consular-services/Documents/consular-state-of-play-2014-2015.pdf