Ever since I moved to the USA, I always wanted to bring my parents to this country. Imagine the feeling seeing your mom and dad enjoy like kids traveling in US and you overlooking them, just like how they would, when you played in your childhood! Amazing, isn’t it? Well I decided to bring my parents to US on a visitors visa. Based on my experience, here’s what I learned.
(Note: Even though this article talks from an Indian perspective (me being an Indian), it is true for anyone traveling to US on visit visa. Scroll down to the bottom of this article to learn more insights.)
Now bringing your parents is not easy (at least for the first time). I’ve heard from my friends that they have spent days and nights filling up the Visa application online, sorting between passport, documents etc. It was a painful experience going through all the process and finally getting a visitor’s visa.
If your parents are visiting USA or if you’re coming to USA on a student or travel visa (or any other legal ways you are entering USA) you will need a traveler’s medical insurance. It’s not a must but very recommended. In this article, I’ll discuss about which travel insurance plans you need to buy for your parents when visiting USA. (Also read: Tips to buy the best travel insurance)
List of best travel insurance for parents
Here is a list of best travel insurance for parents visiting USA…
- CoverAmerica Gold New
- Visitor Secure Best Seller
- Liaison Continent Discontinued
- Atlas America Popular
- Inbound USA Economical
- Inbound Guest Economical
- Visitors Care
- Patriot America Plus Excellent
- Liaison Travel Economy Economical
- Liaison Travel Choice
- Liaison Travel Elite Good Choice
Detailed review of each plan is given below. Please review each plan, their features and comparisons before making a decision.
To help others bringing their parents to USA, I have written in-depth articles on the entire process. Here are a few that I strongly recommend you check out.
- Documents required for parents visiting USA (Must read)
- Sponsor documents required for visitor visa interview (Important)
- Popular interview questions for visiting parents to USA (Great for first timers)
- A summary guide of the entire visitor visa process (Good for sharing with parents)
- 14 Tips for Indian parents visiting USA (Share this with your parents)
- Visa Interview Tips for Parents (Great for parents attending the interview)
- How to prepare for visitor visa interview (Good tip for first timers)
This plan was recently launched on December 5th 2017 and has easily become a favorite. The reason? It’s gotten rid of all the unnecessary frills that comes with most travel insurance plans and offers just the right features needed for elderly folks. It comes with a great coverage (100% payment after deductible), emergency and urgent care, cheaper co-pay, extensive PPO network, dental and eye urgent care, up to 79 years coverage, acute on-set of pre-existing conditions coverage, amusement park/cruise cover etc.
- Coverage from 5 days to 364 days
- Urgent care consultation co-pay only $30
- Up to $125,000 coverage for acute onset of pre-existing conditions
- Most extensive PPO network
- Renew or cancel anytime online
- Covers during international travel
- Offers free Rx discount card
- Offers unique features and benefits (Amusement park, cruise coverage etc)
VisitorSecure is a economical plan for visitors to USA for short time. It offers basic coverage, is low cost and offers less benefits compared to the comprehensive plans. With no PPO network, you can visit any Doctor of your choice under this plan. There are some limits to it, as in people from certain states and countries are not eligible for this plan. Check details here. However, this remains as one of the most popular plans (in terms of number of policies sold) among travelers to USA.
I’ve heard about this plan from my friend who recently brought her elderly parents to USA on a short visit. She chose this plan because it was a short term plan and didn’t come with unnecessary features that she wouldn’t use. ChoiceAmerica is a limited coverage travel insurance plan that is primarily built for parents visiting USA (mainly from the Indian sub-continent).
It has features like coverage for common pre-existing conditions even for occurrence during visit (not acute on-set). Also it covers against injury from amusement parks and adventure trips. Looks like a lot of thought has gone into making this insurance policy and it just works best for elderly parents traveling to USA. Read my in-depth review of ChoiceAmerica travel insurance here.
- Limited coverage plan, that offers just the features needed for a short trip.
- Covers pre-existing conditions (selected few common ones) normal occurrence (not just acute on-set)
- Low cost.
- Covers injuries from adventure treks, amusement parks etc.
- Elaborate PPO network.
- Good travel insurance plan for parents visiting USA.
- Insurer’s maximum age requirement is 74 years.
Provides an extensive network of providers and 24 hours travel assistance. This is a comprehensive coverage travel insurance plan, but low-cost in premiums. It covers pre-existing conditions (acute on-set), loss due to terrorism and natural disasters.
- Comprehensive coverage plan. (See difference between comprehensive & limited coverage)
- Affordable low-cost premiums.
- Pre-existing conditions are covered (acute onset, selected conditions).
- Offers access to PPO network.
- Can renew, cancel or refund online.
- Maximum coverage is only for up to 187 days.
I have heard a lot about this company and recently my friend had opted for Atlas America’s medical coverage plan for her parents who were visiting them. New immigrants, business travelers, students, short visits – whatever is the reason for your travel, they have an insurance plan for you. Atlas Travel helps protect you from most potential disasters and even offers emergency medical evacuation, coverage for lost of baggage and a bunch of packages! Choose from the list wisely, what you need.
6. Inbound USA
Inbound USA is a basic coverage, low cost, less benefits plan administered by Lloyd’s of London. It offers coverage from 5 days to 364 days. With no PPO network, you can visit any Doctor of your choice under this plan. There are some limits to it, as in people from certain states and countries are not eligible for this plan. Check details here.
Inbound USA Guest too is a basic coverage, low cost, less benefits plan administered by Lloyd’s of London that offers coverage from 5 days to 180 days (for shorter visits, this is a good plan). With no PPO network, you can visit any Doctor of your choice under this plan. There are some limits to it, as in people from certain states and countries are not eligible for this plan. Check details here.
Visitors Care from Sirius International is a decent travel insurance for parents over 80 years old. It’s a basic coverage, low cost, less benefits plan that offers coverage from 5 days to 12 months. With no PPO network, you can visit any Doctor of your choice under this plan. There are some limits to it, as in people from certain states and countries are not eligible for this plan. Check details here.
This plan from International Medical Group is a comprehensive travel medical insurance plan for non-U.S. citizens who are traveling abroad. The plan is intended to offer a complete package of international benefits available 24 hours a day to every individuals, families or groups of five or more travelers.
- Offers comprehensive coverage. (See difference between comprehensive & limited coverage)
- Premium is affordable.
- Pre-existing condition coverage available up to selected policy maximum.
- Offers access to PPO network.
- Deductible should be satisfied only once per policy period.
- Can renew, cancel or refund online.
- For travelers over 80 years of age, there’s a max limit of $10,000.
- Can renew only if bought for minimum 1 month coverage.
- There’s a $50 cancellation fee.
- Pre-certification for certain medical treatments is required or else, there’s a 50% reduction in benefits.
Liaison Travel Economy is a visitor insurance plan that provides medical insurance coverage and emergency services to individuals visiting USA. It’s comprehensive travel plan and offers coverage from 5 to 364 days. It uses a PPO network, so you can’t go about visiting any network but only the ones it suggests. It’s not as cheap as some of the limited coverage plans mentioned above.
Another not-so-cheap comprehensive travel plan that offers coverage from 5 to 364 days. The difference from Liaison Travel Economy is that it offers up to $30,000 coverage. It too uses a PPO network, so you can’t visit any network but only the ones it covers.
Liaison Travel Elite is a comprehensive travel insurance plan that offers coverage up to $50,000 for acute onset of pre-existing conditions. It too uses a PPO network, so you can’t visit any network but only the ones it covers. This plan pays 100% up to the policy maximum for covered situations (under PPO).
13. Tata AIG – Travel Guard Travel Insurance
Travel guard offers a plethora of plans starting from basic plan to the most comprehensive coverage called Platinum. PS: Any travel insurance plan can cost you between 4-8% of the total trip cost. My research is done under an assumption that the trip cost is between $4000-$4500.
14. Geico Travel Insurance
GEICO’s travel insurance plans are divided into two categories: ExactCare and AirCare
Features of ExactCare traveler insurance:
– Trip cancellation or interruption
– Emergency medical/dental coverage
– Baggage loss/delay
– Travel delay
– Missed connections
– Emergency medical transportation
Features of AirCare includes
– Flight cancellation for domestic or international flights
– Missed connections for domestic flights
– Flight or tarmac delays
– Lost or delayed luggage
15. HDFC ERGO
Advantages of choosing HDFC ERGO travel insurance:
– You can avail your insurance online and if you are a HDFC account holder, then the process even simpler with netbanking. There is no need for medical checkups or complicated documentation.
– You can avail travel insurance for a trip as short as 1-4 days.
16. ICICI Lombard Travel Insurance
Key benefits of this policy is that no medical test is required up to 85 years of age and cashless hospitalization facility is available worldwide. You may avail your insurance for 180 days but you can sure extend for another 180 days. ICICI Lombard’s travel insurance can give you coverage for total loss of checked in baggage including handbags.
Most of the airline industry also provides their own independent travel insurance coverage Most recently when my parents were travelling within India, the Jet Airways offered them their travel insurance coverage called Jet Protect for insuring their belongings and the domestic flight journey. Tata AIG’s Travel Guard is the plan through which Qatar and Emirates insure their traveler’s flight journey.
It is easy to list a number of companies that offer travel insurance, but the choice is always yours. You have to decide what makes you buy a particular plan and what are reasons to justify it. For this, you need to know what are the various factors that determines the travel insurance rates.
– Age of the traveler really matters
– Number of traveler
– Length of travel
– Type of coverage
Insurance Tips for parents traveling to the USA from India
It is always overwhelming with joy for our parents when their son or daughter working abroad plans a foreign visit for themselves. And having your parents visit you in the USA is definitely a rewarding experience. The one thing that strikes your mind when we have our parents geared up for the long flight is their safety and health. Any sort of medical emergencies or travel chaos can disrupt the entire trip and moreover, it makes the situation difficult to handle. Health and accident risks can happen anywhere, what we can do is to take necessary precautions to overcome the stress, limit the financial burden and make sure vital care is taken. That is when a right travel insurance plan comes into picture. Before you read ahead, please also check this article on different types of travel insurance is available. (Also read: Best travel insurance for senior citizens)
How did I come up with this list? (Research Methodology)
You will notice that most of the products mentioned here are online products. Which means that you can buy them online easily and don’t necessarily have to go through a travel agent. I researched about all kinds of travel insurance products online and found that the cheap ones are mostly online. When you go through a travel agent, there’s not many options you can choose from. But when you go through someone like Visitor’s coverage, you’ll notice that there are so many options to choose from and you aren’t restricted by expensive options.
I recommend you to check prices on a comparison site like this and check the prices offline with a travel agent. If you can get a cheaper rate, that’d be great. But my experience is that travel agents cannot give better rates. Do your research and find out.
Criteria I looked at
- Plan pricing options – Whether or not there are options to choose from. For example, from basic coverage to complete coverage.
- Insurance agency reputation – How reputed is the company? Is it trustworthy? How are the online reviews?
- Ease of getting approved – How easy is it to buy insurance?
- Network coverage – How big is their network and supported hospitals in the US.
- Feedback from actual customers – I take a lot of feedback from people who bought travel insurance plans.
Should you buy travel insurance while visiting USA?
In my opinion, travel insurance is a must have to all the visitors from India to USA be it be a tourist, work visa holder or a student (Read this article on how to choose a good travel insurance). This insurance is intended to cover medical expenses while you are in a foreign land, trip cancellations, losing your luggage while the transit, flight accidents and other aspects like any sort of medical exigencies while traveling.
Having said that, it is not mandatory by law. Whether or not you need Travel insurance is your choice for safety and protection.
In my experience, it is good to buy travel & medical insurance because..
- It protects you against medical issues while in USA and covers the expenses.
- It protects you against flight cancellation, lost baggage like situations.
- Get emergency assistance during your flight/stay in USA.
- It gives you confidence and peace of mind when traveling to unknown places.
Traveler’s insurance that covers trip cancellation
Now let’s see what does trip cancellation plan cover. In case you need to cancel your trip for valid reasons prior to your departure, this plan will help you with the reimbursement of your pre- paid nonrefundable portion of your trip cost. Additionally it covers many more aspects like
Trip interruptions – This is a situation wherein the traveler is constrained to return home from the trip early due to covered reasons like home is on fire or flood, or relatives passed away etc.
Emergency medical expenses & medical evacuation – This is the coverage given to the traveler if he/she falls sick while on travel and this is helpful in a way to reduce your expenses as your domestic medical insurance might end up making you pay a higher deductible or coinsurance. Why risk it?
Repatriation of remains – If you were to pass away while on your trip, this benefits will pay for sending the remains back to the homeland. Let such incidents never happen to any of us.
Baggage – There are policies which may cover things such as loss of checked luggage, baggage delay up to a maximum amount etc. Some may just pay you the additional expenses incurred due to the fact that you lost your luggage and ask the traveler to collect the payment from the travel providers which will be the airline because they are responsible for the loss.
Travel insurance that covers medical insurance in USA
The travel medical insurance is ideally a short term medical coverage that would generally be covering the illness or injuries occurred after purchasing the medical plan or while the visitor is outside the homeland. Some of the eligible medical expenses are doctor’s visit, hospital charges, surgery, lab works, prescription drugs etc. An important thing to note here is that such plans do not cover the already existing illness known as pre-existing conditions and it is only eligible for the new ones that occur while you are in the US. The medical insurance plans are highly important to any type of visitors because generally the medical cost in the USA is considerably higher.
Of course, medical plan is of utmost value but do not assume that all types of situations/ conditions are covered. There are some exclusions that are applicable to the travel insurance such as pre- existing conditions, HIV, suicide cases and illegal acts.
Let’s delve into details of various categories of visitors flowing into the USA:
– International Students ( F1/F2 Visa holders)
– Exchange Program Students ( J1 / J2 Visa holders): These are students who are travelling to the USA on an exchange program from their parent country for few business days.
– Visitors to US or tourists: Now this type can be your parents, siblings, cousins or friends who are visiting the USA as part of the leisure trip.
– Long term work visa holders: These are professional who migrate to the USA on H1 / H4 ( spouses or dependents of H1 visa holders).
– Short term work visa holders: Professional who migrate to the US for a shorter duration in L1/L2 ( spouse or dependents of L1 visa holders).
Another question that props up in our minds is if it is mandatory for all the travelers to buy an insurance before their travel or not. Like for instance, if a person is travelling on H1/H4 visa or L1/L2 visa they typically need not buy a travel insurance as the employer sponsoring the visa would provide coverage while on travel. But the following traveler should undoubtedly buy a travel insurance coverage while the travel and stay outside the homeland.
– Student travel cover: They provides coverage to students relocating to a new country for studying.
– Business travel cover: It covers business traveler who are visiting the USA for a conference/ onsite work.
– Holiday or leisure travel: This includes people traveling to the USA as part of the leisure trip.
Taking the visitors who are travelling as part of the leisure trip or if you are having your parents over, personally, I would recommend purchasing the most comprehensive medical coverage plan for your parents because it keeps you at ease. Also, it is important to bring in a right balance between coverage Vs premium cost.
Most frequently asked questions is “should each parent separately be included in the single application or it can be made one. I would opine that it is ideal to buy medical insurance for both the parents separately rather than combining them as a single policy. This will purely be a better option so that it creates a better control if either of them wants to return home early due to domestic exigencies.
How to claim travel/medical insurance while in USA?
Claiming your medical insurance is a fairly straight forward process in the USA. Make sure you call the provider immediately or within the 24 hours of emergency. Follow the instructions they provide. Details.
What if your claim gets denied based on a pre- existing condition?
This was a situation which my friend’s mother faced. She landed in the US with a medical condition which was actually cured earlier and was never supposed to relapse. The climatic conditions triggered her illness and unfortunately it was not accounted as a new illness. The solution to this situation was to make an appeal on the matter by providing reinforcing evidence to contest the denial of the claim. The evidence can consist of a written statement from your family physician stating that the medical condition was cured and did not exist before the travel date or start date of the current insurance. There are high chances that the claim will be paid and ironically it totally depends on the credibility of the evidence. Hope to hear from my friend soon on this claim.
Getting deeper into this topic.
Where can you buy travel insurance plans for USA?
Can the host buy the insurance coverage for their parents? Can a student or a tourist buy them? The answer is “Yes”.
If you are having your parents over, definitely you can purchase the plan from the USA on their behalf and make payments using your credit card or they themselves can purchase it through the travel agent or other companies that offer the best travel insurance plans. Similar is the case with the tourist or students. Below are some of the best plans available in the USA which you can refer to while making a decision:
I know, this is a never ending topic. My only suggestion with regards to the travel insurance is that it should not be the plan that you are buying but it should be the coverage that matters. Never blindly buy a plan thinking it is a costly plan and it should have all that you need or a low budget which will not even suffice your needs. You might be wrong! Thoroughly read through the plan and ask yourself this simple question – “Do we really need this plan?”. This will ensure you are finding the right travel insurance plan for your dear ones trip. Here are some tips on buying travel insurance for visitors.
Travel insurance for parents with pre-existing conditions
So, what about parents who are travelling with pre-existing conditions? Should they just buy any travel insurance or are there any special ones that cover their pre-existing conditions as well?
The answer is that yes, usual medical/travel insurance will not cover pre-existing conditions and you’ll need to ensure that whichever policy you buy covers your specific pre-existing condition. While some policies like these, cover most conditions, it’s always a good idea to check with the company, whether they cover all expenses or not.
I have listed here some of the best travel medical insurance plans that cover pre-existing conditions. Check them out too. Also read : Best travel insurance for aged parents.
Travel Tips for seniors & aged parents traveling to USA
- Take an inventory of the medications they take before leaving and ensure they have more than enough to last the duration of their stay. Finding the correct prescriptions in a different country could be difficult and expensive.
- While traveling, seniors should avoid consuming alcohol and heavy foods to decrease the risk of food-borne illness and indigestion.
- Senior travelers should do some research on their destination before arriving to adequately prepare for the climate, culture and time zone.
- Make a quick visit to the doctor before traveling, make sure the traveler is in good enough health to travel. This can also help determine how much coverage a traveler requires
- If the senior traveler is planning to participate in any activity that could be considered strenuous, it is a good idea to search for a policy with more coverage.
- There is a higher chance of illness or injury for someone who is traveling for six months versus someone who is taking a weeklong trip, so the longer the stay, the more coverage a senior should have while traveling.
Here are more tips for parents traveling to USA.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some frequently asked questions about bringing your Indian parents to the USA.
1. How can I bring my Indian parents to USA for settling permanently?
Answer: You can bring your Indian parents to USA for settling permanently, if you are a U.S. citizen and is at least 21 years old. (Source)
2. Is it necessary to get medical insurance for parents visiting USA?
Answer: No, it’s not. However it is recommended that you get medical insurance for them, as it will be a help more than anything. Here are some of the reasons why your parents visiting USA should get medical insurance.
3. Where should I buy visitor’s insurance from?
There are many online portals available online where you can find a good plan by choosing between different filters. Here’s a guide on where to buy visitors insurance from.
4. Can I buy visitors insurance if my parents are older than 60 years?
Yes, there are a few insurance providers which provide specialized insurance plans to elder folks. They also cover pre-existing conditions. Here’s a guide on insurance plans for elder folks.
5. Can both your parents schedule an interview at the consulate together?
Yes, while applying for visa with the DS160 form, make sure you check the option where you can request an interview time slot together with another person.
6. When should I apply for my parent’s visitor visa?
This totally depends on what and when is a convenient time for you and your parents. But keep in mind that generally visitor visa processing take a few weeks, so please take that into account when scheduling your visit.
7. Should I buy return air-tickets before scheduling interview?
It is not necessary to buy return air-tickets for your parents when scheduling visa interview, however it is recommended that you get return air tickets so that the officers feel confident about your parents returning to India (which is a big factor for getting a travel visa). From my experience, if you have a return air-ticket ready, it’s always a plus.
8. Should I have an itinerary ready for my parents visit before the visa interview?
Not necessary but if you have one, it is always good. However, the risk is that if your parents don’t get a visitor visa stamped, you’ll need to reschedule your arrangement, which might prove costly.
9. What are the chances for getting my parent’s visitor visa rejected?
Nobody can guarantee a visa. It all depends on how strong and genuine your case is. But if the interview doesn’t go well and particularly, if the officer thinks that it is risky to offer a visa, then your chances of rejection are higher.
10. Can I enter USA without travel insurance?
Yes, you can. At the moment (as of 2017 October) travel/visitor insurance for parents isn’t mandatory by US laws, however it is recommended that you get one in order to protect yourself.
11. Is it mandatory to have travel insurance for USA?
No. It is not mandatory to have travel insurance when entering USA. However, since the medical costs are high, it is recommended that you get a medical insurance if you are in US for a short time. For H1 and J1 visas, it is recommended that you get temporary medical insurance until you get one from your employer/sponsor.
12. Which is the best travel insurance plan for aged parents (say 70+ years old)?
When buying travel insurance for aged parents, make sure that pre-existing conditions are covered and their age is considered. There are only a few plans that cover parents aged 70+ and their sum assured will be lesser than other plans. I have a list of best travel insurance plans for aged parents here – check it out!
13. Which is the best travel insurance plan for 80+ years old?
Two travel insurance plans that fit travelers who are 80+ are, Safe Travels USA Comprehensive (provides up to $25,000 in acute onset coverage) and Liaison Travel Elite (provides up to $20,000 in acute onset coverage).
14. Which Doctors can you visit with travel insurance?
It depends on which type of plan you have. Comprehensive plans and limited plans both have very different approaches and allow visit to Doctors differently. Here is more information on figuring out how Doctor visits and treatments work with travel medical insurance.
15. Where should you buy travel insurance from?
You can either buy plans directly from the providers from their websites. I’d suggest you compare plans before zeroing in on one. That means it’s wiser to use a comparison tool like VisitorsCoverage, before making the purchase. They also have good customer support where you can get your queries answered via telephone before making the purchase.
16. Is it better to buy medical/travel insurance from USA or India?
There are plenty of insurance options in India which are cheaper than the ones in USA. But being cheap doesn’t mean good. You need to understand that insurance is useful only when you use it. My experience is that insurance from India is very limited or not useful at all in USA. Don’t take my word for it. Just reach out to the insurance/claim department in a hospital nearby in USA and check if they accept the Indian insurance company. Chances are that they won’t. Not trying to say that just getting any American insurance is better but when comparing buying insurance from USA or India, American insurance companies offer more useful and practical insurance coverage than Indian ones, which remain cheap and looks good on paper.
17. When should you buy travel/medical insurance? Before arriving in USA or after?
It is recommended you buy a good insurance plan before the travel, with the coverage starting from the date of journey. You’ll find it very difficult to get an insurance plan after arriving in USA (not impossible but there will be lot of questions asked).
18. Should you buy insurance policies for each parent or have it combined?
Either way is fine, as long as the coverage is taken care of (with respect to right dates etc). But you will get a lot more flexibility if the plans are separate (two individual plans), like being able to cancel extend etc, especially of the journey dates are different.
19. Which is the best travel insurance for USA?
It is tough and unfair to suggest any one plan, because each plan is intended for a different context. The most popular travel insurance for USA are Choice America, Cover America and Patriot America Plus. But I suggest you find a plan that fits your requirements. (See table above)
20. Can a foreigner buy travel insurance in USA?
Yes and no. If you are a visitor and have a valid visitor visa, it is recommended that you buy the plan on or before the day of travel. Because once you reach US soil, it is difficult to get a plan that works for you.
21. Do I need health insurance to travel to USA?
No. It is not mandatory but it is highly recommended that you get one because health care costs in USA is very steep. Better be protected than worry later.
22. What is acute onset of pre existing conditions coverage?
Any sudden and/or unexpected outbreak or recurrence of a Pre-Existing Condition (as listed by the insurance company) which occurs spontaneously and without advance warning is defined as acute on-set of a pre-existing condition. It usually in short duration, is rapidly progressive, and requires immediate care.
23. Should you buy travel insurance from India or USA?
You can buy travel insurance from USA or India, but I would recommend buying it from USA if you’re traveling to USA. The reason is that, most insurance companies that sell their insurance in India, is just good only on paper. When you travel to USA, you need an insurance plan that can be used in US in case of emergencies. What I’d recommend is that you enquire with a hospital in your area (if you’re in US) whether or not they accept the insurance plan from India. Chances are that they won’t. So then, just getting a cheaper plan is not going to cut it.
If you have any questions, please ask in comments and I’ll be happy to answer.
Full disclosure: Details mentioned above might have changed since the publication date. Please check with the company for current rates and specifications. I am not a certified insurance policy seller or expert and the above information is only for research purposes and could have inaccuracies. Please use your judgement. Certain links posted in this article might contain affiliate links, which will earn the author revenue from purchases generated.