Visitor insurance and travel insurance are interchangeable terms often used when discussing insurance policies. Though the terms appear to be the same, they are distinct from each other. Are you wondering what visitor and travel insurance mean? Are you confused about which one to purchase? If yes, you are in the right place! 

Travel insurance plans are classified as visitor insurance and trip cancellation insurance (or travel insurance). To discover the differences, read on. 

Visitor Insurance 

Visitor insurance is short-term insurance designed to offer medical coverage to foreign visitors, students, travel enthusiasts, and entrepreneurs, covering during the entire trip. Generally, the plans provide coverage for new and unexpected medical conditions. Sometimes, these plans are also referred to as visitor medical insurance, travel medical insurance, travel health insurance, etc. 

Birth control, maternity, pregnancy, cosmetic surgery, dental pain & surgery, elective surgery, preventive check-ups,  etc., are typically not covered in a visitor insurance plan. However, it is suggested to go through the policy before purchasing it. 

Travel insurance or Trip Cancellation Insurance

Trip cancellation insurance is meant to cover travel-related risks like trip cancellation, trip delay, trip interruption, baggage loss , loss of documents & passports, medical evacuation, repatriation of remains, and more. In addition, the plans are designed to protect you financially when your trip suffers from unexpected interruptions, delays, and cancellations. If the unfortunate incidents are covered under a covered reason, you will be reimbursed for the losses incurred. 

What are the differences between the two? 

  • Visitor insurance can be purchased for any trip from 5 days to 1 year and even longer, whereas travel insurance is suitable for a 30-day trip. If you are going for a short business trip or a month’s training program, the latter can be ideal for you. The former is suitable for long educational plans or a visit to your family abroad. 
  • Baggage delay, loss of passport, travel delays, and trip cancellation are excluded in visitor insurance, but these are included in travel insurance plans. If you want to secure your trip during your travel, you need to purchase travel insurance plans. Natural calamities, war, terrorist attacks, weather changes, sickness, etc., can be considered a covered reason for trip cancellation. Though covered reasons can vary in each plan, checking the brochure before purchasing is recommended. 
  • Most Visitor insurance plans follow a PPO network. This means you can visit a doctor, clinic, and other healthcare facilities within the network and show your insurance ID card so that the provider can directly bill the insurance company. However, trip cancellation plans do not offer any PPO network, meaning members are free to visit any clinic or doctor and later send the bills to the insurance company, claiming their losses. After you file the claim for an eligible claim, the insurance company will reimburse you for the covered amount. 
  • Visitor insurance plans can cover the acute onset of pre-existing conditions. In comparison, trip cancellation plans can cover pre-existing conditions if bought within the stipulated time after the initial deposit. However, when buying a visitor insurance plan that covers acute onset, understand the definition of pre-existing conditions and acute onset of pre-existing conditions because each plan has a distinct definition. 
  • Visitor insurance plans are available for both US and non-US citizens . If you wish to visit the US  for a few days or months, you can purchase a comprehensive US visitor health insurance plan that can cover you throughout your stay. On the other hand, travel insurance policies are made for US residents. If you are traveling within the US or outside the US for academic, business, leisure trips, or training purposes, you need a travel insurance plan. 
  • Visitor insurance plans can be purchased before or after departure. If you want to buy a policy after or before your travel begins, you can do it. In contrast to this, travel insurance policies can be bought only before departure. 
  • Visitor medical insurance policies can be extendable for more than one year, but unfortunately, travel insurance policies cannot be extended. The visitor insurance plans are refundable before or after the effective date of a policy, depending on the terms and conditions of each plan. The latter plans have a distinct refund policy. It can be refundable only during the free look period, i.e., 7-10 days after the purchase. 
  • Home country coverage is not available in trip cancellation policies, but incidental or end-of-trip home country coverage is available in some visitor medical insurance plans. Read the brochure to understand what it includes and what does not. 

Which type of insurance should you choose? 

Are you a US resident? Are you traveling inside the US? If yes, you can consider trip cancellation or travel insurance! But if you are not a US resident and traveling outside your home country, you can consider visitor insurance. 

If you have several upfront payments during your vacation, like booking a cruise or an event, you need a travel insurance policy with good coverage for interruptions and cancellations. You will be reimbursed for all your non-refundable prepaid expenses if the trip is canceled or delayed or interrupted for a covered reason.  

Travel insurance plans also provide coverage for medical, medical evacuation, repatriation of remains, accidental death & dismemberment, etc. This means if you need medical help or hospitalization in a remote place, your plan can help you. You will be transferred to the nearest equipped medical facility for treatment. Some plans can cover you for trip cancellation and unforeseen medical expenses. Therefore, carefully review the brochure before purchasing. 

If your trip involves going outside your home country, you need to purchase a robust visitor insurance plan. Getting injured or falling seriously ill, or meeting with an accident all need medical attention. Spending money from your pockets can put you in financial debt, especially in a country like the US, where the medical costs have skyrocketed. In such cases, visitor health insurance is your savior. 

Depending on your travel and medical requirements, you need to buy a plan. Talk with an insurance executive, read the policy document, and be clear about what to purchase. 

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