A trip to America can be an unforgettable experience. From family holidays in Florida to city breaks in New York, Californian coastal adventures and once-in-a-lifetime Las Vegas blowouts, the US really does have something for everyone.
Proper planning will ensure that your stateside trip goes without a hitch, and choosing the right insurance is one of the most important things to remember before going away. Here’s everything you need to know about buying travel insurance for the USA.
As with any trip abroad, travel insurance is an important consideration when visiting the USA.
In fact, it’s extra important to make sure you’re covered when holidaying in the states, as the cost of private healthcare is incredibly expensive – there’s no public health service in America, and the cost of emergency medical bills can be high enough to bankrupt the average traveller.
Having the right travel insurance policy in place will prevent this from happening. It’s recommended that you choose a provider who offers up to £10m worth of medical expenses to cover yourself in case of illness or accidents.
Your policy should also include cover for repatriation to the UK, which will pay for your travel home if you need to return early due to a health-related issue. Cover for cancellation, curtailment or abandonment of your trip due to emergencies is also recommended.
Flying to a destination always comes with the risk of misplaced luggage, so it’s a good idea to make sure your travel insurance includes cover for lost or stolen baggage. The same goes for loss or theft of your passport. Finally, we strongly advise choosing a policy that includes personal liability – this means that if you accidentally injure someone or damage their possessions, the cost of any resulting legal proceedings will be covered.
It might seem silly, but some worldwide travel insurance policies don’t include the USA in their coverage area. For this reason, it’s always worth checking that the worldwide travel insurance policy you’re purchasing covers the destination you’re travelling to.
At Admiral, we separate our travel insurance coverage areas into three geographical zones: Europe; Worldwide excluding USA, Canada and the Caribbean; and Worldwide. When buying insurance from us, you’ll be asked which country you’re travelling to. Select USA, and your insurance will fall under the Worldwide category, meaning you’re covered for your stateside adventure.
Depending on what you’ll be doing during your trip to the USA, it might be worth paying for some optional extras.
America is home to many of the world’s best golf courses, from Pine Valley in New Jersey to Cypress Point in California. If your trip to the states will involve teeing off on these globally renowned fairways, consider upgrading your Admiral travel insurance to include our golf travel upgrade, which includes cover for lost, stolen or damaged golf equipment as well as replacement equipment hire and lost green fees.
Similarly, if you’re planning a ski or snowboarding trip to a US resort like Aspen or Lake Tahoe, you may wish to include our winter sports upgrade in your travel insurance, This covers lost, stolen or damaged equipment, replacement equipment hire, piste closures, delays caused by avalanches and illness or injury that occurs on the slopes.
Planning on bringing lots of tech to the US? You can purchase additional cover for gadgets such as cameras, tablets, computers and games consoles via our gadget travel insurance add-on.
There are so many different ways to travel in the USA, which means there are lots of different things you need to plan ahead for or remember once you're there.
How to get an ESTA
Before you travel to the USA, you’ll need to apply for entry to the country via the ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorisation). While this might sound daunting, it’s a simple online process and only costs $14 (around £10). Once accepted, your ESTA application will allow you to visit the USA for up to 90 days – any longer and you’ll need a visa. A valid passport is also required for the duration of your stay in America.
How much should you tip in the USA?
Tipping is an important part of American culture. Although paying your waiter a little extra is appreciated in the UK, it’s almost universally expected in the US – as a general rule, try to tip between 15 and 20% extra on top of your total bill. Tour guides, bartenders, baggage carriers, taxi drivers and valets also expect to be tipped, so keep some extra dollars on hand for the people who help to make your trip more enjoyable.
What to remember if you're planning a USA road trip
If an American road trip is on the cards, it’s worth doing some research into what driving is like in the US. With cheaper fuel, bigger roads and longer distance journeys, cars tend to be bigger in America, so bear this in mind if you’ll be hiring a vehicle during your stay.
The minimum age for renting a car is 21, although some companies may only rent cars to drivers who are over 25. Some states also require that foreign drivers possess an International Driving Permit. Finally, remember to drive on the correct side of the road! Americans use the right hand lane for normal driving.