Travel Health Insurance for Japan
Illnesses and injuries can occur anywhere at any time. When you’re in a foreign country and out of your comfort zone, unexpected medical issues can be especially frightening (and costly).
Japan has world-class medical care, but for visitors to its shores, this care can come at a price. Here’s what you need to know about travel health insurance and how it can benefit you while traveling in Japan.
- What is Travel Health Insurance?
- Do I Need Travel Health Insurance for Japan?
- What to Look for in a Travel Health Insurance Plan for Japan
- How to Buy Travel Health Insurance for Travel in Japan
- Travel Health Insurance for Travelers in Japan
What is Travel Health Insurance?
Before we talk about how travel health insurance can be beneficial for a trip to Japan, it’s first important to understand what travel health insurance is.
Travel health insurance, or travel medical insurance, is a type of international insurance designed to cover emergency health care costs while traveling abroad. Both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. Department of State recommend buying supplemental travel health insurance for a trip outside of your home country.
Injury or illness abroad can result in costly medical expenses, and a travel health insurance plan can help reduce your financial burden by covering certain expenses.
Not always. In fact, many domestic health plans offer little or no overseas coverage. Even if your domestic health insurance does cover you across borders, it may exclude many benefits that travel medical insurance typically offers. Such benefits include Emergency Medical Evacuation, Repatriation of Remains, and Political Evacuation.
“But Doesn’t My Domestic Health Insurance Cover Me Abroad?”
Do I Need Travel Health Insurance for Japan?
It’s true that Japan has a world-renowned health care system – it ranks 10th in the world by the World Health Organization. But as a visitor to Japan, you must pay for medical care in full at the time of treatment, or otherwise present irrefutable proof of your ability to pay.
And unless you have a long-term visa for Japan, you won’t qualify for Japanese National Health Insurance.
"How Much Do Medical Expenses Cost in Japan?"
Japan Health Info recommends that travelers without Japanese health insurance take ¥20,000 - ¥50,000 Japanese yen (roughly $180 - $450 USD) to a medical consultation at a hospital in Japan. That cost can be even higher for medical procedures. For example, the University of Tokyo Hospital lists the cost of medical procedures at ¥500,000 yen, or nearly $4,500 USD.
This is where travel medical insurance comes in. Travel medical insurance can help mitigate – or at least help reimburse – your out-of-pocket costs for covered injuries or illnesses you incur as you
Consider These Emergency Scenarios:
1. You’re homesick and seek western-style food as a comfort, but you come down with a serious bout of food poisoning that requires medical attention.
With a travel medical insurance policy like Atlas Travel insurance, you’ll be covered for the cost of a local ambulance if your hospital visit results in you being admitted as a patient. You’ll also be covered for hospital room and board and eligible medical treatment resulting from covered injuries or illnesses.
Plus, Atlas Travel will provide you with access to provider referrals and translation services in multiple languages 365 days a year.
2. You’re exploring a tranquil Japanese onsen (hot spring) in the countryside when you slip, fall, and become seriously injured.
You’re taken to the local emergency medical facility, but the facility cannot provide you with the life-saving medical treatment you need.
You’re covered under your travel medical insurance policy’s Emergency Medical Evacuation benefit, which covers the cost of transporting you to a nearby hospital that’s properly equipped to treat you. Emergency medical evacuations like these can cost upwards of $100,000 according to the CDC.
What to Look for in a Travel Health Insurance Plan for Japan
It’s important to find the right travel health insurance policy for your trip to Japan. Here’s how:
Step 1: Assess Your Needs to Determine Which Type of Travel Health Plan Is Right for You
First, ask yourself questions like:
- How long will I be in Japan?
- Do I have plans to travel to Japan or an additional country(
ies) more than once in the next year?
- Am I traveling with any companions?
- Do I wish to engage in amateur/recreational sports?
Then use your answers to determine which type of travel health plan you need for your trip to Japan.
There are three common policy types:
- Single-trip plan – provides coverage for a single trip abroad
- Multi-trip plan – provides coverage for multiple trips abroad throughout a 364-day period
- Group plan – provides coverage for a group of people (typically five or more) at a discounted rate
The type of plan you select is entirely up to your needs. A single-trip plan will suffice if you’re only traveling to Japan once in the next year. The group option may be best if you’re planning a trip to Japan with your friend group or large family. Choose a multi-trip policy if you’re planning to travel to Japan frequently within the next year for business or other reasons.
Planning to Stay in Japan for Over a Year?
Then you may need to consider a travel major medical plan, also known as expatriate insurance. This type of insurance is similar to your standard, home country health insurance. It typically offers some coverage for prescription drugs and preventive care in addition to coverage for emergency healthcare. It may also give you the option to extend your benefits for a period following your return home.
In the meantime, you can still purchase travel medical insurance for a period of up to 364 days. Travel medical insurance typically offers benefits like Emergency Medical Evacuation in addition to coverage for unexpected injury or illness. These plans can be very budget-friendly, and they do not require underwriting or application approval.
Note that travel medical insurance does not provide coverage for pre-existing conditions, wellness exams, and regular prescriptions.
Step 2: Identify Which Travel Health Insurance Benefits Are Most Important to You
Once you select the plan type that best suits your needs, you’ll determine which benefits you want.
Basic Emergency Medical Benefits
As a baseline, you’ll want to have basic emergency medical coverage. This coverage usually includes:
- Eligible Medical Expenses – the core benefit of any travel medical insurance plan, this benefit provides coverage for eligible costs resulting from accidental injury or unexpected illness
- Emergency Medical Evacuation – coverage for emergency air and ground transportation from a hospital or facility that is ill-equipped to treat you to the nearest hospital that can provide adequate care
- Hospital Room and Board – coverage for semi-private hospital room and nursing services
- Local Ambulance – coverage for ambulance transport in connection with an injury or illness resulting in inpatient hospitalization
- Intensive Care Unit – coverage for ICU expenses related to a covered injury or illness
Recreational Sport and Activity Coverage
Most travel medical insurance policies cover some amateur and recreational sports and activities as well.
For example, the Atlas Travel policy from Tokio Marine HCC – MIS Group covers sports and activities such as:
- Indoor and outdoor rock climbing
- Mountain biking
- Mountaineering (at elevations under 4,500 meters)
- Scuba diving (must be PADI/NAUI certified or accompanied by a certified instructor at depths fewer than 10 meters)
- Snow skiing and snowboarding (recreational downhill and/or cross country)
Be sure to read through your Description of Coverage carefully to ensure your level of sports activity is covered – and to ensure you are aware of any exclusions or limitations.
See the Description of Coverage for Atlas Travel. You’ll find information about sport and activity coverage on page 21.
Note that extreme sports are usually excluded from travel health insurance policies. Some policies may give you the option to attach an extreme sports add-on – often called a “rider” – to your policy to cover certain activities that are not covered in the base policy, such as heli-skiing.
Next, you’ll want to make sure the plan you choose offers supplemental benefits that are relevant for your trip. Coverage for natural disasters is extremely important for a trip to Japan. The Islands of Japan are located where several tectonic plates meet, making the country prone to earthquakes and tsunamis.
A Natural Disaster benefit may provide coverage for replacement accommodations if you are displaced from your paid lodging as a result of a forecasted natural disaster or natural disaster strike. Benefits like this typically apply if you have less than 72 hours of advance notice.
The Atlas Travel policy also provides the option to add additional Natural Disaster Evacuation coverage. This coverage can provide you with:
- transportation to the nearest safe location,
- one-way airfare to return you to your home country following a natural disaster evacuation, and
- up to three days for accommodations if you are delayed at the safe location and unable to depart to your home country.
Emergency family transportation coverages may also come in handy if you are traveling long and far to reach the Land of the Rising Sun. Consider a policy with benefits like Bedside Visit, Emergency Reunion, Return of Minor Children, and Pet Return.
Learn how these emergency transportation benefits work in action – both before and after you face an emergency situation abroad.
Step 3: Choose Your Maximum Coverage Limit
Your plan may allow you to select your maximum coverage limit. This is the maximum amount of money your travel medical insurance policy will pay towards your eligible expenses. In some cases, it may apply “per injury or illness” or “per certificate period” (the amount of time your policy is effective).
Many policies offer maximum limits between $50,000 and $1,000,000 (to travelers under 80 years old), though some plans offer up to $2,000,000 in coverage. While $50,000 USD may seem like more than enough to cover eligible medical expenses incurred while traveling, the cost of care for injuries and illnesses can certainly add up. We suggest choosing a maximum coverage limit of at least $50,000.
NOTE: Travel medical insurance policies typically offer fewer coverage options to those age 70 and up, and individuals age 80 and up may be limited to a predetermined maximum coverage limit.
Step 4: Make Sure You’re Satisfied with Your Per-Benefit Coverage Limits
Remember those medical benefits you selected? Just like with your overall coverage limit, you want to ensure the per-benefit coverage offers you enough potential compensation to cover what you’re
For example, the CDC notes that an emergency medical evacuation can exceed $100,000. So you want to look for a policy that offers at least $100,000 in Emergency Medical Evacuation coverage.
You can find this information in the Schedule of Limits and Benefits for the plan. You’ll find that some benefits offer a lifetime maximum, a maximum amount per day, or a maximum amount per certificate period. Others might list specific conditions of coverage (i.e. “usual, reasonable, and customary charges”) or be subject to the overall maximum limit for the policy.
Use the following suggestions to guide your search for per-benefit coverage limits:
- Emergency Medical Evacuation – $100,000+
- Repatriation of Remains – $25,000
- Personal Liability – $10,000
- Political Evacuation – $10,000
- Trip Interruption – $5,000
You may want to look for higher per-benefit limits depending on where you’re traveling in Japan. If you’re traveling to a more remote part of the country, you may want to look for an Emergency Medical Evacuation benefit that offers higher coverage. If you’re traveling to a part of Japan prone to earthquakes or tsunamis, it may be wise to add a Crisis Response rider with Natural Disaster Evacuation to your policy.
Step 5: Consider Your Deductible
Deductibles are an important factor in the overall cost of your travel medical insurance policy. A deductible is the predetermined dollar amount of eligible expenses you must pay before your travel medical plan begins to cover its share of your remaining eligible expenses.
Learn what other factors determine the cost of your travel medical insurance policy.
Many providers offer deductibles that range from $0 USD to a few thousand dollars. A higher deductible usually means a lower premium (the amount you pay to purchase a travel medical insurance policy), while a lower deductible usually results in a higher premium.
Choosing a deductible level is up to your personal preference. For example, if you’re planning a ski trip to Japan, you may want to choose a low deductible and pay a higher premium since you may have a higher chance of becoming injured. If you simply want coverage for a worst-case scenario, you may consider a higher deductible with a lower premium to cover worst-case scenarios.
Regardless of what deductible you choose, keep in mind that cash is the preferred payment method in Japan. Hospitals that accept credit cards are limited, so you may need to prepare cash.
How to Buy Travel Health Insurance for Travel in Japan
It’s easy to compare travel medical plans and get quotes online when you know what benefits and coverage maximums you’re seeking.
It’s also important to read the description of coverage for the plan you’re considering – especially the benefits and exclusions – before you buy. This is especially important for travelers to Japan who plan on engaging in snow sports or other recreational activities.
Don’t forget to compare providers, as well. A quality travel medical insurance provider will have a good company reputation, an easy-to-use website, and multilingual travel assistance services for policyholders.
Review the fine details once you’ve selected a plan that fits your needs and expectations.
- Make sure trip dates, length of coverage, and destination are listed correctly.
- Ensure the appropriate number of travelers is listed and the cost is accurate.
- Review the deductibles you’ve selected.
- Double-check your coverage limits are adequate.
- Verify all travelers’ personal details are correct.
"Can I Buy Travel Health Insurance After I Arrive in Japan?"
Yes. But you should purchase it beforehand if possible.
Travel medical insurance only covers eligible injuries and illnesses that take place after your coverage has gone into effect. If you are injured while traveling in Japan and you try to purchase a travel medical insurance policy to cover expenses you’ve already incurred, you won’t be covered or receive financial compensation.
But don’t sweat it if you decide to take an impromptu ski trip to the Japanese Alps – you can purchase a travel medical insurance policy like Atlas Travel after you’ve arrived in Japan. (And you’ll receive your documentation by email immediately.) Just be sure to purchase before you plan to start skiing.
Travel Health Insurance for Travelers in Japan
Now that you know what benefits, coverage limits, and deductible options to look for – and how to compare policies and providers – you may be thinking, “Where do I even start?”
Let us help.
Atlas Travel is travel medical insurance designed for international travelers, including those heading abroad to Japan.
Purchase of an Atlas Travel policy by visitors to Japan comes with a unique perk – the Omotenashi app. Wi-Fi in Japan can be limited, but this app provides free and reliable Wi-Fi for seven days after activation, in addition to cultural tips about Japan and common translations.
Atlas Travel is also a great option for snow sport-enthusiasts, as it offers coverage for recreational downhill and/or cross-country snow skiing and snowboarding.
"Why Should I Consider Atlas Travel Insurance for My Trip to Japan?"
Here are a few additional reasons to choose Atlas Travel for your trip to Japan:
- Budget-friendly options – Atlas Travel offers policies that start at just a dollar a day. In an expensive location like Japan, you may welcome a budget-friendly travel medical policy so you can splurge on experiences.
- Flexibility – You can tailor your plan by choosing a deductible you’re comfortable with, the length of coverage you need, and the overall coverage maximum you want.
- Ease of use – You can purchase coverage while traveling, extend your coverage after your purchase, or cancel your policy if your travel plans change.
- Immediate fulfillment – Are you taking a spontaneous trip to Japan tomorrow? Buy Atlas Travel online and receive your policy documents immediately.
- International provider search engine – Do a quick search and get directed to doctors and hospitals throughout Japan.
- Multilingual travel assistance services – Japanese can be a difficult language for foreign visitors. Once you purchase an Atlas policy, you’ll gain access to translations, referrals, and assistance with lost travel documents and lost luggage.