Purchasing travel insurance for your trip to Japan might seem daunting, but it’s a step you don’t want to skip. Wherever your journey takes you, it’s always a good idea to expect the best but prepare for the worst. If the unthinkable happens, the right policy will protect you from financial losses, or at least give you some peace of mind.
Naturally, you'll need insurance for medical coverage, but there are other criteria your provider should meet specifically for vacationing in Japan. In this article, we’ll cover why we recommend buying it and what to look for before making a final decision.
Let’s say you’re visiting Japan for cherry blossom season and catch a touch of hay fever. If you don’t have insurance, should you forego seeing a doctor? If you don’t mind toughing it out with over the counter medication, sure. But if all that mucus is making your trip miserable, don’t avoid the clinic if you're trying to dodge medical costs!
Out of pocket payments for uninsured people are low compared to other countries like the United States. Americans might even find Japan’s medical expenses to be a bargain! (Did you know that riding in an ambulance in Japan is free?) However, if you need long-term hospitalization, surgery, or emergency care, those costs can add up quickly. Travel insurance will cover your bills and guarantee that a doctor will see you!
Wait… do hospitals in Japan refuse to treat foreign people?
Japan’s national healthcare system covers most of its residents, and anyone outside of it can have trouble finding a doctor that will take care of them. Unfortunately, this includes foreign travelers, and without insurance, you’ll have to jump through a few hoops before you can get the assistance you need. Why all the red tape?
Over the years, some tourists have left behind unpaid medical bills, and hospitals are shouldering the cost. Now, many doctors refuse to treat anyone without proof of insurance. If you can show that you have enough money, you might be able to get around this problem. Unfortunately, medical providers often don't accept credit cards, and you'll have to cover the price in yen.
All said, even if you don’t have a chronic medical condition, save yourself the headache and purchase a travel insurance plan. But remember, the best policies don’t just cover medical treatments!
The beast about insurance, in general, is that you’ll never really know if your claim will be accepted. Before you finalize your purchase, check the insurance agency’s reviews, and ask yourself these questions.
Is my policy valid in Japan?
Not all insurance plans are equal. Always check which countries accept your provider. Thankfully, most reputable agencies have policies for Japan.
Will I receive proof of insurance?
We said it before, but it bears repeating. Save yourself time and trouble at the hospital by providing a hard-copy of your proof of insurance. Japan might be a technological giant in the business world, but pen and paper documents still rule most people’s daily lives. That said, if you don’t have a card, you can’t prove you have insurance in Japan!
Does it include evacuation coverage?
It’s no secret that Japan experiences typhoons and earthquakes. Although the government and citizens take as many precautions as possible, it’s difficult to predict precisely when a natural disaster will strike. During such events, public transportation shuts down for safety, and you might have to extend or cut your trip short. In situations like these, travel insurance will be your best friend!
What if my airline or hotel cancels my reservation?
Hotels and airlines don't always play fair. If there’s inclement weather or a problem with overbooking, you might find yourself stranded without reimbursement. Insurance providers can help protect you in this situation.
What if I cancel my trip?
Life sometimes gets messy, and it can get in the way of our holiday arrangements. It’s unfortunate, but it happens. Check to see if you can recoup any losses under your plan.
Will it cover lost luggage?
Nothing interrupts a trip like a lost suitcase. Packing a carry-on with a few days worth of clothes can help alleviate this inconvenience, but what if they can’t find your baggage at all? A good policy will make sure you don’t have to replace all of your valuables on your own.
What if my items are damaged or stolen?
According to a 2019 report by The Economist, Tokyo is the safest city for travelers. Most Japanese people follow a strict moral code, and they almost always turn in items they find. However, Japan isn't one hundred percent crime-free. Although it's unlikely for you to get robbed, travel insurance can make it easier for you to breathe.
Will I be covered if I participate in an extreme sport?
One of the biggest reasons to come to Japan is to explore its boundless nature. Across the country, you’ll find plenty of national parks, hiking opportunities, surfing, and ski resorts. But if you have an accident, regular medical insurance might not cover your injuries. If you’re looking forward to an adventurous trip, your insurance company might require an extra fee.