Visitor Insurance for Parents: What to Know

Visitor insurance covers medical care for non-U.S. citizens while in the United States.

Kevin Payne
Written byKevin Payne
Kevin Payne
Kevin Payne
  • 5+ years writing insurance, travel, and personal finance content

  • Founder of FamilyMoney Adventure blog

Kevin is a seasoned writer who leverages his love of budgeting and all things personal finance to create informative, thoroughly researched insurance and money content.

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Chris Schafer
Edited byChris Schafer
Chris Schafer
Chris SchaferSenior Editor
  • 15+ years in content creation

  • 7+ years in business and financial services content

Chris is a seasoned writer/editor with past experience across myriad industries, including insurance, SAS, finance, Medicare, logistics, marketing/advertising, and many more.

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Updated October 17, 2023

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The United States has some of the highest healthcare costs in the world.[1] Visitor insurance for parents can help you avoid high out-of-pocket expenses and provide necessary medical care if you have parents visiting from another country. 

Visitor insurance covers new and unexpected illnesses and injuries for non-U.S. citizens visiting the United States for an extended time. In this complete guide, you’ll learn how visitor insurance works, what it covers, and how to buy it.

What is visitor medical insurance?

Visitor insurance is a temporary medical insurance policy that covers medical costs for non-citizens visiting the U.S. from a foreign country.

While a visit to the U.S. may include travel coverage, visitor insurance differs from traditional travel insurance policies, which typically cover travelers in case of a delay or cancellation. Visitor insurance is primarily medical-focused insurance and protects against unexpected or emergency medical situations, injuries, and other select medical treatment. Sometimes, it also covers the acute onset of pre-existing conditions.[2]

Not all insurance companies offer visitor insurance. Instead, this type of policy is often available through insurance companies specializing in medical insurance for travelers or travel insurance. Insurers may refer to visitor insurance as travel medical insurance or visitor health insurance, but they’re all the same policy type.

Generally, insurers offer two types of medical insurance for travelers: fixed-benefit travel insurance and comprehensive travel insurance. Fixed-benefit policies feature payout caps, leaving you to cover the rest. Comprehensive travel insurance offers full insurance coverage up to the policy maximum. 

Keep in Mind

Visitor insurance is often geared toward relatives who are senior citizens, and insurance companies may offer different policies based on your relative’s age.

How visitor insurance for parents works

You typically purchase a visitor insurance policy before you travel from a foreign country, but you can still get coverage if you’re already in the U.S. Visitor health insurance coverage starts as early as the day after applying with an insurance company. Policies typically range from five days to a full year. Some insurers allow you to extend or cancel your policy under certain conditions.[3]

Like other insurance types, visitor insurance is there to help, if needed, for new and unexpected illnesses and injuries while traveling. It doesn’t extend to routine medical treatments, like regular doctor’s visits, eye exams, vaccines, or dental checkups.[4] 

Visitor insurance is considered secondary coverage, meaning it doesn’t kick in until after filing a claim through your primary medical insurance provider. Also, visitor health insurance may cover a higher percentage of medical bill costs when you use providers within the insurance company’s PPO network.

Coverage policies and procedures may vary between insurance companies. Generally, there are no copays involved with visitor health insurance, but some companies may charge one. Your policy may include co-insurance, which requires you to cover a specific percentage of medical costs. 

Medical providers may work with the insurance company or require payment up front for medical costs. In that case, parents must file a claim through the insurance company to get reimbursed for those out-of-pocket medical costs.

Good to Know

Visitor insurance works similarly to other types of medical insurance. Insurers offer various plans with different levels of coverage, policy maximums, and deductibles. Companies may offer add-on policies like accidental death and dismemberment and pre-existing condition coverage. Premium rates and coverage can vary, so shop around to find the best value.

Visitor insurance claims

Insurance companies have their own process for filing insurance claims. Generally, if you’re not required to pay out of pocket up front, the medical provider submits the claim on your behalf to the insurance company.

The company will contact you directly. It may ask you to provide documentation or submit a claim form to continue the claims process. This is typically done online, but the insurance company may accept claims by email or mail. The claims department will determine your responsibility, if any, and you’ll receive a bill from the insurance company or medical provider.

If the provider requires payment up front, you must pay for any medical services received. Then, you can file a claim through the insurance company. If approved, you’ll be reimbursed for all, or a portion, of the cost based on your plan and policy maximums.

Claims are typically processed within two to four weeks but sometimes can take longer.

Types of visitor insurance for parents

Two types of visitor insurance for parents are available. The best visitor insurance plan depends on your needs.

  • illustration card

    Fixed visitor insurance plans

    Fixed visitor insurance plans are low-cost alternatives to comprehensive health plans but offer less coverage. They come with an overall coverage maximum and set limits for each type of medical service or expense. Also, fixed plans come with deductibles for each type of medical event. Fixed visitor insurance policies are geared toward family members visiting short-term with lower health risks.

  • illustration card

    Comprehensive visitors insurance plans

    Comprehensive coverage plans are more expensive than fixed policies but offer more complete coverage. Also, comprehensive policies have one overall deductible and policy maximum. Once you meet the deductible, insurance covers all eligible medical expenses up to the policy limit. Comprehensive visitor insurance coverage is ideal for family members visiting the U.S. short-term or older parents with higher medical risks.

What visitor insurance for parents covers

Specific coverage included with visitor insurance for parents depends on your policy. These are common coverages included with most visitor insurance policies:

  • Medical: Most policies cover eligible new illnesses and injuries sustained while visiting. However, regular doctor’s visits and treatment of ongoing medical conditions aren’t covered under visitor health insurance plans.

  • Prescription medications: Visitor insurance policies cover prescription medications. Pharmacies may require you to pay up front and submit a claim with your insurance.

  • PPO network: Many visitor insurance plans use a PPO network. They may cover a higher percentage of medical costs when you use a preferred medical provider for reimbursement.

  • Emergency service: Coverage may include emergency medical procedures, emergency room, and hospital visits, hospital room and board, laboratory tests, X-rays, and other emergency services and supplies.

  • Pre-existing conditions: Some comprehensive coverage plans include the acute onset of pre-existing medical conditions, but they aren’t always included.

  • Dental: Visitor insurance policies typically only cover dental emergencies and acute onset of pre-existing conditions — not regular checkups.

  • Emergency medical evacuation: This coverage provides evacuation to an eligible nearby medical facility, including transportation costs.

  • Repatriation: Coverage may include repatriation of remains, which is the transportation of the insured person’s deceased body back to their home country. In some cases, this requires a separate add-on policy.

  • Accidental death: Some comprehensive plans cover accidental death and dismemberment.

  • COVID-19: Some visitor insurance policies cover related medical expenses if you contract COVID-19 after the policy start date.

How to Find the Best Travel Insurance for Seniors

How to Find the Best Travel Insurance for Seniors

How to buy visitor insurance for parents

Visitor insurance is a niche coverage not offered by most insurance companies. Look for insurers that offer travel insurance and other specialty coverages. Travel agents are also a good place to start. Some travel agents sell visitor health insurance or can recommend an insurance company.

You can also use travel insurance marketplaces and other insurance aggregator sites to compare multiple plans and rates at the same time. Some of the best visitor insurance plans include:

  • Atlas America

  • Beacon America

  • Hop Travel Assist

  • INF Elite

  • Patriot America Plus

  • Safe Travels USA Comprehensive

  • Seven Corners Travel Insurance

  • Visitors Care Insurance

Insurance premiums vary between visitor insurance companies and plans. Weigh the costs, applicable medical needs, and travel plans to determine whether it makes sense for you or your parents to purchase visitor insurance for them.

If your parents are in good health or are only visiting short-term, a fixed plan may provide enough coverage. If they’re visiting for an extended period or are more advanced in age, comprehensive visitor insurance offers more extensive coverage and may cover pre-existing conditions.

How Much Is Travel Insurance?

How Much Is Travel Insurance?

Visitor insurance for parents FAQs

Below are answers to common questions about visitor health insurance for parents.

  • Is visitor insurance really necessary?

    No. Visitor medical insurance isn’t always necessary. It can help cover costs associated with eligible medical expenses for injuries or illnesses for family members from a foreign country during short-term travel to the U.S. Also, visitor insurance is secondary to your primary medical insurance policy.

  • What are the best companies for visitor insurance for parents?

    The best insurance companies for visitor insurance depend on your needs. Popular options include Atlas America, Hop Travel Assist, Patriot America Plus, Safe Travels USA, Seven Corners Travel Insurance, and INF Elite.

  • Is visitor insurance expensive?

    Several factors go into visitor insurance costs, including plan type, insurer, deductibles, policy maximums, travel duration, age of the insured traveler, and any add-on coverages included. Coverage costs range from under $20 to over $200 per month, depending on the plan.[5] Typically, only premium comprehensive plans cover pre-existing medical conditions.

  • Can both parents be covered under one plan?

    Yes. Both parents are eligible for insurance coverage under one policy if they have the exact same travel dates.

  • Can you add visiting parents to your own health insurance?

    Not typically. Your medical insurance policy only covers your parents if they’re dependents living in the U.S.


  2. Path2USA. "Visitor Insurance for Parents Visiting USA."
  3. Trawick International. "US Travel Insurance for Non-US Citizens Traveling to the USA."
  4. Visitor's Coverage. "Visitor's Insurance."
  5. Visitor Guard. "How Much Does Visitor Health Insurance USA Cost?."
Kevin Payne
Kevin Payne

Kevin Payne is a freelance writer and family travel and budget enthusiast behind His work has been featured in Forbes Advisor,, Bankrate, SlickDeals, Finance Buzz, The Ascent, Student Loan Planner, and more. Kevin lives in Cleveland, Ohio with his wife and four teenagers.

Chris Schafer
Edited byChris SchaferSenior Editor
Chris Schafer
Chris SchaferSenior Editor
  • 15+ years in content creation

  • 7+ years in business and financial services content

Chris is a seasoned writer/editor with past experience across myriad industries, including insurance, SAS, finance, Medicare, logistics, marketing/advertising, and many more.

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