Travel insurance for the USA

This article explains why Americans in France should get travel insurance for the USA when traveling back home to visit family and friends.

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Does carte Vitale cover you in the USA?

After relocating to France, one of the first step is to join the French healthcare system and get a carte Vitale.

Once you do have carte Vitale, you might be wondering if it covers you outside Europe. When you go on vacation to the United States, carte Vitale only covers some emergency medical expenses that are unpredictable.

Medical expenses that do qualify for some reimbursements from Assurance Maladie are covered at the estimated cost of the procedures in France. Since medical care is much more expensive in the United States than in France, don’t expect Assurance Maladie to foot your American medical bills.

This is the first reason why you should get an extra travel insurance for the USA.

Two other reasons why you need extra travel insurance for the USA are:

  • Assurance Maladie does not cover medical repatriation costs.
  • Assurance Maladie reimburses your expenses after you are back in France, which means that you’ll have to pay up-front.

How to claim reimbursements in France?

In order to claim reimbursements from Assurance Maladie in France, send your medical bills to CPAM after you are back in France. In your Ameli account, go to “Mes démarches“, “Remboursements de soins à l’étranger“.

If you don’t have an Ameli account, mail all your bills along with form S3125 Soins reçus à l’étranger (PDF) to your local CPAM.

To create an Ameli account, read How to create an Ameli account online.

Does your mutuelle cover you in the USA?

Most people living in France have a mutuelle (top up insurance). By definition, mutuelles only reimburse a portion of medical fees already covered by Assurance Maladie.

Since Assurance Maladie reimbursements are based on the cost of medical care in France, your mutuelle will not pay much toward you medical bills in the United States.

Do you already have travel insurance?

You may already benefit from some sort of travel insurance coverage through your home insurance (assurance habitation) or your bank. Many French bank cards come with a complimentary built-in travel travel insurance coverage.

Unfortunately, these insurance policies are not sufficient when you travel to a country with very high medical costs such as the United States or Canada.

Travel insurance policies through banks are usually capped at €150,000. As we all know, medical treatments are very expensive in the United States and a few days in the hospital could easily put you over the €150,000 threshold.

Another thing to keep in mind is that your bank insurance policy will only kick in if you pay for your trip and your medical expenses with your bank card.

You should also check what kind of liability insurance your travel insurance policy includes, better be safe than sorry!

Because medical costs are so expensive in the United States, relying on the insurance policy from your credit card or you home insurance is not advisable. Don’t take any chance and make sure your travel insurance covers you adequately when you go on vacation to the United States.

What to look for in a travel insurance contract

Because of high medical costs in North America, you should get travel insurance for the USA that covers:

  • medical fees at their real cost
  • repatriation costs
  • high policy coverage limit
  • good liability coverage

Most travel insurance policies exclude pre-existing conditions. 

Travel insurance reimbursements

In case of hospitalization, your travel insurance should cover your hospital bill directly.

For other medical expenses, travel insurance policies only reimburse you once your claims have been processed first by Assurance Maladie and then by your mutuelle (if you have a mutuelle). This means that you can expect some (long) delays before getting reimbursed.

Read the details of your travel insurance policy very carefully before signing anything.

Why I recommend Yupwego

I recommend Yupwego, a French insurance broker that specializes in travel insurance.

Many travel insurance companies provide great rates and everything seems fine on paper, until you actually need to make a claim. I picked Yupwego based on multiple reports from Americans who had to make a claim and were very satisfied with their services.

The main advantages of Yupwego are:

  • policy coverage limit of €500,000
  • competitive prices for the United States
  • easy on-line subscription
  • very responsive when you need help

Subscribing couldn’t be easier. Enter your destination, where you live, when you’re leaving, along with your return date.

Enter your trip details on Yupwego

If you’re not sure how long you’ll stay in the United States, leave the return date field blank and you’ll get a quote for one week that will renew automatically every week. Following each renewal, you will receive an updated insurance certificate with the dates of the new week covered.

After entering your specifics, you get a quote right away.

Yupwego provides an instantaneous quote tailored to your needs

Click on Conditions générales to read the fine prints of what’s covered and what’s not covered.

During your trip, Yupwego offers online medical assistance 24/7.

Yupwego doesn’t currently cover people over 75 but seniors can get the Globe Sénior travel insurance policy from ACS.

Travel insurance for seniors

If you are over 65, a good option is the Globe Sénior insurance policy from ACS. Globe Sénior policy covers you up to €300,000 in the United States. It’s intended for people who are already enrolled in the French health care system (Sécurité Sociale).

Subscribing online is easy. Get a quote for Globe Sénior to see if that works for you. Enter your country of residence, your destination and your travel dates.

ACS Globe Sénior policy is for French residents over 65

After entering the specifics of your trip, you get a quote right away.

Bringing prescription medication to the USA

If you take prescription medicine, bring your doctor’s prescription when you travel to the United States. In France, pharmacists can only deliver prescription medication for a one-month duration. If you need more than one-month supply, ask your doctor to specify on your prescription “à délivrer en une fois pour départ à l’étranger pour x mois” (to deliver at once because of a trip abroad for x months). The duration cannot exceed six months.

Fill out an “attestation sur l’honneur” (sworn statement) with your first name, last name, French social security number, nationality, duration of your trip, dates of departure and return as well as the reason for your trip. Give the sworn statement to your pharmacist along with the prescription in order to get your medication for an extended period.

Read Medical prescriptions in France to learn about French prescriptions.

When you need medical care

If you need medical care in the United States, contact your insurer before going to the doctor or the hospital (when possible) or else your medical expenses might not be covered.

Keep all your receipts because you’ll have to send them to your travel insurance company for reimbursements.

Trip cancellation and valuables

Even though I only focused on medical coverage in this article, It’s worth reading what else is covered besides health expenses. Travel insurance policies usually offer compensations for:

  • trip cancellation and delays
  • lost or damaged luggage and valuables

I hope you’re more familiar with health insurance coverage when visiting the United States. How about reading about pharmacies in France and how they differ from pharmacies in the United States?


Nathalie Nahmani

About Nathalie Nahmani

Nathalie is the creator of ma French Life. She moved back to France after living in Los Angeles for 20 years. She writes practical articles to help expats in France. Nathalie lives with her family in the French Alps near Grenoble.

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4 thoughts on “Travel insurance for the USA”

  1. I’ve read that these types of policies typically cover non-US citizens visiting the US, but not US citizens. I’m a US citizen in France on a VLS-TS (visitor) visa. I currently have private health insurance (for France), but don’t have a CV, mutuelle, or any US health insurance. I just wanted to confirm that a policy such as this will work for a US citizen visiting the US.

  2. These look like good companies. But it’s important to understand that if you are covered by Secu you first have to file with them, and then with your mutuelle, before travel insurance will cover you, at least in my experience. And because Secu is so stressed right now this can take a long time. I’m about to hit my two-year anniversary of a medical incident in the U.S. and Secu still has not accepted all my costs, and thus not paid anything toward some of them. Until that happens, the mutuelle won’t consider it and until that happens, the travel insurance won’t consider it.

    • Hi Anne. You’re right, most travel insurance policies are “in complement” of Sécu and mutuelle.
      I’ve seen expat insurance policies that reimburse “au premier euro”, which means that they don’t wait for reimbursements from a “tiers” but I couldn’t find any travel insurance policy that do that. I’ll update the article to make it very clear.
      Sorry you had to wait so long to get reimbursed, hopefully it will work out in the end!
      Thank you for your precious feedback Anne!

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