Is Travel Insurance Mandatory? Countries That Require Travel Insurance

Jay Pagkatotohan

Jay Pagkatotohan

Last updated March 20, 2024

Flights? Booked! Hotel rooms? Reserved! Instagram-ready outfits? Packed! How about travel insurance

For many vacationers, travel insurance is just an afterthought. Most travelers realize its importance only after the worst happens. If you’re flying abroad, you may need this kind of safety net, especially if your destination is one of the countries requiring travel insurance.

So is travel insurance mandatory? Which are the countries that require travel insurance? Keep reading to find out.  

Is Travel Insurance Mandatory to Go Abroad? 

is travel insurance mandatory

Is travel insurance required to leave the Philippines? It depends on the country you’re visiting. 

Some nations won’t compel you to buy travel insurance, but highly recommend it all the same. On the other hand, there are countries that require travel insurance. 

But you shouldn’t look at travel insurance as a mere requirement. After all, it comes with practical features that will save you from stress and headaches in the long run. 

Here's why you need to get travel insurance for your trip abroad: 

  • Travel insurance covers medical expenses. In case you get injured or sick during your vacation, travel insurance will cover pertinent costs, from doctor’s fees to hospital expenses. This feature comes in handy when you’re in a country with an expensive healthcare system. 
  • Travel insurance covers personal accidents. This will help you and your family protect your finances in case of death or permanent disablement during the trip. 
  • Travel insurance covers third-party liabilities. In case you cause an incident that hurts a third party or damages their property, your travel insurance will cover the expenses incurred. 
  • Travel insurance takes away the stress of repatriation. Some policies cover medical evacuation and repatriation of remains in case of death. 
  • You’ll be compensated for travel inconveniences. Delayed flight? Canceled trip? Lost luggage? Stolen laptop? Travel insurance covers an assortment of trip inconveniences.
  • Travel insurance is relatively cheap. You can get a policy that is accepted abroad for as low as ₱299! 

Read more:

What are the Countries That Require Travel Insurance?

is travel insurance mandatory - list of countries that require travel insurance

Travel insurance is mandatory for which countries? Several countries in Europe require Schengen travel insurance. Certain countries from the non-Schengen zone, Asia, South America, and Africa also won’t allow you to enter without travel insurance. 

Here’s a list of countries that require travel insurance: 

  • Schengen Countries[1]
    • Austria
    • Belgium
    • Croatia
    • The Czech Republic
    • Denmark
    • Estonia
    • Finland
    • France
    • Germany
    • Greece
    • Hungary
    • Iceland
    • Italy
    • Latvia
    • Liechtenstein
    • Lithuania
    • Luxembourg
    • Malta
    • Netherlands
    • Norway
    • Poland
    • Portugal
    • Slovakia
    • Slovenia
    • Spain
    • Sweden 
    • Switzerland
  • Antarctica
  • Bermuda
  • Bhutan
  • Cuba
  • Ecuador 
  • Iran
  • Jordan
  • Nepal
  • Qatar
  • Russia
  • Rwanda
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Seychelles
  • Turkey

is travel insurance mandatory - countries that require travel insurance

Note: International travel rules may change without prior notice, so keep in mind that this list is neither exhaustive nor definitive. To see if the country you’re visiting requires travel insurance, visit the country’s official government website, get in touch with the local embassy, or ask your travel agent. 

Read more: Europe, Here I Come: Schengen Visa Requirements in the Philippines

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Why do Some Countries Require Travel Insurance? 

You may be wondering, "Why is travel insurance mandatory in some countries?" Agreements among countries, such as those in the Schengen Area, is one of the reasons behind this requirement. 

Required or not, getting a travel insurance policy is a good measure since medical costs in other countries are significantly expensive. This is true for Schengen Area countries and even for certain places that don’t require travel insurance, such as Singapore, Japan, and Hong Kong. 

What Happens if I Don’t Get Travel Insurance Even When It’s Required? 

In many cases, a travel insurance policy is one of the requirements for a visa application. For instance, a Schengen visa application requires proof of travel insurance with a specified minimum coverage. 

If you don’t present this requirement, your visa application will be denied. In turn, you won’t be able to enter the country.

What Should I Include in My Travel Insurance? 

is travel insurance mandatory - what should i include

This depends on the type of trip. Check out certain circumstances that may require corresponding inclusions:

  • If you’re traveling with a senior citizen without pre-existing conditions, get a standard insurance policy with comprehensive hospitalization benefits. 
  • If you don’t have an existing health or life insurance policy, get a standard travel insurance policy to financially protect yourself and your family in case of unforeseen events. 
  • If you plan to participate in high-risk sporting activities like surfing, get a policy with sports inclusion. 
  • If you're traveling with a minor, get a policy with a return of minor children feature. This benefit covers expenses for sending your child back to your home country in case you get hospitalized during your trip. 
  • If your trip has connecting flights, get a policy with a missed connection benefit. This will cover expenses incurred during such a problem. 
  • If you want to rent a car while overseas, get an add-on that covers damages to rented vehicles. 
  • COVID-19 is still a threat, so make sure your insurance covers this illness. 
  • If you travel multiple times within the year, get multiple-trip or annual coverage. 
  • If you're traveling with a group, apply for a group package. Some insurers offer discounted rates for this plan. 
  • Even if your credit card comes with free travel insurance, consider getting another policy. The free travel insurance may not come with critical coverage, such as for illnesses and emergency assistance. 

Does Travel Insurance Have Exclusions?

Yes. Travel insurance benefits may not apply to the following situations: 

  • Pre-existing conditions
  • STDs or sexually transmitted diseases
  • War and similar events, such as revolutions, insurrections, or invasions
  • Pregnancy-related situations
  • Unattended luggage
  • Mental health disorder

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Is Travel Insurance Mandatory: FAQs

is travel insurance mandatory - faqs

If you have more questions regarding travel insurance, you may find the answers in this section:  

1. Is travel insurance mandatory for the USA? 

Travel insurance isn’t a requirement for foreign visitors in the United States. But experienced travelers recommend getting one. 

The U.S. healthcare system is mainly private, which means treatment costs are very expensive. There's also no universal healthcare that provides health benefits for the country’s citizens and visitors.[2] 

2. Do I need travel insurance for Japan? 

Japan doesn’t require tourists to get travel insurance. Nevertheless, it’s strongly recommended to get your own insurance with medical (including COVID-19) coverage. 

Japan has a universal healthcare insurance system that covers foreigners, as long as they have residency status.[3] But if you’re a tourist who happens to get sick, injured, and hospitalized, you need to pay for the medical expenses out of pocket.

Failure to pay your medical bills has serious repercussions that will affect your future travel plans. You’ll be denied entry to the country the next time you visit. The country’s authorities screen foreign visitors for records of unpaid bills.[4]

Read more: 21 Japan Travel Tips: Tax-Free Shopping, Spots to Visit, and More

3. Is travel insurance required for Korea? 

No. Travel insurance is an optional add-on for your trips to South Korea. However, many travelers recommend getting a policy since healthcare costs in South Korea are high. 

4. Is travel insurance mandatory for Singapore? 

Singapore doesn’t require visitors to get travel insurance. But keep in mind that Singapore has expensive healthcare costs, even at public hospitals like Singapore General Hospital (SGH). Stay on the safe side by getting a policy with high limits. 

Read more: G for SG: Requirements to Travel to Singapore From the Philippines

5. Is travel insurance mandatory for Hong Kong? 

Hong Kong doesn’t require its visitors to get travel insurance. But if you want to protect your finances, you’re free to get your own policy. While the city has a reliable public healthcare system, it doesn’t cover tourists. 

Hong Kong is a very expensive city, so expect high hospital costs. You can bypass this issue if you have travel insurance with adequate coverage.  

6. Is travel insurance required for Thailand? 

No. Thailand doesn’t require visitors to get travel insurance. Nevertheless, that shouldn’t stop you from getting one, especially since dealing with healthcare costs using your own wallet while overseas can be cumbersome. 

7. I’m convinced. I’m getting travel insurance. What are the requirements? 

Travel insurance requirements vary from one provider to another. But they’re generally easy to supply. Typically, you need to fill out the online application form, provide passport details, and specify the destination.

You may also need to acknowledge certain conditions. For instance, the insured individual must not have pre-existing illnesses. Otherwise, they won’t be able to claim the benefits. 

If you’re applying online, make sure you have your credit or debit card with you for payment. 

8. How soon should I get a travel insurance policy? 

To make sure you won’t forget about it, purchase your travel insurance weeks before the trip. One advantage of early purchase is that you can review the policy. Some insurers let you adjust your policy based on any changes in your travel plans.

However, you can still get it within 24 hours before the scheduled departure. 

9. Is travel insurance refundable? 

This will depend on your insurer, but bear in mind that some travel insurance companies offer non-cancellable and non-refundable products.

However, you may still be allowed to adjust your policy depending on your travel plans. 

10. What’s the claim process like? 

Nobody wants to have to use their travel insurance policy, but life happens. In such cases, you need to know how the claim process works:

  1. As soon as the incident happens, call your insurance provider. Don't worry, insurers usually have a 24/7 hotline. 
  2. Depending on your insurer, you may need to settle the bill you’ve incurred first. But if your benefit includes cashless medical assistance, you may want to use it. This feature works like an HMO card. 
  3. After the insurance company confirms your case, they will ask you to submit some documents. For medical expenses, you need to produce a copy of the medical report or certificate and proof that the bill is settled (if filing for reimbursement). For personal accidents, you need to submit a copy of the police report or a photo proving the injury or disablement. 
  4. After submitting the requirements, the insurer will review your case. Depending on the complexity of your claim, they may get back to you in a few days or weeks. 
  5. You’ll then receive a confirmation that your claim has been accepted. If the application is not accepted, you’ll receive a rejection letter that explains the reason. 

Final Thoughts 

Is travel insurance mandatory? In some countries, yes. But even if a country doesn’t require it, get a policy just to stay on the safe side. 

While traveling is a thrilling activity, it’s also unpredictable. A lot of things can go wrong, turning an otherwise fun vacation into a stressful one. 

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Jay is a marketing communications professional who specializes in short-form and long-form content. He has written ads for TV, radio, print, and digital. He has also produced corporate blogs, magazine features, white papers, product listings, reviews, and press releases for clients here and abroad. When he’s not writing, Jay plays the piano or takes pictures for his visual diary. Follow Jay on LinkedIn.


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