While only a handful do it today, more countries are considering requiring proof of medical coverage from travelers before allowing them entry.
For most leisure travelers, that means purchasing travel insurance. Insurers view compulsory insurance requirements positively, especially in the U.S. market, where most travelers don’t purchase a policy, and insurers also predict the benefits will trickle down to travel advisors.
Recent published reports have highlighted potential plans for compulsory insurance in Egypt, marketing campaigns in Japan encouraging travelers to purchase insurance before entering the country and the possibility of a nominal fee on travelers entering Thailand to help cover expenses in the event of a traveler’s death.
Other countries, including Russia, Turkey and more than a dozen in the Schengen Area, the 26 European countries that have eliminated passport and other types of border control inside the area, have in place requirements of some sort that call for travelers to provide proof of medical coverage for the duration of their stay.
In most cases, these destinations’ motivation has been to relieve stress on a country’s medical system after tourists make use of its services, then leave without paying the bill, said Stan Sandberg, co-founder of TravelInsurance.com.
“I think a lot of countries are starting to consider the impact on their national health systems of foreign travelers coming in, hurting themselves and becoming, effectively, a tax on their healthcare systems,” Sandberg said.
According to the Japan Tourism Agency, 27% of visitors enter the country without travel insurance. The Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO) said the country’s Office of Healthcare Policy has established a working group that is trying to encourage visitors to get insurance before visiting Japan, including by distributing information overseas about travel insurance.
Diplomatic offices outside Japan are also working with local governments to encourage visitors to secure travel insurance that includes medical coverage, the JNTO said, and signage has been installed in airports encouraging insurance.
Other countries, including Ecuador, have in recent years instituted policies requiring proof of a traveler’s medical insurance.
Jenna Hummer, director of public relations for travel insurance aggregator SquareMouth, said, “We’re definitely seeing, on a whole, that it’s becoming a more popular thing for countries to require.”
In response to that trend, SquareMouth is creating a landing page with the top 25 destinations for U.S. travelers, including information on whether or not insurance is required in each.
Read the full Travel Weekly article online here: https://www.travelweekly.com/Travel-News/Travel-Agent-Issues/Destinations-insurance-mandates-good-news-for-advisors