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I am going to the USA for a number months. I will be by the coast for a specific period where I plan to surf. I'm looking up adventure sports insurance and as you can imagine it is quite expensive.

Do I have to get that type of insurance for the entire trip?

I was planning to get a second cheaper travel insurance for the remainder of the holiday when I won't be doing such activities but the wording used on the insurance websites is fairly ambiguous. Some ask for a specific time period, whilst other sites ask for the dates you will be flying from and returning home.

  • You can always buy a ticket for a shorter duration and then 'change your mind' and stay longer if nothing happens. – JonathanReez Apr 1 '17 at 21:29
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    Is it really that expensive? I've always found insurance to be a much smaller part of the vacation budget than travel, accommodation, or food. – gerrit Apr 2 '17 at 9:01
  • Have you contacted an agent for the travel insurance or the insurance company itself? They might be able to customize a packet for you, with the extra coverage for the short part only? If not possible, you can do a whole holiday cover from one company and a second cover for just the coastal part with the extra coverage, starting from home but stopping when you leave the coast. But do compare costs as the extra fees might eat up the profit of not having the expensive cover. – Willeke Apr 2 '17 at 15:23
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If you're buying travel insurance, you would want to cover your entire trip, not for just medical expenses, but for the other exigencies that such insurance can cover: loss, theft, travel or baggage delays, emergency cash, legal assistance.

If you buy medical insurance only, you may not have to cover your entire trip. However, not doing so could present problems if, during the 'non-covered' period, something happens. As importantly, should you buy adventure sports insurance, and only for the period in which you'll engage in such activities, a subsequent claim could be rejected if your coverage period is less than the period of your trip. Look carefully at the provider's terms and conditions to ensure that you're protected fully.

Another option is to add coverage while on your trip. World Nomads, for example, does just that. As it also has the usual travel insurance, you may be able to combine both, with an activity upgrade for a portion of the trip. (I'm sure there must be other similar companies; I'm not affiliated with it in any way; this was the result of a Google search.)

Check whether you have protection currently where you live, e.g., through your employer, which would cover you for medical expenses while abroad. Often these are reimbursements: you pay in full and submit a claim upon your return. And, in the US, a trip to the emergency room could easily cost $3000 (and the ambulance that takes you there... $750 !).

Whichever approach works for you, healthcare in the United States is quite expensive. You're never denied emergency care based on ability to pay: after assessment and, as appropriate, treatment, you are expected to pay for it, whether through insurance or from your pocket.

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