Travel insurance encompasses a range of coverage including cancellation, baggage loss, medical emergencies, evacuations and more. When readers ask: Do I need travel insurance for the Virgin Islands, they’re wondering whether their emergency medical care will be covered in the islands or not.
If you’re from the U.S. or Great Britain, your coverage may extend into the Virgin Islands owned by your country of origin. If you’re from another country, having a travel medical insurance plan is ideal.
Note: If you’re concerned about pre-trip cancellations, see our review on trip cancellation coverage for the information you need.
The history of the Virgin Islands is long and varied. Various islands having been owned by the Dutch, Spanish, British, and Americans over time, they are now consolidated under two countries – the U.S. and Great Britain.
The U.S. Virgin Islands now consist of:
The citizens of the U.S. Virgin Islands are U.S. citizens but they are unable to vote in presidential elections.
The British Virgin Islands now consist of:
The citizens of the British Virgin Islands are classified as citizens of British Overseas Territories and hold full British Citizenship.
In addition to the above-listed islands, there are about 50 smaller islands that are incorporated into the U.S. and British territories. For visitors to these islands, it’s important to think carefully about your travel plans to determine whether your health insurance will cover you where you’re going.
For U.S. visitors, it’s important to understand that Medicare and Medicaid programs do not pay for medical services outside the U.S. Many of the larger Virgin Islands are under the governance of U.S. and Great Britain but others are unincorporated territories. If your health insurance extends to the U.S. Virgin Islands and you’ll be staying on those islands, you may not need travel medical insurance.
If you’re the type of traveler who likes to hop islands, having a travel insurance plan to cover overseas emergency medical costs is ideal because you’ll be covered either by your own health insurance plan or with your travel medical insurance coverage. Remember, if your primary health coverage from back home is not in effect where you’re traveling, your travel medical insurance automatically becomes your primary coverage plan.
Even if your health coverage is in effect for your trip, having a travel insurance plan with medical evacuation coverage is a good idea. If you’re badly injured – say, in a SCUBA accident – the facilities on the islands may not be adequate to treat your injuries and you’ll want to be taken to the mainland for treatment. Medical evacuations can cost upwards of tens of thousands of dollars without travel insurance.
If you don’t need travel insurance for the U.S. islands, be sure to check out the Health Information from the CDC for travelers to the U.S. Virgin Islands. You can also read helpful information covering all kinds of questions about the Virgin Islands, including entry and exit requirements so you’re sure to bring the right travel documents.
Damian Tysdal is the founder of CoverTrip, and is a licensed agent for travel insurance (MA 1883287). He believes travel insurance should be easier to understand, and started the first travel insurance blog in 2006.