Here’s what you need to know about travel insurance for Japan, with a comparison of some of the options available—including those that you can book when you’ve already started your trip.
A short but necessary disclaimer: Getting travel insurance is important, but we can’t make the decision for you. We can only provide information to hopefully make that decision a bit easier. Also, please note that we do not sell or provide insurance ourselves.
You are ready for the adventure of a lifetime in Japan! What could possibly go wrong? A lot, actually.
Apart from the obvious travel disasters (think lost luggage, pinched passports or canceled flights), getting sick abroad is, unfortunately, a possibility—and one you’d be well-advised to insure yourself against.
While getting a basic prescription for medicine in Japan is generally affordable out of pocket, more serious medical considerations like hospitalization or transport back home can easily run into the thousands of dollars (US). Having a travel insurance policy can give you some peace of mind, and is something most travel experts recommend. We may be Cheapos, but we believe in playing it safe.
Do I really need travel insurance for Japan? I heard it is one of the safest countries in the world.
Good point. Japan is ranked as one of the safest countries in the world, with extremely low reported crime rates. But, while you may not have to worry too much about having your stuff stolen, there are other things to consider, besides falling ill.
For example, Japan is frequently hit by typhoons. The season generally runs from late July to early October, but has started earlier and finished later in recent years. A big typhoon can lead to canceled flights, long delays or canceled trips and tours.
Aren’t delayed flights and lost luggage covered by airlines?
Almost all airlines will reimburse you for lost and delayed luggage, as well as canceled flights. But you’ll need to check the conditions on your ticket carefully, to be sure. While most travel insurance policies offer this as part of the package, you probably don’t need to double-insure yourself on this.
But things become fuzzier for your trip overall; think about the bullet train tickets and tours you might book in Japan. While you can often get refunds for tours canceled due to bad weather, you might be stuck with hotel and transport bookings that you don’t need anymore if your tour is called off. Many travel insurance policies click into gear in this case.
Coronavirus (COVID-19), Japanese encephalitis and other concerns
In light of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, many travelers are understandably worried about their upcoming travel plans. More on that below.
An older concern is Japanese encephalitis, which can be contracted via mosquito bites across most of Asia—not only in Japan. Luckily, it is extremely rare. It is estimated that less than one in a million travelers to Asia will contract the disease, and for most humans, it will be asymptomatic. A vaccine is available, but only recommended for those who will stay longer than one month in high-risk areas. Generally, bug-bite prevention is recommended as a first-line defense.
Other than that, it’s generally advisable to check that all your vaccines are up to date before embarking on your Japan trip.
Travel insurance and cancelations due to coronavirus (COVID-19)
You might be wondering if your insurance covers cancelations due to coronavirus. In short, it will vary depending on your insurance provider. A number of international travel advisories are in place, which may impact cover. As always, check with your travel insurance provider and read the fine print and special conditions carefully. Never assume anything!
Travel insurance for Japan: What should your policy cover?
Generally speaking, the biggest items when it comes to travel incidents are medical expenses and emergency evacuations, which can run into the tens and even hundreds of thousands of dollars. So check that the insurance you sign up for provides enough cover to make you feel comfortable.
Keep in mind that medical expenses really are for unforeseen situations and emergencies like accidents, or getting sick on the road. Medical tourism, check-ups or preventative treatments are usually not covered.
Anything else you might want to add to your travel insurance policy for Japan depends on what your itinerary looks like.
Comparing Japan insurance options for different types of travelers
Just a quick note before we get into it (another disclaimer): Always read the policy wording for any insurance very carefully before signing up. Terms and conditions can change and also differ depending on factors like your age, country of residence, or how high you want your cover to be.
We can’t recommend one best insurance policy for everyone because we all travel differently, but hope this overview is a starting point for you to find travel insurance for Japan that suits you, personally, best.
Travel medical insurance: SafetyWing
SafetyWing offers travel medical insurance at affordable rates, starting from approximately ¥4,000 for four weeks.
What is different about their plan is that you can renew it indefinitely, making it an interesting choice for long-term travelers and digital nomads. They rolled out their travel medical insurance two years ago and recently added other health insurance products for those without a fixed residence in one country.
A bonus is that you can kick off their travel medical insurance plan any time, even when already on the road. Besides emergency medical, their policy also covers the travel basics, including trip interruption, personal liability and lost luggage.
While it may be a fairly new kid on the insurance block, founded in 2017, SafetyWing is underwritten by Tokio Marine, one of the biggest underwriters in the world.
Adventure and sports cover: World Nomads
World Nomads have been a backpacker, adventure traveler and digital nomad favorite for years. What makes them so popular with this demographic seems to be their specialization in fun stuff that our parents probably wish they never heard about.
If you are planning on engaging in more adventurous or “extreme” activities than the average tourist, like scuba diving, skydiving or mountain climbing, note that many travel insurance policies won’t cover accidents or hospitalization that may arise related to these undertakings. But World Nomads has cover for over 200 adventure activities, including things like ice climbing and heli-skiing.
They also offer the usual protection of travel insurance plans, including trip cancelation and protecting your gear. And COVID-19 is not excluded—you may be able to claim for emergency medical and trip interruption. Read those T&Cs carefully, though!
Rates for a one-week trip to Japan start around the ¥4,400 mark, depending on your age and country of residence. A big plus of this insurer is that you can sign up to their plan even after you have embarked on your trip—though there are a few conditions attached.
A new option for Southeast Asians: FWD
If you are from Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia, Hong Kong or the Philippines, you might want to take a look at FWD. Another fairly new insurer, they are expanding throughout Asia and seem to offer some of the cheapest plans we could find online, starting from approx. ¥3,200 for a single trip to Japan.
Their plan ticks all the usual travel insurance boxes, including medical evacuation cover, which is unlimited.
Two other Japan travel insurance options: Atlas International and Travelex
Starting at approximately ¥1,800 for a two-week trip to Japan, Atlas International is available to citizens of most countries. They offer you the option to play with the sliders, so you can e.g. add a deductible to bring down the premium or push up the cover if you are happy to pay a bit more.
Travelex has been around for quite a while and is a popular choice with North Americans. They have a good reputation and their starting rates are affordable; however, their medical expense cover for US citizens might be a bit low, depending on your needs.
Here is a quick comparison of the different insurers we’ve mentioned that offer cover for trips to Japan for global citizens. Scroll to see all the options, if they don’t show up on your screen!
|Provider||World Nomads||SafetyWing||Atlas International||Travelex||FWD|
|Cost per week from approx.||¥1,150||¥1,000||¥930||¥1,000||¥800|
|Maximum duration||6-12 months||Unlimited||1 year||1 year||6 months|
|Book on the road?||Policy can start on the same day, some restrictions apply||Yes||Policy can start on the same day||No||Policy can start on the same day|
|World Nomads||Emergency accident & sickness medical expenses, emergency evacuation & repatriation, non-medical emergency evacuation, trip cancelation, trip interruption, trip delay, baggage & personal effects, baggage delay, accidental death & dismemberment, one call 24-hour assistance services, adventure sports & activities|
|SafetyWing||Medical and dental expenses, trip interruption, travel delay, lost luggage, natural disasters, political evacuation, emergency medical evacuation, personal liability, accidental death & dismemberment|
|Atlas International||Medical & repatriation expenses, indemnity benefit & visitation expenses, travel assistance, travel delay, lost luggage, personal accident, crisis response, personal liability, terrorism|
|Travelex||Trip cancelation, interruption and delay; emergency medical and dental coverage; emergency medical evacuation; accidental death & dismemberment, travel assistance services|
|FWD||Medical expenses, theft or damage to personal belongings, baggage delay, travel delay, liability cover, emergency assistance, travel disruption, travel inconvenience, emergency family travel, death or permanent disability|
Notes on the insurers:
World Nomads’ premium and conditions vary based on your age and country of residence.
SafetyWing has a higher premium for those over 39 years of age.
Atlas International covers citizens worldwide, but conditions may vary by your country of residence.
Travelex is a US insurer, but available for global citizens. Conditions may vary by country of residence, age and the total value of your trip that you want to ensure.
FWD is available for citizens of nine Asian countries: Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand, The Philippines, Hong Kong and Macau as well as Japan.
Post first published in February, 2020. Last updated in September, 2020.