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.
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.
Delayed flights and lost luggage are covered by airlines anyway, no?
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 more fuzzy 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
With the recent outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19) and cases reported in Japan, 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.
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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 travel advisories are now in place, which may impact cover. As always, check with your travel insurance provider and read the fine print and special conditions carefully.
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. Also, 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.
For instance, if you are into adventure or extreme sports, you’ll notice that most general travel insurance plans don’t cover those—but World Nomads does.
If you are a frequent traveler based in Singapore, making multiple trips within a single year, then an annual plan from Allianz Travel might come in handy.
Are you worried about potential unforeseen health expenses? SafetyWing specializes in travel medical insurance that can be extended indefinitely, perhaps making it a good choice for long-term travelers and digital nomads.
Meanwhile, Atlas International offers flexible plans that range from some of the cheapest rates we could find for a trip to Japan, to some of the highest cover for medical available. And if you are from Southeast Asia, you might want to take a look at FWD. They operate in nine countries, including Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, and Vietnam, and offer flexible and affordable travel insurance plans that seem to cover all the basics. Travelex is a similar option with low rates, which seems to be popular with Americans, but their medical cover is perhaps not as high as the other insurers listed here.
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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.
General, 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 (read: perhaps more dangerous) stuff that our parents probably wish they never heard us doing.
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 200 activities, including things like ice climbing and heli-skiing, so you might want to check them out if that is your cup of tea.
World Nomads is available to residents of over 130 countries. Their medical cover is up to around ¥550,000,000 for residents of most countries and their evacuation cover is up to around ¥55,000,000, covering you for two of the costly risks when on the road, (almost) no matter what the circumstances. You can increase the cover by opting for their Explorer Plan, which for most countries offers either unlimited cover or up to approx. ¥1,100,000,000. Note that US citizens are only covered for up to ¥10,000,000 on medical expenses. They also offer the usual protection of travel insurance plans, including trip cancelation and protecting your gear for up to around ¥330,000.
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 already embarked on your trip—though there are a few conditions attached.
Year-long cover for multiple trips: Allianz Travel (for residents of Singapore)
If you are a frequent traveler based in Singapore, Allianz Travel’s annual Silver Plan might be worth considering. This plan covers multiple trips of up to 90 days each within 12 months, and seems to work out cheaper than booking travel insurance for each trip individually.
The Silver Plan covers medical expenses of up to ¥81,000,000 and evacuation up to unlimited, while the Gold Plan offers unlimited cover for both, if that is what it helps you sleep well at night. Pricewise, the annual Silver Plan clocks in at about ¥14,000, Gold at about ¥21,500.
If you just quickly want to buy travel insurance for a one-off trip, rates to Japan for a one-week trip start from ¥1,200. Besides medical, the plans also offer general travel insurance cover, including staples such as loss and damage to belongings, travel delays, and personal liability.
Travel medical insurance: SafetyWing
SafetyWing offers travel medical insurance at affordable rates, starting from ¥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 are reportedly planning to add more insurance products for those without a fixed residence in one country soon.
Another bonus is that you can also kick off their plan any time, even when already on the road. Besides emergency medical cover up to ¥27,400,000, their policy also includes dental and basic travel insurance including trip interruption, personal liability and lost luggage. While they may be a new kid on the insurance block, founded in 2017, they are underwritten by Tokio Marine, one of the biggest underwriters in the world.
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. A 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, medical evacuation cover is unlimited and their medical expense claims are covered up to ¥22,000,000 on the Premium plan and up to ¥110,000,000 on the First plan. All plans are valid for trips of up to six months.
Other Japan travel insurance options: Atlas International and Travelex
Starting at approximately ¥1,800 for a single 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||Allianz Travel||SafetyWing||Atlas International||Travelex||FWD|
|Cost per week from approx.||¥1,150||¥820||¥1,000||¥930||¥1,000||¥800|
|Maximum duration||6 months||1 year||Unlimited||1 year||28 days||6 months|
|Medical expenses covered up to:||¥550,000,000||Up to unlimited on the Gold Plan||¥27,000,000||¥27,000,000||¥1,640,000||¥22,000,000|
|Excess, deductibles or co-pay?||No||No||Up to ¥27,000 deductible, depending on plan||No, but can be chosen to reduce insurance premium||No||No|
|Book on the road?||Policy can start on the same day, some restrictions apply||Policy can start on the same day||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|
|Allianz Travel||Medical, death and disability expenses, evacuation & repatriation, travel inconvenience, loss and damage to belongings, terrorism cover|
|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.
Allianz Travel offers three different levels of coverage from Bronze to Silver, with varying premiums and covers. Available to residents of Singapore.
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.