Travel insurance is not mandatory to enter China, but traveling uninsured poses a significant risk. No matter how you spend your time in China, you should have a travel insurance plan that will provide coverage for delayed or canceled flights and other concerns.
Mainland China is a popular vacation destination for travelers looking for adventure. Activities like hiking the Great Wall of China, seeing the terracotta warriors and exploring the Forbidden City will excite the culture-inclined. Foodies can enjoy delicacies like Peking duck, Chinese Hot Pot and traditional Char Sui. Meanwhile, cities like Shanghai, Guangzhou and Beijing offer a metropolitan escape.
Your trip to China could be canceled due to a disease outbreak, or you could require medical coverage if you become ill during your trip. Likewise, US exit bans can be enforced without warning, which could leave you stranded if you don’t have insurance coverage.
The following sections will tell you about the different types of coverage you can purchase when traveling to China and the benefits they offer.
Cancel for Any Reason Coverage
Cancel for any reason coverage (CFAR) is typically an add-on provided by most insurance companies. It will allow you to claim back any pre-booked expenses for your trip if you need to cancel for a reason that is not covered in basic travel insurance plans.
For a China trip, you might want CFAR to cover the following:
- COVID-19 concerns, should restrictions change
- Safety risks, such as natural disasters or political unrest like the Hong Kong demonstrations
- Pre-existing medical conditions (standard medical coverage will often have exclusions for pre-existing conditions should you choose to cancel your trip)
- Personal and professional obligations that mean you can no longer travel to China
- Travel delays affect your planned trip
Be aware that CFAR often needs to be purchased two weeks before your travel date, and to be reimbursed you will need to cancel your trip 48 hours prior to your departure date. Always check your travel insurance policy and contact your travel insurance company, as they will have different restrictions.
Gear Theft Protection
Gear theft protection covers valuables like laptops and cameras if they are damaged or stolen on your trip. It is usually included in travel insurance plans up to a certain amount, but this may not fully cover the cost of your belongings should they be damaged.
Consider what items you will take on your trip before you purchase travel insurance. You may want to insure expensive gadgets individually. Consider leaving certain valuables at home.
Medical Emergency Insurance and Emergency Medical Evacuation
Medical emergency insurance will cover you should you find yourself in need of emergency medical care. Chinese healthcare can be expensive — the best treatment is available from private hospitals, so having medical coverage protects you from paying treatment costs out of pocket.
You may also find yourself in need of emergency transport to a medical center. While this won’t be too difficult in cities like Chengdu and Xi’an, this could cost significantly more or take longer in a rural area.
Travel insurance plans can have exclusions regarding the medical treatment of pre-existing conditions. However, some travel insurance companies will provide specialized coverage, so it’s worth shopping around.
Emergency medical evacuation involves returning travelers to their home country for medical treatment if they cannot receive it in China. Having health insurance will cover these costs, and most policies will include medical repatriation in the insurance plan if you pass away while abroad.
Rental Car Protection
Car rental in China can be a challenge. China does not recognize foreign licenses, but if you plan to rent a car, you can apply for a temporary provisional license for your stay. You will need a valid visa in order to be eligible for car rental as well.
Rental car protection can be added to your travel insurance plan, or you may be able to purchase extra coverage from your rental car provider.
Trip Cancellation Insurance
With any trip, there is a chance that things won’t go as planned. In this event, having travel cancellation and trip interruption insurance will protect you from sunken costs should you need to cancel your trip.
Trip cancellation insurance is included in most travel insurance plans, but they are subject to exclusions which can vary depending on your insurance provider and chosen policy. You should check with your credit card company, as they may offer this coverage if you purchase your airline tickets with them.
Valid reasons for trip cancellation typically include:
- Death of traveler(s) or family members
- Illness or injury preventing travel
- Military deployments
- Subpoena to appear in court
- Other legal responsibilities that prevent you from traveling
Trip cancellation will typically be included in a policy up to a certain amount. It is worth checking multiple insurance providers to see how much you can be reimbursed.