Find travel insurance for Japan
Stay protected on your trip to the Land of the Rising Sun.
It’s no wonder Japan is a popular travel destination all year round. Whether you’re looking to drink in its ancient culture or you want to be swept up in the exciting, bustling cities, Japan has much to offer.
However, an omamori good luck charm is not enough to ward off bad spirits. Like with all holidays abroad, travel insurance is absolutely necessary for your next trip to Japan.
What does travel insurance cover?
Each travel insurance policy will differ in the amount of coverage it provides, but some common features include the following:
- Cancellation fees. Should you need to call off your trip due to unexpected circumstances, such as sickness, an accident or a natural disaster, insurance will compensate you for any cancellation fees or prepaid deposits you’ve made.
- Overseas medical and dental expenses. Should you get sick or injure yourself while away, you’ll be covered should you need treatment. Without this coverage, you might have to pay incredibly expensive overseas medical bills.
- Luggage and personal effects. Should you lose your luggage or personal belongings, or have them stolen or damaged while travelling, you’ll be covered for the costs of replacing or repairing your items.
- Delayed luggage allowance. If your luggage is delayed for more than a certain time period – usually 12 hours – you’ll be covered for the costs of purchasing essential items of clothing and other personal items.
- Travel delay. Delays are part and parcel of the holiday experience unfortunately. Should your journey be disrupted for reasons beyond your control though, you’ll be covered for expenses such as meals and accommodation.
- Personal liability. If you cause physical injury to someone or damage their property, and they make a claim against you, you will be covered for legal liability, including legal expenses.
What doesn’t travel insurance cover?
Alas, having travel insurance for your trip to Japan doesn’t mean you’ll be covered for every mishap. In fact, all travel insurance companies will refuse to pay out if they think you could have avoided the situation. Here are some common exclusions:
- You ignored a travel warning from the Foreign Office.
- Your luggage or personal belongings were stolen after you left them unattended in a public place.
- You were under the influence of alcohol or drugs other than those prescribed by a doctor.
- You claim for a pre-existing medical condition that you didn’t notify your insurer of.
- You acted illegally or recklessly.
- You were taking part in a high-risk sport or activity, such as skiing, that’s not covered on your policy.
How safe is Japan for travellers?
As holiday destinations go, Japan is one of the safer places for tourists and travellers, due to their welcoming and polite culture. However, there are risks. Below we outline some of the main safety issues.
Earthquakes and natural disasters
Earthquakes often go hand-in-hand with awe inspiring landscapes and Japan is no exception. It lies in an area aptly labelled the Pacific Ring of Fire, where most of the world’s earthquakes and volcanic eruptions occur. As many as 1,500 earthquakes shake Japan each year, and while they’re mostly small and won’t affect your travels, it’s best to get protected in the event that an earthquake or natural disaster does impact your trip.
Expensive health care
The good news is that Japan has a great healthcare system, yet the other side of the coin is that it can be incredibly expensive – especially if you have to stay in hospital or have major surgery. So it’s best to get a travel insurance policy that will cover you for hefty medical expenses. At the very least, your policy should pay out £1 million for treatment.
Every year thousands of tourists flock to Japan’s slopes to enjoy snow sports like skiing. While exhilarating, these types of activities do increase your chance of getting injured, and some standard insurance policies might refuse to pay for any claims that arise on the mountain. Often, you need to get specialist snow sport insurance that will cover you for lost ski passes, resort closures and medical expenses.
What are some useful safety tips I can follow?
Japan’s crime rate is low, but there are always criminals, and tourists who are lacking in local knowledge are often easy targets.
Here are some steps you can follow to avoid being scammed or mugged:
- Stay aware when partying in Japan. Keep your wits about you should someone entice you into a bar or nightclub. Foreigners are sometimes targeted on nights out in the Roppongi and Kabuki-cho entertainment areas of Tokyo. Watch out for drink spiking, being ripped-off, fraudulent credit card charges and assault.
- Watch your money and valuables. Keep a constant eye on your belongings and don’t leave a drink unattended on a night out.
- Avoid carrying credit cards or large wads of cash. Don’t attract unwanted attention or tempt fate by carrying credit cards or large amounts of money on a night on the town. Flashing the cash might make you a target.
- Getting a police report is difficult. While difficult, it’s crucial that you try to get a police report to show to your bank. Without one, you can’t seek compensation for stolen goods, which could hit your wallet hard.
6 steps to choosing the right travel insurance for Japan
Before choosing a policy, ask yourself these six questions:
- Where in Japan are you heading? If you’re travelling to a part of Japan that often has adverse weather, cancellation coverage is a good idea.
- How many times will you visit Japan this year? Decide whether you need a single trip or an annual multi-trip policy. Should you be doing multiple trips then a multi-trip policy could save you money on insurance.
- What activities will you be doing in Japan? If you’re planning on doing extreme activities such as skiing or snowboarding, you could well need an additional or specialist insurance policy.
- Are you taking valuables? Insurers often set limits on how much they will compensate you for a single item, so you should consider getting extra coverage for your camera or laptop.
- Have any pre-existing medical conditions? It’s essential you declare any pre-existing medical conditions and pay for any extra coverage not included in your policy.
- How much excess are you willing to pay? The excess is the amount you have to cough up for a claim before the insurance money kicks in. It’s a good idea to find a policy with an excess you can afford.
Making a medical claim in Japan
Health care can be expensive in Japan, which means costs could skyrocket if you need serious medical treatment. You should really look for a travel insurance policy with unlimited medical, hospital and dental cover.
It would also be worthwhile finding one that offers emergency repatriation should you need to fly home for treatment. Should you need to file a claim, here’s what to do:
- Contact your insurer. Call your provider as soon as possible. This will ensure not only that your claim is filed quickly, but it might also help you find a doctor or sort out payments to the hospital.
- Be prepared to pay up front and hold on to all bills. Hopefully your policy provider will have a 24/7 contact centre, which you can get in touch with should you need to urgently pay for expensive medical bills. With smaller fees, such as for medication, it might be worth paying out of your own pocket and holding onto any receipts. You can then send these to your insurer when you get home.
- Have travel insurance documents and certificates ready. Take your insurance documents with you and have them ready should you need medical treatment. Given Japan has a national health insurance system, health practitioners are often reluctant to treat foreign patients without proof of insurance.
Who do I contact in an emergency?
In the event of an emergency, some useful contacts include the following:
- Your insurer. Your insurer should have a 24/7 helpline – the number will be clearly displayed on your policy
- Police. 110
- Ambulance/Fire. 119
- Japan Helpline: 0570-000-911
- Emergency interpreting service. +81 03-5285-8185
- Tokyo English-speaking police. +81 03-3501-0110
- UK embassy. If there’s a major emergency like a terrorist attack, you lose your passport or get into legal trouble, contact the nearest UK embassy
Laws in Japan: What should I be aware of?
Many Brits might consider the Japanese legal system strict, and police have more power to arrest you should they suspect you’ve been engaging in criminal activity. Here’s what you need to know to avoid being arrested and potentially jailed in Japan.
- Japan has a zero-drug tolerance policy. You can be charged simply for having traces of illegal drugs in your system, even if you don’t have the drugs on you. Police also randomly search and test people in clubs and bars.
- Smokers beware. In parts of Tokyo and other cities, smoking in some public places is outlawed. Check you’re okay to light up or risk being hit with a hefty on-the-spot fine.
- Don’t drink and drive. Japan has a blood-alcohol limit of zero when driving, plus it’s a crime for a passenger to let someone under the influence drive.
- Police don’t always need warrants. You can be stopped and searched or even seized and detained with no warrant or warning.
- You can be held without a trial. You can be held in custody for up to 23 days without a formal charge. Police have the right to question you without your lawyer present.
- You are required to carry a passport. Keep your passport on your person at all times in Japan. Police occasionally do identification checks, and you can be arrested for travelling without ID.
Travel tips for Japan
Whether you’re a seasoned traveller or a first-time visitor to Japanese shores, it can be a pretty hectic and overwhelming experience dealing with the language barrier, the dazzling modernity of the big cities or simply trying to work out the price of sushi. Here are a few ways you can prepare yourself:
Basic Japanese etiquette
Japanese etiquette may take some getting used to, but here are some things you should know:
- If you don’t know someone well, address them using their last name with the honorific “san”.
- Bow in greeting unless a handshake is offered.
- Remove your shoes when entering a temple.
- Always bring your host a small gift when invited to dinner.
- When eating with chopsticks, do not use the end that has been in your mouth to pick up food from shared dishes.
- Never refuse a drink — it’s considered rude. You can drink slowly or barely at all.
Book a foreigner-only Japan Rail Pass
The Japan Rail Pass allows you to travel throughout Japan with its extensive JR train network on all four main islands. Even better is the fact that the JR Pass offers a foreigner discount. Don’t leave it until the last minute though. You have to book your pass outside of Japan before you begin your trip.
Get a local SIM card.
If you want to use your phone while in Japan, pick up a prepaid SIM card to connect to a local network for the cheapest price.
When and where to wear shoes in Japan can be a bit confusing. As a rule of thumb (or toe), shoes are not worn in Japanese homes, temples, ryokans (traditional inns) and other public places – they’re not even worn in restaurants! If in doubt, fall into step with the locals.
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