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There are various types of insurance coverage available in Japan. Especially if you are a foreigner, deciding on insurance can be challenging. This article will discuss the types of insurance in Japan, namely travel, health and life insurance, available for you as a foreigner in the country.
Table of Contents
As a foreigner in or going to Japan, you want to be prepared for the types of insurance you will need, whether for travel, health or life insurance. In this article, we briefly cover all three types, with links for further information and options.
First, let’s start with travel insurance. We’ll discuss insurance for people who travel to Japan, as well as people who live in Japan who want insurance when travelling.
Foreigners visiting or staying in Japan for less than 90 days are not eligible for National Health Insurance (NHI) or Employee’s Health Insurance (EHI). These will be discussed in the next section.
In such situations, if they wish to, they can purchase insurance plans from private companies. It is advisable to opt for travel insurance if you are visiting Japan for leisure or on business because common setbacks like baggage loss, cancelled flights or stopped trains, as well emergencies such as injuries or natural disasters may affect your plans.
Of course, you can check with your local travel agency for plans before your trip. Or if you’re going through a travel agency, asking for options is great.
A few companies provide travel insurance plans specifically for foreigners that include health coverage such as:
What’s great is that these websites provide support in English while many companies in Japan only provide services in Japanese.
If you live in Japan and you’re looking for travel insurance, domestic or international, you can check with major travel companies that will probably have travel insurance to recommend. For example, JTB has JI for domestic and t@biho for international travel.
You could also go to 保険の窓口 Hoken no Madoguchi, a service for insurance consultations, and take a look at their options for travel
insurance. Make sure to specify 国内 (kokunai - domestic) or 海外 (kaigai - abroad).
Next, we’ll discuss health insurance.
So if you stay in Japan for more than 90 days, then you’re required to enrol in one of the healthcare systems.
There are two main types.
National Health Insurance - NHI is managed by the national and local governments. Foreigners who
are eligible for this scheme. It covers 70% of your medical bills as long as your treatment falls under the coverage plan and you are required to pay the remaining 30%.
Expats who want to apply for NHI must produce their Resident Card along with an application form to the local municipal office. You must do this upon arrival or within two weeks or 14 days of arrival; otherwise, you might be penalised with past dues. You must also notify them about a change of address or if you end up applying for a different insurance type.
Employee Health Insurance - EHI Is managed by individual companies. It is often packaged as social insurance which includes health insurance and pension. You will be insured by your company’s health program or private health programs. EHI covers 70% of your medical bills and monthly premiums are deducted directly from your salary package depending on your income.
For EHI, you don’t really need to do much except find out if your company has it! Your employer needs to submit the paperwork to the appropriate office for your company.
And just remember, you can’t be enrolled in both of the above!
Read more about healthcare in Japan in our article dedicated to it.
And last but not least, life insurance. Life insurance (生命保険 seimei hoken in Japanese) is a broad term that can cover anything from medical insurance to education, childbirth, death, etc. Basically, any insurance that covers anything you may need in life.
Life is uncertain and insurance is essential for your family to make them financially secure. It can also help your family to pay off any debts, mortgage, education and much more if, unfortunately, you are no longer around.
To sign up for life insurance, however, it’s almost always necessary to be a resident (have a residence card), be able to understand Japanese and show your employment status and bank statements. If it’s difficult to understand Japanese, please bring someone who can speak it on your behalf.
One good place to start with a variety of insurance is Hoken no Madoguchi in Japan (also mentioned above) - a free service found all over the country where you can consult them about insurance and they recommend the ones that best fit you and they show many different types of insurance they offer. You can go to the actual branch or get a consultation online.
In addition to Hoken no Madoguchi, here’s a list of popular insurance companies in Japan. You may have heard of them, especially if you live in Japan. They have a large variety of different insurance coverage plans.
And for more, take a look at the Life Insurance Association of Japan.
To summarize, insurance is one of the most crucial investments you can make for yourself and for your family members. In Japan, finding and enrolling into a healthcare system is easy as premiums make copay affordable as compared with other countries. Consult with a professional to see what the best options are for you.
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