Travel Insurance For Japan

6 October 2017

Australians love Japan; however, as the country is prone to natural disasters and lingering radioactivity in some areas, travel insurance is a must!

Cherry blossoms, Mt Fuji, shrines, temples, samurai, sumo wrestling, sake … If you’ve got a yen to see Japan, congratulations – you’ve chosen a stunning place to take a holiday. But no matter how long you stay, you’ll never see everything. From awesome skiing (with a side-trip to visit the snow monkeys), the beauty and diversity of Tokyo – even just riding a Shinkansen – filling in time has never been so exciting.

Source: visitjapan

Japan is a unique island nation in the Pacific Ocean; many of us here at Canstar have been there and highly recommend it as a holiday destination. But before you consider going there, you’ll need travel insurance. Hopefully this article will tell you everything you need to know about travel insurance for Japan, including why you need it and how much it costs.

But first, let’s go over some quick facts about Japan, the land of the rising sun:

Shibuya Crossing Japan
  • Capital: Tokyo
  • Land area: 377,962 km²
  • Official language: Japanese
  • Population: 127 million
  • Currency: ¥ Yen (JPY)
  • Fun fact: Japan has more than 50,000 people who are over 100 years old

Travel insurance for Japan

Japan is a place where a wide variety of adventures are possible; but no matter where you go in the world, misadventures can pop up from time to time. When you’re away from home, in a non-English speaking country, stress can escalate quickly in the case of accident or illness. It’s essential to have the backup support of a good travel insurance policy with a 24/7 helpline to rely on if you need it.

The main reasons you might need travel insurance in Japan include the following:

Cancellation costs of flights, accommodation, tours, etc.

Many things could disrupt your Japan travel plans, including an unexpected illness before you leave, an illness in the family or your employer denying your leave application. If you unexpectedly need to cancel your Japan holiday, travel insurance can help reimburse you for any out of pocket expenses such as cancellation fees.

Cover for the theft or loss of luggage and personal items

Travellers should be reassured that for such a densely populated country, the crime rate in Japan is almost unbelievably low by Western standards. It’s only when you travel to tourist centres that theft may represent a real risk, and the threat usually comes from your fellow travellers rather than Japanese citizens.

Nonetheless, being covered for these losses is a wise choice to make. Just like when you’re visiting any other worldwide destination, make photocopies of your passport and keep your passport on you at all times to avoid losing it.

Travel delay/changed travel plans

Japan is a country subject to earthquakes, tsunamis, typhoons and volcanic activity, so Mother Nature can occasionally step in when she’s not welcome. As Japanese locals will tell you, it all depends on where you visit, as most places in Japan are quite safe. If something went wrong, travel insurance would cover you for any last minute and unavoidable changes in your travel plans.

In more general terms, you’ll be pleased to know that transport in Japan is remarkably reliable when there are no natural disasters. In fact, the Shinkansen (aka the bullet train) has never been late by more than 60 seconds. If they are later than this, the driver has to give a formal explanation!

Overseas emergency medical expenses

Medical standards are high across Japan, but an accident or illness while you’re there could be expensive without travel insurance. According to Lonely Planet, you can expect to pay around ¥20,000 ($231) at the absolute minimum for emergency care.

Payment in full is usually required at the time of treatment, or a guarantee to pay asap. That’s why you need a comprehensive travel insurance policy, regardless of how fit and healthy you are. Travel insurance for Japan can cover emergency overseas medical costs, as well as medical repatriation to Australia if needed.

Snow sports

For the powder hounds, Japan has countless world-class ski resorts in the north. The country is known for heavy winter snowfalls that make it a magnet for skiers and snowboarders. I would personally recommend Hakea, located just outside the city of Nagano in the Japanese Alps.

On the downside, every year a number of people are injured or killed in snow-related accidents in Japan. That’s why it’s so important to have your Japan travel insurance in place. Generally, you’ll have to get a special travel insurance policy that covers skiing, rather than a standard policy, as it’s important to have the cover you need before you go.

Case Study: Sarah

Skiing trip travel insurance Sarah planned a skiing holiday and took out travel cover in case she got injured or any of her possessions were lost or stolen. Sarah sometimes suffers from an irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia) but she was relatively young, very active, and wasn’t taking any medication, so she didn’t think her travel insurer needed to know about it.


Five days into her holiday Sarah suffered a mild heart attack on the ski slopes and had to be hospitalised. When she tried to claim back her medical expenses, her insurer denied her claim on the basis that she had failed to disclose a pre-existing medical condition.


If she had disclosed her condition, for may have been able to get cover, for an additional premium, and would have been reimbursed for all her medical expenses. Because she didn’t list the condition in her insurance application, she had to pay her medical expenses on her own.


Thinking of going skiing on one of Japan’s many mountains? The table below shows the highest rated travel insurance policies that offer cover for snow sports, with links direct to the providers’ website. Please note that this table is based on a single traveller to Japan who is under 60 years old.

Compare Travel Insurance for Japan

What does Japan Travel Insurance cost? 

The old saying goes; ‘if you can’t afford travel insurance, then you can’t afford to travel’. Travel insurance is a vital addition to any travel checklist, and Japan is no exception. But after you take into account your 10-hour flight and accommodation costs, travel insurance really doesn’t cost that much.

To give you an idea of what you will be up for, Canstar Research has crunched the numbers on policies from 79 providers to calculate the minimum, maximum and average travel insurance premiums you’ll pay for a 10- or 21-day jaunt to Japan. All premiums below are based on the premium data collected for Canstar’s 2017 Travel Insurance Star Ratings. Premiums have been rounded to the nearest dollar.

What does Japan travel insurance cover?

Cheap travel insurance is not always the best choice, and in the case of travel insurance, it’s really important to buy cover that suits your particular situation. You’ll want the following from a typical travel insurance policy at the minimum:

You’ll want the following from a typical travel insurance policy at the minimum:

Japanese Travel Insurance Medical or dental emergency – hospital admission, emergency care and medical evacuation.
Repatriation – if tragedy strikes while you are away, repatriation covers the cost of flying your body and belongings back home to Australia. Some travel funds also include a separate sum for funeral expenses.
Lost or stolen luggage, passport or other items – replacing luggage and travel documents is the most common claim for travel insurance.
Cancelling your trip unexpectedly – due to illness, accident, holiday leave being revoked, or a natural disaster at home or at your intended destination.
Legal liability – if you break a local law and need a lawyer/interpreter.

What does Japan travel insurance not cover?

  • Driving a motorbike without a helmet
  • Illegal behaviour
  • Losing unattended items
  • Behaviour under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • Pre-existing conditions you were aware of before leaving and didn’t inform your insurer about

Travelling to regions that you know are unsafe can also void your insurance should you have a mishap there.

Canstar’s research shows you get what you pay for. While a 3-Star to 5-Star Rated policy tends to cover most things as standard inclusions, a 1-Star or 2-Star Rated policy can be expected to have various exclusions, even sometimes excluding accidental death.

The bottom line is to compare travel insurance and check the fine print carefully to make sure you’re covered for the things that matter to you. You don’t want insurance policy let you down if you have to make a claim.

Risks in Japan

It’s relatively safe for travellers in Japan and you would exercise the same amount of common sense as you would in Australia. The Australian Government has currently marked Japan as a safe destination according to Smart Traveller and recommends people take normal safety precautions.

The biggest problem is that the further south-west of the country you go, the more likely you are to be exposed to radiation, courtesy of the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant, which was decimated in 2011. The Australian Government has issued a ‘do not travel’ directive to Fukushima and surrounding areas. This means you will be unable to claim anything on your travel insurance if you travel to this region. Full details can be found on Smart Traveller website.

Otherwise, the radiation situation in almost all parts of Japan, including Tokyo, has now returned to normal. So there’s never been a better time to immerse yourself in the unfamiliar and enjoy Japan’s unique culture.

Getting help in Japan

If the matter relates to criminal issues, contact the local police. The national police emergency number is 110, and fire and ambulance is 119.

For the Australian embassy, get in touch via Tokyo in the first instance:

Australian Embassy Tokyo

Address: 2-1-14 Mita, Minato-ku, Tokyo 108-8361

Phone: 03-5232-4111

In Japan, you can also obtain consular assistance from:

Australian Consulate-General Osaka

Address: 16F Twin 21 MID Tower, 2-1-61 Shiromi, Chuo-ku, Osaka 540-6116

Phone: 06-6941-9271

Fax: 06-6920-4543

Australian Consulate Sapporo

Address: 17th Floor, Sapporo Centre Building, North 5, West 6-2, Chuo-ku, Sapporo 060-0005

Phone: 011-242-4381

Fax: 011-242-4383

See the Embassy websites listed above for information about opening hours and temporary closures that may affect service provision.

In a consular emergency, if you are unable to contact the Embassy in Japan you can reach the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre in Canberra on 03 5232 4111 (within Japan) or 1300 555 135 (from within Australia).

Finally, if you’re looking for some help on knowing what to expect in Japan, the Japanese are very polite people and are delighted when foreigners are able to say a few basic phrases. And it’s best that when in public, you should avoid blowing your nose, making loud phone calls or eating food while walking, as each of these is considered rude.

Prepare your senses for the sightseeing buffet that you’ll find on the holiday of a lifetime in Japan.

Canstar also rates travel money cards, and you can check out our 2017 Research to help find one to take with you on your Japan holiday.