English-Speaking Insurance Companies for Emergencies in Japan
For the most part, health insurance in Japan is affordable and adequate. But if you are looking for additional coverage in case of an emergency, today’s article looks at insurance companies that provide English support for their clients.
With few exceptions, citizens and residents are mandatorily required to enroll in Japan’s national health insurance system. Aside from the monthly premiums, an individual enrolled in the national health insurance system will pay up to 30 percent of the total medical fee incurred out-of-pocket, with the remaining 70 percent covered by the government.
Most individuals paying into this system find this sufficient for their needs and don’t opt to purchase additional coverage for the out-of-pocket amount.
But in the case of emergency hospitalization, an accident, or some other unforeseen circumstance, that 30 percent out-of-pocket expense could get steep—and additional insurance could provide you with peace of mind.
However, most popular insurance companies in Japan, such as AXA Direct Seimei, Aflac, and Lifenet, do not provide any English-speaking assistance or sign-up forms. In fact, some even require Japanese literacy as a prerequisite, as explaining complex terms and conditions in English isn’t something they are equipped to deal with.
After a good deal of research, the good news is you have some options. While not extensive, here is a list of English-speaking insurance companies for emergencies in Japan.
Life, medical, and accident insurance
VIVAVIDA! provides affordable medical and life insurance for foreigners and expats in Japan. Their mission is to give you a safety net at a minimum cost—with some plans covering up to 100 percent of medical fees incurred. (Please note they do not cover treatment for COVID-19.)
They have an English-language website, with plans and insurance details in English. Support is also available in Portuguese, Spanish, and Chinese. English customer support call-in days are on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 10 AM to 1 PM. But you can also use their English contact form and receive a prompt response.
Support for high-cost medical treatments
While medical treatment isn’t as expensive in Japan as in some other parts of the world, 30 percent of your hospital bill is a lot to pay at once if you find yourself facing a long road to recovery or extensive medical treatments.
For cases like this, you can apply for the “High-Cost Medical Expense Benefit,” a form of government aid that will reduce your medical bill so that you don’t pay more than a capped amount per month. The limit per month varies based on income levels, with high-income households’ capped amount at approx. ¥150,000. Regular households’ capped amount at approx. ¥80,100+. And tax-exempt households’ capped amount at approx. ¥35,400+.
To be eligible for this deduction, you will need to apply and then present the Eligibility Certificate for Ceiling-Amount Application. For more details, refer to this explanation (English PDF) from the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare.
Japan Insurance focuses on providing English-language insurance coverage for vehicles, drivers, and accidents that occur on roads, including third-party compensation, injury compensation, and vehicle compensation. (They also provide home insurance in case of fires.)
Furthermore, they offer a road-side service. In the case of a car breakdown, you can place a call (in English), and they will arrange for a tow truck to assist you. Their entire website and all details are in English, so signing up can be done without an interpreter. Use their free quote calculator to find out the monthly premiums you would pay with them.
Currently, anyone who rides a bicycle in Tokyo must have bicycle insurance that will cover the cost of personal injury in the case of an accident while cycling. Here are two options for getting bicycle insurance in English:
The first option is TS Mark, which insures both the bicycle and the rider for 1 full year, after which you must renew the insurance plan. They provide an English-language pamphlet that explains the process. And in the case of an accident, you can call Mitsui-Sumitomo Insurance at 0120-258-189. Mitsui-Sumitomo Insurance will connect you to an interpreter for a 3-way call so you can inform them about the accident and receive assistance. To get this insurance, bring yourself and your bicycle to a bicycle store, such as this one in Shibuya. You will need to fill out an application form, which will include your name, address, and phone number. The application form is in Japanese, so if you need help with this, you can get a TokyoMate Assistant to help you. Once you have signed up, the staff will place a TS Mark sticker on your bicycle. Total cost for 1 year: ¥3,630
The second is a bicycle insurance plan, which you can sign up for at 7-Eleven. Many bicycle insurance plans limit the insurance coverage to only the individual who fills in the application form, often only in Japanese, which becomes a hurdle for foreigners that can’t write in Japanese. However, the bicycle insurance plan (from Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance) offered at 7-Eleven will allow a friend or someone who can speak/read/write Japanese to sign up for you. The plan is called お一人様プラン(本人以外型), which is a one-person plan that allows a proxy sign-up. The person who signs the contract needs to keep the insurance certificate, and they can contact Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance in case of an accident at 0120-258-189. Total cost for 1 year: ¥3,990.
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