Major nonlife insurers are focusing their efforts on the sale of inbound insurance to foreign visitors coming to Japan that covers illness and injury, as the number of inbound tourists is increasing rapidly.
With the influx, there has been a spate of uninsured foreigners receiving medical care before returning home without paying, reported The Mainichi.
According to the Japan National Tourist Organization (JNTO), the number of foreigners visiting Japan in 2016 hit a record high of about 24 million. With the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics, the government is aiming to increase this number to 40 million by the year 2020.
In a survey conducted by the Japan Tourism Agency, it was found that approximately 30% of people who visit Japan enter the country without having any travel insurance. It is thought that this leads to the non-payment of medical costs in the event of such tourists visiting hospitals due to illness or injury during their stay. Furthermore, a separate survey found that, in 2016, 30% of hospitals in Osaka Prefecture that treated foreign visitors to Japan experienced cases of non-payment of medical bills.
In February 2016, Sompo Japan Nipponkoa Insurance started selling insurance to visitors to Japan that can be purchased through a smartphone or the Internet upon entering the country. The insurance premium starts at JPY440 (US$4) per day, and the maximum amount of compensation for medical costs is JPY10 million. The company is encouraging visitors to buy this "inbound insurance" by marketing through places such as hotels and tourist attractions.
In addition, major non-life insurance firms are also selling insurance to Japan-based businesses that are involved in foreign visitors' trips. In January 2016, Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance and Aioi Nissay Dowa Insurance started selling insurance to tour companies and hotels that compensates up to JPY1 million per person, if a tourist is involved in an accident or becomes ill.
Tokio Marine and Nichido Fire Insurance is also increasing its range of services to client hotels and travel-related firms through advice on how to attract more customers, through means such as advertising, and conducting surveys relating to customer satisfaction.