Do I need travel insurance for Europe?

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If you are planning a trip abroad, travel insurance is a must, no matter how near or far your destination is.

A good travel insurance policy will offer peace of mind that should you need medical attention during your holiday, lose your luggage or have to cancel altogether, you will be covered financially.

Is travel insurance required for European destinations?

You will need travel insurance for travel within Europe if you want to be fully covered.

A Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) o GHIC offers a basic level of medical cover if you are traveling within the European Union (EU) as a UK citizen, but does not provide all the benefits of a travel insurance policy, such as cancellation, curtailment and lost baggage coverage .

The GHIC card was launched in 2021 following the UK’s Brexit deal and allows access to the same medical care that locals receive in EU countries.

Also, GHIC cards don’t cover you within countries that are in the European Economic Area (EEA), but outside the EU, namely Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Switzerland.

Travel insurance for Europe only

Europe-only travel insurance policies cover you when you travel abroad in Europe.

Exactly included countries vary by provider. Generally, you will be covered for all European Union (EU) countries, but some policies may also extend to Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Turkey.

Occasionally, Morocco, Egypt and Tunisia may be included in a Europe-only policy.

Make sure you double check that all countries you travel to are included in the policy to avoid surprises.

You can take out Europe-only cover for a single trip, usually for up to 30 days, or opt for an annual multi-trip policy.

If you plan to travel more than twice in 12 months, a multi-trip policy will usually offer the best value for money.

Travel insurance worldwide

Worldwide travel insurance policies cover you both within and outside Europe.

These policies tend to be more expensive than their European-only counterparts, but you can reduce your premium if you choose an option that excludes the US, Canada and the Caribbean. This is due to the high medical and liability costs prevalent in these regions.

You can buy worldwide travel insurance for a single trip or a multi-trip policy that covers you for multiple trips within 12 months.

If you have already purchased a Europe-only policy but decide to travel elsewhere, your insurer may allow you to ‘upgrade’ to a worldwide policy at an additional cost. However, you may need to take out a new policy from scratch.

It may be best to purchase worldwide policy if you know you will travel a few times over the course of a year, but are not sure what your destinations will be.

Wherever you’re travelling, check that the Foreign & Commonwealth Development Office hasn’t advised against visiting. This could invalidate your travel insurance policy.

What travel insurance covers for Europe only

Exactly what is included in a Europe-only travel insurance policy varies between providers, but you can expect the following essentials as standard:

  • Medical Expenses: Covers the cost of any necessary medical treatment if you become ill or injured during your holiday. Make sure your policy covers repatriation (taking you back to the UK). As medical treatment in Europe can be expensive, look for a policy with at least £2 million of medical expenses cover

  • Cancellation or Interruption: This allows you to make a claim if you have to cancel your trip or cut it short due to unforeseen circumstances. Generally, a policy should offer around £3,000 in cancellation cover

  • Luggage and personal items: covers the value of your luggage and any other valuables in the event of loss or theft

  • Personal Liability: If you accidentally damage someone’s property or injure them, you’ll be financially protected. Look for a policy that provides £1million worth of personal liability cover.

Extra coverage to consider

Along with these essentials, you may need to add additional coverage to your policy, such as:

  • Winter Sports Coverage — If you plan to ski and snowboard while in Europe, a standard travel insurance policy is unlikely to cover you, as medical treatment for ski accidents tends to be expensive.

Some providers allow you to add cover “winter sports”. to a standard policy, which allows you to make a claim if you are involved in a skiing accident. Alternatively, you could opt for a specialist “ski insurance” policy.

  • Bankruptcy of the final supplier and the airline — If you’ve bought a package holiday without ATOL protection, you may want to consider a policy that includes ‘final supplier bankruptcy’, which pays out if the company you booked with goes bankrupt before you travel

“Flight breakdown cover” could also be a good option if the flights you have booked are expensive. This allows you to file a claim if your chosen airline goes bankrupt before you travel.

  • Covid coverage — With the coronavirus continuing to impact travel plans, it’s worth checking if your policy allows you to claim covid-related medical bills, or if your trip has to be cut short or canceled due to covid.

When to buy coverage

It’s a good idea to purchase travel insurance as soon as you book your vacation.

That way, you’ll be covered in the event of an unforeseen cancellation before your trip.

Find the best deal

To find the right level of coverage for your needs at the best possible price, it pays to shop around to compare quotes.

You may be able to cut costs by opting for a lower level of coverage and a higher deductible (the amount you pay for any claim you make). However, this may be more expensive if you need to file a complaint.

If you are traveling as a couple or as a family, choose a couples o a family policy that covers all of you may be cheaper than individual policies.

When comparing insurance, be honest about your circumstances and state any pre-existing medical conditions.

It may be tempting to withhold information to lower the price of your policy, but doing so could render it invalid. This means that any complaint you make will be rejected.

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