If you are planning a trip abroad, travel insurance is a must, no matter how close or how far your destination is.
A good travel insurance policy will give you peace of mind that if you need medical treatment while on vacation, lose your luggage or have to cancel completely, you will be financially covered.
Is travel insurance necessary for European destinations?
You will need travel insurance for trips to Europe if you want to be fully covered.
A Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) or GHIC provides a basic level of medical cover if you are traveling within the European Union (EU) as a UK citizen – but it does not provide all the benefits of a travel insurance policy, such as cancellation, reduction and coverage of lost baggage.
The GHIC card was launched in 2021 following the UK’s Brexit deal, and it provides access to the same medical treatment that locals receive in EU countries.
Also, GHIC cards do not cover you in European Economic Area (EEA) countries, but outside of the EU, namely Norway, Iceland, Lichtenstein and Switzerland.
Travel insurance only in Europe
Europe-only travel insurance policies cover you when traveling abroad in Europe.
The countries included vary depending on your 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.
Be sure to double check that all the countries you are traveling to are included in the policy to avoid any surprises.
You can buy Europe cover only for a single trip – typically lasting 30 days – or opt for a multi-trip annual policy.
If you plan to travel more than twice in 12 months, a multi-trip policy will generally offer the best value for money.
Global travel insurance
Global travel insurance policies cover you inside and outside of Europe.
These policies tend to be more expensive than their European counterparts, but you can lower the 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 purchase worldwide travel insurance for a single trip or a multi-trip policy that covers you for multiple trips within a 12 month period.
If you have already taken out a European only policy but decide to travel elsewhere, your insurer may allow you to switch to an international policy for an additional fee. However, you may need to take out a new policy from scratch.
It may be best to purchase a worldwide policy if you know you will be traveling several times in a year, but are unsure of your destinations.
Wherever you go, check that the Foreign & Commonwealth Development Office has not advised against visiting. This may invalidate your travel insurance policy.
What travel insurance covers only in Europe
What exactly is included in a Europe-only travel insurance policy varies from provider to provider, but you can expect the following essentials as standard:
Medical expenses – covers the cost of any medical treatment you require if you become ill or injured while on holiday. Make sure your policy covers repatriation (bringing you back to the UK). Since medical care in Europe can be expensive, look for a policy with at least £2m medical cover.
Cancellation or interruption – this allows you to make a claim if you have to cancel or cut short your trip due to unforeseen circumstances. Typically, a policy should offer around £3,000 of cancellation cover
Baggage and personal effects – this covers the value of your baggage and any other valuables in the event of loss or theft
Personal liability – if you accidentally damage someone’s property or injure them, you will be financially protected. Look for a policy that offers £1million worth of liability cover.
Additional coverage to consider
In addition to these essentials, you may need to add additional coverage to your policy, such as:
Winter sports coverage — If you plan to ski and snowboard 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 winter sports cover to a standard policy, which allows you to make a claim if you are involved in a ski-related accident. Alternatively, you can opt for a specialized ski insurance
End-Supplier and Airline Failure — If you’ve purchased a travel package without ATOL protection, you may want to consider a policy that includes ‘end supplier default’, which pays if the company you booked with goes bankrupt before the trip.
“Airline default cover” can also be a good option if the flights you have booked are expensive. This allows you to make a claim if your chosen airline fails before your trip.
Covid coverage — With coronavirus continuing to impact travel plans, it’s worth checking whether your policy allows you to claim covid-related medical expenses, or whether 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.
This way you will be covered if you have to cancel unexpectedly before your trip.
Find the best offer
To find the right level of coverage for your needs at the best possible price, it’s worth shopping around to compare quotes.
You may be able to cut costs by switching to a lower level of cover and a higher deductible (the amount you pay for any claim you make). However, it could cost more if you have to make a claim.
If you are traveling as a couple or family, choose a couples or a family policy that covers you all might be cheaper than individual policies.
When comparing insurance, be honest about your situation and state any pre-existing medical conditions.
It can be tempting to withhold information to lower the price of your policy, but doing so could render it invalid. This means that any claim you make will be rejected.