European Travel Insurance: What Is It And Why Do I Need It?

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, a staggering 8.6 million Brits travelled abroad without taking out travel insurance. Overwhelmingly, the countries UK holidaymakers were least likely to take out insurance for were in Europe.

Any number of reasons for this trend can be suggested - the fact that Europe is closer to home and therefore somehow feels ‘safer’, the belief that being part of the European Union meant UK citizens didn’t have to take out travel insurance, simply not thinking it’s worthwhile because you’ve never had to make a claim before.

But a lot has changed in just a couple of years. The UK is no longer a part of the EU. The pandemic has cast a whole new light on the risks we take when we travel. After months of lockdown measures, travel restrictions and cancelled holidays, even a short-haul jolly to one of our close neighbours is not something we can take for granted anymore.

Any kind of holiday abroad feels like a blessing now. And whether it’s a short city break or a family summer vacation in the sun you have in mind, you’ll want to cover yourself for all eventualities. Treated like an unnecessary optional extra by so many British travellers just a couple of short years ago, European travel insurance is now a necessity.

Where does European Travel Insurance cover?


But hold on a minute - what’s all this ‘European’ business? Isn’t travel insurance just travel insurance? Do you need to buy cover for specific destinations?

To a certain extent, yes. Travel insurance providers group parts of the world into regions and sell policies for each one accordingly. Certainly, as far as single trip insurance goes (i.e. policies that cover you for the duration of one journey only), Europe is classified as a single region in its own right.

In other words, a European single trip travel policy will cover you for every country in Europe, plus a few more - near neighbours like Turkey, Tunisia, Egypt and Morocco are often classed as part of the ‘European’ region for travel insurance purposes.

Things are slightly different with annual multi-trip insurance - policies that cover you for several trips over a 12-month period, even if they are to different destinations. Here, certain parts of southern Europe like Spain, Malta, Cyprus and Greece are often grouped in with the North African and the Middle Eastern region. This is important, as if you plan to take a holiday in any of these places as well as travel to the rest of Europe, you will need an annual policy that covers more than one region.

Do I need European Travel Insurance if I have a GHIC?


When the UK was part of the EU, British citizens could take advantage of the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) scheme. The EHIC entitles holders to state subsidised healthcare in member countries. For UK residents, the EHIC has now been replaced by the Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) which works on the same basis.

While having the GHIC can significantly reduce medical bills if you fall ill or have an accident while away in Europe, it doesn’t mean you won’t have to pay anything at all. Travel insurance pays out for whatever medical costs you might incur, and also covers you for things that the GHIC doesn’t, such as rearranged flights home.

Beyond medical expenses, travel insurance also covers you for things like cancellations and lost or stolen belongings, so it is well worth having on top of a GHIC card.

Will I get protection for COVID-19?


In short, as long as you choose the right policy, then yes, you will get cover for COVID-19. This is probably the number one thing travellers want from their travel insurance right now, wherever they are travelling.

COVID cover can be broken down into two broad categories. One is for if you fall ill with the virus and need medical attention, up to and including hospital admission. This is now included on the medical schedule of most European travel insurance policies, but be sure to check the wording.

The second type of COVID cover is for situations where your trip has to be cancelled, for example, because someone in your party tests positive for the virus. With most countries in Europe reintroducing compulsory PCR tests for all new arrivals, regardless of vaccination status, because of the Omicron variant, the risk of having your plans ruined by a positive test just before you travel remains significant.

A positive test before travelling is likely to come after the cancellation window offered by most airlines and travel firms close, meaning you’d have no recourse to a refund. Travel insurance with COVID cancellation cover is therefore the only way to get your money back.

Let me know, do you buy European travel insurance?

*Collaborative post

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