Travel Insurance for Trips to Europe
Travel Insurance for Trips to Europe

Travel Insurance for Trips to Europe

Planning a trip to Europe is equally exciting and stressful, from daydreaming to packing and preparing. While it can’t prevent unexpected hiccups from occurring, Europe travel insurance can help protect against unexpected delays and disasters.

Travel insurance can make or break a trip when unexpected delays, injuries or hiccups happen. Choosing the right coverage and reading the fine print is as important as knowing what to pack.

Do I need travel insurance for Europe?

Travel insurance isn’t required when visiting Europe; however, it can cover your prepaid and non-refundable trip costs in the event of travel delays, cancellations, a medical emergency or lost baggage.

There are 44 countries in Europe, and most can be reached by train, which means travelers can access an array of climates, people and activities in a short amount of time — and open themselves up to a slew of potential mishaps.

When U.S. travelers visit Europe, they typically do so without any health insurance, so investing in a Europe travel insurance policy with medical coverage is crucial to safeguarding your health while exploring the continent.

European travel insurance requirements

Travel insurance isn’t required to visit Europe if you’re an American citizen. However, some travelers are required to obtain a Schengen visa and medical travel insurance if they plan to visit any countries that are part of the Schengen Agreement, or stay in the area for more than 90 days. (The EU supplies a list of countries whose nationals require the visa and insurance.)

What type of travel insurance do I need for traveling to Europe?

When planning a trip to Europe, a comprehensive travel insurance plan that offers well-rounded coverage is strongly recommended. Look for a policy that includes coverage for trip cancellations, delays, interruptions, medical emergencies and lost or delayed baggage.

A single Europe travel policy may cover gap year and extended travelers; however an international medical or long-term travel insurance policy may be better options. Most policies won’t cover adventure sports like mountain climbing or backcountry skiing, but you can purchase add-on coverage from select carriers.

Trip cancellation insurance

Trip cancellation comes standard with most comprehensive policies. It can reimburse you for prepaid, non-refundable expenses should you have to cancel your trip for a covered reason. Covered reasons typically include job loss, bereavement, or a medical emergency.

“You never know when something will arise, meaning you can’t travel, it is, therefore, a good idea to purchase a policy as soon as you have booked your trip so you are protected from the day you book to the day you travel,” said said Andrew Tolman, head of travel insurance at Allianz Partners UK.

Trip delay insurance

Trip delay insurance will reimburse you for costs associated with unexpected delays like inclement weather or flights. Eligible expenses can include food, accommodation and transportation.

Travelers must be delayed for a specific amount of time — usually three to 12 hours, according to SquareMouth — for coverage to kick in. Eligible reimbursements typically have a daily threshold and maximum limit.

Trip interruption insurance

Trip interruption insurance reimburses you for any unused prepaid and non-refundable costs if you need to stop your trip for a covered reason. Insurers typically cover at least 100% of the unused trip cost, while some offer up to 200% reimbursement.

Examples of covered reasons may include bereavement, forced quarantine, jury duty or weather. For instance, during the summer of 2023, unexpected severe weather disrupted travel throughout Europe. Thousands of tourists in Greece were forced to evacuate due to wildfires. Travelers who had trip interruption coverage were likely reimbursed for the unforeseen event. Situations like this make trip interruption insurance a must on any Europe travel insurance policy.

Travel medical insurance

Unless you have a global health insurance policy, most American health insurance doesn’t transfer to Europe. This will leave you responsible for any medical bills if you need treatment abroad. A comprehensive travel policy with at least $50,000 in medical coverage is recommended when traveling to Europe or any country where you don’t have health insurance.

Travel medical insurance will cover expenses related to an unexpected injury or illness. Covered services typically include X-rays, ambulance transport, hospital or doctor bills, lab fees and emergency dental treatment. You must pay for any medical services out-of-pocket, keep all your receipts, and then file a claim once you return home.

Frequent international business or leisure travelers who take several short trips in a year might consider an annual travel policy instead of purchasing multiple single-trip policies. Annual plans are more cost and time-efficient than purchasing single-trip policies repeatedly. Coverage is comparable, if not better, depending on the plan and provider.

Emergency medical evacuation

Emergency medical evacuation and repatriation come standard on most international travel policies with medical coverage. It reimburses you for the costs to transport you to a local medical facility or back to the U.S. if you suffer from a medical emergency during your vacation. It also covers the return of your remains should you pass away while in Europe.

Baggage loss or damage insurance

Europe travel insurance typically includes coverage for baggage or personal items that are lost, damaged or stolen throughout your trip. Policies typically have an overall coverage limit, a per item cap and requirements around specific items.

“Remember to pay close attention to coverage limits to make sure you have the coverage you need for your items, plus consider that some items may also be protected under your home insurance policy, so check the policy wording to make sure you have the protection you need,” said Tolman.

Many plans max out around $2,500 or less so some experts recommend insuring any items valued over $1,000 through a supplemental source.

Trip and baggage delay insurance

If your bag is delayed while traveling to or through Europe, baggage delay coverage will kick in after a specified amount of time and reimburse you for the cost of replacing essential items like toiletries and clothes.

Baggage delay coverage comes standard on most travel insurance policies. However, daily limits, maximum coverage amounts and minimum delay wait times vary by policy, so review your policy details before booking.

Cancel for any reason (CFAR) insurance

CFAR insurance, which is a coverage add-on to a typical travel insurance policy, differs from standard trip cancellation in that travelers can cancel a trip for any reason and still receive a partial reimbursement — usually 50% to 75% — of their prepaid, non-refundable trip cost.

It allows for the utmost flexibility for travelers planning trips in advance, extended holidays or open-ended travel. It doesn’t come standard on European travel insurance and is usually offered as an optional upgrade.

What’s the difference between travel protection and travel insurance?

Travel agencies, airlines and booking companies tend to offer trip protection as a safeguard against cancellations that stem from your booking with them. It also may offer limited coverage for baggage, medical or dental. Alternatively, travel insurance provides comprehensive coverage for issues like medical emergencies, illness, interruptions, delays and theft.

“While many insurers offer travel protection as part of their suite of policies, it is a more limited form of coverage designed to supplement rather than replace insurance,” Tolman said.

How much does European travel insurance cost?

The cost of Europe travel insurance depends on a variety of factors, including the number of travelers, the length of the trip, the total trip cost and your destination.

In November 2023, we obtained two travel insurance quotes for a single 40-year-old traveler from Massachusetts on a seven-day summer trip to Italy and Spain with a total trip cost of $5,000.

Prices ranged from $66 to $360, with most comprehensive coverage options from $160 to $220.

How do I get travel insurance for Europe travel?

Before you procure any quotes, decide what your coverage needs are. For example, do you want to cancel for any reason, or are you planning on doing any adventure sports?

Also, check for any coverage you may already have through credit card perks, health insurance policies, auto insurance (for car rental), or a homeowner’s insurance policy.

Once you’ve ascertained your coverage needs, then you can begin requesting quotes and decide on a policy that fits your travel needs and budget.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

Countries in the Schengen region of Europe require some foreigners to obtain a visa and carry medical travel insurance before they arrive. U.S. citizens staying 90 days or less are exempt from these requirements.

It’s unlikely that you will be able to purchase travel insurance after your trip to Europe begins. Most travel insurance providers require travelers to purchase insurance before departure. However, you may be able to find a policy directly from an insurance provider, although coverage may be limited, expensive and require a higher burden of proof when filing a claim.

Most travel insurance policies, including Europe travel insurance, don’t cover pre-existing conditions. Pre-existing conditions are defined as an illness or condition diagnosed or treated between 60 and 180 days (also called a lookback period) before the policy purchase. Some insurers may waive pre-existing condition exclusions if you purchase the policy within 14 to 21 days of booking your trip.

Yes, most European travel insurance policies cover multiple countries in one trip even if you only select one destination for your quote. You will be notified of any country exclusions before booking. Countries with travel advisories may also not be covered.

Every insurer treats country regions differently, however, policy limits shouldn’t change if you travel between two European countries. If you have $500,000 in medical emergency coverage in Italy, you will also carry the same amount in Spain or Austria.

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