Do I Need Travel Insurance for Europe?

antoine fruchard Antoine Fruchard  updated on October 6, 2020

You are planning a fancy road trip in Europe and travel insurance is the least interesting topic you think about? But have you ever found yourself in a situation where you had to get emergency treatment, where you lost your baggage at the airport, or just about anything else unexpected?

Hence, you’re probably wondering how to find the best travel insurance for visiting Europe.

In the below ultimate guide for travelling from the UK to Europe, we will tell you everything you need to know about travel insurance for your trip to Europe: is it compulsory, what key features should you pay attention to, how much does it cost? etc. Let’s get started.

Why do I need travel insurance for Europe?

Imagine that during your trip, at a roundabout, someone runs into you. You need to call the emergency services. An ambulance comes and you need to make IRM checks to ensure everything is alright.

Unfortunately, it happens much more often than we think, and it could leave both you and your travel partners with significant medical costs to pay if you didn’t apply for travel insurance before leaving.

A recent study of Which as shown that on more than 10 000 UK travelers in 2018, 64% of them have had medical care while traveling abroad. The average spend of medical treatment abroad reaches £1300 but can be much more.

Here is a list of the most common unexpected costs arising during people’s trips:

What if….How much does it cost on average?How much will you have to pay without travel insurance (but with EHIC)?How much will you have to pay with travel insurance?
You need air rescue£3251£3251£0
until medical expense limit is reached
You need an IRM £245£0£0
until medical expense limit is reached
You need to have surgery and to stay at a hospital £5 600£0 in public hospital only£0
until medical expense limit is reached
You need medical repatriation £38500£38500£0
travel insurance usually covers real fees
You need dental care£500£500£0
if planned in policy
Your baggage has been lost at the airport£780£780£0
until person belongings limit is reached
Someone stole your money£200£200£0
until cash limit is reached
You need to cancel your trip£5999£5000£0
until cancellation limit is reached
Fees to be paid with or without travel insurance in Europe

For as cheap as £1/day, “Comprehensive Travel Insurance” is a contract which fully covers you for your trip to the Europe and provides you with both financial compensation as well as assistance during your trip.

Travel insurance is not mandatory for anyone holding a valid UK passport but is, however, absolutely necessary to prevent you from significant medical or cancellation costs while travelling abroad.

Do I need travel insurance if I have my European Health Insurance Card?

Short answer: yes you do.

Your European Health Insurance Card will allow you to receive free or reduced-cost medical treatment in the European Union as well as in Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein. It will cover any healthcare expense you may have just like any resident of the visited country is covered as standard.

Your EHIC does not cover any of your medical expense in Turkey, the Isle of Man, Monaco, the Vatican City and San Marino.

However, you should never consider your EHIC as a substitute for travel insurance. It will not cover any repatriation, cancellation fees, personal belongings lost, cash stolen or any unfortunate other event. The indicative table below shows what is included in EHIC and/or in travel insurance for medical expenses.

Medical expensesCovered by EHICCovered by travel insuranceComment
Any medical care under statutory healthcare system*yesyes
Medical treatment for pre-existing medical conditionsyesyesYou should apply for pre-existing medical condition travel insurance.
Any private healthcare treatmentnoyes
Air rescue and ambulancenoyes
Any medical treatment on a cruisenoyesCruise plan is often provided as an extra by travel insurers
Repatriationnoyes
Maternity and birthcare**yesyesOnly some travel insurers covers pregnancy and birth abroad though.
EHIC and travel insurance cover

*Medical care available as statutory in the visited country may differ from the National Healthcare System in the UK, although most of the European countries will offer same provision for free healthcare. You may have to pay a patient contribution for some regular care depending on the country.

Your EHIC is your first ally especially if you are travelling with pre-existing medical conditions. However, you should never consider your EHIC as a substitute for travel insurance.

Will my EHIC be valid after Brexit?

You can use your EHIC until the 31/12/2020, end of Brexit transition period.

It is unclear what will be the cooperation between the UK and Europe regarding healthcare afterwards.

Meanwhile, you can apply or renew your EHIC here.

What are the best travel insurance policies for Europe?

How can you choose between the plethora of travel insurance policies on offer and find the least expensive policy? Many insurers, even some small ones, offer very good value for money deals. We’ve come up with a selection of small and big actors offering tempting deals. 

Among them you’ll find:

InsurerPriceOur reviewSee insurance offer
logo world first£6,54
  • Provides all travel insurance types with 4 levels of cover (all rated 5 stars by Defaqto): Standard, Premier, Exclusive, Superior
  • 4,8/5 on TrustPilotVery good customer care according to reviews
  • Offers dedicated family travel insurance
  • No credit or debit card fees guarantee
  • Possibility to apply 12 months in advance
  • UK-based customer service and claim team
  • Reimburse within 14 days
Get quote
logo explorer travel insurance£7,08
  • 4,58/5 rate on Reviews
  • Provides all types of travel insurance with 2 level of protection: Gold and GoldPlus
  • Medical compensation for up to 85 years old
  • Dedicated customer service according to reviews
Get quote
logo travel insurance 4 medical£9,48
  • 4,8/5 consumers reviews rate on TrustPilot / 5 stars on Defaqto
  • Specialist insurer providing full cover for up to 1000 medical conditions (including Alzheimer’s, HIV, cancer etc.)
  • Includes cover for pregnant womenUK based-call center
  • 24/7 assistance team
  • Provides cover for people up to 100 years old
  • Provides all travel insurance types with 3 level of protection
  • Medical compensation limit minimum is £3M and max £10M
  • Also provides cover for cruise and winter sports
Get quote
Travel insurance comparison for Europe

*Quotes above are for a 30 years old person applying for a one week trip to Europe travel insurance.

Even better, use our comparison tool to find the best deal for you! At Safe, we’ve checked out hundreds of travel insurance providers and we are now able to allow you to compare dozens of holiday insurance deals in only a few seconds without giving any personal details.

Always remember to check limits and excess amounts, maximum number of days per trip and exclusions in an insurer’s policy terms and conditions booklet. 

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

You can apply for different insurance types depending on your type of trip, from frequent luxury or business travel to cheap holidays to Europe.

You will most often have the choice to apply between different travel plan:

  • worldwide excluding USA, Canada
  • worldwide including USA, Canada
  • Australia, New-Zealand
  • Europe.

For Europe, as for any of the above destination, travel insurance policy types are:

Travel insurance typeExplanationMain features
Single trip insuranceThese travel insurance policies are for one-off holidays. You will be covered from the start of the journey until the end. You can decide the number of days you want to be covered for. 
  • Covers for the period of the stay
  • often an age limit to apply for policy
Annual multi-trip insuranceThese policies are made for frequent travellers going away for holidays, business trips or for any other reason several times a year. You would need to check whether it is more competitive to buy two or three single trip insurance policies or an annual multi-trip policy. 
  • 12 months policy
  • Length of each trip usually limited to 31 days (but can vary from 10 days to 90)
  • Age limit to apply for policy (66 years old on average)
Long stay and gap year insuranceThese plans are made for students or any british resident wanting to explore the world, including for backpacking,  gap year trips or for any other long stay reason.
  • Usually covers periods between 90 days for up to 18 months
  • Age limit to apply for policy (from 16 to 45 only usually)
Types of travel insurance for your trip to Europe

Most of travel insurers offers discounts for couples and group travel insurance policies for your trip to Europe.

How much is travel insurance to Europe?

For example, this is the cheapest price for a single trip policy of seven days (with an excess at £100): 

AgeSingle trip cover to EuropeAnnual multi-trip cover to Europe
18 – 35£7.25£19,15
36 – 50£9.30£22,36
51 – 65£13.34£29,77
66 – 75£18.91£49,54
Single and annual multi trip cover to Europe cost

It is, however, quite difficult to give precise ranges of how much a travel insurance will cost you for Europe, as prices are based on a wide range of criteria. It will mainly depend on:

  • If you’re going for a single or annual multi-trip as mentioned above
  • If you’re subscribing to upgrades such as cruise, business or gadget cover
  • If you have pre-existing medical conditions 
  • The length of your stay in Europe
  • If you’re travelling alone, with your partner, a group or your family
  • The financial limits you’d like to get in case of a claim
  • The excess amount you’re willing to pay
  • What will you be doing in Europe (e.g. winter or extreme sports)?

What does your travel insurance for Europe should cover? 

Each travel insurance policy is different, since it is the insurer who determines the content of the contracts it offers: guarantees, compensation limits, deductibles, travel insurance prices, etc. 

However, all contracts on the market must include at least the following guarantees, applicable in Europe and elsewhere abroad:

  • Medical expenses: compensation by the insurer for your health expenses during your stay (consultation, analysis, emergency treatment, longer hospital stay, etc.).
  • Repatriation assistance to the UK: financial and logistical support by a dedicated 24/7 team for your early return to your country of residence if it proves necessary. 
  • Trip cancellation and cover for delayed or missed departure: compensation if you need to cancel your trip for whatever reason or if you missed your departure.
  • Personal liability: compensation for any damage or injury made to a third-party (consider adding it as extra if not included in standard cover).
  • Baggage: compensation for any lost or theft of baggage while travelling (consider adding it as extra if not included in standard cover).

Most of the time, travel insurers offer different formulas. Cover types involved are usually the same, but the compensation limits and deductibles vary. 

Main guaranteesCover you should get for your trip to EuropeLimit you should get for your trip to EuropeGood to check
Medical travel insurance
  • Any emergency transport, medical procedures and treatments at the hospital
  • 24/7 assistance team and helplines
£1 million limit
on average
  • Are private or public hospitals included in your policy?
  • Will there be advance fees?
  • If you haven’t declared any pre-existing medical conditions or a pending diagnosis, any claim related to healthcare will be declared as invalidated by your insurer.
  • Are dental emergency treatments included?
  • Will any “accompanying person” fees be reimbursed?
Trip cancellation / curtailment
  • Illness, injury or even death of you or one of your relatives at the time of departure
  • Very bad weather conditions at your destination
  • Terrorist attack at your destination
£2000 limit
minimum
  • Is it included as standard or as an option?
  • Will you get compensation if you cancel your trip for “all justified reasons”?
  • Which reasons exactly are included to get compensation for your trip cancellation?
Baggage 
  • Compensation for baggage and belongings theft or loss up to the limit known
  • No receipt required
£1500 limit
minimum
  • Is it only valid during return transport or during the entire stay?
  • Do you need the receipts for any belongings for baggage claims?
Missed departure, delay Compensation if you miss your flight or train when it is beyond your control or if your journey is delayed
£500 limit
minimum 
(£200 limit for delay)
  • Are all justified reasons for missed departure covered? 
  • How many hours delay to get compensation?
RepatriationCost of repatriation before or after your original ticketReal fees
  • Is any transportation mode included (by alternative schedule flight or by air ambulance)?
Personal liabilityCompensation for any damage or injury made to a third-party during your trip up to the limit known£2 million limit 
on average
  • What is the limit by article and valuables (don’t focus on overall limit only)?
Legal expensesLegal fees for claiming compensation to another person £15000 limit
on average
  • Does it cover any lawyer fees (including appointment fees)?
Must-have features of your travel insurance to Europe

What are the nice-to-have features for your travel insurance to Europe?

Main guaranteesCover you should get for your trip to EuropeMin – max limit amount you should get for your trip to EuropeGood to check
Money and cashCovers for loss or theft of money or equivalent such as cheques, pre-paid tickets£500 for money limit
minimum

£200 for cash
minimum
  • How long can you make a claim to the police to be covered? 
  • Is there a 24-hour claim limit?
Dental emergency Covers for emergency dental care£250
minimum
  • What is included in emergency dental care? 
  • Cosmetic will most of the time be excluded
Loss of passport or documentationCovers additional fees such as accomodation or travel replacement as a result of loss of documentation£250
minimum
  • How many nights are covered?
  • Do you need receipts of any additional fees incurred?
Nice-to-have features for your travel insurance to Europe

Which upgrades could you add as extras for your travel insurance to Europe?

Additionally, you may tailor your policy for your trip to Europe area with optional extras such as:

  • Business trio insurance for Europe
  • Sport, winter sport, extreme sport cover
  • Schedule Airline Failure (at least £1500 covered)
  • Gadget insurance
  • Cruise cover
  • Etc. 

What does your travel insurance to Europe not cover?

Most travel insurers will not give financial compensation for: 

  • Any claim made as a result of pre-medical condition or pending diagnosis undeclared at the time of purchase (your EHIC will cover for pre-existing medical condition treatment needed in Europe though)
  • Any claim made as a result of you being under drugs or alcohol
  • Difficulties due to natural disaster, war, civil unrest (watch out for strikes)
  • Any claim made as a result of a terrorist attack (except if you took this cover as an option)
  • Pregnancy and childbirth complications during travel (your EHIC will though)

We would advise you to thoroughly check your policy booklet for the main exclusions before leaving home. 

What else should you pay attention to while shopping around for travel insurance for Europe?

While shopping around for travel insurance for your trip to Europe, always pay attention to:

  • The compensation amounts you will get for a claim by consulting our up-to-date reviews on each insurer (especially for medical expenses, trip cancellation, personal liability, baggage and personal belongings)
  • The deductible amounts you’ll have to pay in case of claim (don’t forget that you’ll need to pay the excess on each claim)
  • The exclusions you may have in your policy (strike, cancellation trip due to the carrier defaulting etc.)
  • Coverages included in policies or available as upgrades (winter sports, business trip etc.)
  • The claim process (100% online? How many days do you have to make a claim?)
  • The maximum duration of each trip included as standard (at least 31 days)
  • The upper age limit (if you are a senior travelling).

What countries are included in Europe travel insurance?

European travel insurance usually covers your trip to:

  • any country member of the European Union: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Republic of Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden
  • any country member of the European Economic Area: Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway
  • any country member of the single market: Switzerland.

Other countries may also be included in your Europe travel insurance plan such as Andorra, Cape Verde, Egypt, Gran Canaria, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Madeira, Monaco, Morocco, Norway, San Marino, Switzerland, Tunisia and Turkey.

You need to be aware that some insurers exclude some countries although part of the ones listed above from their european travel insurance plan. You will therefore need to apply for a worldwide travel insurance or compare other cheap travel insurances for Europe.

Do I need a visa for my trip to Europe?

No. Until the 31/12/2020, you can circulate to all European Union countries as well as Ireland, Liechstentein, Norway ans Switzerland without any visa, as long as you do not stay more than 90 days within a period of 180 days.

You will however need to always have with you a valid and full UK passport.