Are you off for the dream European vacay? From soaking in the gorgeous views at the top of the Eiffel Tower, to exploring the glorious history behind the Colosseum in Rome and indulging in the sinful Belgian waffles, there’s just so much to do in this stunning continent that we’re already turning green with envy! But, but, but, in all this excitement, don’t forget to take out the appropriate travel insurance for the European countries you are headed to.
Like any other destination in the world, no matter how safe, you need travel insurance for Europe to protect yourself from any unforeseen circumstances. Whether it’s a cancelled or delayed flight, a medical emergency, lost baggage or natural disaster, it’s always better to have yourself covered instead of having to shell out hundreds or even thousands of dollars (or Euros!) not accounted for in your travel budget. Travel insurance policies cost a fraction of your total holiday cost and we at Mozo strongly feel it’s better to buy peace of mind so you don’t need to worry about unpredicted eventualities.
Generally, a basic travel insurance policy will cover you against any medical emergencies. But it won’t pay for extras such as flight delays, snow cover, cruise insurance, accidental death or disability. For including these extra covers you’ll need to opt for a comprehensive policy.
The price difference between the two is not usually significant so by paying a little bit extra you can include a lot more in your insurance. You should read the terms and inclusions in the policy carefully and see the things that are relevant based on your holiday itinerary.
The cost of your travel insurance to Europe will depend on a number of factors such as the duration of your Europe holiday, the countries you are visiting, your age and if you want to include extras like a snow cover or if you have a pre-existing condition. Following is a snapshot of costs for Europe travel insurance for a 14 day trip. Do remember that prices and policies are subject to change.
Basic Cover: Kango Cover - $5,000,000 hospital and emergency cover, no luggage and personal effects, no cancellation
Comprehensive Cover: Southern Cross Travel Insurance - Unlimited hospital and emergency cover, $12,000 luggage, unlimited cancellation fees
Family of 4 - 2 adults (35), 2 kids (10 & 6)
Basic Cover: itrek - Unlimited hospital and emergency cover, no luggage and personal effects, no cancellation
Comprehensive Cover: Virgin Money - Unlimited hospital and emergency cover, $20,000 luggage, unlimited cancellation fees
Basic Cover: Goinsurance Travel - $10,000,000 hospital and emergency cover, no luggage and personal effects, no cancellation
Comprehensive Cover: Fastcover - Unlimited hospital and emergency cover, $7,500 luggage, unlimited cancellation fees
Once you’ve figured your general requirements for the trip, you can compare travel insurance policies using Mozo's travel insurance comparison tool. All we need to know are your travel dates, the number of people travelling, their ages and if you want any extra covers, say for snow or sports. You’ll instantly get a whole list of policies that you can choose from.
When you’re looking at the list of insurance policies to Europe, there are a few things that you need to keep in mind before you finally decide which one you’ll go with. But before we get into those details, there’s a piece of advice that we’d like to drill deep - always, always, ALWAYS read the fine print of your policy before buying it. You absolutely need to know the exact terms and conditions of your policy and the things you can claim.
Excess fees. Don’t know what this is? No worries, that’s what we’re here for. When you need to make a claim on your travel insurance policy, you may be required to pay a certain part of the total amount and the rest would be paid by the insurance provider. This amount that you need to pay yourself is called an excess. This excess fee can vary according to your policy. Generally, the cheaper the cover, the cheaper your insurance. But this also implies that the excess fee will be higher than other more expensive policies.
Pre-existing conditions. Travel insurance providers ask you to declare any pre-existing conditions at the time of purchasing the policy. If you fail to do so, the insurer can reject a claim you later make regarding that condition. Also remember that pregnancies are considered as a pre-existing condition.
Unattended baggage. Do remember that if your bags go missing while you left them unattended, your insurer could reject your claim. In fact, even when you leave your bags with the hotel concierge after you’ve checked out, they are considered as unattended. So say you check out of your hotel in Florence and take off for a day trip to Pisa while leaving your luggage at the hotel, your insurer could refuse to reimburse for it if you were to lose it.
Report incidents ASAP. Whether you injured yourself while skiing in Switzerland or had your purse stolen in Naples, you must report any incident as soon as possible to make sure there are no delays in your claim. Again, if you’ve read your policy carefully, you would know the exact documentation that you will be required to submit with your claim. So ask for any relevant official papers like hospital bills, invoices or police reports that you will need while filing the claim.
Driving in Europe. First of all, don’t drive a vehicle you aren’t licensed to drive. Make sure you have the right paperwork when you hire a car in Europe. Also remember that unlike Australia, Europe follows the right-hand drive, which can be a bit confusing to begin with so you just need to be extra cautious. And like in any part of the world, do not drink and drive - your insurance will not cover you for any drunken accidents.
Drinking with caution. Don’t we all love the idea of binging on that beautiful local red wine in France and jugs of sangria in Spain? Well, we’re not saying have a dry holiday, but always remember to be responsible with your drinks. If you face a medical emergency or injury while you were under the influence of alcohol or drugs, your insurer could refuse to reimburse you for those expenses. We don’t want a bill hangover now, do we?
It’s a good idea to have easy access to authorities back home when you’re travelling overseas. That’s why Mozo recommends that before you get off to Europe you register your trip with the Australian government at www.smartraveller.gov.au. This lets you get in touch with Australian officials if you run into any kind of legal trouble or need to make an enquiry. You should also carry the contact of the Australian consulate in the European country that you’re planning to be in.
Vaccination. You don’t need any specific vaccinations before going to Europe. But just to take all precautions, we recommend visiting your GP to check on basic shots against the flu, Tetanus, Hepatitis A and B.
Driving in Europe. As we mentioned above, Europe follows right-hand traffic, so just be careful because Australia follows the opposite, left-hand traffic.
Theft and pickpocketing. Europe is made up of a number of different countries with different theft and crime rates. So while the chances of your baggage being stolen in Geneva might be relatively lower than in Istanbul, you still need to be careful wherever you are. In case something does happen, make a police report immediately and keep a copy to attach with your claim.
Snow sports. Skiing and snowboarding in the Swiss Alps is a popular activity but if you’re a beginner you should take out an extra snow cover to protect yourself from any snow-related injuries, bad weather, or equipment hire in case you were to lose your snow gear. And if you’re participating in a sport professionally, you’ll need to let the insurance company know, so that you have the cover tailored for you.
Cruise. Going for a cruise in the Mediterranean waters to work on that perfect tan as you sunbathe on the deck? You lucky one! The luxurious dreams aside, don’t let unpredicted weather or last minute cancellations dampen your plans and protect your trip with a cruise cover. And if you’re planning to try watersports on your cruise, then do let your insurance company know to make sure it’s included in your policy.
Backpacking in Europe. Living the dream, eh? If you’re planning to backpack across Europe, then you should look at getting insurance that is specially designed for people like you. This would cover you for a longer time and include various activities, such as adventure sports, which you might indulge in while on your trip.
Visa. Good news for Australian passport holders! Australian tourists visiting the 'Schengen area' for less than a total of 90 days within a 180 day period don’t require a visa. The following countries are parties to the Schengen Convention: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, The Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovenia, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland. If you are travelling to a non-Schengen country or if you are planning to stay for a longer duration, then you will need to check with the High Commission, Embassy or Consulate of that country for the visa requirements.
The devil is in the details and that’s why we keep stressing on the importance of reading the fine print of your insurance policy. Unfortunately, many travellers don’t bother reading the finer points carefully and end up having their claim rejected. To make sure this doesn’t happen to you, here are some points to keep in mind:
Europe is a popular travel destination with Australians, which means you get to read advice from real travellers before picking your travel insurance policy. Mozo has collected a whole list of travel insurance reviews so you can have access to unbiased opinions.