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We’re a nation of travellers. With Europe on our doorstep, it couldn’t be easier to jet off at a moment’s notice. But no matter how close to home you may feel when you travel to Europe, European cover should never be an optional extra.

We’re a nation of travellers. With Europe on our doorstep, it couldn’t be easier to jet off at a moment’s notice. But no matter how close to home you may feel when you travel to Europe, European cover should never be an optional extra.

Written by
Kate Hughes
Insurance expert
Last Updated
15 APRIL 2024
8 min read
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Do I need travel insurance for Europe?

Having travel insurance for Europe is certainly wise. Even on holidays in countries close to home, something could go wrong. Flights could be cancelled, luggage lost and phones or tablets stolen. And no one wants to think about being injured or falling ill on holiday, but accidents can happen wherever you are.

European travel insurance could give you the reassurance and peace of mind that if something does go wrong, you’re covered when you might need it most.

How much is travel insurance for Europe?

A standard EU travel insurance policy could cost as little as £6.84 for a one-week stay[1]. That said, your premium could rise if you need to take out extra cover for a pre-existing health condition or plan to take part in extreme sports and activities while you’re away.

[1] Based on Compare the Market data for a single trip travel policy for a 20 year old with no pre-existing medical conditions travelling in Europe for 1 week. Prices correct as of March 2024.

Do I need European travel insurance if I have a GHIC card?

Yes, you do. A Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) gives you the right to access state-provided healthcare in EU countries and Switzerland on the same terms as a local resident for free or at a reduced cost.

Let’s be clear about this, though – a GHIC will only cover you for necessary medical treatment.

It won’t cover:

  • Treatment if you’re taken to a private hospital in an emergency
  • Mountain rescue costs if you’re injured while skiing or snowboarding
  • Repatriation costs if you need to be flown home
  • Cruise holidays.

Many travellers don’t realise that even in Europe, medical costs could still hit the roof if you’re not properly insured. For example, if you fall and break your leg in Spain, you’ll need hospital treatment and flights home – and that could add up to around £15,000.

So while it makes sense to have a GHIC if you’re travelling in Europe, travel insurance could give you more comprehensive cover. Europe travel insurance could also cover you for other mishaps, such as lost luggage and holiday cancellations, to give you peace of mind as you enjoy your holidays. 

You can apply for a GHIC card here. Make sure you apply via the NHS website for your free card to avoid potential scam sites that may try to charge you.

Did you know?

The GHIC only covers you for necessary medical treatment in EU countries and Switzerland. There are different rules and requirements for UK nationals visiting Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein.

You’ll find full details about how the GHIC works and what it covers at GOV.UK.

Customers with pre-existing medical conditions

If you have a serious health condition, your travel insurance is likely to be more expensive. Whatever happens, don’t lie to an insurance provider, because this could mean your claim is rejected. When you declare any medical conditions on our website, we’ll only show you quotes from insurance providers who will cover them, with no exclusions.

If your condition is more serious, MoneyHelper has a directory of insurance providers who may be able to provide quotes over the phone. You can call them on 0800 138 7777.

What does travel insurance for Europe cover?

Policies vary among providers, but a standard European travel insurance policy will typically include:

  • Medical care, including repatriation – if you have a pre-existing medical condition or want specific sports cover, it may be worth asking your insurance provider about extra cover or seeking out specialist travel insurance to ensure you’re properly covered. If you’re pregnant, it’s also worth checking that pregnancy-related medical attention is included in your cover.
  • Belongings – all European cover will offer some level of financial protection for loss, theft or damage to your luggage. However, if you’re taking valuables such as jewellery, laptops or sports equipment with you, it’s worth checking the value of your items doesn’t exceed the policy limits or single-article limit – the amount your provider will pay out for one item. And look out for exemptions for devices technically owned by your employer.
  • Travel issues – this could cover cancelled flights, missed flights and delays, but there are often exemptions. Check the conditions of your policy carefully to make sure you’re happy with the cover you’re paying for. And if your airline cancels your flight, you generally need to sort it out with them directly to refund your money or provide an alternative flight.
  • Holiday cancellation cover – offers compensation if your holiday has to be cancelled or cut short for a valid reason as set out in the conditions of your policy, for example, illness or a sudden bereavement.
  • Coronavirus cover – many providers now offer cover for cancellations, medical treatment, repatriation or extended stays because of COVID-19. When you get a travel insurance quote with us, it’s easy to compare levels of COVID-19 cover. Just use the ‘more details’ option on the quote results page.
  • Personal liability cover – if you accidently injure somebody else or cause damage to someone’s property, personal liability insurance could help cover the compensation costs and legal fees. Although it might be the last thought on your mind when you’re heading off on your holidays, accidents do happen and personal liability claims can be very expensive without the right cover in place. 

What isn’t covered by European travel insurance?

Always check the small print for any exclusions that might affect your claim. European cover typically excludes:

  • Drunken mishaps – any accidents or injuries that happen while you’re under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
  • Theft of belongings that were left unattended – including leaving your phone and beach bag on your lounger while you cool off in the pool.
  • Undeclared medical conditions – when you take out cover for travel to Europe, you must tell your insurance provider about any health conditions that could affect your cover. If you don’t, your policy could be invalidated.
  • Acts of terrorism – check your policy carefully, as you may not be covered for any claims as the result of a terrorist event, although you should be able to receive emergency medical treatment in the immediate aftermath of a terrorist attack.
  • Natural disastersvolcanic activity is a real risk in Italy as it has three active volcanos. Turkey, Greece, Albania, Italy, and Romania are the countries most at risk from earthquakes in Europe, followed by the other Balkan countries, according to the European Facilities for Earthquake Hazard and Risk. But natural disasters are not always covered under standard travel insurance policies. You might not be covered for this depending on your level of cover, however some policies could offer this as an optional extra. If you’re travelling to a destination with high risk of natural catastrophes, check your policy carefully or look for specialist insurance to make sure you’re fully covered.

What else should I consider when choosing travel insurance?

If you’re planning to take up specific sports or activities during your European trip, you might need an extra level of cover. For example, cover for:

  • Winter sports – provides you with comprehensive cover for medical care, loss or theft of equipment and even avalanche delays and piste closures.
  • Extreme sports – could offer extra protection for more adventurous sports and activities, such as paragliding, rock climbing, caving and hiking up to a certain number of metres, often 3,000m.
  • A golfing holiday – if you’re planning to tee off at a golf course around Europe, this offers extra protection for you and your golf equipment.
  • Water sports – swimming and snorkelling are usually covered by a standard travel insurance policy, but you will need extra cover for diving, kite-surfing and white-water rafting.

Can I get multi-trip or annual cover for travel in Europe?

Yes, there are two types of Europe travel insurance to choose from: 

  • Single-trip travel insurance – as the name suggests, this will cover you for one single trip to Europe. Single-trip European cover could be a good option if you only head off on one European holiday a year or if you want a policy that’s tailored to your trip.
  • Annual travel insurance – also known as multi-trip cover, could cover as many trips to Europe as you’d like to take within a 12-month period, with each holiday normally covered up to a maximum of 31 days.  

If you travel regularly, an annual travel insurance policy could save you money and hassle. As long as you find a policy that will cover you for all your destinations, you won’t need to arrange a new policy each time you go away. An annual multi-trip policy to Europe could cost as little as £12.00[2]. Or, if you’re planning regular trips further afield, you can get worldwide cover for countries outside of Europe.

[2] Based on Compare the Market data for an annual multi trip travel insurance policy for a 20 year old with no pre-existing medical conditions travelling in Europe. Prices correct as of March 2024.

What if I’m travelling to Europe for business?

If you travel a lot for work, then a business travel insurance policy could cover you for business equipment, company property or products and money as well as any personal belongings you take with you on business trips to Europe.

Any other tips for travelling to Europe?

Every European country has its own language, cuisine, culture and traditions, so it’s a good idea to understand the local customs and rules before you fly. Here are a few details to think about when you travel to Europe:

  • Currency – while the euro is the official and widely accepted currency of most European countries, some have their own currencies. Those outside of the Eurozone include Denmark, Sweden, Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland and Switzerland.
  • Tipping – tipping culture varies from country to country. Make sure you check online, or with your hotel reception, to make sure you’re not leaving too much or too little.
  • Mobile roaming – free mobile roaming is no longer guaranteed in Europe. Check with your provider to see what roaming charges may apply for texting, making calls and using mobile phone data in Europe.

Compare travel insurance for Europe

Europe has some amazing destinations to explore. For peace of mind on your trip we can help you compare quotes and find the right travel insurance to cover all your needs on your European holiday.

Compare travel insurance quotes in a matter of minutes and start planning your exciting European adventure today.

Frequently asked questions

Which countries does European travel insurance cover?

This can vary between travel insurance providers, but you should expect all member countries of the EU to be included.

You might also be covered in some European countries that aren’t in the EU. These could include:

  • Andorra
  • Iceland
  • Liechtenstein
  • Monaco
  • Norway
  • San Marino
  • Switzerland
  • Turkey

As these can vary between providers, it’s important to say where you’re travelling to when you get a quote. And check the policy wording carefully before you take out cover or before you travel if you have an annual policy for Europe to make sure your destination will be covered.

Do I need a visa for Europe?

As a UK tourist you can travel to EU countries, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein for up to 90 days in any 180-day period without the need for a visa. You’ll need to check the visa requirements for any non-EU countries you’re visiting or transiting through. Also check ff you’re planning on working in Europe or are a student.

You can check any entry requirements on GOV.UK.

Remember that the amount of time you need on your passport depends on the country you’re visiting. To travel in the EU, your British passport will need to be valid for three months after the end date of your holiday.

What do I need for driving in Europe?

​If you’re taking your car over to Europe, you’ll need:

  • A full, valid UK driving licence
  • Your vehicle’s original V5C log book
  • Car insurance certificate
  • Passport
  • UK sticker.

You may also need a Green Card to drive in non-EU countries including Turkey, Albania, Israel, Morocco and Tunisia.

As well as travel insurance, it’s also a good idea to have European breakdown cover to keep you on the road.

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