Best travel insurance for Europe: how to find a policy that works for you

A single night in hospital in Europe can set you back as much as $671 (not including the cost of treatment!) while travel insurance for Europe costs as little as $3/day.

A trip to Europe is expensive. The last thing you want is the added stress (and cost!) of replacing all your luggage if it gets lost, or forking out thousands of dollars for unexpected medical bills if you get a bad bout of the flu. The best travel insurance will protect you from situations like these and many others, like having your passport stolen, needing to cancel your trip due to a nasty fall in the snow, avoiding a sky-high excess if you crash a rental car and paying for someone to be by your side if you’re hospitalised.

Get travel insurance for Europe with a quick 10-second quote

Name Product Medical Cover Cancellation Cover Luggage and Personal Effects Cover Default Excess
Unlimited
$50,000
$0
$100
Unlimited
$50,000
$5,000
$100

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*Quote of $3/day based on a 30-year-old traveller going to Europe for 15 days and getting a basic travel insurance policy. Quote retrieved on 31 August 2018.

More about travel insurance for Europe:

What is the best travel insurance for Europe?
What will travel insurance cover?
Which countries are covered by travel insurance?
What am I not covered for?
Additional cover you may need
How to make a claim
Who do I contact in an emergency?
What to consider before purchase

What is the best travel insurance for Europe?

There’s no such thing as a singular best policy that works for everyone, but here are a few questions to ask yourself in your search for the best travel insurance for Europe:

  • Are you visiting a country with a reciprocal health care agreement (RHCA) with New Zealand? If that’s the case, you might be able to take out a policy with a lower medical benefit limit. Bear in mind that many popular tourist countries are not on this list and even the ones that are won’t offer full cover. For example some countries won’t pay for your ambulance fees or for you to be airlifted to a hospital.
  • Are you going on a cruise? Not all insurance policies automatically cover you while you’re on a cruise and they may ask you to purchase cruise cover separately. If you’ll be cruising on the Mediterranean or anywhere else in Europe, find out if your policy covers it. If not, add it to your cover or find a new insurer that offers it.
  • Will you be skiing? As with cruises, not all insurers will automatically cover you for certain incidents that happen while skiing – like being airlifted to a hospital from the middle of the Alps. If you add ski cover to your policy, you’ll be covered for this plus some unique ski-related incidents like unexpected piste closures and damaged equipment.
  • How much luggage are you taking? The luggage benefit on each policy can differ by thousands of dollars. If you are taking a lot of luggage, make sure you find a policy that will cover it all if an airline loses it or someone steals it.
  • Will you be doing a lot of travel? There’s lots to see in Europe and if you’ll be train hopping or flying to and fro, make sure you have enough trip cancellation and travel delay cover. If your transportation is delayed or cancelled, these will pay you back for missed activities and may even give you a food stipend while you wait on alternative transportation.
  • Will you be renting a car? When you rent a car, it will usually come with insurance but the excess on that insurance can be as high as $5,000. Car rental excess insurance brings that down to a more manageable level (as low as $0 in some cases). This rental car excess cover is usually included in comprehensive policies, but even then you might have to pay extra for it depending on the insurer.

What will my travel insurance cover me for?

Common incidents and occurrences covered by most travel insurance plans include the following:

  • Medical treatment. Getting sick or injured overseas is bad enough, but paying large sums of money just to see a doctor makes things worse. Some countries could have you paying up to thousands of dollars if you need to be hospitalised, so it’s important to find an insurance policy that can cover large medical expenses upfront.
  • Cancellations and delays. With so many countries being so close together, Europe is full of small budget airlines. This means that there may be a good chance some flights will be cancelled, and you will have to take a flight at a different time. Missing one flight may mean missing your next flight, train or bus, leaving you out of pocket and out of time. Most insurance policies will cover your travel expenses if your flight or train is delayed or cancelled.
  • Lost/damaged luggage and personal items. Losing your luggage can really bring down the mood of your European adventure. Buying new clothes, electronics and luggage while overseas can put a major dent in your wallet. Fortunately, most travel insurance policies will cover any loss or damage to your personal items and luggage. Just make sure you double check what items are included in the cover.
  • Emergency support. This is crucial to any good travel insurance policy. Having an insurance provider that offers 24/7 emergency support can be a lifesaver if you get into a sticky situation overseas. From lost luggage to theft to medical emergencies, it always helps to have someone you can contact to ensure you receive the support and guidance you need to get you out of the messy situation.
  • Death or serious injury. Although no one really wants to consider the possibility of death or serious injury while travelling, it can happen. Most insurance providers will cover any expenses involved with death or serious injury, potentially saving your family and loved ones from spending thousands of dollars.

Before you travel anywhere, check out the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s SafeTravel website where you can find travel advice associated with the country you are travelling to. Knowing the situation in a country before you decide to travel there will dramatically influence what type of insurance you need to buy.

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Which European countries are covered by travel insurance?

Generally, travel insurance covers the following European countries:

  • Albania
  • Algeria
  • Andorra
  • Armenia
  • Austria
  • Azores
  • Balearic islands (Ibiza, Majorca, Minorca)
  • Belarus
  • Belgium
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • Bulgaria
  • Canary islands (Tenerife, Fuerteventura, El Hierro, La Gomera, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote, La Palma)
  • Croatia
  • Cyprus
  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • Egypt
  • Estonia
  • Finland
  • France
  • Georgia
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Hungary
  • Iceland
  • Republic of Ireland
  • Ireland
  • Israel
  • Italy
  • Kazakhstan
  • Latvia
  • Lebanon
  • Liechtenstein
  • Lithuania
  • Luxembourg
  • FYR Macedonia
  • Madeira
  • Malta
  • Moldova
  • Monaco
  • Morocco
  • Netherlands
  • Norway
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Romania
  • Russia
  • San Marino
  • Serbia
  • Republic of Montenegro
  • Slovakia
  • Slovenia
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland
  • Tunisia
  • Turkey
  • Ukraine
  • United Kingdom
  • Vatican City

What am I not covered for?

Common losses insurance companies exclude from cover can include the following. If in doubt, contact your insurer for clarification and confirmation.

  • Using a scooter/motorbike without a helmet. It is your responsibility to take all necessary safety precautions when riding a motorbike or scooter. If you injure yourself while not using appropriate protection, you will not be covered by travel insurance.
  • Any undeclared pre-existing medical conditions. If you are hospitalised overseas for a pre-existing medical condition, you must have declared the condition when you bought your travel insurance or you will not be covered.
  • Reckless or unlawful behaviour. If you purposely break the law or act in an irresponsible and aggressive manner, travel insurance will not cover you for any legal, medical or damage expenses.
  • Being under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol. Losses incurred while under the influence of drugs or alcohol are rarely covered by travel insurance brands. It’s completely fine to have a few cocktails while on holiday, but it is unacceptable to drink to a point where you put yourself and others at risk.
  • Leaving your luggage with the hotel after you’ve checked out. If you have an early check out but a late flight, some travellers leave their luggage with the hotel concierge for a last-minute explore. That travel insurance does not cover your luggage for any loss or damages in this situation.
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Additional cover you may need in Europe

Europe is packed with adventurous activities, from skiing in Switzerland to cycling around Italy. Most standard insurance policies won’t automatically cover things like vehicle hire and snow equipment. You usually have to add optional extras or buy specific insurance cover. Some additional types of cover you might need include the following:

      • Backpacking insurance. There are increased risks associated with backpacking in Europe as most travellers on a budget choose cheaper airlines and accommodation. Backpackers’ insurance can cover lost luggage, theft of cash/items, medical emergencies and credit card replacement.
      • Snow/ski insurance. Europe has some of the best ski slopes in the world. Many insurance providers offer snow, skiing or winter sports travel insurance, which provide cover for damage to hired equipment, bad weather delays/closures, medical expenses, avalanches/evacuations and more.
      • Car/motorbike hire insurance. Driving is a convenient way to get around Europe. Car or motorbike hire insurance covers you for accidents, theft, excess amounts and rental deposits associated with your hire car. Be aware that the legal age for hiring a vehicle in many European countries is around 25 or over.
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How do I make an insurance claim?

The process for making a claim differs with each provider. You can usually make a claim online or over the phone. You may need to follow specific procedures, such as calling an emergency phone number or obtaining documents to provide proof of the incident, which the claims member will advise you of. The following are some tips to make the claims process easier:

      • Be detailed, accurate and specific when applying for insurance. Before purchasing your insurance, double check travel dates and countries visited. Clearly detail any pre-existing medical conditions to ensure you will be covered for them. If you’re unsure whether a policy covers you for areas or activities, ask prior to purchasing your travel insurance. Better safe than sorry.
      • Talk to your insurance provider. If you have any questions or want to make sure all of your information is up to date, give your provider a call before you leave.
      • Document everything. For any incident, accident, flight delay or medical emergency, get written documentation from police, medical staff or airline staff. Providing proof will help make things go smoothly when submitting a claim.
      • Take photos. Snap a pic of your luggage before you leave for a record of the items you’re taking with you. If these are damaged or lost along the way, you can use the photos as proof.

Who do I contact in an emergency?

If you find yourself in an emergency in Europe, the following are some helpful contacts:

      • Your travel insurer. You insurance provider will have a 24/7 helpline for claims and medical emergencies.
      • New Zealand embassies and consulates. You can find the contact details for New Zealand embassies and consulates in Europe below.
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What to consider before booking travel insurance

Unfortunately, cancellations and delays can happen quite frequently, especially when travelling to multiple destinations on budget airlines. Make sure you are not out of pocket if you miss a future flight due to other flight or train delays.

Picture: Shutterstock

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