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The European Union is expected to open up to fully vaccinated tourists as soon as next month, including Americans. If you think it’s high time for some patisserie in Paris or a coin toss into the Trevi fountain in Rome, it’s wise to have travel insurance on your packing list.
“By buying a travel insurance plan that bundles a variety of benefits, from trip cancellation to baggage coverage to emergency medical, you can be sure that you have support and protection for a wide range of unexpected circumstances,” says Lisa Cheng, a spokesperson for World Nomads, a travel insurance company.
What Travel Insurance Is Good for Europe?
When weighing your travel insurance options for a trip to Europe, it’s best to choose a plan that’s comprehensive. The following coverage types can be packaged into one plan and will give you broad protection:
Insurance if You Have to Cancel the Trip
Trip cancellation insurance is the foundation of many travel insurance policies. This coverage reimburses you if you lose money on pre-paid, non-refundable deposits due to trip cancellation. You can make a claim if you cancel the trip for a reason listed in the policy, such as illness or severe weather. So if you’re plunking down big deposits on a European vacation, this is good coverage to have.
Insurance for Medical Problems During the Trip
Travel medical insurance will take care of expenses such as doctor and hospital bills and treatment. If you fall ill or get injured on the trip, this is important coverage to have. It’s essential if you’re traveling outside the country, where U.S. health plans and Medicare generally have no coverage.
You can find travel insurance plans that cover Covid-19 for trip cancellation and medical expenses — even the extra costs associated with having to quarantine somewhere if you contract the virus.
Get coverage for pre-existing conditions by buying travel insurance with a pre-existing condition exclusion waiver within two or three weeks of your first trip deposit. After that you’ll lose the chance to cover existing medical conditions with the travel insurance plan.
“Some people mistakenly believe that a European country’s universal health care system will support them if they get sick or get into an accident — that’s not the case for travelers,” Cheng says. “Whether you twist your ankle on a cobblestone road, get into a trekking accident or get food poisoning from dining out, emergency medical benefits could support you in any of these case scenarios.”
Delays, Baggage and More
By working with a travel insurance agent you can customize a policy with coverage for problems like lost and damaged baggage, travel delays and missed connections. For example, If you missed a connection because of a delayed flight, travel insurance can reimburse you for hotels, meals and other basics if the delay was a certain number of hours (which varies by policy).
Train ride cancelled because of a strike? “That could get you trip interruption benefits — reimbursement of the pre-paid portions of the trip you missed and possibly a one-way ticket home,” says Cheng.
Some policies cover lost sports equipment, non-medical emergency evacuation (for example, because of a hurricane) and the financial default of a travel supplier, like a small cruise line that goes under.
Risks of traveling also include falling prey to pickpocketing and tourist scams. “It’s important to get a plan with protection for baggage and personal belongings, and if this does happen, be sure to report a theft to the authorities,” advises Cheng.
Another travel insurance consideration is trip interruption. You may have plans to visit several European countries in one vacation. “But the more time you spend in transit, the more likely that you could run into a hitch,” says Cheng. “That’s why trip interruption and trip delay coverage is essential for Europe, especially if there are multiple stops on your itinerary.”
Remember that cash is not covered by travel insurance, so be careful of card skimmers at ATMs and safeguard your pin from passersby or “helpful” strangers, says Cheng.
Your travel insurance agent can find policies that cover your travel concerns and compare prices for you.
Buying Extra Flexibility
Many travelers like to give themselves an extra escape hatch from a trip. “Cancel for any reason” travel insurance will provide partial reimbursement if you cancel for a reason not listed in the policy. You can generally get 50% or 75% of your non-refundable trip costs reimbursed with this add-on coverage.
For example, if you decide that staying home sounds better than a European trip, you could make a “cancel for any reason” claim.
Other Travel Insurance Perks for the European Traveler
Take advantage of the travel insurance company’s travel support services from the 24/7 assistance line and concierge services, which often offer pre-trip information such as conversion rates, travel alerts and visa and passport requirements, says Cheng.
“If you need help in a major language, you can use the interpretation and translation services,” she says. “Or if you need a reservation for a coveted restaurant, recommendations for kid-friendly attractions or dinner delivered to your room, the concierge service can make all those arrangements, and more.”
Tips for Safe European Travels
1. Don’t dress like a tourist. Don’t wear expensive jewelry and pay careful attention to your attire.
2. Keep your purse or wallet safe. “Avoid carrying a handbag with long straps, which can be easy targets for snatch and grabs,” says Cheng. Carry your bag cross-body rather than over your shoulder. Be especially cautious at popular tourist attractions and on public transit, which are notorious places for pick-pockets.
3. Have a back-up power supply for your cell phone. Bring an extra power bank or booster with you if you are out for a day of sightseeing. It’s easy to get lost, so having a charged cell phone provides added security. Also, your phone can store your itinerary, show directions and provide translations if there is a language barrier.