It is always a good idea, whenever we travel for leisure or for business, to be covered by travel insurance. Travel insurance is designed to cover possible eventualities happening during the trip, like illness, loss of luggage and vehicle breakdown.
Travel insurance is a big market and the differences between the products offered can vary enormously. Therefore, we always recommend that you read closely any travel insurance policy contract in order to be sure of what is covered and what is not.
Like any other insurance contract, travel insurance is regulated by law 50/1980, of the 8th October. The law protects the insured and sets the minimum standard that the insurance company will have to offer as well as the minimum compensations. Before choosing a specific insurance policy we should ask several questions:
1) What type of coverage do I need?
Different types of coverage will be required depending on the type of travel and the destination. Typical services offered are:
- Medical coverage. Depending on the policy it will cover hospitalization, medicines and emergency care. Sometimes it can cover also convalescence hotel expenses, emergency repatriation of the insured and the family as well as travel expenses of a family member from the accident location.
- Luggage theft or loss. Many companies offer emergency shipment of essential medicines or cash advances during the time waiting for replacement credit cards.
- Vehicle breakdown.
- Civil responsibility & legal assistance.
- Cancellation insurance. In case the insured is in the impossibility to take the planned trip, tickets and hotels will be compensated in its entirety.
2) Am I already insured?
Often, travel insurance policies are included in other products like car insurances, credit cards (if you used the card to purchase the trip, transport or hotel) and plane tickets. It is therefore good to check first what you already have and in which situation the specific insurance covers you.
3) What activities are covered?
Travel insurance does not always cover every kind of activity. For example, sports with an inherent risk like rafting, scuba diving or paragliding may not be covered by a standard policy and will therefore have to be supplemented by additional insurances. Additionally, more benign activities like out-door camping might not always be covered.
4) Check if the insurance policy excludes claims to the tour operator
Special attention should be given to travel insurance related to the travel agent or the product we are buying. In particular cases, standard travel insurance policies issued by travel agents will exclude claims against the tour operators, making it impossible to sue them in case of accident on holiday. In these cases, it is better not to take the specific insurance offered by the travel agent and buy a third-party insurance coverage.
5) Be aware of the maximum amount covered by the policy
Depending on the region where we are travelling, costs in case of accident might vary. For travels outside the European Union it is mandatory to estimate the possible expenses during a worst-case scenario, as in many parts of the world medical expenses might prove to be extremely high. The coverage by a standard policy will be most of the time insufficient. Therefore, it is a good idea to get extra insurance. It will be possible to split the costs to the different insurances, if necessary.
6) Check the service level offered by the insurance company in the country, where we are travelling
There are cases where the insurance company will be able to pay directly for our expenses in case of accident. Nevertheless, most of the time we will have to pay upfront and get a refund from the company when we are back to our home country.
Ensure that you have the phone number and policy number at hand during the trip. Unless life threatening emergency, in case of problem, you will have to contact the insurance company in order to receive instructions on how to proceed. The company might refuse to refund expenses, if these procedures are not followed. Keep any invoices or bills that might justify the expenses related to the insurance claim.
If the travellers are nationals of a country belonging to the European Economic Area (EEC) and they travel within the EEC, they can benefit from the European Health Insurance card EHIC (in Spanish “Tarjeta Sanitaria Europea” (TSE)). You can request the card free of charge from your national health insurance provider. It will give you right to access medical services where you are travelling at the same conditions as the residents. Take into account that each country’s healthcare system is different. Services that cost you a fee at home might be free in another country and vice versa. There is a mobile phone application that is detailing the different services and the costs that you can be charged in the different countries (see the links at: https://ec.europa.eu/social/main.jsp?catId=559).
The application is available in all European Union languages.