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Everything You Need to Know About Insuring Your Trip to Europe

Protect your investment in your expensive vacation by considering travel insurance in case of illness, theft or delays.

Paris France Photo: Wikipedia

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The European Union’s recommendation that European countries close to non-essential travel from the U.S. has thrown renewed uncertainty into travel. So far only Italy, the Netherlands and Sweden are imposing the bans on unvaccinated American travelers.

Even if you’re fully vaccinated, be sure to check the quarantine and Covid-testing requirements of your destination countries. With those rules in mind, you may still be planning to enjoy the many exciting possibilities of European travel.

You may be dreaming of visiting France, looking to reunite with relatives in Italy, or planning to explore the Christmas markets in Germany.

There are a plethora of direct flights from the U.S. to many cities in Europe. Plus, with high-speed trains and ample flights between countries, it’s easy to visit multiple countries with only one transatlantic flight.

If you are getting ready to travel to Europe, be sure to purchase a robust travel insurance policy.

Related: Compare & Buy Travel Insurance for 2021

Trip Cancellation Insurance for Europe

You may be planning an itinerary to Europe that includes a broad mix of museum tours, historic tours and boutique hotel stays. The reality of any large and expensive trip is that there’s always a chance that you may have to cancel the trip with little notice due to an emergency.

A comprehensive travel insurance policy will include trip cancellation insurance. This will reimburse you 100 percent for all pre-paid and non-refundable deposits if you need to cancel for a covered reason. Acceptable cancellation reasons include common problems like a sudden illness, injury or death to a family member or travel companion, severe weather, terrorism or a serious family emergency. Even unexpected jury duty may be covered.

For example, if you pre-paid for a private gondola ride in Venice followed by a private dinner prepared by a renowned chef, your travel insurance policy can reimburse you if you have to cancel the trip because you injured yourself.

Many policies cover Covid-related trip cancellation. If that’s a concern, work with a travel insurance agent to identify the policies that will provide Covid-related coverage.

It’s important to note that not all reasons are covered for trip cancellation by a standard insurance plan. For example, if your grandson’s college graduation was changed and now conflicts with your trip to Budapest, this is not a covered reason.

If you want the highest level of flexibility when planning a luxury European vacation, it’s best to add a “cancel for any reason” upgrade to your trip insurance policy.

This upgrade will allow you to cancel for any reason up to 48 hours before your scheduled departure date. This upgrade will add about 40 percent to your policy’s cost. Under a “cancel for any reason” claim you can generally recover 75 percent of your trip cost.

Preparing for Trip Delays in Europe

Unexpected events can force a trip delay, especially with overseas travel.

“Europe’s diversity of nations means that you can experience a lot on one trip, whether you’re visiting a single country or traveling to multiple destinations,” says Lisa Cheng, a spokesperson with World Nomads, a global travel insurance company.

Trip delay is an important coverage for itineraries with multiple legs. “Your policy could offer reimbursement for incidentals when you encounter an obstacle that prevents you from getting to your destination,” Cheng says.

For example, if you are flying from Barcelona to Berlin and your flight is canceled due to a mechanical issue with the airline, and you need to spend a night in a hotel in Barcelona, your policy can reimburse you for meals, a hotel stay and transportation, as long as the reason for delay is covered by your policy.

It’s good to read the fine print for the rules on coverage such as travel delay. “Typically, the delay must be a certain amount of time and caused by a covered event, such as a weather-related flight change or a road closure on the way to the airport,” says Cheng. There also may be a waiting period of three to 12 hours before your benefits kick in.

European Trips Cut Short

Planning for unfortunate events post-departure is important, especially for international travel.

Trip interruption benefits reimburse you for unused, pre-paid and non-refundable trip deposits and expenses if you need to cut your trip short and return home.

For example, if you’ve pre-paid for a pricey bike excursion in Amsterdam, followed by a private city tour, and you must interrupt your trip and return home due to a sudden death of a sibling, your plan can reimburse those pre-paid expenses. It can also cover the cost of a one-way last-minute plane ticket home plus transportation costs to the airport.

“Together with trip interruption, trip delay is among the most common claims among travelers to Europe,” observes Cheng at World Nomads.

Travel Medical Insurance for Trips to Europe

If you’re an experienced traveler you likely know that your U.S. health insurance plan probably will not cover any medical costs in Europe. Senior travelers should note that Medicare does not apply outside the U.S. in most cases.

You will surely do a lot of walking during your city tours in Europe. If you lose your footing along a sidewalk in Nice, France, while gazing at the glorious water views, you will need medical attention. Without a travel insurance policy, any hospital bills, doctor visits and ambulance costs will be your responsibility if you require medical attention.

Be sure you buy travel insurance at the time you book your trip and make your initial deposits. If you have a pre-existing medical condition, many travel insurance companies will provide an “exclusion waiver” for pre-existing conditions. This gives you coverage for problems that flare up with existing conditions. You generally have to buy your travel insurance plan within 14 to 21 days of booking your trip in order to get the exclusion waiver.

Medical Evacuations on a European Trip

Even though many cities like Paris, Berlin, Amsterdam, Brussels, Barcelona, Lisbon and Athens have top-tier medical centers, you want to have the best insurance protection for serious medical matters when in Europe.

For example, if you’re on a cathedral tour excursion in Fontainebleau, France, and your husband has a seizure, the local clinic may not be the best place for treatment. Your travel insurance policy will cover the cost of a medical evacuation by air ambulance to a hospital better equipped to provide emergency care.

The most robust travel insurance plans offer up to $1 million for emergency medical evacuation. For an extra layer of protection, consider a membership with a medical transportation company such as Medjet or Global Rescue. These services arrange to get you back home if you’re hospitalized. Your travel insurance policy only pays to get you to the nearest adequate facility for your condition, which may not be to your liking.

Insurance for Baggage and Personal Belongings

When you leave home, there’s always a risk of theft or loss of personal belongings, and it’s a bit more of a hassle if you’re out of the U.S.

Baggage and personal effects coverage within a travel insurance policy can reimburse you for lost and stolen belongings. For example, the RoundTrip Choice plan from Seven Corners provides up to $2,500 per person for baggage and belongings. Note that reimbursement is based on the depreciated value of your items, not the cost to fully replace them.

Travel insurance companies also offer 24/7 emergency assistance lines. These teams can help with a wide variety of travel problems.

“Losing your passport in Europe can be a real inconvenience. On many occasions, you may need to show ID, whether you’re checking into a flight, renting a car or checking into a hotel,” says Cheng. “Travel insurance could help direct you to a consulate, where you can get a replacement or temporary passport.”

It’s a high priority to take precautions to protect yourself against crime, especially in touristy spots in Europe that are packed with crowds. Skip the fancy jewelry, clothing and handbags. It’s better to blend in than look like a wealthy tourist.

If you’re the victim of a pickpocket or thief, promptly report the incident to your tour operator, the police or a hotel manager. You will need this documentation to file a loss claim with your travel insurance company.

Erica Lamberg is a personal finance and travel writer based in suburban Philadelphia. She is a regular contributor to USA Today and her writing credits include NBC News, U.S. News & World Report, Business Insider, Oprah Magazine and Creditcards.com

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