Travel insurance for Europe: Coverage and policies for 2024 (2024)

Key points

  • A trip to Europe often requires hefty prepaid and nonrefundable deposits to secure flights, hotels and tours. Travel insurance protects these outlays if you cancel your trip for a covered reason.
  • Many U.S. health insurance plans don’t provide coverage in foreign countries, making a travel insurance plan with medical expense benefits important for trips to Europe.
  • The best travel insurance for Europe will package together different types of coverage, including trip cancellation, trip delay, trip interruption, travel medical, emergency medical evacuation and baggage insurance.

Planning a trip to Europe is exciting, but can also be expensive. Your itinerary may include visits to several European countries, and you can quickly rack up prepaid and nonrefundable expenses for flights, hotels, excursions, tours and experiences.

Travel insurance can give you peace of mind that you’ll be financially protected if things go wrong before or during your trip. But plans differ, so it’s important to pay attention to included coverages, limits and exclusions when choosing your insurance for travel to Europe.

Do I need travel insurance for Europe?

Travel insurance is not required for entering Europe. “But it is a very important consideration for a number of reasons,” said Scott Adamski, spokesperson for AIG Travel.

In addition to protecting your trip deposits if you need to cancel, Adamski said an important reason to secure a travel insurance policy relates to health care coverage for U.S.-based travelers headed to Europe.

“In a surprise to many, their U.S.-based health insurance policy may not provide coverage, or may provide limited coverage, when they’re traveling out of the country,” said Adamski.

“Medicare also may not provide coverage outside the U.S. (for older Americans) and there may be restrictions/limitations on medical benefits when traveling abroad,” he said. “In short, it’s vital to review your existing health care coverage before traveling.”

To make sure you’re covered financially if things go awry before or during your European vacation, look for a travel insurance plan that includes travel medical benefits as well as coverage for trip cancellation, trip delay, trip interruption, emergency medical evacuation and baggage delay or loss.

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Travel insurance for Europe: Coverage and policies for 2024 (3)

Travel insurance for Europe: Coverage and policies for 2024 (4)

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Via Squaremouth’s website

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Travel insurance for Europe: Coverage and policies for 2024 (5)

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Average cost for plan with CFAR


CFAR coverage

75% of trip cost

Trip cancellation insurance for travel to Europe

If you’ve booked a trip to Europe, you’re probably thinking, why would I cancel my dream vacation?

“No one plans to cancel a trip, but sometimes there are circ*mstances beyond our control — you suffer an injury before your trip, circ*mstances at your job change or your flight is canceled due to severe weather at your destination,” said Shannon Lofdahl, spokesperson for Travelex Insurance Services. “Trip cancellation and interruption coverage reimburses you if your trip is canceled or interrupted for a covered reason,” she said.

In general, covered reasons for trip cancellation insurance benefits include:

  • Death of an immediate family member or a travel companion.
  • A serious illness or injury to you, a close relative or a travel companion.
  • A sudden and serious family emergency.
  • An unexpected job loss or layoff.
  • Unplanned jury duty.
  • Severe weather.
  • Your travel supplier is going out of business.
  • A national transportation strike.

So, if three days before your trip to Vienna, Austria, your husband has a heart attack, you can cancel your trip and receive 100% of any prepaid and nonrefundable trip outlays.

It’s important to note that not all reasons to cancel will be covered by your travel insurance policy. For example, if you see a rainy weather forecast in Barcelona or get nervous to travel to Paris because you learn about a rise in petty crimes there, these are not covered reasons.

If you want the highest level of flexibility to change your travel plans, consider adding “cancel for any reason” (CFAR) coverage.

CFAR is an upgrade to a basic travel insurance plan that may boost the price of your policy by about 50%, but will give you the latitude to cancel your trip for any reason as long as you cancel at least 48 hours before your scheduled departure. If you meet all the requirements of your plan, you can expect to be reimbursed for 75% — or 50%, depending on the plan — of your prepaid, nonrefundable trip costs.

Trip delay insurance

Delays are an expected part of traveling these days, especially while traveling abroad, and that fact has emphasized the importance of trip delay coverage, said Lofdahl. “A short delay probably won’t cause you too much stress, but longer delays can mean missing connecting flights.”

Trip delay coverage can reimburse you for costs you incur as a result of a travel delay, as long as the delay was caused by a reason in your policy documents. Severe weather, airline maintenance issues or a security breach at an airport, for instance, are typical reasons covered by trip delay insurance.

Most policies have a waiting period before your trip delay benefits begin, such as six or 12 hours. If you meet the criteria outlined in your travel insurance policy, you can expect to be reimbursed for a meal, hotel room, taxi fare and a few personal care items to tide you over for the delay, up to the limits in your plan.

Be sure to hold onto your receipts as you will be asked to submit this documentation when you file a trip delay claim.

DOT rules: What you’re owed when your flight is canceled or delayed may be less than you think

Trip interruption in Europe

No one wants to end their trip early, especially when it’s a long-awaited European vacation, but unexpected issues can arise, said James Clark, spokesperson for Squaremouth, a travel insurance comparison site.

If there is an emergency back home that is covered by your travel insurance plan, such as a critically ill parent, or if you suffer an injury while traveling in Europe and need to cut your trip short, your policy’s trip interruption insurance can provide financial assistance.

You can file a trip interruption claim to recover any prepaid, unused and nonrefundable trip costs you lose because of your unexpected early departure. Your benefits will also typically cover a last-minute one-way economy flight home, and transportation to the airport.

Keep in mind, however, not all reasons to end a trip early will be covered. For example, if you miss your new kitten or have a fight with your partner while in Budapest, and want to go home, these are not covered reasons. You will have to pay your own way home and can’t file a claim for losses.

Americans will have to get travel authorization to enter Europe

Currently, Americans don’t have to worry about getting a visa to travel around Europe. However, that will change in mid-2025. That’s when the European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS) goes into effect, requiring people traveling from visa-exempt countries like the United States to get authorization for travel to 30 European countries.

Once applications open up, you will be able to apply on the official ETIAS website or mobile app. You’ll need your passport information to apply, and it will cost 7 euros to process the application. For those who don’t get immediate approval, the decision process could take up to 30 days.

Once approved, your ETIAS travel authorization will be attached to your passport. It will be valid for three years or until your passport expires, whichever happens first.

A standard travel insurance policy won’t cover you if you don’t get your ETIAS travel authorization in time for your trip, or your ETIAS application is rejected. It will be important to apply for ETIAS early, in case there’s a delay or you need to appeal if you’re denied a visa.

If you have “cancel for any reason” (CFAR) coverage you could cancel your trip if your visa doesn’t get approved in time, but you’d need to cancel at least 48 hours before your trip to file a CFAR claim for reimbursem*nt.

Travel medical insurance for Europe

Don’t assume your health insurance applies outside the United States. “Many [domestic health insurance] plans won’t cover you if you become ill or injured traveling in Europe or any other country outside the U.S., and, without travel protection, you would be responsible for all the medical expenses,” said Lofdahl with Travelex.

For instance, if you twist your ankle while touring in Rome, your travel insurance can cover the cost of seeing a doctor, getting X-rays, buying prescription medication and staying in the hospital if deemed necessary. Without this coverage, you are responsible for any medical expenses.

The average cost of travel insurance is between 5% and 10% of the total price of your trip. This can be worth it for the medical benefits alone when traveling in Europe.

Travel insurance plans also typically include travel assistance, which can help if you get sick or injured in Europe. “This benefit offers a range of 24/7 services while you’re traveling — from assistance finding a covered health care provider to helping with replacing lost or stolen passports,” said Lofdahl. These services can also assist with translation services.

Emergency medical evacuation

Depending on where in Europe you’ll be visiting, you might be far from a medical facility adequately equipped to treat severe illnesses and injuries.

“For this reason, travelers with underlying medical conditions might wish to consider additional medical evacuation coverage for certain costs associated with transportation, to either the nearest recommended medical facility or back home,” said Adamski with AIG Travel.

Also, he explains, many countries in Europe — particularly in the mountainous regions — offer adventure sports for visitors. “In the warmer months, the outdoorsy types who aren’t biking might pursue mountain climbing, available through a wide range of treks and climbs for beginners and advanced climbers alike. In the winter, of course, ski enthusiasts from around the world visit a number of European countries for their access to great snow, luxurious accommodations and challenging runs,” Adamski said.

Unfortunately, accidents can happen when mountaineering, regardless of the time of year. Having a travel insurance plan can provide financial protection in the event of medical or evacuation losses, he said.

As an example, said Adamski, a policyholder might need to return to the U.S. after a skiing injury and may need accommodations such as a lay-flat seat or a row of seats to stretch out a broken leg.

“A travel insurance provider, with on-staff doctors and medical coordinators, are invaluable in assisting with medical needs in foreign countries and coordinating with airlines to get injured travelers back home. Such arrangements are remarkably expensive, ranging from $20,000 easily into the six figures,” he explained.

Medical evacuation coverage could help cover these costs, and, in AIG Travel’s travel protection plans, said Adamski, this is complemented by access to an entire medical team dedicated to consulting with the local medical providers, working with you or your family to confirm what’s in your best interests as a patient and making the necessary arrangements to get you where you need to be.

When budgeting for a trip, even the most thorough planners rarely consider a contingency that includes a five- or six-figure emergency medical evacuation, said Adamski. “To be suddenly faced with a bill like that could be devastating. Also, the expertise of the medical staff that would be helping to coordinate such an evacuation could (literally) be a lifesaver,” he said.

Clark with Squaremouth notes that travelers heading to Europe should look for policies with at least $100,000 in medical evacuation coverage. However, if a traveler is doing more remote activities, such as backpacking through the Swiss Alps or exploring the Scandinavian wilderness, “We recommend at least $250,000 in medical evacuation coverage,” he said.

Travel insurance coverage for baggage and belongings

Lofdahl with Travelex said that the return to travel has been wonderful, but the labor shortage has brought some challenges to the industry. “Delayed and lost baggage is one that most people heard about last year and into this year,” she said. “Every airline experienced increases in lost and delayed baggage, and some even had triple the number of lost and delayed bags as they did in the same period in 2021. I can tell you from experience that this can impact your trip.”

European travel generally can include connecting flights which can increase the likelihood that your luggage can be misdirected or lost.

If your luggage decides to vacation in Madrid instead of Athens, you can file a claim with your travel insurance company. Just be sure to get a report from your airline carrier first.

You may also be able to file a claim for delayed luggage. Depending on your plan, you can purchase a few items to tide you over until your bags arrive at your destination, like a swimsuit, some toiletries and a change of clothes. Just be sure to keep any applicable receipts.

Your travel insurance plan may also reimburse you for other personal effect losses while on your vacation. For example, if your camera gets stolen while touring Copenhagen, or if your leather jacket is swiped while in Milan, you can file a claim. But first, you’ll need to file an incident report with your tour leader, hotel manager or local law enforcement. You will be asked for this documentation during the claim process.

It’s very important to read your travel insurance documents carefully so you understand the scope of your benefits. There are often per-item limits and caps for coverage, rules about how depreciation will affect your reimbursem*nt levels and exclusions which won’t be covered. For instance, lost or stolen cash isn’t reimbursable, and many high-ticket items like heirloom jewelry and designer watches are often excluded from coverage.

Baggage loss insurance is also typically secondary coverage, meaning it comes into play only after you’ve filed for reimbursem*nt from your airline or homeowners insurance (in the event of theft).

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

Buying a travel insurance policy for Europe isn’t required, but it is a smart way to financially protect your trip investment and to ensure you have medical coverage while traveling abroad.

“Just because it’s not required doesn’t mean it’s not a good idea. Unexpected medical bills can be costly, and an unforeseen emergency evacuation or repatriation back home to the U.S. or Canada can climb to tens of thousands of dollars,” said Terra Baykal, spokesperson with World Nomads.

Travel insurance also provides trip cancellation benefits, which can help you recoup the cost of trip deposits. “Travel insurance may reimburse you for your missed nonrefundable, prepaid travel arrangements like hotels, flights and tours, if you need to cancel for a covered reason, like the death of an immediate family member, or your last-minute illness or injury,” said Baykal.

It’s also important to find an insurer who will cover you for all the activities you plan to pursue in Europe. So if skydiving in Switzerland, paragliding in Greece or ziplining in Croatia is in the cards, make sure your insurer covers your more adventurous pursuits, said Baykal.

World Nomads automatically covers more than 150 adventure activities and sports for U.S. residents without the need for an additional adventure activities rider.

While not required to enter Europe, a travel insurance policy with emergency medical coverage is a good idea when traveling to Europe, said Baykal of World Nomads.

Many U.S.-based health insurance providers offer no coverage abroad, or very limited global benefits. If your domestic health insurance doesn’t provide adequate coverage outside of the U.S., buying travel medical insurance for Europe is recommended.

Whether your health coverage travels with you outside the U.S. depends on your Blue Cross Blue Shield plan. Check with your carrier to determine the scope of your travel medical insurance.

According to Blue Cross Blue Shield, travelers should refer to their Certificate of Coverage and riders and also call customer service to find out about limitations to travel coverage.

Travel insurance for Europe: Coverage and policies for 2024 (2024)


What travel insurance is best for Europe? ›

The Best Europe Travel Insurance Companies
CompanyBBB RatingCOVID-19 Coverage
Our Top Pick Faye GET QUOTENot RatedYes
Travelex GET QUOTEA+Yes
Nationwide Travel Insurance GTE QUOTEA+Yes, limited
Seven Corners Travel Insurance GET QUOTEA+Yes
4 more rows
Apr 22, 2024

What type of insurance do I need to travel to Europe? ›

Travel medical insurance

A comprehensive travel policy with at least $50,000 in medical coverage is recommended when traveling to Europe or any country where you don't have health insurance. Travel medical insurance will cover expenses related to an unexpected injury or illness.

What is the best company to get travel insurance from? ›

11 Best Travel Insurance Companies in April 2024
Best travel insurance categoryCompany winner
Best overallBerkshire Hathaway Travel Protection.
Best for emergency medical coverageAllianz Global Assistance.
Best for travelers with pre-existing medical conditionsTravel Guard by AIG.
8 more rows
4 days ago

How much is medical insurance for a trip to Europe? ›

The average cost of travel insurance is between 5% and 10% of the total price of your trip. This can be worth it for the medical benefits alone when traveling in Europe. Travel insurance plans also typically include travel assistance, which can help if you get sick or injured in Europe.

Does my US health insurance cover me in Europe? ›

U.S. health insurance plans typically do not cover regular and routine medical care required overseas. This means your health insurance won't pay for care if you need to visit a doctor for a prescription medicine, or if you need treatment for a condition that is not considered an emergency.

What happens if an American goes to the hospital in Europe? ›

Be aware that you will likely have to pay out of pocket for any medical treatment, even if your insurance company provides international health care coverage. A visit to the emergency room can be free or cost only a nominal fee, or it can be expensive, depending on where you are and what treatment you need.

Is Allianz travel insurance good? ›

We at the MarketWatch Guides team awarded Allianz Travel Insurance 4.1 out of 5 stars based on our provider review methodology. Named our pick for concierge services, Allianz offers 24/7 travel assistance through a multilingual team, which can help policyholders with travel and coverage issues while abroad.

Do US citizens need travel insurance for Europe? ›

Do I need travel insurance for Europe? If you are a US citizen or have the nationality which does not need the Schengen visa, then travel insurance to Europe is not mandatory. However travel insurance for Europe from USA is mandatory if you need a Schengen visa or if you want to stay over 90 days in Europe.

How much should travel insurance cost? ›

The average cost of travel insurance is about 3% to 5% of a trip's total value, according to quotes gathered by our research team across different travel insurance providers for various traveler profiles.

What is the best international travel insurance for seniors? ›

Summary: Best Senior Travel Insurance Companies
CompanyForbes Advisor RatingTop-scoring policy for seniors
Aegis (formerly GoReady)4.2GoReady Pandemic Plus
HTH Worldwide4.2TripProtector Preferred
WorldTrips4.2Atlas Journey Preferred
John Hanco*ck Insurance Agency4.1Silver
8 more rows
12 hours ago

What does travel insurance not cover? ›

Most travel insurance policies won't pay out if you're negligent while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and have an accident or have property stolen.

Is it better to buy travel insurance early or late? ›

In general, you can buy coverage any time before the date of your trip. That said, it's always best to buy coverage as soon as you make your reservations. The sooner you buy travel insurance, the sooner you'll be protected and the more benefits you may be eligible to receive.

Does AARP offer international travel insurance? ›

While there are no AARP travel insurance products or discounts available for seniors, members can use the AARP website for trips and tricks on how to plan for international travel and information regarding how to choose the right insurance plan for older travelers.

Does Medicare cover me if I travel to Europe? ›

In most situations, Medicare won't pay for health care or supplies you get outside the U.S. The term “outside the U.S.” means anywhere other than the 50 states of the U.S., the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa, and the Northern Mariana Islands.

What is the best medical insurance for international travel? ›

Based on our comprehensive review, the companies offering the best travel medical insurance are Faye, IMG, Travelex, AIG Travel Guard and Allianz. Travel medical insurance is a specialized type of coverage that helps pay for medical bills and emergency evacuations if you're hurt or become sick while traveling.

Who is the best and cheapest travel insurance? ›

The 7 Best Cheap Travel Insurance Companies Worth The Cost
CompanyBBB RatingCheapest Plan
Travelex Compare PlansA+Travel basic
Seven Corners Travel Insurance Compare PlansA+Trip Protection Basic
Generali Global Assistance Compare PlansA+Standard Plan
AIG Travel Guard Compare PlansA+Essential
3 more rows

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