Chelsey Tucker graduated with a Bachelor of History degree from Metropolitan State University in 2019. She now writes about insurance with her specialty being life insurance and has been quoted on Help Smart Phone and MEL Magazine.

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Dan Walker graduated with a BS in Administrative Management in 2005 and has been working in his family’s insurance agency, FCI Agency, for 15 years. He is licensed as an agent to write property and casualty insurance, including home, auto, umbrella, and dwelling fire insurance. He’s also been featured on sites like Reviews.com.

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Reviewed by Daniel Walker
Licensed Auto Insurance Agent

UPDATED: Mar 19, 2020

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The lowdown...

  • Your US-based health insurance usually does not extend US borders
  • It’s important to make sure your Travel Medical Insurance covers emergency evacuations
  • Compare quotes and coverage for the best value
  • Many US travelers to Europe will be required to purchase medical health insurance to obtain a Visa

When you plan the vacation of a lifetime, you don’t expect to get sick or have a medical emergency. But, what if you do? What if you are in a foreign country where your health insurance doesn’t apply?

What was supposed to be the time of your life could turn into a financial nightmare if you don’t have the right coverage.

If you’re visiting Europe on business, as a student, or on vacation, you should invest in travel medical insurance. European travel insurance is recommended for both US and non-US citizens. Medical travel insurance may even be required for some international travelers.

Whether a person will need supplemental insurance when going to Europe will depend on the requirements of their Schengen Visa.

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What’s a Schengen Visa?

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A Schengen Visa is required for most European travelers. It is necessary paperwork because many tourists will visit many countries within Europe on the same day.

The Schengen Visa allows travelers to move freely within the Schengen Area. To receive a Schengen Visa, you will need to provide proof of travel health insurance. The evidence of insurance is required when filling out the Visa application.

A medical trip insurance is a requirement to enter some countries such as Spain, Germany, Netherlands, or France.

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What Does Travel Insurance Cover?

Many US residents have health coverage through their employer but not all employer-based health insurance coverage will be considered sufficient as travel insurance.

The best way to do this is to contact your current health insurance policy. When you contact them, ask them if your current policy applies overseas. Specifically, you want to know if certain emergency expenses such as medical evacuation are covered.

If your health insurance does not cover all medical emergencies, you need supplemental travel insurance.

Not only will the additional coverage spare you from enormous medical costs if an emergency occurs, but it may also help you obtain your Schengen Visa.

Travel insurance provides coverage for medical or travel emergencies. Once European travel insurance is obtained, the subscriber will receive proof of insurance and a Visa letter.

Customers will submit this information to the consulate, and a Schengen Visa can be issued.

Different Types of European Travel Insurance

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When shopping for European travel insurance, it’s important to realize there are different kinds of policies available. It’s important to choose a policy that is underwritten by a reputable company.

Many of the major health insurance businesses in the US offer supplemental policies to subscribers. To avoid overpaying or risk not having enough coverage overseas, it’s vital to understand the different type of travel policies.

Some of the most popular travel insurance policies include:

  • Single trip
  • Multiple trips
  • Long term/Expatriate
  • Single trip (group)
  • Long term (Education)
  • Long term (Crew)
  • Long term (Missionary)
  • Long and Short Term (Corporate)

Who Should Consider European Medical Travel Insurance?

There are several different types of travelers that should consider additional health care coverage when traveling to Europe including:

US Citizens should consider European medical insurance when they are sure their employer-based health insurance doesn’t extend outside US borders.

So, if a traveler is going abroad, they want travel medical coverage in case of unexpected illness or injury that occurs outside the health insurance coverage zone.

European visitors to the United States may want travel insurance for the same reason US visitors to Europe need coverage.

Whether a European visitor is staying for a few days or an extended period, an international health insurance policy can protect their financial investments.

If your job requires you to work outside the United States, you may be surprised to find out that your employer-based insurance probably won’t cover you there.

No matter how long you are going to be in Europe for your job, you will want medical and evacuation coverage in case of emergency.

Expatriates and long-term travelers need coverage no matter what. US-based insurance including Medicare will not cover medical expenses, so it is necessary to have coverage that will.

Foreign Aid workers and missionaries often travel to make someone’s life better. But just because they have good intentions doesn’t mean they won’t have a medical travel insurance. To protect them from financial strain, it’s important to have travel health insurance.

If you are an American visiting Europe for more than 90 days in an 180-day period, you will likely need an extended stay visa. To obtain an extended stay visa, the traveler must have Travel Medical Insurance with a minimum USD equivalent.

After the Travel Medical Insurance is purchased, the insured/traveler will receive a letter indicating coverage. The letter must clearly list a traveler is protected for emergencies, medical expenses, and hospitalization while living/staying in Europe.

It must also contain the coverage amounts for services. If there is no maximum cap on medical expenses, the letter should clearly state that as well.

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Traveling in a Group? You Can Save on Medical Travel Insurance

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If you are traveling with others to Europe, you may be able to qualify for a policy that is substantially less than those buying an individual, single trip policy. Usually, group medical travel insurance is provided to groups larger than six who are visiting Europe for less than six months.

Usually, group medical travel insurance is provided to groups larger than six who are visiting Europe for less than six months.

Medical Travel Group Insurance is ideal for students, missionaries, and leisure travelers. A group policy is popular with many travelers because it offers significant discounts.

Under most situations, a group can receive a 10 percent discount when policies are purchased together.

Should Travelers Get Medical Travel Insurance if Not Mandated?

Some travelers will not be mandated to have medical travel insurance. However, even if insurance is not mandated and a visa is not needed, Travel Medical Insurance is still recommended.

Medical Travel Insurance is usually not required for travelers visiting the country for less than 90 days but, it’s recommended for everyone because health care in Europe is expensive.

Even if your US health insurance provides some coverage, the limitations of your US-based policy will likely not be enough to settle the debt.

An additional policy will provide financial security in case of a medical emergency abroad. When shopping for Medical Travel Insurance, it’s vital that a subscriber opts for enough coverage to protect them medically and financially in case of emergency or disaster.

Policies vary widely from one insurance to another, but there are some minimums that a potential subscriber should consider. For instance, the minimum coverage listed below should be used as a guide to purchasing Travel Medical Insurance.

  • Sickness and accident coverage up to $250,000
  • A medical evacuation benefit of $500,000
  • Unlimited trips in a 12-month period (usually 70 max trips)
  • Coverage for surgery, hospital care, office visits, and prescriptions
  • Coverage includes pre-existing conditions
  • All types of medical services and medical evacuations are covered

Familiarize Yourself with Your Health Insurance Coverage

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Health insurance and travel insurance vary widely from each other. It’s vital that you familiarize yourself with both policies to ensure you are covered.

You also may make sure you understand whether your medical travel insurance is US-based or Foreign Country-based. Questions that you should ask before choosing the right medical travel policy are listed below:

  • Are there age restrictions on the policy?
  • Does the cost of coverage increase with age?
  • How long will the policy provide coverage?
  • Is there a deductible? How much?
  • Is the medical travel insurance only available for use with a certain network of physicians?
  • Is evacuation, such as air, ambulance, and escort services covered? Is there a maximum benefit?
  • Do you need a traditional health insurance policy to purchase a travel medical policy?
  • Can life insurance or accidental death insurance be added to a medical travel policy?

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Get More than One Quote on Insurance

When you are planning your trip to Europe, you need to get more than one quote on a policy. It’s also important to make sure you plan for this expense as part of your vacation.

Hopefully, you won’t need any additional health care coverage while traveling abroad, but if you do have a medical emergency, you’ll have the peace of mind that you’re covered.

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