Why do I need travel insurance for Cyprus?
Cyprus is a favourite holiday destination for many Brits, but don’t let familiarity with this Mediterranean island make you forget the need for travel insurance.
Good cover will protect you in case you become ill, have an accident, lose your belongings or are the victim of crime while on holiday.
In addition, travel insurance will cover you in the event that you have to cancel or cut your trip short, preventing you from losing all the money you’ve spent on it.
What should my travel insurance policy for Cyprus include?
A good travel insurance policy for Cyprus should include the following:
- Cover for medical expenses, up to a limit of at least £5m.
- Cover for your repatriation to the UK, should this be necessary.
- Cover for cancelling or curtailing your holiday in an emergency.
- Delay and missed departure cover - in case events out of your control (such as extreme weather) cause you to miss your plane.
- Travel abandonment cover. Travel abandonment is unusual, and means you give up trying to get to your holiday destination because your journey has become impossible for some reason.
- Cover for lost and stolen baggage.
- Cover for the loss or theft of your passport. This may not come as standard with your travel insurance policy, but it’s probably worth adding if necessary.
- Personal liability cover. This protects you in case something you do injures a third party, causes the loss of their possessions or destroys something that belongs to them.
Travel insurance for Cyprus: exclusions and what to watch out for
Travel insurance is a valuable safety net, but as with all forms of insurance there are things it simply won’t cover.
Most travel insurance policies exclude the following:
- Cover for illness or injury arising from a pre-existing medical condition. This means any condition that was already diagnosed, or whose symptoms were discussed with a doctor, before you took out your policy. If you’re in this situation, you might have to pay more to extend your cover, or take out a special policy.
- Cover for unexpected incidents that affect your holiday, such as terrorism or war, civil unrest, earthquakes and other natural disasters.
- Cover for any accident, illness or injury that arises as a result of intoxication. If you have too much to drink while you’re on holiday and hurt yourself or someone else as a result, your travel insurer will almost certainly refuse to pay out.
- Cover in any location that the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has advised British tourists not to visit.
- Cover for accidents or injuries that occur during sporting activities such as skiing, scuba diving and paragliding. Never take part in such activities without checking you have appropriate insurance cover first.
Make sure you check the excess on your travel insurance policy before you buy it. While a higher excess might make your premium cheaper, don’t forget that this is the sum you will have to shell out before your insurer will pay any claim you make - so it has to be affordable.
Finally, don’t delay the start of your travel insurance policy until the day you are due to go away. If you do, you’ll have no cover in between booking your holiday and flying - and if for any reason you are forced to cancel the trip you have planned, you could end up seriously out of pocket.
Will an EHIC cover me in Cyprus?
An EHIC will cover you in the Republic of Cyprus. However, it will not be accepted in Turkish-run north Cyprus.
The EHIC scheme is designed to give EU visitors to participating countries access to the same healthcare that citizens of those countries would expect to receive for free or at a subsidised cost. However, it is no substitute for proper travel insurance.
As it stands with Brexit, the EHIC card will only work for UK citizens up until 31 January 2020 - though this is by no means politically certain at present.
If you are concerned about whether your EHIC card will work after the UK leaves the EU, be aware that a standard travel insurance policy will cover you for any medical costs included in your policy.
An EHIC does not cover the cost of repatriating you to your home country, would not cover the expenses of a friend or family member who had to stay in Cyprus to help look after you during an illness, and of course provides no protection in the event of other emergencies, such as your possessions being lost or stolen.
Top travel tips for Cyprus
1. Be politically aware
While you don’t need to become an expert on Cypriot history, it is important to know that there is a north / south divide on the island. The north is run by Turkey and mostly inhabited by Turkish Cypriots, and the south lived in mainly by Cypriots of Greek heritage.
Tensions between the north and south have eased significantly in recent years, with crossings between the two sides now easier compared to prior decades. However, the ‘green line’ - a UN buffer zone between the Republic of Cyprus and north Cyprus - is still in place.
Not only are there cultural differences between north and south Cyprus; the two zones use different currencies, with the south accepting Euros and the north the Turkish lira.
2. Stay sensible
Cyprus is a socially conservative country, and mostly populated by devout followers of either Islam or the Greek Orthodox Church. Drinking too much in public is severely disapproved of, and there a strict zero tolerance policy when it comes to drugs.
3. Learn a little Greek or Turkish
Cyprus is a former British colony, so English is widely spoken - but wherever you go on holiday it’s a good idea to try and learn a few words of the local lingo. Be aware, though, that the Greek spoken in Cyprus is a dialect quite different to that spoken in Greece itself.
4. Consider your clothing
While it’s fine to dress as normal in most parts of Cyprus, if you’re visiting a religious monument or a place of worship you should ensure that your legs, arms, shoulders and chest are covered.
5. Think twice about driving
While motorists drive on the left hand side of the road in Cyprus, the similarities between driving there and in the UK are otherwise limited.
The general standard of driving in Cyprus is regarded as low, while the state of many roads is considered poor by British visitors.
For your own safety, you may want to avoid being your party’s designated driver in Cyprus and take taxis instead.