Why do I need travel insurance for France?
Whether it’s a summer-long trip or a short city break you’re planning, don’t go to France without travel insurance.
Having cover will protect you in case you are injured or become ill while you’re away, and it will cover you if your belongings are lost or stolen. Also, it will provide a financial safety net in the event that you have to cancel or cut short your holiday.
What should my travel insurance policy for France include?
Before you go to France, you should buy a travel insurance policy that provides the following:
- £5m worth of cover for medical expenses.
- Cover for repatriation to the UK.
- Cancellation and curtailment cover, in case you can’t go on your holiday or have to head home early.
- Cover for delay and missed departures - in the event that circumstances beyond your control, such as a flash flood, make you miss your flight.
- Cover for travel abandonment, in the unlikely event that problems arise on your journey and it is too difficult to get to your destination.
- Cover for lost and stolen baggage.
- Cover for the loss or theft of your passport. Consider adding this to your policy if it isn’t already included, as getting hold of a new passport while you are on holiday can be costly and stressful.
- Cover for personal liability - in case something you do causes the loss of someone else’s possessions, damage to their possessions, or causes that person an injury.
France travel insurance: exclusions and what to watch out for
All insurance policies come with exclusions, and travel insurance is no exception.
It’s important to be aware of the things that you’ll probably be unable to claim for.
- Pre-existing medical conditions. This term covers any illness that was diagnosed, or whose symptoms you discussed with your doctor before travelling. If you fall into this camp, you’ll either have to pay additional premium to extend a standard policy, or you’ll have to take out specialist cover.
- Unexpected incidents such as terrorism, war, civil unrest or the effects of certain natural disasters that affect your holiday.
- Alcohol-related accidents, injuries and illnesses. If you hurt yourself or someone else while under the influence while on holiday in France, your insurer may well not pay out.
- Travel to destinations that the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has advised British tourists to avoid.
- Accidents or injuries that occur during adventure or winter sports such as skiing and snowboarding. If you’re planning on taking part in such activities while on holiday in France, make sure you are properly covered first.
Always check the excess on your travel insurance policy, too. Though it might seem tempting to opt for a higher excess in exchange for a lower premium, never set yours so high that you’d struggle to pay it in the event you needed to make a travel insurance claim.
Finally, start your travel insurance policy from the date you book your holiday - not the date on which you’re due to travel.
This is to ensure that, if an emergency should arise in the intervening period and prevent you from going to France as planned, you will not lose all the money you’ve spent on your trip.
Will my EHIC cover me in France?
Yes. The EHIC scheme, of which France is a member, is designed to give visitors to European countries access to the same state-subsidised healthcare that citizens of those countries would themselves receive.
This means that, whatever state provided healthcare a French person would get if they fell ill, you would get too - but, crucially, it doesn’t necessarily mean that any or all medical treatment you receive in France would be free.
Few countries have ‘free’ healthcare systems that provide the same level of care as the NHS, so it is quite usual that holidaymakers who get medical treatment under the EHIC scheme have to pay something towards the cost of their care.
The EHIC is a useful safety net, but it is no substitute for proper travel insurance. Your EHIC won’t cover repatriation to the UK if it’s needed, would not cover the cost of air-lifting you to hospital in an emergency and provides no protection in the event of other emergencies, such as baggage loss or the theft of your purse or wallet.
Always ensure you and your family members have an EHIC when travelling in France - but be sure to take travel insurance along, too.
Top travel tips for France
1. When in France…
Speak as much French as you can. While many French nationals speak good English, they invariably prefer not to - and being able to ask for what you need using the local lingo will stand you in good stead for great service.
At the very least, learn to say ‘Parlez-vous anglais?’ en francais!
2. Try the train
If you’re planning to travel around in France, why not use public transport? France’s train network is one of the best in Europe, with the Train a Grande Vitesse (TGV) rail system providing high speed services between cities across the country.
3. Know the rules of the road
You probably know that you’ll need to drive on the right hand side of the road if you take your car to France. But did you know that by law you must carry a warning triangle in your vehicle, along with a high visibility jacket for every passenger?
If you’re planning a road trip in France, do your research - make sure you understand any rules that may differ from those you are used to at home.
It is also vital to make sure your car insurance policy will cover you in France if you will be driving your own vehicle.
4. Relish every repas
France is known as the gastronomic capital of the world - and for good reason. From Michelin-starred meals to simple, sensational bread, cheese and wine, make a point of sampling the local delights wherever you go.
5. Pucker up
If you get to know some of the locals while you’re on holiday, they may greet you in the French style - that is by kissing you, usually once on each cheek.
Famously reserved Brits may struggle with this somewhat intimate gesture, but relax! It’s the Continental equivalent of a handshake.
Just be prepared to react quickly if you see someone lean in: headbutting the locals is never a good look.