Travel Insurance: Portugal

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Popping to Portugal? Arrange travel insurance as soon as you book – and remember to get an EHIC card

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Coastal Portuguese Outcrop

Why do I need travel insurance for Portugal?

If you’re planning a getaway to Portugal, make sure you remember to organise travel insurance.

Travel insurance will provide you with a financial safety net in case you fall ill or have an accident during your holiday, and it will also cover you in case you lose your belongings or have them stolen.

Having travel insurance in place also means you won’t be left completely out of pocket in the unfortunate event that you have to cancel or cut short your holiday unexpectedly.

What should my travel insurance policy for Portugal include?

A good travel insurance policy for Portugal should cover the following:

  • Medical expenses, up to a limit of at least £5m.
  • Repatriating you to the UK.
  • The cancellation or curtailment of your holiday.
  • Delay and missed departures - in case a situation beyond your control (such as a car accident) means you can’t get to the airport on time.
  • Travel abandonment. This is where you give up trying to reach your destination because your journey has become too difficult to complete.
  • Lost and stolen baggage.
  • The loss or theft of your passport. Even if this isn’t a standard part of your policy, it may be worth adding as an extra. Obtaining a new passport while outside the UK can be both costly and difficult.
  • Personal liability. 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 Portugal: exclusions and things to watch out for

While travel insurance is a vital safety net if you’re going away, there are some things that it will not cover.

Common travel insurance exclusions are:

  • Illness or injury arising from pre-existing medical conditions. A pre-existing condition is any illness that was diagnosed, or whose symptoms you discussed with your doctor, before going away. If you have such a condition, you may have to pay extra for your cover, and/or take out a specialist policy.
  • Unexpected incidents that affect your holiday - for example, terrorist activity, civil unrest or the effects of a natural disaster.
  • Any accident, illness or injury that happens as a result of you drinking alcohol. If you hurt yourself or another person while you’re drunk, your insurer will almost certainly refuse to pay out.
  • Travel to locations that the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has advised British tourists to avoid.
  • Accidents or injuries that happen during sporting activities such as skiing, scuba diving, surfing and snowboarding. If you’re planning to take part in pursuits like these while on holiday in Portugal, check to make sure you are properly covered in advance.

Make sure you look at the excess payable on your travel insurance policy, too. It must be affordable, and you should understand how many separate excesses you might have to pay under the terms of your policy if you had to claim.

Some insurance companies attach an excess to different ‘categories’ of claim, rather than to the policy as a whole. And some have an excess per person listed on the policy, rather than a single excess covering the whole party.

Also, never delay the start of your travel insurance policy until the day you are due to depart. If you do, you’ll have no cover in between booking and flying - and should something unexpected prevent you from going to Portugal as planned, you could lose every penny you’ve spent on your holiday.

Will my EHIC cover me in Portugal?

Yes. Portugal is a member of the EHIC scheme, which is designed to give visitors to participating countries access to the same state provided healthcare that citizens of those countries could expect to receive.

However, few countries have ‘free at the point of use’ healthcare services as comprehensive as the NHS. It is therefore quite possible that you’ll have to pay some money towards any medical treatments you receive while on holiday in an EHIC country.

Always take your EHIC with you when you travel to Portugal, but don’t make the mistake of viewing it as an alternative to travel insurance.

Your EHIC will not cover the cost of repatriating you to the UK in an emergency, would not cover the expenses of a family member who had to stay in Portugal to help look after you while you were ill, and of course provides no protection in other difficult situations, such as if you are the victim of crime while on holiday.

Top travel tips for Portugal

1. Keep your ID close

In Portugal, you must be able to produce photo identification if asked for it by a police officer. It’s therefore a good idea to keep some on you at all times - though a photocopy of the ID page of your passport should be sufficient.

2. Learn the (right) lingo…

Wherever you’re heading on holiday, it’s always a good idea to learn a few words of the local language. But did you know that European Portuguese is not the same as the Portuguese spoken in Brazil?

Many of the Portuguese language learning tools, apps and phrasebooks you’ll come across are geared towards Brazilian Portuguese - so make sure you check before you buy.

3. Enjoy some super soup

Soup may not be at the top of your list of foods to enjoy while on holiday - but it’s traditionally eaten in Portugal at least once per day and is a central part of the Portuguese diet.

This means that local chefs have some pretty exceptional recipes up their sleeves, with different regions within Portugal offering a variety of flavours, textures and ingredients in their signature soups.

4. Experience authentic piri piri

If you’re a fan of spicy chicken, don’t go to Portugal without trying the local version. Ditto those delicious little custard tarts, pasteis de nata.

5. Carry some cash

As is the case in most European countries, credit and debit cards are widely accepted.

However, smaller towns and establishments away from popular tourist resorts may have fewer facilities for processing payment by plastic, so it’s a good idea to keep some cash on you too.

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