Why do I need travel insurance for Spain?
While Spain seems just a stone’s throw away from home, don’t make the mistake of heading there on holiday without travel insurance.
Travel insurance will provide you with a financial safety net in case you fall ill or have an accident, and it will also cover you in case you lose your belongings or have them stolen.
In addition, travel insurance will help prevent you from ending up out of pocket in the event that you have to cancel or cut short your holiday because of an unforeseen emergency: peace of mind worth paying for.
What should my travel insurance policy for Spain include?
A good travel insurance policy for Spain should cover the following:
- Medical expenses, up to a limit of around £5m.
- Bringing you back to the UK (repatriation). This might be necessary if you suffer a leg injury, for example, and are unable to come home on a normal passenger plane.
- The cancellation or curtailment of your holiday.
- Delay and missed departures - in case a situation beyond your control (such as extreme weather) 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 becomes impossible 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 because obtaining a new passport while outside the UK can be 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 Spain: exclusions and what to watch out for
Travel insurance policies, just like all other kinds of cover, come with exclusions you need to be aware of.
Here are some of the things that your insurer is very unlikely to pay out for:
- 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 travelling. If you fall into this category, you’ll probably have to pay more for your cover, perhaps in the form of a specialist policy.
- Unexpected incidents that affect your holiday, such as civil unrest, an act of terrorism, or the effects of a natural disaster.
- Any accident, illness or injury that can be connected to drinking too much. If you hurt yourself or another person after having one too many, your insurer will almost certainly refuse to pay out.
- Travel to locations that the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has said should be avoided.
- Accidents or injuries that happen during winter sports such as skiing or adventure sports like scuba diving. Never take part in such activities without checking you have appropriate insurance cover first.
Always check the excess on your travel insurance policy before you sign on the dotted line. You might feel tempted to opt for a higher excess in return for a cheaper premium - but don’t forget that your excess must be affordable, because this is the sum you will have to stump up yourself if you make an insurance claim.
Finally, don’t 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 happen in the meantime that prevents you from travelling to Spain as planned, you could lose every penny you’ve spent on your trip.
Will my EHIC cover me in Spain?
Yes. The EHIC scheme is designed to give 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.
It’s worth remembering that few countries have ‘free at the point of use’ healthcare services as comprehensive as the NHS - so it is quite possible that you will have to pay some money towards any medical treatments you might receive in an EHIC country.
Always take your EHIC with you when you travel to Spain, but do not think of it as an alternative to travel insurance.
Your EHIC will not cover the cost of repatriating you to the UK should this be necessary, would not cover the costs of a friend or family member who had to stay in Spain to help look after you while you were ill, and of course provides no protection in the event that your possessions are lost or stolen.
Top travel tips for Spain
1. Expect an array of languages
Depending on where you go in Spain, be aware that a proportion of the people you meet may not speak the Spanish you learned at school as their mother tongue.
In fact, there are five national languages spoken in the country - and while most Spanish citizens will speak Castilian (‘standard’) Spanish too, it may be worth learning a few words of Basque or Catalan if you want to make fast friends with the locals who speak them.
2. Carry some cash
While shops and restaurant in resorts and big cities are likely to accept cards, if you’re going anywhere off the beaten track it’s important to take some money with you.
Don’t be caught short in an unfamiliar place with no cash, and - most likely - no ATM in sight!
3. Plan ahead if you’re a veggie
Spain is well known, and loved, for its cuisine - but, as is the case in a lot of European countries, many of Spain’s most famous dishes include meat, fish and seafood.
While vegetarians will probably find themselves well catered for in popular tourist destinations, you should expect a more ‘authentic’ dining experience when you visit other areas.
4. Slow down, siesta style…
While the Spanish siesta is a time-honoured tradition, you’ll likely find that tourist resorts and big cities rarely observe the traditional midday nap. This means shops, restaurants and attractions will stay open throughout the day.
However, smaller villages and towns - particularly in rural Spain - may well take siesta time more seriously. Therefore it’s worth remembering that if you’re heading off on an adventure, you may have no choice but to pause for an afternoon rest.
5. Stay sun safe
Spain is famed for its sunny weather, but be aware that just 30 minutes in the glare is long enough to cause severe sunburn.
Always apply high factor sun cream, wear a hat and sunglasses and regularly seek out shade.