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Travel insurance: Schengen

Compare travel insurance quotes for the Schengen area

Jake Edmonds
Written by  Jake Edmonds
5 min read
Updated: 30 Jan 2024

If you’re travelling to the Schengen area and you aren’t a UK citizen, you’ll need a Schengen visa – and you’ll also need travel insurance

Exploring the Schengen area: A guide for travellers

Schengen

Introduction to the Schengen Area

The concept of a borderless Europe has been brought to life through the Schengen Area, a remarkable agreement among 26 European countries. This initiative has simplified travel for millions, allowing for the free movement of people across national borders without the hassle of border checks. The Schengen Agreement laid the foundation for this area, creating a contiguous zone of free movement and travel. Notably, the United Kingdom opted out of this agreement and therefore, isn't part of the Schengen zone.

Countries Participating in the Schengen Agreement

The Schengen Agreement is a testament to European unity, encompassing a diverse group of countries, including:

  • Austria

  • Belgium

  • Czech Republic

  • Denmark

  • Estonia

  • Finland

  • France

  • Germany

  • Greece

  • Hungary

  • Iceland

  • Italy

  • Latvia

  • Liechtenstein

  • Lithuania

  • Luxembourg

  • Malta

  • Netherlands

  • Norway

  • Poland

  • Portugal

  • Slovakia

  • Slovenia

  • Spain

  • Sweden

  • Switzerland

Travellers within these countries enjoy the convenience of crossing borders as if they were non-existent, making travel seamless and more efficient.

EU countries excluded from the Schengen agreement

Despite the extensive reach of the Schengen Agreement, not all EU countries are participants. Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Ireland, and Romania have not yet joined the Schengen zone. However, citizens from these nations still benefit from the right to move freely within the EU, upholding the spirit of mobility and cooperation that the EU stands for.

Visa requirements for the Schengen area

Entering the Schengen Area is not a free-for-all affair, especially for non-EU citizens who typically require a visa. This requirement is a standard procedure to manage and monitor the influx of travellers from outside the EU, ensuring safety and order within the zone.

How to obtain a Schengen visa

For non-EU citizens eyeing a European adventure within the Schengen Area, a Schengen visa is a key to unlocking this experience. Here's what you'll need to apply:

  • A fully completed visa application form

  • A valid passport that won't expire during your visit

  • Two identical passport-sized photographs

  • A detailed travel itinerary for your trip

  • Proof of financial means to support your stay

Bear in mind that additional documentation may be necessary, depending on your destination country. It's always wise to reach out to the relevant embassy to ensure you have all your bases covered.

UK citizens travelling to the Schengen area

Brexit has changed the way UK citizens travel to Europe. For short stays of up to 90 days within a 180-day period, Brits can enjoy the Schengen countries visa-free. However, for longer excursions or purposes such as work, study, or business travel, you may need a visa or permit to stay for longer, to work or study or for business travel. Read the full rules before you travel.

Travel insurance requirement for the Schengen area

Securing travel insurance is more than just a suggestion; it's a legal requirement for non-EU citizens applying for a Schengen visa. While not mandatory for UK residents on short trips, it's still a wise decision to ensure you're covered against the unexpected.

Minimum travel insurance coverage for a Schengen visa

To qualify for a Schengen visa, your travel insurance must meet certain criteria, including:

  • Medical treatment coverage of at least €30,000

  • Coverage for all Schengen countries

  • Provisions for repatriation or emergency care

This ensures that you're protected against significant expenses while abroad.

Coverage provided by travel insurance for European countries

When selecting travel insurance for your European journey, consider a policy that includes:

  • Protection against holiday disruptions, such as flight cancellations or delays

  • Coverage for personal belongings, safeguarding against loss or theft

  • Medical treatment coverage, ensuring you're cared for in case of illness or injury

  • Legal costs coverage, providing assistance in the event of legal troubles

Exclusions in European travel insurance policies

It's essential to be aware of what's not covered under standard travel insurance policies:

  • Risky or adventurous activities: If you’re planning on taking part in any winter or water sports, the risk associated with these activities means a standard travel policy won’t cover you – you’ll need to take out specialised insurance.

  • High-value items may require additional coverage to be fully protected.

  • Undeclared items must be reported to your insurer to ensure coverage.

  • Undeclared pre-existing conditions: If you fail to inform your insurer about existing medical conditions, coverage for treatment abroad won’t apply. However, UK residents can still use the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) and the new Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) for emergency medical treatment in EU countries.

  • Work-related injuries often necessitate a separate insurance policy.

Factors affecting travel insurance cost for the Schengen area

Several variables influence the cost of your travel insurance:

  • Age: Older travellers may face higher premiums.

  • Destination: The cost of local medical care can affect insurance prices.

  • Trip Duration: Longer vacations generally require more expensive coverage.

  • Holiday Activities: Engaging in high-risk activities can drive up the cost.

  • Your medical conditions: Declaring pre-existing conditions is necessary and can affect your premium.

  • Policy Extras: Opting for additional coverage options will increase the overall cost.

In the end, the Schengen Area represents a unique and convenient way to explore Europe's rich tapestry of cultures and landscapes. While the ease of movement is a fantastic benefit for travellers, it's crucial to be well-prepared with the appropriate visa and insurance coverage. By understanding the requirements and ensuring you're adequately protected, you can embark on your European adventure with peace of mind and a sense of security. Happy travels!

Citizens of these countries will need a visa to visit the Schengen area

Afghanistan

Algeria

Angola

Armenia

Azerbaijan

Bahrain

Bangladesh

Belarus

Belize

Benin

Bhutan

Bolivia

Botswana

Burkina Faso

Burundi

Cambodia

Cameroon

Cape Verde

Central African Republic

Chad

China

Comoros

Congo

Côte d'Ivoire

Cuba

DR of Congo

Djibouti

Dominican Republic

Ecuador

Egypt

Equatorial Guinea

Eritrea

Ethiopia

Fiji

Gabon

Gambia

Ghana

Guinea

Guinea-Bissau

Guyana

Haiti

India

Indonesia

Iran

Iraq

Jamaica

Jordan

Kazakhstan

Kenya

Kosovo

Kuwait

Kyrgyzstan

Laos

Lebanon

Lesotho

Liberia

Libya

Madagascar

Malawi

Maldives

Mali

Mauritania

Mongolia

Morocco

Mozambique

Namibia

Nepal

Nigeria

North Korea

Northern Marianas

Oman

Pakistan

Papua New Guinea 

Philippines

Qatar

Russia

Rwanda

São Tomé and Principe

Saudi Arabia

Senegal

Sierra Leone

Somalia

South Africa

Sri Lanka

Sudan

Suriname

Swaziland

Syria

Tajikistan

Tanzania

Thailand

Timor-Leste

Togo

Tonga

Tunisia

Turkey

Turkmenistan

Uganda

Uzbekistan

Vietnam

Yemen

Zambia

Zimbabwe

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