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How to choose insurance to travel to Europe

August 31, 2020
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If you are thinking of traveling to Europe, you will undoubtedly need valid medical insurance for Europe, but how do you know exactly which one you need?

Before continuing I would like to comment on two things. First, travel insurance is something you should always consider. After your passport, this is the most important document you should have.

Second AVOID or ignore people who argue , “I have traveled to Europe many times and have never been asked for insurance, so you don’t need it.”

Due to my profession (travel blogger), I have traveled to Europe many times and have crossed innumerable migration controls and it is true, many times they do not ask for insurance, but on other occasions they have done so and the migration officer is there their right to deny you entry into the country if you don’t have one , but I’ll talk more about this later.

This article does not try to convince you whether or not you need insurance to travel to Europe, because if you need it , what I really try is to teach you everything you need to know to choose the best one.

Importance of travel insurance

Regardless of whether you are a healthy person, you have never gotten sick, you do not plan to carry out risky activities, etc., international medical insurance is essential.

Accidents, as well as any medical situation that requires hospitalization, are events that happen in seconds and of which we have little to no control. Worse still is when these situations are so severe that their financial cost puts you and your entire family in a vulnerable situation . Beyond being an immigration requirement, this is the true importance of traveler’s insurance.

Difference between Europe, European Union and Schengen Zone

Let’s get back to the matter of what type of health insurance you need to travel to Europe.

Here it will get a bit complicated but I will try to make it as simple as possible since you should know the difference between Europe, the European Union and the Schengen Area.

Depending on the country you are, you may need to process a visa before traveling and medical insurance is a mandatory requirement for the Schengen visa .

Most Latin American countries do not require a prior visa, but if you want to know exactly whether or not you need to check the official website of the European Commission by clicking here.

Now, Europe is a continent made up of 50 countries, the European Union is made up of 28 and the Schengen Area only 26. Not all countries belong to the European Union, nor do they all belong to the Schengen Area.

In a simple way. The European Union is a combination of political, economic and immigration laws.

For example, the United Kingdom is part of the European Union (although it will not be for much longer) but does not use the Euro currency and does not belong to the Schengen Area. Poland, on the contrary, belongs to the European Union, it is also part of the Schengen Area but does not use the Euro.

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What is the Schengen area and how does this affect medical insurance for traveling to Europe?

The Schengen Area is a group of countries where they eliminated the borders between them. France and Germany, for example, belong to the Schengen area and you can travel freely between both countries without having your passport checked.

If you are traveling from your country of origin and you land in Germany, your passport will be checked at the airport upon entering. If you move to France from there, you will no longer have to go through migration control since you were already checked when you entered the Schengen Area the first time. If you leave the Schengen area countries and want to re-enter, they will recheck all your documents, mainly your passport.

Here you can see all the countries that belong to the Schengen Area

The reason for this article is that one of the requirements to enter the Schengen area is to have medical insurance for Europe.

IMPORTANT : People who DO NOT need to process a prior visa to travel to Europe , for example Mexico, still require traveler’s medical insurance and are subject to the immigration officer allowing them entry if they do not have one.

Requirements to enter Europe

The requirements vary depending on the country you are but in general they are the same.

The job of any immigration officer is to verify that your intentions to travel to Europe are solely for tourism.

That is, you have the financial means to pay your expenses during the trip, you plan to return to your country of origin or leave the Schengen zone to another destination and, if something happens to you, you have to solve any emergency in other words: you have medical insurance to travel to Europe or rather, in the Schengen area.

When crossing the border they will not always ask you for this information , sometimes they just see you, put the stamp and go, but this TOTALLY depends on the immigration officer who touches you.

If you want to know exactly what are the requirements you need to enter the Schengen Area, I recommend that you visit the page of the Embassy of the country you plan to visit. In other words, if you are from Colombia and you plan to visit Spain, you can visit the “Embassy of Spain in Colombia” page.

Sometimes the Secretary of Foreign Relations, or its simile in other countries, has a page where you will find this information easily and simply.


Countries that require insurance to travel to Europe

In short, everyone. If you are countries such as Bolivia, Belize, Ecuador, etc., that require you to process a Schengen Visa prior to your trip, one of the requirements to obtain it is precisely to have medical insurance for Europe.

In both situations, whether you need to apply for a visa or not, the requirements that your health insurance must meet are exactly the same.

In my case, the insurance that I use on all my trips and I recommend is World Nomads , since the coverage it offers for what it costs is very good. Click here to learn more about World Nomads.

In case you want to compare with others or make sure that your insurance is valid, below I will explain the main requirements that your insurance must have for Europe. These were obtained directly from the Visa Code of the Regulation of the European Parliament in its Article 15 . You can consult the complete regulation of Schengen Visas by clicking here.

Insurance requirements to travel to Europe

Repatriation for medical reasons or death

Nobody likes to talk about death and illness on a trip, it is something quite pessimistic but it is also a reality, accidents happen in seconds and you must be prepared for them.

The insurance to travel to Europe that you choose must have the option of in case of being hospitalized to be able to pay the expenses of transfers back to your country of origin or in the worst case, death, your remains can be returned to your country. These types of transfers can be very expensive and I don’t think you want to leave this financial and emotional burden on your family.


Insured sum greater than 30,000 Euros.

When talking about cheap health insurance, the option to reduce your cost is by reducing the sum insured. This is the total amount of money that you are covered for.

That is, suppose you have an accident and need a surgery, the total cost of the operation and recovery is 50,000 Euros, if you chose the cheap option and you only covered for 30,000 Euros then the remaining 20,000 Euros you will have to pay for yourself.

Hospital expenses are very expensive, especially in European countries. I assure you that 30,000 euros will probably not be enough if you need urgent medical attention. Do not buy the cheapest insurance by reducing the sum insured, it is something that you may regret later .

In the case of World Nomads insurance, the minimum coverage is 5,000,000 USD or about 3,5000,000 Euros. Ten times higher than the minimum health insurance requirement for Europe.

Likewise, before fully trusting the travel insurance included in some credit cards, I recommend that you check the fine print because usually the insured amount of these insurances is very low or not enough to cover the requirements of insurance trip to Europe.

The coverage must be valid for the period of travel and in all countries of the region.

This clause is a bit obvious, the insurance you hire must cover you for the entire time you are traveling and also valid in all the countries you travel to. In some cases, insurance companies for trying to make them cheaper exclude certain countries or regions, check well which includes yours.

In the case of World Nomads includes all countries with the exception of your country of origin, so you will not have to travel to Europe or any other country.

Additional tips for choosing insurance to travel to Europe

Broadly speaking, these are the requirements that insurance must meet to travel to Europe and while in the insurance market there are hundreds of different companies and options, I suggest that you at least consider these tips before making the decision:

Read the fine print.

Even if it is somewhat annoying and tedious, always read the fine print so you do not regret it after the decision. Consider reviewing:

  • What IF covers you
  • What DO NOT your insurance covers. For example, some activities are excluded from many travel insurance.
  • In which cases the insurance is invalid

How to make a claim or validate your insurance.

Many travel insurance works on a reimbursement basis so always make sure to ask for all receipts and invoices in YOUR FULL NAME. Make sure more than once they include your name and even, if possible, your passport number.

additional openings

In the case of World Nomads , it includes coverage for trip cancellation, evacuation in case of emergency, lost luggage and even, depending on the coverage you buy, extreme activities such as skydiving, mountaineering, among others.

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Recognized company

On the internet you will find hundreds of companies that offer travel insurance for Europe, however choose one that has a good reputation or is large. I have heard hundreds of horror stories where the insurance company disappears or refuses to reimburse medical expenses, worse still, in case of an emergency or evacuation it is not able to support or even contact.

I understand the need to want to save as much as possible but after years of traveling and knowing the stories of travelers around the world I can tell you with all certainty that the only expense that you cannot skimp or try to reduce is your international medical insurance.

Hopefully you will never need it but if you do, you can rest assured that you are covered for any eventuality.

With this, I hope that the issue of choosing insurance to travel to Europe has become a little clearer for you. If you have any questions or comments, you can write it down as a comment, I will try to respond as soon as possible.

On the subject of visas, times of stay in the Schengen area and other similar procedures, I would suggest that you check directly on the page of the Embassy of the country to which you plan to travel, there you will find current information on requirements, times, costs, etc.

Frequently Asked Questions:

If you are traveling to Europe, it’s highly recommended to have travel insurance, but not mandatory.

The best Travel insurance to go to Europe is World Nomads, that’s our recommendation. Learn more about that insurer by reading our article.

Well, what you are doing is good, just make good research and read articles like this. If you really need more information, you can always hire an professional for advice.


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