Travel insurance is a contract that covers you in the event of an unforeseen event during your stay abroad. We strongly advise you to take out travel insurance to prepare for any eventuality. The guarantees vary depending on the contract. What are the fundamental guarantees of travel insurance? What are the optional guarantees? Answers from our experts?
What are the travel insurance guarantees?
Travel insurance is a policy that covers you during a stay abroad, whatever the destination, duration, or nature (holidays far from the Schengen area, business trip to the USA, studies, etc.). The guarantees vary according to the contracts.
Travel insurance is systematically offered to you when you book a stay, whether with a travel agency, a tour operator, or an association. You can also choose to take out individual travel insurance and thus benefit from tailor-made coverage according to your needs and travel profile. Regarding coverage, the guarantees vary according to the contracts, but all travel insurance policies revolve around the triptych:
Medical expenses and hospitalization – Assistance and repatriation – Civil liability abroad
These are the basic guarantees, but many others exist. Each independent insurer is free to determine the extent of coverage of the contracts it sells. There are two types of additional guarantees:
Those included in the agreement, in the “package” defined by the insurer,
Those are options in the contract, which you can subscribe to or not according to your needs.
Simply put, travel insurance has two components:
the insurance component, i.e., compensation (advance or reimbursement of costs), in particular in the event of an accident or illness occurring abroad,
the assistance component, i.e., assistance and support from your insurer when an unexpected event disrupts your stay.
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How will travel insurance cover medical expenses?
A fundamental guarantee for coverage of Travel Insurance Costs abroad is common to all travel insurance policies, whether you have taken it out with a tour operator (“group” insurance) or alone with an independent insurer (individual insurance).
Coverage Guarantees and Support Options
This guarantee allows you to be compensated in the event of an accident, illness, or death during your stay abroad. This support can take the form of an advance or reimbursement.
An advance means that the insurer replaces you for the payment of your medical expenses, so you don’t have to pay upfront. On the other hand, with reimbursement, you pay the bill for your care, and the insurer reimburses you in full within the limit of the compensation ceiling.
Deductibles and Coverage Considerations
Some travel insurance contracts include deductibles, while others do not. If a deductible is specified in the contract, the support starts from the first euro you spend. For example, imagine you have a medical consultation bill of €200 in Canada or the USA:
- If the deductible for a medical consultation is €50, you will only be reimbursed €150 by your insurer.
- If no deductible is provided in the contract, you will be refunded the full €200.
Essential Coverage for Medical and Hospitalization Costs
The guarantee of coverage for medical and hospitalization costs is essential and is included in all travel insurance policies, even entry-level formulas. It becomes even more useful in the following situations:
- Traveling to a foreign country with health risks.
- Visiting a state where the cost of medical expenses is high, such as Canada, the USA, or certain Asian countries.
- Planning to rent a vehicle abroad.
Compensation Limits and Considerations
It is important to pay attention to the compensation limits specified in the travel insurance contract. These limits vary between €75,000 and €300,000 per insured person, and a higher ceiling generally indicates better coverage.
Additionally, it’s worth noting that some bank cards also offer coverage for medical expenses abroad. However, the ceilings provided by bank cards are typically lower than those offered by individual travel insurance policies. Even top-of-the-range cards like VISA Premier, MASTERCARD Gold, or AMERICAN EXPRESS gold cards may have insufficient limits in the event of an incident.
By understanding these coverage guarantees, deductibles, essential medical coverage, and compensation limits, you can make informed decisions when choosing the right travel insurance policy for your needs.
How does travel insurance repatriation assistance (returning home) work?
Repatriation Assistance and its Importance
Repatriation assistance is an integral part of all travel insurance contracts, providing crucial support in various situations.
Scenarios for Repatriation Assistance
Repatriation assistance comes into play in two scenarios, depending on the nature of the event:
1. Medical Repatriation
In the event of a severe health problem that justifies your immediate medical repatriation, such as an illness contracted during your stay abroad. This ensures your safe return to your home country, such as France, for necessary medical treatment.
2. Emergency Return
If an event in your home country, such as the death of a loved one or a disaster at your primary residence, requires your rapid return before the planned end date of your trip. Repatriation assistance facilitates your quick return to address the urgent situation.
Repatriation Procedures and Support
Repatriation assistance also covers the repatriation of a deceased person’s body to the home country, in this case, France. Only a licensed funeral director is authorized to handle the transport, and the insurer manages the complex administrative procedures while covering all expenses. This relieves the family of the deceased from additional burdens during a challenging time.
In some cases, returning to France for hospitalization may be appropriate, especially if the medical care available in the foreign country is not as comprehensive or satisfactory, particularly for complex medical conditions. The decision for emergency repatriation may also be made based on the comparative costs of keeping you abroad, especially in countries with high hospitalization expenses.
Coverage and Assistance in Repatriation Insurance
Repatriation insurance combines two main aspects:
1. Cost Coverage
The insurer fully covers the expenses associated with repatriation, which can be significant depending on the circumstances.
2. Dedicated Medical Assistance
A team of doctors employed by the insurer collaborates with the local medical professionals to assess your situation and determine the necessity and logistics of repatriation.
Activating Repatriation Assistance and Additional Considerations
To activate repatriation assistance, you or one of your relatives should contact your insurance provider to report the claim, especially if you are not in a condition to do so yourself. The insurer’s medical team will then assess the situation and decide on the appropriateness of repatriation.
It is worth noting that repatriation assistance is sometimes included in credit card agreements. However, it is strongly recommended to review your travel insurance policy as repatriation assistance will always be explicitly covered to ensure comprehensive protection during your travels.
What does Civil Liability Cover broad?
Third guarantee common to all travel insurance policies: is the Civil Liability “private life” guarantee abroad. This covers you in the event of personal or material damage caused inadvertently during your stay outside France, whether by you, your dependent children, or an object or animal for which you are responsible.
The RC (civil liability) included in your international travel insurance takes over from that provided for by your Multi-risk-Home (or MRH) contract, which very often stops at the French borders. To be covered abroad, consider taking out travel insurance, especially when you know that awkwardness can happen quickly and that it can have very significant financial consequences. For example, you could knock over an art object in a museum.
The civil liability guarantee abroad does not cover:
Damage caused intentionally,
Harm related to the performance of your professional activity,
Injury associated with driving a vehicle (your car insurance or that of your rental company will take over)
What does trip cancellation or modification insurance cover?
Cancellation or modification insurance for your trip is a guarantee that reimburses you for all or part of the costs incurred if you can no longer leave.
Coverage Options for Cancellation or Modification Insurance
You can fulfill your cancellation or modification insurance for your trip abroad through two options:
- As an Option in International Travel Insurance: It can be included as an additional cover in your international travel insurance policy.
- Full-Fledged Contract with Various Providers: It can be a separate contract obtained from an independent insurer, a tour operator, or an airline.
Valid Reasons for Cancellation or Modification
In general, the contracts offered by independent insurers are designed to cover “all justified causes.” Therefore, personal reasons alone, where you simply no longer wish to proceed with the trip, are not considered valid reasons for reimbursement.
To qualify for reimbursement, there must be a sudden, unforeseeable event beyond your control that is justified and supported by relevant documentation. Examples of valid reasons include:
- Visa refusal
- Contraindicating disease preventing departure
- Pregnancy complications not known at the time of booking
- Economic redundancy
Cancellation Fees and Reimbursement Process
The closer you are to the departure date when canceling, the higher the cancellation fee will be, potentially reaching up to 90% of the trip price if canceled two days before departure. However, if your cancellation is justified and supported by appropriate documents, the insurer will reimburse these costs. The exact procedure for requesting coverage varies depending on the insurers.
Price and Compensation Ceilings
Cancellation insurance typically costs between 3% and 6% of the trip’s value, depending on the specific policy and coverage. The compensation ceiling ranges from 5,000 to 8,000 euros per insured person, providing coverage up to these limits.
By understanding the coverage options, valid reasons for cancellation, reimbursement process, and associated costs, you can make informed decisions regarding cancellation or modification insurance for your trip.
What is the flight cancellation guarantee?
Flight cancellation insurance is systematically offered by the airline. The option is often pre-checked if you buy your ticket online. This is group insurance, i.e., a global contract that is the same for everyone. The “accepted” cancellation cases are more restrictive than those included in full-fledged travel insurance.
Check the cases of cancellation accepted by the insurance offered to you, as well as the conditions and reimbursement rates. Do not forget to look at the exclusions, which are often numerous in this type of group contract.
What does baggage insurance cover?
Baggage cover is not included in all travel insurance contracts. However, this is often an option that can be very useful if you take valuable equipment, jewelry, etc., with you.
It may be offered to you by your carrier (often an airline) and will only cover you in this case during return transport. You can also take it out with an independent insurer by including it in your travel insurance, and it will cover your luggage and personal effects for the duration of your stay abroad.
The procedure varies depending on the case:
Damage to your luggage: you have seven days to file your claim for compensation,
Loss or theft of your luggage: you must report it immediately, first to the airline and then to your insurer. It will take 21 days for your baggage to be recognized as missing. At the end of this period, the compensation procedure begins.
In all cases, you must make a claim on the carrier’s website or by post with acknowledgment of receipt, describing the contents of your luggage, and providing as many supporting documents as possible: photos, purchase invoices, etc., simultaneously with your insurer.
If you have not taken out travel insurance, you will only have carrier compensation, which varies between 1,000 and 1,500 euros. Not much, mainly if your luggage contained a computer, camera, etc.
During your stay, if you have your luggage and personal belongings have been stolen from your place of residence, you are, in principle, covered by your travel insurance (check the policy carefully). However, the insurer will wait for you to request compensation from the hotelier if you are staying at the hotel. If you have not taken out such a policy, check whether your Multi-risk Home covers you, as some MRH contracts provide a resort guarantee which sometimes extends abroad.
What is the travel insurance search and rescue cover?
The “search and rescue costs” guarantee, often included in travel insurance, is a bit special and applies in particular cases: when your disappearance is declared (most often by a relative) during your stay with the stranger, and you suffer bodily harm.
In general, this guarantee concerns particular areas:
In the desert.
The most frequent cases concern disappearances or injuries occurring during excursions, hikes, etc. The guarantee allows you a refund when a team of professional rescuers/local authorities goes looking for you, which can quickly have a cost. Important:
The compensation limit depends, as always, on the contracts. But, overall, it is around 8,000 euros. The assumption of responsibility, therefore, covers both the research costs and the consequences of the damage suffered.
What is the purpose of the legal protection guarantee abroad?
Legal assistance abroad is generally included in travel insurance contracts. The guarantee is twofold since it combines:
Reimbursement of legal fees incurred abroad when necessary,
An advance of bail if you are imprisoned on the spot.
A wide variety of disputes can arise when you are abroad: with a hospital or healthcare establishment, an administration, a resident… If you are forced to take on a lawyer on the spot, the compensation provided by your travel insurance will be of great help to you. The average compensation ceiling is 8,000 euros per insured.
Regarding the advance of bail, it comes into play when you are imprisoned abroad. Unfortunately, it happens. In some countries, the authorities and police forces can be particularly strict, especially since you do not necessarily know all the applicable rules. The insurer will advance your deposit to the local authority up to a certain amount; generally around 15,000 euros per insured. In return, you will need to sign an acknowledgment of debt with the insurer and designate it as the beneficiary if the deposit is refundable by the authority. Sometimes some insurers ask for a security deposit. The insurer must be refunded the advance within 30 or 60 days of discharge, depending on the contract.
What is the reimbursement of expenses in the event of trip interruption?
The reimbursement of expenses in the event of trip interruption is most often an option that is not included in the travel insurance contract.
Depending on the cases provided in the contract, it allows you to interrupt your trip if you can no longer continue it and to be reimbursed for the costs incurred for the days on-site “not consumed.”
In general, provision is made for the cases of hospitalization or death of a loved one in France, a severe accident at your home. However, unlike repatriation assistance, it is not you who suffers the damage or the event: it does not. Therefore, there is no health emergency concerning you.
In principle, this reimbursement of expenses in the event of trip interruption includes coverage of the actual costs of your return trip (plane, train, boat, etc., to the taxi taking you home) and compensation—unconsumed days. The insurer will therefore reimburse you for accommodation, activities already paid for (such as excursions, for example)…
What is the impossible return guarantee?
The impossible return guarantee is a relatively recent creation, following the eruption of the Icelandic volcano in 2010, which grounded all planes for a month.
It is included as standard in specific travel insurance contracts and is activated in the event of an exceptional event leading to the forced extension of your stay abroad and is not compensated here for any failures of travel organizations or airlines but for unforeseeable situations, such as climatic events preventing your return on the scheduled dates.
As usual, these cases must be mentioned in the policy. The compensation concerns all the costs inherent to the immobilization on the spot: accommodation, catering, and alternative transport for the return.
What does the travel insurance extreme sports guarantee cover?
The guarantee for practicing extreme sports abroad is an option and never included in standard travel insurance contracts. The season is simple: the risks are significant, and damages in the event of an accident. All independent insurers do not offer extreme sports guarantees. Similarly, the extent of its coverage varies greatly depending on the contract. The exclusions are numerous, so it will be necessary to be attentive to them.
This guarantee can be the subject of a separate insurance contract or be included in travel insurance as an option.
Are considered “extreme,” a wide variety of sports you could practice abroad. Many French travelers try this type of activity labeled “holiday” because they have more time than the rest of the year and are often less expensive than in France. These are, for example:
Air sports (ULM, paragliding, skydiving, etc.),
Motorsports (but also motorcycling),
Water sports (canyoning, scuba diving, etc.)
The guarantee includes, in addition to Civil Liability, a case where you cause damage to others. Coverage in the event of an accident (whether or not resulting in disability) and compensation in the event of death (which will take the form of capital).
Please note: to assure coverage and avoid exclusion, you must qualify the sport you practice as “extreme” in the policy. In addition, it must be supervised by a club, an association, or a company.