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.
Use an insurance comparator to help you choose the travel insurance best suited to your needs, your budget, and your stay. In real-time, this tool allows you to compete with the various travel insurance companies on the market to offer you the best guarantee/price ratio. Our tool is 100% free and online.
How will travel insurance cover medical expenses?
Coverage of medical and hospitalization costs abroad is a fundamental guarantee, 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).
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: in this case, you have no money to take out, the insurer replaces you for the payment of your medical expenses,
Reimbursement: in this case, you pay the bill for your care, but the insurer reimburses you in full for the expense, within the limit, of course, of the compensation ceiling.
Some contracts provide for a deductible; others do not. The support is then from the 1st euro. For example, imagine that you have to spend €200 on a doctor 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 sum.
This guarantee of coverage of medical and hospitalization costs is essential. This is why all insurers include it in their policies, even entry-level formulas. As a result, it is all the more useful:
If you are traveling to a foreign country with health risks,
If you are going to a State where the cost of medical expenses is high, even very high, as is the case, for example, in Canada, the USA, or certain Asian countries, or if you plan to rent a vehicle abroad.
Pay particular attention to the compensation limits provided for in the contract. They vary according to the policies and range between €75,000 and €300,000 per insured person. Of course, the larger the ceiling, the better the coverage.
Some bank cards also provide coverage for medical expenses abroad. However, even if you have a top-of-the-range VISA Premier, MASTERCARD Gold, or AMERICAN EXPRESS gold card, the ceilings are generally lower than those for individual travel insurance. If you have a “classic” bank card, the limits will be insufficient in the event of an incident.
How does travel insurance repatriation assistance (returning home) work?
Repatriation assistance is included in all travel insurance contracts.
It comes into play in two scenarios, depending on whether the event concerns you directly or not:
In the event of a severe health problem justifying your immediate medical repatriation to France, for example, following an illness contracted on-site during your stay abroad,
An event in France requires your rapid return before your stay’s initial end date, for example, in the event of the death of a loved one or a disaster at your primary residence.
Repatriation assistance also provides for the return of the body to France in the event of death occurring abroad. Only a funeral director will be authorized to organize the transport, and the insurer will take care of the complex administrative procedures related to it while taking charge of all the expenses so as not to make the situation even more difficult—the family of the deceased.
In some countries, the care offered is not as complete or satisfactory as in France, especially if you develop a complex pathology. Returning to France to be hospitalized there may then prove appropriate.
It also happens that emergency repatriation is ordered if it proves to be more “profitable” for the insurer compared to keeping you there, especially in countries where hospitalization is expensive.
Repatriation insurance combines:
Full coverage by the insurer of the cost of repatriation (at actual expenses) and the bill can be very high,
Dedicated medical assistance, i.e., a team of doctors working for the insurer, who communicate with the professionals on-site to decide your situation and whether you will be repatriated.
To activate the repatriation assistance, you or one of your relatives must contact your insurance to declare the claim if you are not in good condition. In any case, it will be up to the insurer’s medical team to decide on the relevance of repatriation.
Again, repatriation assistance is often included in credit card agreements. We advise you to look at it but know that it will always be provided for in your travel insurance policy.
What does Civil Liability cover abroad?
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. To be “valid,” you must include the reason for your cancellation in the policy.
You can fulfill your cancellation or modification insurance for your trip abroad if:
Either as an option, as additional cover for your international travel insurance,
Or be the subject of a full-fledged contract with an independent insurer, a tour operator, or an airline.
In general, the contracts offered by independent insurers are said to be “all justified causes.” Therefore, the simple fact that you no longer wish to leave for personal reasons is not a valid reason.
There must necessarily be a sudden, unforeseeable event beyond your control and justified to be able to request reimbursement. For instance :
A visa refusal,
A disease contraindicating the departure,
A pregnancy complication not known at the time of booking,
An economic redundancy,
The closer you are to the departure date when you cancel, the higher the cancellation fee will be, up to 90% of the trip price if you cancel two days before departure. If your cancellation is justified, i.e., by providing full supporting documents, the insurer will reimburse these costs. The procedure for requesting coverage depends on the insurers.
Regarding price, cancellation insurance costs between 3% and 6% of the trip’s worth, depending on the policy. The compensation ceiling ranges from 5,000 to 8,000 euros per insured person.
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.