Everything you need to know about travel insurance for a holiday in Europe

The French Riviera, a weekend in Rome or a sunny break on the Costa Brava; where is your next European break?


Brexit negotiations and the weak pound haven't put off UK travellers from visiting the continent; the estimated number of overseas visits to Europe by UK residents increased by 2.7% from 56.3 million in 2016 to 57.9 million in 2017, according to a Mintel report.

Whether you’re planning a week-long escape to the French Riviera, a weekend sojourn to Rome or an epic tour across Italy, you should consider buying travel insurance for your European holiday.

Travel insurance covers you in the event the unexpected happens, and protects you and your family if you need medical help. Travel insurance while you’re in Europe can keep you covered, but what should your policy include?

Find out what is defined as ‘European travel insurance’ and what you should look out for with our guide.

Do I need travel insurance if I’m holidaying in Europe?

Hopefully everything will run smoothly when you travel to Europe. However, it’s best to be covered in case things don’t go to plan.

Travel insurance covers you for things like medical treatment, lost luggage and personal possessions and can cover your expenses in the event your flights are delayed or cancelled.

Before you buy travel insurance for your European holiday, make sure you’re covered for everything you might need – read our comprehensive guide to travel insurance and check.

Where does European travel insurance cover?

Different insurers define ‘Europe’ in different ways, which can make buying the right cover for your holiday confusing.

In Admiral’s case, our policies stretch the boundaries of Europe to include countries such as Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia and Turkey.

Some insurers may have a smaller definition of Europe, while others may describe their policy as covering ‘Schengen’ countries.

For other providers who don’t define Europe in this way, or if you’re planning a year of multiple trips spanning Europe and further afield then, worldwide travel insurance could be better suited to your needs.

Admiral Travel Insurance breaks down travel into three zones:

  1. Europe
  2. Worldwide excluding USA, Canada, Caribbean and Mexico
  3. Worldwide

Then three tiers of cover with increasing coverage and product benefits are available. You can choose between Admiral, Admiral Gold or Admiral Platinum to suit your needs best.

Do I need travel insurance if I have an EHIC card?

Carrying a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) means that you can receive the state-level medical cover that is accessible in the country you are travelling to.

However, an EHIC card only covers medical emergencies; it won't cover all medical costs and won't cover the cost if you need to be repatriated.

For example, an EHIC only covers 80% of medical costs in France – leaving you liable to pay the other 20% if you don’t have travel insurance.

An EHIC doesn’t cover the cost of repatriation in the event you need to be brought home for treatment, nor does it cover the cost of temporary medical devices such as crutches, knee braces or walker boots if you suffer a foot injury.

Make sure you’ve got an EHIC before setting off – they’re free, so make sure you don’t pay for one through a dodgy site – and carry it with you at all times.

Bear in mind the EHIC is only valid until 31 December 2020, the end of the transitional period after we left the EU. Take a look at our guide to Travel in Europe in 2021 for other changes. 

Do you need single or annual cover?

Whether you’re planning one European jaunt in a year or multiple holidays to the continent will affect which type of travel insurance you should buy.

Our single trip insurance is best for those who are not frequent holidaymakers, and covers you for one trip for up to 365 days.

However, if you plan on travelling more than once throughout a year, annual travel insurance is for you.

Our annual policy can give you peace of mind to know that you will be covered no matter how many times you choose to travel (up to 31 days at a time, but this may be extended upon request), and could be perfect for people with a house-share across the channel or those who frequently travel.

Check the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office

You will not be covered if you travel to a country which the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development (FCDO) has advised ‘against all travel’ or ‘against all but essential travel’. Therefore, it is important to double check the FCDO’s advice just before you purchase your insurance

If you’re skiing or cruising

If you’re planning a ski trip in the Alps or a cruise across the Med, we have add-ones that will suit your trip. Choose from Cruise, Golf or Winter Sports upgrades to make sure you’re fully protected.

What should I do if I have a medical emergency, or if I have to cut my trip short?

If this happens, you should contact us on our24-hour Emergency Assistance Helpline on +44 (0)292 010 7777. It is important to make sure you do this before you get medical treatment.

If your claim is not an emergency, you can call 0333 234 9914 between 8am and 8pm Monday to Friday, or 9am to 4pm on a Saturday. Note that this phone line is closed during bank holidays.