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France Travel Insurance – A Guide for Foreigners Traveling to France

Get a travel health insurance before traveling to ParisFrance is definitely one of the travel destinations in the ‘to-visit checklist’ of most world travelers, with its famous and hidden gems.

Nearly 87 million tourists visited France in 2018, making it one of the world’s most visited country.

However, the idea of something unpleasant, as a sudden accident or a health complication, stops many from taking the journey of their life. Many people go throughout such situations while in their trip.

Breaking a limb, getting the flu or a cold, involving in an accident… everything can happen during a trip, just as it would happen if you were at home. That is why everyone should take measures prior to their trip.

French authorities have regulated the issue, by obliging travelers to obtain travel insurance prior to their trip, so those who go through such incidents will have it easier to access medical care.

What is France Travel Visa Insurance?

Travel Medical Insurance is one of the main requirements for a visa to France. It is a type of health insurance in France for foreigners that enter the country for short-stays and it covers all types of medical emergencies.

Do I Need Travel Insurance for France?

All travelers to France are highly recommended to obtain Travel Insurance to France, when heading towards the country. However, a good number of these travelers, depending on their nationality, are not obliged to hold insurance.

If you are still wondering “Do I need travel insurance for France?” note that insurance is obligatory for you, only if you belong to one of the categories listed below:

  • You need a visa to enter France for short-stays. A document that proves you have travel insurance that covers the whole territory of Schengen is among the main France visa requirements. Without it, your French visa application would be rejected on the spot.
  • You will enter the Schengen Zone through a country that requires travel Insurance for entry to Schengen. Some members of the Schengen zone want all travelers to present proof of having purchased travel insurance when they show up at their port of entry.

Note: Although citizens of countries who do not need a visa for France are not necessarily required to get a France Travel Health insurance, they are strongly advised to do so.

Why Should I Get France Travel Medical Insurance?

As explained above, there are two main reasons why you need to obtain travel insurance to France:

  1. To get a France visa.
  2. To be permitted to enter the Schengen Area.

Moreover, this requirement is actually for your own good. If you involve in an accident, the costs of medical care will be bearable for you. On the other hand, if you do not have French travel health insurance, you will have to pay enormous amounts for medical treatment.

You may have heard that France has a very good public health system, and that medical treatment there is cheap. That is true, but only for French nationals and sometimes for the other EU nationals that hold the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC).

Third country nationals that need emergency medical care, and lack of travel insurance, will have to pay very high prices for the medical treatment they receive in France or any other EU country. Even repatriation in case of death will cost to their family a fortune.

France Visa Insurance Requirements

Medical insurance for French Schengen visa must meet the following criteria:

  • Minimum coverage of at least 30,000 EUR (equivalent to 50,000 USD).
  • It should cover not only France but all member states of the Schengen Area.
  • Cover any expenses which might arise in connection with repatriation for medical reasons, urgent health attention and/or emergency hospital treatment or death.

What Does a France Travel Insurance Policy Usually Cover?

When you get your travel insurance to France, you should be aware that it does not automatically cover every incident in which you involve in France. The French travel insurance companies have very strict policies according to which they decide the type incidents they cover, and the ones they do not.

Most of the travel insurance companies covering the following:

  • Emergency medical expenses. Any unforeseen accident or illness that requires emergent treatment during the trip in France.
  • Repatriation to your home country in case of death.
  • Annulment and shortening of trip. In case you have to cancel your trip or have to head home early, due to circumstance you cannot manage.
  • Cover for delay and missed departures. In the event that circumstances beyond your control, such as a flash flood, make you miss your flight.
  • Cover for travel abandonment. If problems arise during your trip and face difficulties to get to your destination.
  • Cover for lost and stolen baggage.
  • Cover for the loss or theft of your passport.

What Does France Travel Insurance Policy NOT Cover?

There are some specific things that a French Travel Insurance does not cover, which are as follows:

  • Pre-existing medical conditions.
  • Unexpected incidents due to extraordinary situations. Such as terrorism, war, civil unrest or the effects of certain natural disasters that affect your holiday.
  • Alcohol-related incidents. If you hurt yourself or someone else while under the influence of alcohols on your holiday in France, your insurer will probably not cover your expenses.
  • Accidents or injuries that occur during the adventure or winter sports, e. or and snowboarding.

How to Choose the Best Travel Medical Insurance for France?

When you try to get travel insurance to France, you will see that most travel insurance companies offer different insurance plans, among which you can select the one that fits you best according to your situation. The services they offer also depend on how much you are willing to pay. You will have the opportunity to select the services you want the insurance company to provide for you, during your trip in France.

Listed and explained below, find the most common travel insurance policy plans:

Single-Plan

If you are planning to visit France for a specific amount of time, without having another visit in mind any time soon, this plan will fit you best. This is the standard travel medical policy since it covers only the specific amount of days in which you plan to be in France.

Multi-Trip Plan

If you plan to take several trips to France within a year, you should select this policy, which is annual.

Group Plan

If you are traveling to France as a group of five or more people, you can get the travel insurance group plan, often with a lower price than if you would individually purchase it.

Long-Term Plan

If you are instead planning to temporarily move to France, most companies offer you two choices:

  1. Emergency medical and emergency evacuation coverage – which will cover you for a year.
  2. Travel major medical plan, which covers you all the expenses just as normal health insurance would, back home.

Student Plan

A policy offered exclusively for students, of which you can benefit if you are traveling to France under the purpose of attending study courses, for either short-stay or long-stay.

What activities should you consider getting extra cover for?

If you are going to France only for sightseeing and visiting places, then your travel health insurance will be enough. However, if you love living in the edge and experiencing all types of dangers, you should think about getting extra cover for the activities you want to perform.

France has a lot of snowy mountains, adventure parks, cycle paths, climbing spots and much more. If you are planning to do some tramping, climbing, cycling, skiing and snowboarding, water or adventure sports, and even motorcycling, you should definitely get extra cover.

How Does French Travel Health Insurance Work?

You may be wondering how travel insurance works, and if you need to inform the insurer in case of an emergency, at the time of the occurrence or later. Below find explained everything you need to know how Travel Insurance in France works.

  1. When you buy travel insurance for France, your insurer will provide you with a document that you can download. Submit this document to the French embassy/consulate to prove you have travel insurance for France visa, if you need a visa. Along with this confirmation document, you will also get a card, with your name and ID number on it, as well as the name of the insurer. In case of an emergency in France, you will have to use this card.
  2. Your health insurance coverage starts at the moment you leave your country and ends the moment you return. From that moment on, until it ends, everything that happens to you (and is included in your insurance policy) will be covered by your insurer.
  3. Remember your Travel Insurance Card? When you receive a service for an occurrence in France, show them this card, to prove you have insurance.

How do payments with France Travel Insurance Work?

Depending on your insurer and your insurance plan, the payment for medical care you receive in France may be made in two forms:

  1. Direct billing. The medical facility where you receive medical care, will register your data and send the bill to your insurer. Your insurer will then need to complete the payments.
  2. Reimbursement. You will pay the expenses of the service you receive and obtain a bill. You will then send this bill to your insurer, who will reimburse you.

French Travel Medical Insurance Costs

Travel Medical Insurance for France is actually cheaper than you would have thought it is. The cost of Travel Insurance to France depends a lot on your choices and what you wish to have covered.

You will have to pay less if:

  • your trip is short
  • you fall into a category for which your insurance company has reduced prices (i.e. younger groups)
  • you choose a lower overall maximum coverage limit

French Healthcare System

France, pays close attention to the health of its citizen travelers in its territory. The French health care system is known as one of the best in the world, not only regarding its quality, but the way it is organized as well. In 2000, World Health Organization asserted that France provided the “close to best overall health care” in the world.

The French government is pretty involved in controlling health expenditures, and it approximately 77% of health expenditures are covered by government funded agencies.

In France, healthcare is financed in two ways. Through:

  • Public Health Insurance, also known as the Statutory Health Insurance.
  • Private Health Insurance, also known as Voluntary Health Insurance.

Publicly financed health insurance

According to French Laws on Healthcare, Public Health Insurance is available for all French citizens. Undocumented migrants waiting a reply on their residency application are covered by the state finance health services. Whereas, nationals of the EU countries in a visit in France can use their EU Health Insurance cards in case of need.

Privately financed health insurance

Those wishing extra health services, which are minimally covered by the public insurance, as vision and dental care, can obtain voluntary health insurance.  Third-world country nationals are obliged to hold private travel insurance valid for the whole Schengen area, when visiting France.

France Travel Tips and Advice

Required Vaccines to Travel to France

When traveling to France, in particular if you are planning to remain there for a longer period, you must be vaccinated for several infections and diseases. For some others, though you are not obliged to, it would be better if you were.

You must be vaccinated for the following: BCG, diphtheria, tetanus, and poliomyelitis and Hepatitis B. The French government recommends you to have the following vaccinations as well: influenza, pertussis, varicella, and measles. However, they are not compulsory.

In addition, the CDC and WHO recommend the following vaccinations for France: hepatitis A, rabies, meningitis, polio, mumps and rubella (MMR), shingles and pneumonia.

Food Safety in France

The one must-do thing in France, is try the delicious foods that French people and restaurants prepare. French pay a lot of attention to their plates, not only in terms of taste. Speaking generally, food in France is very safe. Inspections are continuously carried out throughout the whole year in farms, factories and restaurants.

Yet, there are some places that you are recommended to avoid eating at. Random restaurants or any old food stands in the tourist-heavy neighborhoods are the main places you should avoid.

Note that tap water is safe to drink. On the other hand, try not buying bottled water from street vendors. There was a case in the past, when a street seller was found collecting bottles from trash. He then filled them with tap water and sold them to tourists.

Emergency Assistance in France

While on a trip, anything can happen. You suddenly start feeling bad, or you get into an accident and there is no one to see and help you. You have health insurance but you have no idea whom to call or where to go.

That is why we suggest you get a list of the hospitals in the French city where you will be staying, before traveling to France. Save their numbers in an emergency case. All hospitals can send an ambulance within minutes.

If you find yourself in such a situation, and you have no idea where hospitals are, you can always find a pharmacy. They can help you, or even call an ambulance for you.

In addition, you can call the SOS Medicines service, which provide house visits with a doctor. You will have to pay a fee of 50 to 70 euros, or similar, for every visit.

Travel Risks in France

The first thing you should know, is that France is among world’s safest countries for traveling. Yet, every trip has its own risks. Every country has its security problems. France too! When traveling to France, there are a few risks you should be aware for.

  • Terrorist threats. There was a time when terrorist threats were quite frequent in France, such an attack has not occurred in the past years. However, it is better to watch out. Try avoiding crowds, as crowded places have always been the main target of terrorist attacks.
  • Protests and Demonstrations. France has seen quite some protests and demonstrations recently. French people will not hesitate to go on the streets when they do not agree with their government. Try to avoid going to France when such a thing is going on. If a protest or a demonstration starts while you are there, avoid the streets with crowds. Usually, protesters walk one same route, so you have a good chance not bumping into them if you pay attention.
  • Pickpocketing. As in all big world cities, pickpocketing is quite common in the French big cities as well. Try not to expose your money, keep your phone and backpack/bag close. Keep your bag zipped, and do not put your wallet in your pants’ back pockets. Watch out for people “accidentally” bumping into you! That is one of the most common tricks for pickpocketing. You bump into a stranger, and the next thing you realize is that all your money is gone. You do not want that to happen.

The Dangers of Cycling in Paris

You may have heard about the 4 kilometers long bike lane that connects the Place de la Bastille with the Place de la Concorde in Paris. Yet this is not the sole bike lane in the French capital. Paris, and other French cities, are known as bike-friendly, and you can spot a lot of bikers in the streets.

If you want to save some time from walking or hopping from one bus to the other, you can just rent a bike in Paris. Yet, traffic in Paris can be quite crazy. Because of the number of careless drivers in the streets, and careless bikers as well, biking can often be dangerous. If you are an amateur biker, you should try less crowded roads, or better take the bus and walking option.

Other tips for travelling in France

You may think that you are ready for your trip to France, but a few extra advices should always be welcome. Here, find some tips for travelling to France that may come very handy:

  • Wear comfortable shoes. This is the number one trip for every traveler. Sometimes places may be a bit far from each other, but not far enough to take the bus. You’ll have to walk in such cases, and having comfy shoes is a life-saver.
  • Learn some basic language. You will be surprised how many French people know English. Yet, it is always nice of you to try leaning common new phrases.
  • Pack a foldable umbrella. If you are traveling to France in Spring or Autumn, don’t let the weather predictions lie to you. Sometimes it seems to be all sunny, but then it will start raining all of the sudden. Get a foldable umbrella, and carry it in your bag for any case.
  • Avoid visiting France in August. This is the time when everybody is going to France, touristic attractions, restaurants and even streets will be crowded. You will miss a lot of France in such cases.
  • Try some local foods. Visiting France is meaningless if you do not try the local foods and traditional dishes.
  • Travel by train. It is cheaper, there are good connections, and the view from the window is mesmerizing.
  • Cash is accepted everywhere, credit cards not. You may be used of carrying little cash, and paying with a credit card instead. However, in France, cash is king You will be able to pay with cash everywhere you go, but we can’t say the same for credit cards.
  • Carry your ID with you. You never know what the day will serve to you. So you better have your ID always with you.

Popular tourist destinations in France

  • Paris. You have not been to France if you don’t see Paris, world’s most popular tourist destination. Known as the City of Lights, it has to offer more than any other place in France.
  • Bordeaux. The port city of Bordeaux has a lot of touristic attractions with historical and cultural sites, beautiful architecture, old bridges and much more. Moreover, the city has some picturesque villages with vineyards and chateaux.
  • Strasbourg. The city of the European Parliament, is a worth visiting place in France for a lot of reasons, It is situated just close to the border with Germany and has a blended French and German architecture. It has a lot of museums, shops, and a beautiful Gothic cathedral.
  • Lyon. Known of its Roman ruins and Gothic churches, Lyon is a must-see city in France. It is the third largest city in France and has a vibrant culture.
  • Marseille. You cannot visit France and skip its coast. Marseille is the biggest French coastal city, and a major Mediterranean seaport. It has beautiful Roman ruins and a series of small inlets with blue water and limestone cliffs known as the Calanques.

I’m driving to France – what other insurance cover do I need?

If you are driving to France, your car insurance may not be valid in here. You will have to you purchase international car insurance for the time that you are planning to spend in France.

Usually, car insurance that is not purchased in a non-EEA country or in Switzerland is not valid in France. You should instead get international car insurance, which covers any accident by car or car theft.

Also, note that France does not recognize several driving licenses issued by particular countries. Check with the authorities in the country that issued your driving license if you can drive with yours in France.

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