When should travel insurance be purchased?
Before packing your bags, it is worth taking stock of the useful insurance guarantees. All the more so if you choose a destination outside of France. It is worth distinguishing:
- I’assistance who renders a service by providing assistance to people in difficulty during a trip (repatriation following illness or injury, vehicle breakdown or accident, etc.);
- and theinsurance which concerns compensation in the event of an unforeseen event (cancellation of the trip, theft of luggage, etc.).
Travel agencies, banking networks, insurers… many professionals offer insurance/assistance products. Here’s how to find it.
Compulsory travel insurance
Travel insurance is compulsory in some countries to obtain a visa. A certificate is required, especially to travel to Cuba or Russia.
Bank card travel assistance and insurance
Bank cards include insurance and/or assistance guarantees applicable during travel. However, they are often unknown to those who benefit from them. These services are managed by each bank. The amount, scope of guarantees, ceilings and restrictions are therefore different from one institution to another. They only apply to the first three months of travel.
The medical assistance service is automatically granted not only to the holder of a bank card, but also to his spouse and his children under 25 who are dependent on him for tax purposes. This service generally covers the possibility of repatriation, payment of medical and hospitalization costs and legal assistance. Be aware, however, that the ceilings are much lower for standard bank cards than for high-end bank cards: in some cases – for example for medical expenses in North America – they will be largely insufficient. In addition, support takes place only in the event of a prior call to the assistance organisation. If you incur medical care expenses before notifying the assistance service, you will not be compensated.
Insurance guarantees are generally very low on conventional bank cards. On the other hand, they are much more interesting on Gold or Premier cards. These guarantees can only apply if you fully or partially pay for your trip with the card. Among these guarantees, there is travel cancellation insurance in the form of reimbursement of the price paid if the cancellation is due to the death of a member of your family, hospitalization or an accident before departure. In addition to this, there is in particular accident cover, breakdown of the rental vehicle, damage to or theft of luggage, liability insurance particularly useful if you cause damage to third parties, accidental death and disability benefits, but also assistance in the event of legal proceedings abroad.
Finally, the guarantee of very high-end bank cards includes financial assistance, that is to say that you are advanced a sum in the event of loss or theft of your bank card, and the provision of a temporary bank card in the country where you are staying. .
Travel agents and all operators who sell trips have a legal obligation to inform customers about the possibility of taking out travel cancellation insurance and/or assistance cover. We must inform you of this, but we cannot force you to subscribe to it.
This insurance is called to cover the costs of trip cancellation for illness, accident, death of a loved one, or for professional reasons. If you have declared health problems during the six months preceding the date on which you ask to use the travel cancellation insurance, you may be refused.
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For the medical assistance section, there is no automatic right to repatriation. A partner doctor from the insurer in the country where you are staying will come and examine you to decide whether you need to be repatriated. The practitioner can decide that your health problem or your injuries can be treated in the hospital or clinic where you are staying, and find the health establishment that will take care of you.
For travel cancellation insurance alone, count between 1.5% and 3% of the amount of the trip. For example, if you pay 600 euros for a plane ticket, the cancellation insurance will cost you between 9 and 18 euros.
- Before subscribing to travel insurance, the customer must compare with the advantages he could benefit from with his bank card. It is necessary to check the ceilings (in the event of hospitalization abroad as in the United States where the health costs are extremely high), the exclusions (certain credit cards include restrictions as to the duration of the stays whereas the insurances specific to the trips of long duration that we offer you via the travel agency cover better), and the conditions of application (such as payment with the card), explains Olga de Sousa, jurist at UFC-Que Choisir, questioned by Le Figaro.
- The consumer association CLCV advises not to sign an insurance before looking in the general conditions of the contract which has the quality of the insured, the scope of the guarantees, the exclusions, the geographical area of application, the reimbursement ceilings and the possible deductibles . Before your departure, write down the references of your insurance contracts and the assistance numbers to call if necessary, suggests the CLCV.
Travel insurance from insurers
Instead of taking out insurance with the travel agency that sells you the ticket or the stay, you can take out your guarantees directly with an insurer. From the single guarantee to the formula on the card, through the multi-risk trip, there is a range of products so varied that everyone can find what they are looking for. On the program: travel cancellation cover which can cover cancellation costs, stolen or destroyed luggage cover, civil liability cover for damage caused to third parties, individual protection for accidents suffered by the policyholder and his passengers. And above all, medical assistance that will take care of you in the event of a health problem. Legal protection assistance makes it possible to obtain the help of a lawyer on site in the event of legal proceedings for an unintentional offence, as well as the advance of criminal bail, a system which consists of asking a person prosecuted for criminal offenses to pay a sum of money in order to be sure that they will be present. during the judgment.
The cost of travel insurance taken out with a specialized insurer depends on several parameters: short or long stay, tourism, studies or exercise of a professional activity, and of course the guarantees you wish to benefit from. For example, a simple cancellation insurance costs around 15 to 25 euros. For a contract including more guarantees, it is necessary to count between 35 and 150 euros per month.
What about travel insurance for your car?
If your car takes the road on holiday with you, contact your insurer before departure to look at the guarantees and assistance included in your contract, and whether the country of your destination is covered. In particular, check whether you have a defense-recourse guarantee or legal protection in order to be able to be defended if you are the victim or the perpetrator of a traffic accident. You can ask for an extension of guarantees if those presented in your car policy seem insufficient to you.