What kind of health insurance should I get for travel abroad? I plan to spend a year to explore Europe.


The European Union has the EHIC or European Health Insurance Card, which provides you with free or low cost medical treatment for most government hospitals in countries that belong to the European Union.

However, the EHIC is only for government hospitals and will not pay for treatment received in private hospitals. Nor does it pay for emergency evacuation or repatriation.

That is why it is highly recommended that you also have yourself covered with health insurance for travel abroad. You can do this by buying travel insurance with medical cover.

In fact, before you will be given a visa to enter the countries that belong to the European Union, you are required to present the health insurance that will cover for your travel abroad. After you have shown that you are insured with a travel insurance that has the proper coverages and amounts, a Schengen visa will be given to you. This grants entry to all of the countries that are members of the European Union.

When buying travel insurance with health cover consider buying gap year insurance or long stay insurance for travel abroad. Single trip travel insurance has a limited number of days for coverage. Thus, if you are planning to travel for an extended period, it is best to buy gap year insurance, as this is designed for long travels.

Gap year insurance also provides "more" coverage as it more often than not, allows sports and activities that are usually excluded from the list provided for single trip travel insurance. Thus, you can indulge your spirit of adventure and try some new sports. (Of course, it is still best to check your policy's terms and conditions to determine the exact coverage provided.)

That said, you should remember that your health insurance should be designed for travel abroad, so that there are some hospitals and doctors that they have accredited to provide medical services for you. With the direct payment arrangement, you don't have to pay the hospital outright, the insurance company will do this for you.

When you are traveling abroad, make sure that you are sufficiently covered with health insurance for your own peace of mind. That way, the risks you have in traveling are covered, and you can concentrate on what you want to do - enjoying yourself.

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