Schengen Visa Travel Insurance Guide
The Schengen Visa Agreement is an agreement between 26 different European countries that allows visitors, both on vacation and on business, to travel through without having to apply for and obtain a separate visa for each country. Travelers who meet the Schengen requirements can freely travel from one country to the next, and your vacation or business travel plans can be much more relaxed. Once you meet the Schengen visa as a tourist, you will be able to plan a trip to Europe and travel to several different countries during your trip without the hassle of having to use a tourist visa. For those traveling for business, this means you can schedule meetings in several different cities and not have to worry as much about travel restrictions.
As mentioned, one of the key benefits of the Schengen Visa is that you do not have to apply for and obtain a separate visa for each country you visit. However, this also means you are not required to provide many of the important documents that a visa application requires. One piece of information that many applications require is proof of visa travel insurance . Even though you may not apply for a visa, you should still strongly consider purchasing Schengen Visa travel health insurance. You never know when or where injury or illness may occur, so it is important to have insurance as you travel.
Schengen Visa Travel Insurance
You may not be aware of this, but your domestic medical insurance plans will most likely not follow you as you travel abroad, which means that purchasing Schengen medical insurance is extremely important for you and anyone else with whom you might be traveling. Between new cuisines, traveling, and exploring new places, you do not really know what to expect or what could happen. Purchasing travel medical insurance for your Schengen Visa trip is ideal because it helps you prepare for those unpredictable times. Often, even in countries with free medical treatment and care, the cost of a procedure or treatment for a tourist can be extremely high. However, you can offset these costs by making sure you have an international travel medical insurance plan that will keep you protected while you are abroad.
Before you choose a Schengen travel health insurance plan, it is important to know and understand what you need to look for in a policy. There are many different types of travel health insurance policies, and you need to make sure you choose the right plan for you and your trip. Here are some of the things you should consider as you are searching for the right solution:
What to Consider When Shopping Around
- Sports Coverage
- Medical Evacuation
- Political Evacuation
- Low Coinsurance
- Coverage for Pre-existing Conditions
- Quality Customer Service
- Sports Coverage: It may seem like an odd thing to look for in an insurance policy, but many plans do not cover sports, which include activities like hiking, boating, and backpacking. Many of the insurance policies that do not include sports coverage allow you to purchase a rider in order to have this coverage. However, you need to understand that these riders cost extra money. It is in your best interest to find a plan that has sports coverage included in the policy rather than have to purchase a rider.
- Medical Evacuation: When you take a trip into the Schengen Zone you have the opportunity to travel and visit a lot of different places. Sometimes, these places may be fairly remote or very rural, which means that medical treatment may not be accessible, or it may not be the medical treatment that your condition requires. When a travel medical policy includes medical evacuation, you will have coverage that will allow you to travel and to receive that treatment at the nearest location.
- Political Evacuation: In today’s world, you never know when a political situation may arise that can put you in harm’s way. It could be an attack on a city, an economic crisis, or a number of other disruptions. However, the U.S. government monitors world events and releases alerts and warnings to their citizens abroad. If this were to happen while you are traveling in the Schengen Zone, a Schengen travel health insurance plan should offer coverage and assistance in arranging your evacuation.
- Low Coinsurance: No matter what type of insurance you are looking for, you want to make sure that you have a low coinsurance, so that you are not paying too much out of pocket. In situations where your coinsurance is high, you will be paying much more for your insurance than what your policy claims. In order to avoid these extra fees, you should find a Schengen travel medical insurance that offers you a low coinsurance.
- Pre-Existing Coverage: Because you may have conditions that act up every once in a while, it is important for you to have coverage that will keep you protected if these conditions do re-occur. In insurance terms, these are considered pre-existing, and some policies provide you with coverage if you disclose the conditions. Other travel insurance policies do not provide any travel insurance for existing medical conditions in the plan, which means if you have one of these conditions and your policy does not include it, then you might end up having to pay a lot of money for medical treatment.
- Customer Services: A very large part of every international travel medical insurance plan is the type of customer services you will receive with the purchase of your plan. Will the visitor’ insurance company help you plan your trip? Will you be provided with travel assistance services that are designed to help you when you are abroad? These may seem like arbitrary factors, but they could be things that really help your trip. As you are searching for travel medical insurance for Schengen visa, make sure you consider all of the customer services that are offered with your policy.
The best part about traveling in the Schengen Zone is that you do not need a separate visa for each country in which you may travel. In fact, you may not even need a visa at all. In a few cases, you may be required to have a visa for the first country in which you will be arriving, depending on that destination. In order to find out if you need a visa, you should contact that country’s embassy or consulate located in the U.S. However, one thing you absolutely need to have as you travel from country to country is a valid passport. Here is a little more information on passport usage and the Schengen Zone.
- A valid passport is enough to enter the Schengen Zone and to travel throughout the Zone. Before you leave for your trip, you need to make sure that your passport will be valid for at least three months after your proposed trip will be over. This means that if you are planning on being in the Zone for two months, then your passport needs to be valid for at least the next five months.
- Those traveling without a visa in the Schengen countries are permitted to stay for up to 90 days within a six-month period. If you in fact stay for the full 90 days, then you must also be out of the Zone for at least 90 days. Leaving for a brief amount of time after your stay will not qualify you for the appropriate amount of time out of the Zone.
- The European Union actually requires you to receive a stamp in your passport when you first arrive to a Schengen country. However, many borders do not have the appropriate staff to be able to do this. Not having a stamp could lead you to be detained and questioned when you try to leave the Zone. You will have to establish and prove when you first entered the Zone and without that stamp this task is not easily accomplished.
- The Schengen Agreement allows only tourists and those traveling on business to travel without obtaining a visa. Those who are traveling for school, employment, or internships will need to obtain a visa before entering the Schengen Zone. You should also be aware that immigration officers at your port of entry have the right to decide what amount of traveling you are allowed and will determine if your activities constitute business or tourism. So, if you feel that your trip may qualify for study, employment, or internship, then you should contact your first destination country’s embassy and find the answers to your questions.
- If you do discover that you need a visa, then you will need to contact the embassy to see how the process works and what you will need to do. Typically, there is an application and an interview process. During these, you will need to prove your reasons for traveling, show financial stability, and provide information on where you will be living, working, or studying. You may also be required to pay a fee, so be prepared for that.
Before you start planning your trip, it is important to know which countries are actually in the Schengen Zone so that you know where you can travel without needing a visa. You can travel between European countries in the Schengen Zone fairly easily and you can freely go almost anywhere you want to go. In order to best plan your trip, take a look and see which Schengen countries you are interested in visiting and which ones are close together. This will help you map out your itinerary.
The 26 Schengen Visa Countries
- Czech Republic
- The Northern Countries: Iceland, Norway, Sweden, and Finland. While these countries may not be frequently visited, they do provide travelers with unique experiences and plenty of culture to be explored. These countries tend to be a little colder than the rest of Europe, so prepare to pack appropriately.
- Baltic Countries: Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. These countries are former Soviet Bloc Countries, which are full of adventures, less crowded areas to travel through, and beautiful cities that are rarely visited by tourists. While these countries are not frequently visited, that certainly does not mean they have nothing to offer, so make sure you do some research before you plan your trip.
- Central Countries: Austria, Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Liechtenstein, Poland, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, and Switzerland. These countries comprise a region in Europe with a lot of history and many cities that are on many travelers’ ‘must-see lists.’ If you travel throughout this region, you can expect large cities and rural areas, both with amazing cultural experiences.
- Mediterranean Countries: Greece, Spain, Portugal, Malta, and Italy. The countries that border on and are located in the Mediterranean all offer very diverse cultures. Each of these countries, while sharing one large geographical similarity, is extremely different. However, you can be sure to find amazing seafood and beaches throughout these countries.
- Western Countries: Belgium, Denmark, Luxembourg, Netherlands, and France. Slightly more popular, these countries are home to some famous cities, like Paris and Amsterdam, which means you can expect more tourists. These are also great places to see smaller cities that have a very quaint feel to them.
Packing for a trip through the Schengen Zone may be a little different than other trips for which you have packed. Unless you have packed to travel through Europe before, you may not really know what to pack and what to expect once you get there. Rather than just start throwing all of your clothing into a suitcase, you need to take the time to research what is appropriate to pack and what you are going to need as you travel. It is best if you start packing well in advance in order to avoid the stress that comes with last-minute packing. Here are few things to consider as you are packing for your trip.
Packing Checklist for Your Trip
- Check the Weather
- Do Your Research
- Pack an Appropriate Amount of Clothing
- Remember Personal Items
- Bring Your Travel Information
- Don't Forget Your Toiletries!
- Check the Weather: As you are packing and right before you leave home, it is a really good idea to check the weather of your destination. While the weather is still mostly unpredictable and can change at a moment’s notice, you can still be prepared and know what to expect. By checking the weather, you will learn what type of clothing you should pack and learn what is appropriate. You do not want to travel through a cold country while wearing short-sleeved shirts and shorts. Knowing what the weather is going to be like is another way you can keep yourself comfortable, protected, and safe while traveling.
- Research: Something else you might want to consider doing before you begin packing is research on what types of clothing are most common in the countries where you will be traveling. No matter what type of traveling you are going to be doing, you do not want to stick out and appear as if you are actually a traveler. One of the best ways to stay safe as you travel is to blend in as best as possible. Research the kinds of clothing that locals wear, and do your best to pack clothing that will allow you to blend in and not stick out.
- Appropriate Amount of Clothing: One of the major problems that many people run into when they are packing for a big trip is over-packing. Because you are going to travel so far and, most likely, for an extended period of time, you are going to want to pack a lot of clothing. But this is a problem for a few different reasons. The first issue is that most major airlines charge you per bag, and they charge you extra if your bag weighs over a certain amount. Be sure to check your airline’s bag restrictions. The second issue with over-packing is that you never know how often you are going to need to carry your baggage, which could mean that you have to carry or pull heavy luggage around a lot.
- Personal Items: When traveling, many people try to pack personal items that they simply do not need as they travel. These items include: expensive jewelry, family heirlooms, and anything else you might deem to be important. Often, these personal items can be expensive, and if they are lost or stolen you might be losing money. Other personal items may not have monetary value but have sentimental importance to you and your family. If those items are misplaced or stolen, you will miss them. It is best to leave these items at home and not risk losing them or having them stolen.
- Travel Information: It is a good idea to pack copies of your travel information in your luggage and to leave copies with someone at home. This way, if you lose the original copies, you have extras that you can access. If you take multiple copies with you, then it is advisable that you do not put them all in the same place. Travel information includes: airplane tickets, itineraries, visa papers, passports, Schengen visa travel medical insurance information, and anything else you may need that is vital to your travels.
- Toiletries: You may be tempted to pack up all of your toiletries into a bag and just go, but you should know that these items could really add up and tip the scales of your overall luggage weight. You might want to consider purchasing things like shampoo, soap, razors, and shaving cream once you arrive at your destination. Not only will you be able to pack more in your luggage but you will be able to try new products that you probably do not normally have at your disposal, which can be a fun experience.
Not every trip to Europe is the same, and since you have the ability to travel freely from place to place within the Schengen Zone, you should take advantage and see parts of Europe that many do not take the time to. While cities like London, Paris, Rome, and Prague are amazing in their own ways, there are other cities worth checking out. These cities offer a unique perspective on cultures, are usually cheaper, and way less crowded. Here are a few of them that you might want to consider visiting.
Off the Beaten Path
- Guimaraes, Portugal
- Reykjanesbaer, Iceland
- Mechelen, Belgium
- Mdina, Malta
- Valga, Estonia
- Guimaraes, Portugal: You’ll find castles, churches, palaces, museums, shopping, restaurants, and spectacular scenery in this birthplace of Portugal’s first king. There is an amazingly authentic medieval section that is not to be missed. Close by are sulfurous springs that have been frequented since Roman times, on which several modern-day spas have been built. Don’t forget to visit during the Festas de Vizela, a traditional folk festival that takes place in August. If you’re looking for a unique experience in the heart of Portugal, Guimareas is the place to go.
- Reykjanesbær, Iceland: Iceland is one of the most interesting countries you will ever visit. Reykjanesbær offers a great taste of both city life and outdoor activities. While the bustling city is filled with historical and modern buildings, museums, restaurants, and other activities, the real reason to visit Reykjanesbær is for the outdoor experiences. There are hiking tours over the lava fields, mountains, and along the rocky coastline. The town has plenty of whale watching and dolphin-spotting sailing trips, as well as fishing trips and a trip out to the world’s largest gannet colony. Speaking of sailing, be sure to check out the Viking ship Íslendingur while you’re there.
- Mechelen, Belgium: Most people who visit Belgium focus on the big cities like Brussels and Antwerp, but Mechelen is a beautiful and picturesque city that is often overlooked. Previously the capital of Belgium, the city has many quaint shops, car-free areas, and many charming squares. There are 336 listed buildings and monuments here, including Gothic and Baroque churches, as well as enchanting houses and a palace. There is something for everyone here, whether it is the Toy Museum for the children, or the Anker, one of the oldest operating breweries in Belgium.
- Mdina, Malta: Known as the “Silent City,” although no one is quite sure why (perhaps because cars are restricted), Mdina has a rich past that shows the strong cultural heritage. Mdina is one of the best examples of an ancient walled city, and it commands an impressive view of the island. Tradition holds that the apostle Paul lived here after he was shipwrecked. There are many beautiful buildings within the old walls to explore, as well as museums and of course, the Dungeons. If you’re a fan of the television show “The Game of Thrones,” Mdina is the place to visit, as much of the first season was filmed here. No matter who you are, or what you like, Mdina is an amazing city with many great experiences waiting to be discovered.
- Valga, Estonia: One of the most interesting cities in Estonia, Valga is actually only halfway in the country! The city lies right on the border between Estonia and Latvia. Before the countries joined the Schengen Zone, people would have to go through customs and border guards just to cross the main street! However, now all the barriers have been dissolved, and you can stand with one foot in each country and explore the differences and similarities of the two cultures all by visiting just one city!
As you begin planning your trip through the Schengen Zone, be sure you take a step back and really consider your options. With 26 different Schengen countries to see and choose from, you have a lot of possibilities. You also want to make sure that you plan out everything else very carefully. Make sure your passport is valid and up-to-date. You may also want to be sure you do not need a visa for your travels or at your port of entry. Another key step in planning your trip is to make sure you have travel health insurance for your Schengen Visa trip.