Holiday & Travel Insurance
Holiday and travel insurance (assicurazione sul viaggio) are recommended for all who don't wish to risk having their holiday or travel ruined by financial problems or to arrive home broke. As you probably know, anything can and often does go wrong with a holiday, sometimes before you even get started (particularly when you don't have insurance). The following information applies equally to residents and non-residents, whether you're travelling to or from Italy or within Italy. Nobody should visit Italy without travel (and health) insurance.
Travel insurance is available from many sources, including travel agents, insurance companies and brokers, banks, motoring organisations and transport companies (airline, rail and bus). Package holiday companies and tour operators also offer insurance policies, some of which are compulsory, overpriced and don't provide adequate cover. You can also buy 24-hour accident and flight insurance at major airports, although it's expensive and doesn't offer the best cover. Before taking out travel insurance, you should carefully consider the range and level of cover you require and compare policies. Short-term holiday and travel insurance policies may include cover for holiday cancellation or interruption, missed flights, departure delay at both the start and end of a holiday (a common occurrence), delayed, lost or damaged baggage, lost belongings and money, medical expenses and accidents (including evacuation home), personal liability and legal expenses, and default or bankruptcy, e.g. a tour operator or airline going bust. You may also need cover for transport strikes!
Always check any exclusion clauses in contracts by obtaining a copy of the full policy document, as all relevant information won't be included in an insurance leaflet. High risk sports and pursuits should be specifically covered and listed in a policy (there's usually an additional premium). Special winter sports policies are available and more expensive than normal holiday insurance ('dangerous' sports are excluded from most standard policies). Third party liability cover should be â‚? million in North America and â‚?.5 million in the rest of the world. However, this doesn't usually cover you when you're driving a car or other mechanically propelled vehicle.
Medical expenses are an important aspect of travel insurance and you shouldn't rely on insurance provided by reciprocal health arrangements, charge and credit card companies, household policies or private medical insurance (unless it's an international policy), none of which usually provide adequate cover, although you should take advantage of what they offer. The minimum medical insurance recommended by experts is â‚?00,000 for Italy and the rest of Europe and â‚?.5 million for the rest of the world (many policies have limits of between â‚?.25 million and â‚?.5 million). If applicable, check whether pregnancy-related claims are covered and whether there are any restrictions for those over a certain age, e.g. 65 or 70 (travel insurance is becoming increasingly expensive for those aged over 65, although they don't usually need to worry about pregnancy â€?particularly the men!).
Travel insurance for visitors to Italy should include personal liability and repatriation expenses. If your travel insurance expires while you're visiting Italy, you can buy further insurance from a local insurance agent, although this won't include repatriation expenses. Flight and comprehensive travel insurance are available from insurance desks at most airports, including travel accident, personal accident, world-wide medical expenses and in-transit baggage.
The cost of travel insurance varies considerably according to where you buy it, how long you intend to stay in Italy and your age. Generally the longer the period covered, the cheaper the daily cost, although the maximum period covered is usually limited, e.g. to six months. With some policies, an excess must be paid for each claim; with others, the excess applies only to certain items, such as luggage, money and medical expenses. As a rough guide, travel insurance for Italy (and most other European countries) costs from around â‚?5 for one week, â‚?0 for two weeks and â‚?0 for a month for a family of four (two adults and two children under 16). Premiums may be higher for those aged over 65 or 70.
For people who travel abroad frequently, whether on business or pleasure, an annual travel policy usually provides the best value, but carefully check exactly what it includes. Many insurance companies offer annual travel policies for around â‚?50 to â‚?50 per year for an individual (the equivalent of around two to three months' insurance with a standard travel insurance policy), which are excellent value for frequent travellers. Some insurance companies also offer an 'emergency travel policy' for holiday homeowners who need to travel abroad at short notice to inspect a property, e.g. after a severe storm or burglary. The cost of an annual policy may depend on the area covered, e.g. Europe, world-wide (excluding North America) and world-wide (including North America), although it doesn't usually cover travel within your country of residence. There's also a limit on the number of trips per year and the duration of each trip, e.g. 90 or 120 days. An annual policy is usually a good choice for owners of a holiday home in Italy who travel there frequently for relatively short periods. However, carefully check exactly what's covered (or omitted), as an annual policy may not provide adequate cover.
If you need to make a claim, you should provide as much documentary evidence as possible to support it. Travel insurance companies gladly take your money, but they aren't always so keen to pay claims and you may need to persevere before they pay up. Always be persistent and make a claim irrespective of any small print, as this may be unreasonable and therefore invalid in law. Insurance companies usually require you to report a loss (or any incident for which you intend to make a claim) to the local police or carriers within 24 hours and obtain a written report. Failure to do so may mean that a claim won't be considered.
This excerpt has been republished with permission from Survival Books. Some of the information may apply to EU citizens only. If you would like to get the inside track on moving to Italy, pick up your copy of this great book by clicking here.