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What travel insurance do you really need?

Holidays and the anticipation of them should be carefree.

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What travel insurance do you really need?

Holidays and the anticipation of them should be carefree. However, things can go wrong before or during the trip. Holidaymakers should think about this during or at the latest shortly after booking, even if it may be difficult given the view of palm trees, sun and beach. Because illnesses, accidents and other imponderables can not only ruin your vacation - it can also get really expensive.

The good news is that you can protect yourself against many things. But not all travel policies that are on the market make sense. Some things are indispensable, in other cases it is better to save the money for the insurance, as the following overview shows:

From the point of view of consumer advocate Karolina Wojtal, foreign travel health insurance is indispensable for holidaymakers. The policy generally covers medical treatment abroad and return transport.

You can submit emergency treatment costs incurred in an EU country or in Norway, Liechtenstein, Iceland and Switzerland to your local statutory health insurance company. But the catch is: The costs are reimbursed according to the tariffs of the country of treatment or alternatively according to the rates of your own insurance company.

If you opt for the former, you only get what a patient in this country receives as reimbursement, says Karolina Wojtal from the European Consumer Center. This can mean that not all costs are covered because patients in the other country, for example, also have to pay co-payments.

In the case of reimbursement according to the rates of the German health insurance company, on the other hand, there is often a gap, since treatment abroad can be significantly more expensive than in Germany. "An operation in France can cost three times as much as in this country," says Wojtal. Travelers were then left with the difference. And a possible return transport is usually not provided for in the domestic statutory health insurance.

Outside of Europe, travel health insurance is all the more indispensable. According to Stiftung Warentest on its website, costs of more than 100,000 euros could be incurred for return transport from overseas alone.

Insurance, on the other hand, is comparatively cheap: there are policies for singles for less than ten euros a year, family plans often cost less than 30 euros a year.

The departure is imminent when the child breaks his arm. That doesn't just mean that the holiday falls through at short notice. It is often really expensive, because such short-term cancellations usually result in immense cancellation fees. Sometimes the whole travel price has to be paid. Travel cancellation insurance protects against this.

However, the prerequisite is that the reason for the trip cancellation must be covered in the policy. "A lot can be covered, but also very little," says Wojtal, looking at the offers.

In addition to accidents and illnesses, which are actually always included, unforeseen exam dates, pregnancies or sudden unemployment can also be covered. It is therefore worth checking the insurance conditions carefully.

What to look out for: Some older policies have pandemic clauses – meaning they don't cover diseases classified as pandemic by the World Health Organization. So not even with a corona disease. Also to note: The fear of infection in the travel destination is generally not sufficient for the use of travel cancellation insurance.

If you want the flexibility to be able to cancel your holiday up to a few days or weeks before departure without giving a reason, you can book a flex tariff instead, which many tour operators offer - but usually at an additional cost.

So for whom is travel cancellation insurance worthwhile? According to consumer advocate Wojtal, the conclusion should be considered especially for expensive trips and vacations with children.

The policies can be taken out for individual trips or for a year. An annual contract covers all travel for one year up to a fixed travel price. In general, the higher the insured travel price, the more the policy costs.

Good to know: As a rule, insurance can be taken out up to 30 days before the start of the trip, with last-minute offers it is often three to four days after booking.

A note from the expert: As soon as there is an illness, the insurance company should be informed. "Don't hope for recovery," says Wojtal. The reason: If you only submit a certificate days later, the insurer may object.

For example, the cancellation fees could have increased from 50 to 100 percent during this period. In that case, it could happen that the insurer only pays 50 percent and demands that you have to pay for the other 50 percent yourself, says Wojtal.

It is often offered in a package with the travel cancellation insurance and steps in if the holiday has to be cut short due to illness or an accident. The insurance company then bears the costs for the return journey or cancellation.

The magazine "Finanztest" recommends such combination tariffs and consumer advocate Wojtal says: Travel cancellation insurance is the more important product. But if there is a trip cancellation policy, it doesn't hurt.

And how much do such combined tariffs cost? According to “Finanztest”, which recently compared 52 combination policies, singles up to the age of 65 pay 112 euros to cover a 3,000-euro trip very well. For an annual contract with the same amount, it is from 104 euros. A combined policy for families costs 143 euros for a single trip and from 117 euros for the annual contract.

The following scenario: You cannot fly because you suspect a corona infection, for example after a quick test. Or you will be refused entry at your destination.

For such situations, the protection of a travel cancellation insurance is not enough. So that the resulting additional costs do not get stuck, you can protect yourself against these imponderables for individual trips with additional insurance - either called Corona travel protection or Corona protection letter.

Currently, these are definitely useful and necessary, estimates Wojtal. Because the "suspicion" of an infection is not enough for travel cancellation insurance, she explains, since the actual case of illness cannot yet be proven.

Minimal protection for a relatively high premium, that's the assessment of the consumer centers for these policies: "Because you have to look after your luggage as carefully as if it weren't insured at all." Good to know: If one of the suitcases is stolen from the hotel room , the loss is also covered by household contents insurance.

Even on vacation, you can unintentionally inflict serious damage on others and, as a result, be confronted with immense claims for damages. Therefore, to be on the safe side, you should check whether the private liability insurance also applies abroad, advise the consumer advice centers. Many of these policies therefore pay worldwide – for stays abroad of less than a year.

Further information: financial test on travel cancellation insurance:; Consumer centers for foreign insurance protection:

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