Do I Need Travel Insurance For France?

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Alexandre Desoutter updated on March 19, 2020

France is among the most favorite destination in the world whether by tourists, students or expatriates. And indeed, France has a lot to offer!

But during one of your trips, have you ever found yourself in a situation where you had to get emergency treatment, where you lost your baggage at the airport, or just about anything else unexpected?

Hence, you’re probably wondering how to find the best travel insurance for visiting France.

In the below ultimate guide for travelling from the UK to France, we will tell you everything you need to know about travel insurance for your trip: is it compulsory, what key features should you pay attention to, how much does it cost, what are the driving requirements and what are the emergency contact details you need to know in France? Let’s get started.

Why do I need travel insurance for France?

Imagine you are hitting the French roads on a scooter for a romantic trip with your partner. At a roundabout, someone runs into you. You need to call the emergency services. An ambulance comes and you need to make IRM checks to ensure everything is alright.

Unfortunately, it happens much more often than we think, and it could leave both you and your partner with significant medical costs to pay if you didn’t apply for travel insurance before leaving.

Here is a list of the most common unexpected costs arising during people’s trips:

What if….How much does it cost on average?How much will you have to pay without travel insurance (but with EHIC*)?How much will you have to pay with travel insurance?
You need air rescue£3,251£3,251£0 until medical expense limit is reached
You need an IRM £245£0*£0 until medical expense limit is reached
You need to have surgery and to stay at a hospital £5,600£0 in public hospital only*£0 until medical expense limit is reached
You need medical repatriation £38,500£38,500£0
You need dental care£500£500£0 – if planned in policy
Your baggage has been lost at the airport£780£780£0
Someone stole your money£200£200£0 until limit is reached
You need to cancel your trip£200£2,200£0 until cancellation limit is reached
Fees to be paid with or without travel insurance

* British people travelling to France can benefit from their EHIC (European Health Insurance Card) until 31/12/2020, which any European citizen can get for free. The EHIC should, as required in law, cover any medical procedures and treatments you may get while you are in France. The EHIC will not, however, cover any emergency or repatriation costs and any medical care considered as non urgent. This is where travel insurance comes in.

If you have a medical history, always take your EHIC with you as it will cover standard care for pre-existing medical conditions (unlike travel insurance if you didn’t tick the pre-existing medical condition box while applying).

For as cheap as £1/day, “Comprehensive Travel Insurance” is a contract which fully covers you for any trip to France or elsewhere abroad. Travel insurance is not mandatory for anyone holding a valid UK passport but is, however, absolutely necessary.

It is one of the highest value-for-money insurance products to consider as it gives you complete peace of mind for as cheap as £1 per day.

Comprehensive travel insurance is here to provide you with both financial compensation as well as assistance during your trip.

What are the best travel insurance policies for France?

How can you choose between the plethora of travel insurance policies on offer and find the least expensive policy? Many insurers, even some small ones, offer very good value for money deals.

We’ve come up with a selection of small and big actors offering tempting deals.

Among them you’ll find:

Travel insurerTravel insurance priceOur reviews100% online applyingLive chat feature
logo world first£6,54
  • Provides all travel insurance types with 4 levels of cover (all rated 5 stars by Defaqto): Standard, Premier, Exclusive, Superior
  • 4,8/5 on TrustPilot (very good customer care according to reviews)
  • Offers dedicated family travel insurance
  • No credit or debit card fees guarantee
  • Possibility to apply for travel insurance 12 months in advance
  • UK-based customer service and claim team
  • Reimburse within 14 days
logo explorer travel insurance£7,08
  • 4,58/5 rate on Reviews
  • Provides all types of travel insurance with 2 level of protection: Gold and GoldPlus
  • Medical compensation for up to 85 years old
  • Dedicated customer service according to reviews
logo travel insurance 4 medical£9,48
  • 4,8/5 consumers reviews rate on TrustPilot / 5 stars on Defaqto
  • Specialist insurer providing full cover for up to 1000 medical conditions (including Alzheimer's, HIV, cancer etc.)
  • Includes cover for pregnant women
  • UK based-call center
  • Provides all travel insurance types with 3 level of protection
  • Medical compensation limit minimum is £3M
  • Also provides cover for cruise and winter sports
Travel insurance for France comparison

*Quotes above are for a 30 years old person applying for a one week trip to Europe travel insurance.

Even better, use our comparison tool to find the best deal for you! At Safe, we’ve checked out hundreds of travel insurance providers and we are now able to allow you to compare dozens of holiday insurance deals in only a few seconds without giving any personal details.

Always remember to check limits and excess amounts, maximum number of days per trip and exclusions in an insurer’s policy terms and conditions booklet. 

Which travel insurance type do I need for France?

You can apply for different insurance types depending on your type of trip, from frequent luxury or business travel to cheap holidays to France.

The most common ones are:

Travel insurance typeExplanationMain features
Single trip insuranceThese travel insurance policies are for one-off holidays. You will be covered from the start of the journey until the end. You can decide the number of days you want to be covered for. Covers for the period of the stay
Annual multi-trip insuranceThese policies are made for frequent travellers going away for holidays, business trips or for any other reason several times a year. You would need to check whether it is more competitive to buy two or three single trip insurance policies or an annual multi-trip policy.
You can choose between a worldwide, worldwide excluding the USA, Caribbean and Canada or a Europe travel plan.
Covers for a period of 12 monthLength of each trip usually limited to 31 days (but can vary from 10 days to 90)Sometimes there is an age limit (66 years old on average)
Long stay and gap year insuranceThese plans are made for students or any british resident wanting to explore the world, including for backpacking, gap year trips or for any other long stay reason.Usually covers periods between 90 days for up to 18 monthsFor gap year trips,, there might be some age restrictions (from 16 to 45 only, for example)
Types of travel insurance for your trip to France

What are the must-have features for travel insurance?

Each travel insurance policy is different, since it is the insurer who determines the content of the contracts it offers: guarantees, compensation limits, deductibles, travel insurance prices, etc.

However, all contracts on the market must include at least the following guarantees, applicable in France and elsewhere abroad:

  • Medical expenses: compensation by the insurer for your health expenses during your stay (consultation, analysis, emergency treatment, longer hospital stay, etc.).
  • Repatriation assistance to the UK: financial and logistical support by a dedicated 24/7 team for your early return to your country of residence if it proves necessary.
  • Trip cancellation and cover for delayed or missed departure: compensation if you need to cancel your trip for whatever reason or if you missed your departure.
  • Personal liability: compensation for any damage or injury made to a third-party (consider adding it as extra if not included in standard cover).
  • Baggage: compensation for any lost or theft of baggage while travelling (consider adding it as extra if not included in standard cover).

Most of the time, travel insurers offer different formulas. Cover types involved are usually the same, but the compensation limits and deductibles vary.

Main guaranteesCover you should get for your travels to FranceMin - max limit amount you should get for your trip to FranceGood to check
Medical travel insurance
  • Any emergency transport, medical procedures and treatments at the hospital
  • 24/7 assistance team and helplines
Average £1 million limit
  • Are private or public hospitals included in your policy?
  • Will there be advance fees?
  • If you haven’t declared any pre-existing medical conditions or a pending diagnosis, any claim related to healthcare will be declared as invalidated by your insurer.
  • Are dental emergency treatments included?
  • Will any “accompanying person” fees be reimbursed?
Trip cancellation / curtailment
  • Illness, injury or even death of you or one of your relatives at the time of departure
  • Very bad weather conditions at your destination
  • Terrorist attack at your destination
Minimum £2,000 limit
  • Is it included as standard or as an option?
  • Will you get compensation if you cancel your trip for “all justified reasons”?
  • Which reasons exactly are included to get compensation for your trip cancellation?
  • Compensation for baggage and belongings theft or loss up to the limit known
  • No receipt required
Minimum £1,500 limit
  • Is it only valid during return transport or during the entire stay?
  • Do you need the receipts for any belongings for baggage claims?
Missed departure, delay Compensation if you miss your flight or train when it is beyond your control or if your journey is delayedMinimum £500 limit (minimum £200 limit for delay)
  • Are all justified reasons for missed departure covered?
  • How many hours delay to get compensation?
RepatriationCost of repatriation before or after your original ticketReal fees
  • Is any transportation mode included (by alternative schedule flight or by air ambulance)?
Personal liabilityCompensation for any damage or injury made to a third-party during your trip up to the limit knownAverage £2 million limit
  • What is the limit by article and valuables (don’t focus on overall limit only)?
Legal expensesLegal fees for claiming compensation to another personAverage £15,000 limit
  • Does it cover any lawyer fees (including appointment fees)?
Must-have features of your travel insurance to France

What are the nice-to-have features for travel insurance?

Main guaranteesCover you should get for your trip to FranceMin - max limit amount you should get for your trip to FranceGood to check
Money and cashCovers for loss or theft of money or equivalent such as chequesMinimum £500 for money
(pre-paid tickets, travelers cheque etc.)

Minimum £200 for cash
  • How long can you make a claim to the police to be covered?
  • Is there a 24-hour claim limit?
Dental emergency Covers for emergency dental careMinimum £250
  • What is included in emergency dental care?
  • Cosmetic will most of the time be excluded
Loss of passport or documentationCovers additional fees such as accomodation or travel replacement as a result of loss of documentationMinimum £250
  • How many nights are covered?
  • Do you need receipts of any additional fees incurred?
Nice-to-have features for your travel insurance to France

Which upgrades could you add as extras for your travel insurance?

Additionally, you may tailor your policy for your trip to France with optional extras such as:

  • Business trip cover
  • Sport, winter sport, extreme sport cover
  • Schedule Airline Failure (at least £1500 covered)
  • Gadget insurance
  • Cruise cover
  • Etc.

What does your travel insurance to France not cover?

Most travel insurers will not give financial compensation for:

  • Any claim made as a result of pre-medical condition or pending diagnosis undeclared at the time of purchase
  • Any claim made as a result of you being under drugs or alcohol
  • Difficulties due to natural disaster, war, civil unrest (watch out for strikes)
  • Any claim made as a result of a terrorist attack (except if you took this cover as an option)
  • Pregnancy and childbirth complications during travel.

We would advise you to thoroughly check your policy booklet for the main exclusions before leaving home. 

What else should you pay attention to while shopping around for travel insurance for France?

While shopping around for travel insurance for your trip to France, always pay attention to:

  • The compensation amounts you will get for a claim by consulting our up-to-date reviews on each insurer (especially for medical expenses, trip cancellation, personal liability, baggage and personal belongings)
  • The deductible amounts you’ll have to pay in case of claim (don’t forget that you’ll need to pay the excess on each claim)
  • The exclusions you may have in your policy (strike, cancellation trip due to the carrier defaulting etc.)
  • Coverages included in policies or available as upgrades (winter sports, business trip etc.)
  • The claim process (100% online? How many days do you have to make a claim?)
  • The maximum duration of each trip included as standard (at least 31 days)
  • The upper age limit (if you are a senior travelling)

How much is travel insurance to France?

For example, this is the cheapest price for a single trip policy of seven days (with an excess at £100):

AgeWorldwide coverEuropean cover
18 - 35From £19.10From £8.52
36 - 50From £19.44From £9.33
51 - 65From £25.42From £13.33
66 - 75From £28.42From £19.02
Average cost of travel insurance for France depending on age range

It is, however, quite difficult to give precise ranges of how much a travel insurance will cost you for France, as prices are based on a wide range of criteria. It will mainly depend on:

  • If you’re going for a single or annual multi-trip as mentioned above
  • If you’re subscribing to upgrades such as cruise, business or gadget cover
  • If you have pre-existing medical conditions
  • The length of your stay in France
  • If you’re travelling alone, with your partner, a group or your family
  • The financial limits you’d like to get in case of a claim
  • The excess amount you’re willing to pay
  • What will you be doing in France (e.g. winter or extreme sports)?

Is travel insurance for France mandatory?

Travel insurance for France is only mandatory if you need to apply for a French Schengen visa as mentioned below. You are obliged, as required by law, to take out a Schengen visa travel insurance policy.

In this case, you will need to apply for healthcare travel insurance with a medical expense minimum limit of £30 000 and covering all member states of the Schengen area. You will need to show this insurance proof with your visa application.

Travel insurance for France is otherwise not mandatory but is highly recommended.

Check out travel insurance for your trip to the Schengen area here.

When do I need a Schengen visa to go to France?

If you’re a UK citizen with a valid UK passport, you do not need a visa to visit France.

However, from the 31/12/2020*, British citizens will need to apply online for a visa application for France called ETIAS (European Travel Information and Authorization System) which is valid for a period of three years.

They will also have to pay a 7€ fee.

The whole process of getting this visa online may take only 15 minutes and the travel authorisation should be immediately available to the traveller applicant.

*The UK and EU are due to sign a visa-free reciprocal agreement to allow both British citizens and European citizens to freely travel between both countries. This is to prevent citizens from needing to obtain a Schengen visa. However, this is still conditional depending on what the UK decides for European travellers reaching the UK.

If you are a UK Resident but are a national of one of the countries listed here, then you’ll need a French Schengen visa to travel to France.

If you need a Schengen visa to go to France, then healthcare travel insurance is mandatory and you’ll need to show insurance proof to get your visa. 

Do I need a passport to go to France?

Yes, a valid passport or ID will be required at France airport customs.

What should I know before travelling to France?

Is France safe to visit?

This is what the Foreign Travel Office writes about France:

There is an ongoing outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19) in France. The French Government outlined new measures on 16 March to stem the spread of coronavirus. This includes limiting travel to journeys that are absolutely necessary, effective from midday 17 March for an initial period of 15 days. Necessary journeys include to purchase food, to seek medical care, urgent family reasons including childcare or assisting vulnerable people, journeys to work where working from home is not possible, or to exercise.

Anyone making such a journey will need to download and complete an “attestation” or declaration certifying their reason for travel. Please note you are able to handwrite and sign a similar declaration if you are unable to access printing facilities.

On 16 March, the French Government announced that the EU would suspend travel between the EU and non-European countries for an initial period of 30 days from midday 17 March. The French Government confirmed that these restrictions will not apply to UK nationals.

The availability of transport from France to the UK is subject to change. Cross-Channel train and ferry services continue to operate but with reduced service. Flights to the UK continue, however some airlines are cancelling flights. The availability of transport may reduce further. We advise British travellers who are currently in France and who wish to return to the UK to make travel plans to do so as soon as possible. Travellers wishing to return should contact their travel operator, checking the website of their airlines or ferry companies for further advice.

From midday 17 March flights departing from French airports may be cancelled or rescheduled. You should check with your airline for the latest information.

The French authorities have also confirmed there are now border checks in place with Italy, Spain and Germany.

UK nationals can enter France if they have completed the necessary “attestation” (see above) confirming that their travel is an absolutely necessary journey.

There is separate guidance for the freight transport industry published jointly by the Department for Transport and the FCO.

These measures are in addition to those already announced by the French Government, including the closure of all non-essential establishments open to the public from midnight, 14 March, until further notice (i.e. restaurants, cafes, cinemas). Food shops, pharmacies, petrol stations, and banks will stay open. On 15 March, the French Government also announced that public transport will be progressively reduced over the course of the next week.

Some countries are imposing a compulsory period of quarantine for all travellers from France. If you are travelling from or through France, please check the situation at your destination before you travel.

On 15 March, the National Union for Ski Regions and the National Association for Mayors in Regions with Ski Resorts announced that all ski resorts in France are closed with immediate effect until further notice. Please consult your relevant tour, travel operator and insurance provider as to your immediate next steps.

The availability of transport from France to the UK is subject to change. Cross-Channel train and ferry services continue to operate but some are reducing services. Flights to the UK continue, however some airlines are cancelling flights. The availability of transport may reduce further. You should contact your carrier or tour operator for updates and keep your travel plans under careful review.

On 5 March 2020, Flybe announced that it had ceased operations and all its flights have been cancelled.

If you were due to travel with Flybe, read the UK Civil Aviation Authority’s advice to UK consumers for more information on how your travel plans may be affected and the steps you should take.

The rules on travel to EU countries will stay the same until 31 December 2020. This page will be updated with country-specific information for travellers to France as things change.

Around 17 million British nationals visit France every year. Most visits are trouble-free. The most common problem reported is pickpocketing.

Strike action on pension reform continues across France causing limited disruption to transport services. You should avoid demonstrations and follow the advice of the local authorities.

Terrorists are very likely to try to carry out attacks in France. Due to ongoing threats to France by Islamist terrorist groups, and recent French military intervention against Daesh (formerly referred to as ISIL), the French government has warned the public to be especially vigilant and has reinforced its security measures. Check the French government’s advice about what to do if a terrorist attack occurs.

There remain some migrants around Calais, who may seek to enter the UK illegally. There have been instances of migrants seeking to slow down traffic on approach roads to ports, including by placing obstacles on the Calais Port approach road. If this happens you should keep moving where it’s safe to do so, or stop and call 112 if isn’t safe to proceed (keeping car doors locked).

All vehicles, including motorbikes, driving in central Paris, Lyon and Grenoble now need to display a special ‘pollution sticker’.

You should take out comprehensive travel and medical insurance before you travel.

If you’re abroad and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the nearest British embassy, consulate or high commission.

The Overseas Business Risk service offers information and advice for British companies operating overseas on how to manage political, economic, and business security-related risks.

The emergency phone number in France is 112. If you need to contact other emergency services, call 15 (medical), 17 (police) or 18 (fire).

How to drive a car in France?

Maybe you would like to rent a car in France, or maybe you’ve imagined a whole road trip driving from the UK to France. You may be wondering what exactly you need to do for driving on your holiday in France.

Before 31/12/2020: any UK resident with a full and valid UK licence is allowed to drive on French roads.

As from 31/12/2020: any UK resident might need an international driving licence depending on what is decided.

If you want to go from the UK to France with your vehicle, you will also need:

  • A green card
  • A valid proof of insurance and ownership (called V5C form)
  • A GB sticker
  • A valid passport or ID

Find the best European car insurance here.

If you’re renting a car, make sure you’re covered for car hire excess

The French drink drive limit is 0,5 g/L (0,2 g/L for less than 3 years licence holders).

Healthcare in France for UK citizens

  • Before 31/12/2020: your EHIC, as mentioned above, will cover any of your medical treatment just as for French people. However, it will not cover emergency dental treatment, etc. Your travel insurance will (the emergency landline linked to EHIC card is 0300 330 1350).
  • As from the 31/12/2020: your EHIC will no longer be valid. Only your travel insurance will cover you for any medical cost you may have to face.

In any case, to be completely covered for any healthcare cost, you should apply for travel insurance. 

How to contact the British Embassy in France?

Depending on where you are located, you can contact:

British Embassy Paris

British Embassy Paris
35, rue du Faubourg St Honoré
75383 Paris Cedex 08

Phone (if you’re in France)

33 (0) 1 44 51 31 00
From Monday to Friday, 9:30am to 1pm and 2:30pm to 5pm

Phone (if you’re in the UK)020 7008 1500
Email[email protected]
British Embassy Paris contact details
British Consulate Bordeaux

British Consulate Bordeaux
CS 80112
33070 Bordeaux Cedex

Phone (if you’re in France)+33 (0)5 57 22 21 10
British Consulate Bordeaux contact details
British Consulate Marseille

British Consulate Marseille
Les Docks de Marseille-La Joliette
10 Place de la Joliette
Atrium 10.3
1st Floor
13002 Marseille

Phone (if you’re in France)+33 (0)4 91 15 72 10
British Consulate Marseille contact details

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Alexandre Desoutter

Alexandre Desoutter has been working as editor-in-chief and head of press relations at HelloSafe since June 2020. A graduate of Sciences Po Grenoble, he worked as a journalist for several years in French media, and continues to collaborate as a as a contributor to several publications.

In this sense, his role leads him to carry out steering and support work with all HelloSafe editors and contributors so that the editorial line defined by the company is fully respected. and declined through the texts published daily on our platforms.

As such, Alexandre is responsible for implementing and maintaining the strictest journalistic standards within the HelloSafe editorial staff, in order to guarantee the most accurate, up-to-date information on our platforms. and expert as possible. Alexandre has in particular undertaken for two years now the implementation of a system of systematic double-checking of all the articles published within the HelloSafe ecosystem, able to guarantee the highest quality of information.