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Is Travel Insurance Mandatory? 10 Important Things You Need To Know

When traveling, many people are often quick to dismiss the need for travel insurance. They perceive the benefits of having travel insurance as an unnecessary expense. However, at times, the unexpected happens and unfortunate incidents occur. In addition, travelers are vulnerable to diseases and accidents in unfamiliar destinations. When the unexpected happens, travel insurance is useful and saves you a fortune. If you finally saved enough for your dream vacation and are wondering is travel insurance mandatory and whether or not you need to get one, I completely understand you. Even I have traveled many times without acquiring travel insurance. Sometimes I didn’t really need it.

But there were also many occasions in which I was cursing myself for not getting a travel insurance before departing. Actually, I could have had at least two all-inclusive vacations, financed from the money I could save if I had a travel insurance in these situations. If you don’t want to find yourself in a similar position, I suggest you read on. Here are some of the main benefits of having travel insurance.

Is Travel Insurance Mandatory And In Which Countries?

travel math in tourism

To be honest, it’s probably easier to answer the question ‘is travel insurance mandatory and where’ by showing which are some of the countries you can visit without getting travel insurance because most countries around the world do require mandatory travel insurance from at least some visitors (again, it depends where you come from).

Schengen Zone: This European alliance of 26 countries (think France, Spain, Italy, and their fabulous friends) doesn’t require mandatory travel insurance but only for travelers who don’t require a visa. If you do need a visa, then you need travel insurance too.

Canada: While recommended, travel insurance isn’t mandatory for most visitors.

Australia: Similar to Canada, it’s recommended but not required for most visitors.

New Zealand: Travel insurance is recommended but not mandatory for most visitors.

Mexico: Although some regions mandate it for specific activities (e.g., scuba diving), general travel insurance isn’t required for most visitors.

Differentiating Insurance Requirements For Visa-Free vs. Visa-Required Travel

is travel insurance mandatory

Visa-Free Countries: Entry might be a breeze, but don’t assume that means leaving your insurance behind. Think of it as your invisible passport companion, potentially mandatory in regions like the Schengen Zone, Cuba, or the United Arab Emirates. Medical emergencies don’t respect visa requirements, and unexpected expenses can turn your paradise into a financial purgatory.

Visa-Required Countries: When a visa unlocks the door, specific insurance requirements might be waiting inside. China, Russia, or Vietnam, for example, could demand coverage tailored to your visa type or duration. Remember, the wrong coverage can be as useless as a compass with a broken needle.

Dive deep into your destination’s official websites: They’ll hold the keys to visa and insurance mysteries. Don’t rely on hearsay or outdated blogs – get it straight from the source.

Understand your visa type: Different visas might come with different insurance requirements. Don’t pack coverage based on guesswork, tailor it to your specific entry permit.

Consider your risk tolerance and budget: Even when not mandatory, unexpected medical bills can derail your dream trip. Weigh the potential costs against the peace of mind offered by insurance.

How The Pandemic Has Influenced Travel Insurance

woman airport

Remember those days when travel insurance felt like an optional extra? Well, they’re gone. Countries like Argentina, Bolivia, and the Bahamas that I have visited several times without getting travel insurance now sing a different tune, mandating coverage for medical emergencies (mainly because of the pandemic cases). Some countries, like Chile and Costa Rica, have upped the ante, requiring insurance that covers quarantine expenses while others like Jordan and Lebanon have introduced mandatory coverage for medical evacuation, ensuring you get whisked back home safely, should the need arise.

The pandemic completely changed the travel insurance landscape and the list of countries that don’t require mandatory travel insurance is much much shorter and this is a sobering reminder that things are constantly changing, governments change their policies and you have to always be up to date with the latest official sources before your trip to avoid unpleasant surprises at the airport (like my deportation from Russia).

Does Travel Insurance Influence The Approval Of Visa Applications?

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Travel insurance, that trusty sidekick of globetrotters, can indeed influence visa applications. While it’s not a foolproof guarantee, having travel insurance can make your application more appealing to visa officers, particularly in countries where medical care can be expensive.

Imagine yourself as a visa officer, sifting through a stack of applications. A candidate with travel insurance stands out as someone who is prepared, responsible, and mindful of their financial obligations. It signals that they understand the potential risks of traveling abroad and have taken steps to mitigate them.

Steps To Confirm Travel Insurance Requirements For Any Country

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Step 1: Consult the Official Sources

Before packing your bags, ditch the travel blogs and hearsay. Head straight to the source: the official websites of your destination’s government or tourism board. These treasure troves of information will reveal any mandatory insurance requirements for your chosen country.

Step 2: Understand the Coverage Requirements

Don’t assume a generic plan will suffice. Each country has specific insurance requirements, often specifying minimum coverage amounts and specific coverage types. For instance, some countries may mandate coverage for medical emergencies, while others may require repatriation or cancellation protection.

Step 3: Check for Visa Requirements

Even if your destination doesn’t mandate travel insurance, it might still be required if you’re applying for a visa. Certain visa types may explicitly state insurance requirements, so double-check the visa application guidelines.

Step 4: Compare Policy Options

Once you’ve determined your insurance needs, it’s time to shop around. Compare quotes from reputable travel insurance providers, considering factors like coverage limits, deductibles, and exclusions. Don’t be afraid to ask questions – good insurers will be happy to explain their policies in detail.

Step 5: Purchase Early

Don’t leave your insurance purchase to the last minute. Many policies have deadlines, and you might not be covered if you purchase too close to your travel date.

Step 6: Keep Copies

Once you have your insurance policy, keep copies handy, both electronically and in hard copy. You might need to present this paperwork at border crossings or immigration checkpoints.

Now that we gave some insight into the question ‘is travel insurance mandatory’ let’s also quickly cover a few of the main benefits of having travel insurance, starting with…

It Offers Medical Coverage

benefits of having travel insurance

Overseas travel insurance does not prevent misfortunes but offers consolation in the form of financial compensation when they occur. It caters to medical expenses in case of illness or an unexpected accident. There is nothing more frustrating and strenuous than being seriously ill or injured in a foreign land. It gets worse when you don’t have the financial means to get treated or flown home. In some countries, health care is expensive and you might end up spending a lot of money on medical bills. Travel insurance reimburses the money you spend on treatment and if deemed necessary, caters for medical evacuation.

Need help choosing a travel insurance provider? Check out my guide to choosing the right travel insurance package for your next trip.

It Covers Disruptions To Your Travel

benefits of having travel insurance

Travel disruptions such as trip cancelation, interruption, and delay are common during travel. When flights are canceled or you need to return home urgently in case of emergency, travel insurance helps substantially. When travelers cancel a trip they had already paid for, they are likely to lose a significant amount of money. Travel insurance ascertains that you are compensated for any losses resulting from travel disruptions. In the absence of travel insurance, you may lose money and need to make new bookings.

Not all travel insurance caters for trip disruptions so make sure you read and understand the coverage to know what it covers and what it does not. From my experience, this is the most important benefit of having travel insurance. A large majority of my costliest travel mistakes is related to canceled flights and travel disruptions. You never know what might happen while you’re traveling. That’s why it’s good to have someone to…

Reimbursement For Your Losses

benefits of having travel insurance

Luggage loss and damage is not new in travel. Losing your luggage is the most annoying holiday disaster and comes with an extra cost. It means that you have to spend extra money replacing your passport and other travel documents and buying a few sets of clothes. This may leave your pockets dry with an unexpected expense. However, with travel insurance, you are reimbursed for your losses and expenses and you don’t have to spend your money on an airline or hotel’s mistakes. Now, since I already mentioned airline mistakes…

Reclaiming Flight Cancellation Fees

benefits of having travel insurance

Canceled and rescheduled flights wreak havoc on the best-planned travel trips. Weather conditions and technical issues can cause a flight cancellation or delay. A number of travelers connect flights at short intervals and delay in a single flight affects the whole journey. Last time this happened to me, I was supposed to take a 2-hour flight from Kota Kinabalu to Singapore and from Singapore get on my flight to Frankfurt. The two flights were with different airlines and a long story short, during heavy rain, the first flight was delayed for 3 hours.

Not only did I lose my 400 EUR ticket but I had to get another one for 650 EUR. This was one of those times when I was cursing myself for not getting a travel insurance. Travel insurance normally assumes flight cancellation and delay fees and you do not have to spend extra bucks. This paves the path for…

Finally, after you find out is travel insurance mandatory for your next trip and are thinking about which travel insurance plan to choose, you can compare travel insurance from leading travel insurance carriers and save a lot of time while planning your trip.

Did you enjoy this post? Did it answer the question “is travel insurance mandatory” in your case? Do you agree with the benefits of having travel insurance listed here? Do you think there are some more important things we forgot to mention? Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below.

travel insurance benefits
Do you really need a travel insurance_

Isa Cole

Thursday 11th of October 2018

If you don’t have the money for treatment or you can’t afford the long bills of the hospitals and you are fond of visiting outside the country then you must go for travel insurance policy as it covers all the medical policies in it and you have to pay for hospital bills nothing.

Supriya Bhardwaj (SuBhaSun)

Sunday 29th of July 2018

Totally agree with your points. One must have travel insurance to save yourself from some unwanted debt. Would love to know more how and which travel insurance is best to opt?

Passport Symphony

Tuesday 31st of July 2018

Thank you for your comment Supriya. I'm working on a similar post at the moment. I will publish it soon :)


Sunday 29th of July 2018

Better safe than sorry, right? I always take an travel insurance even though luckily so far I had no need to use it!

Passport Symphony

Tuesday 31st of July 2018

Definitely, Claire. That's a smart move. I hope you don't need it in the future too but definitely, it's better to be safe than sorry :)


Thursday 26th of July 2018

I totally agree with all the pros! I would never go anywhere without my travel insurance! I think people often sees themselves as "nothing can happen to me" and that's sooo wrong.

Passport Symphony

Thursday 26th of July 2018

Indeed, Masha. I used to be one of those people too :D but I realized that this approach is wrong and now I use it all the time.


Thursday 26th of July 2018

I once had terrible accident in the Philippines and didn't have insurance. I never travelled without it afterwards. But your articles says it covers more than just medical and that is good to know! Thank you for sharing.

Passport Symphony

Thursday 26th of July 2018

I'm sorry to hear about that Rawan and yes it's true, there are insurance providers that can protect you from non-medical circumstances too.