Travel Insurance for France: What You Need to Know

Last Updated on January 25, 2023

pharmacy and green sign in paris france

For this first article in a series of practical tips I’ll refer to as “Paris Trip Planning Q&A“, let’s tackle a boring, but entirely necessary, question. Readers have often asked me this: “Do I really need travel insurance for France?”

Keep reading to get all the info you need to make an informed decision on travel insurance ahead of your next trip to Paris or elsewhere in France. These are the top factors you need to consider before making a choice:

Should you buy travel insurance for a trip to France?
A view of the Latin Quarter from the banks of the Seine, Paris/Pixabay

1. Medical Care Isn’t Free in France

Perhaps because France has a reputation for having a stellar, accessible healthcare system that turns no one away at the door, people often rush to assume that it comes with no out-of-pocket costs. But that just isn’t true.

Even French citizens and European visitors covered by la sécu (social security) and the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) scheme are usually reimbursed for only around 70% of typical medical costs.

If they don’t have additional insurance coverage, referred to locally as mutuelles, they have to pay the difference out of pocket for doctor’s visits, hospital stays, ambulances and treatment. There are some exceptions to this rule, but we’re considering averages here.

Meanwhile, for those not covered by French social security or the European healthcare scheme, 100% of medical care is billable.

It’s certainly much less expensive than in the US and some other places– but it can still amount to hundreds or thousands of dollars. This is particularly true if you stay for several nights in the hospital, or undergo surgery, emergency medical treatments and/or costly tests.

Sometimes, you’re billed before you’re offered care, and sometimes you’ll become liable after the fact (as is usually the case with an ER or hospital stay). But you will be asked to pay. Having even a basic travel insurance policy can ensure that you’re covered for accidental injury or illness in many cases.

2. Travel Insurance May Cover More Than Doctors, Drugs & Hospitals

travel insurance for france and paris: do I really need to buy it?

Some travelers opt for travel insurance as a way of avoiding cancellation fees.

For example, if you book a flight with a third-party agent or company and not directly with the airline, it can be almost impossible to get a refund or exchange for certain tickets.

But no one can guarantee that a last-minute family emergency or work-related issue won’t result in you having to delay or cancel your trip. Some travel insurance policies compensate you for the costs associated with such unfortunate events.

{Read related: Mistakes to Avoid When Planning a Trip to France}

Lost or delayed baggage can also result in some significant losses, as well as being a hassle when you’re travelling. Basic policies often compensate you for the stress and inconvenience.

Get a Quote and Compare Travel Insurance Policies

The first step is to get a free quote for travel insurance. World Nomads is one such company offering no-obligation quotes.

You can fill out a quick quote form by clicking here– or on the banner below– to compare policy choices.

You can also compare and purchase travel insurance policies here (at Heymondo). For a limited time, Paris Unlocked readers can benefit from 5% off a chosen policy package.

How Expensive do Policies Tend to Run?

This isn’t an easy question to answer, since prices can fluctuate significantly depending on economic trends and other factors. Policies vary widely depending on your destination/s, age and other factors. This is true for basic-coverage packages that cover doctor’s visits, hospital stays and even major surgeries, and more comprehensive cover packages.

My advice? Make sure to shop around and get several quotes, ensuring you secure a policy that meets your needs and fits within your budget.

My bottom line?

Paris during the mid-summer: balmy, relaxed and festive.
Paris and France are both safe destinations– but accidents do happen.

Many people take the risk of not buying insurance to cover their adventures. Often, there are no consequences, which cements the habit.

Throughout most of my life, I preferred to take the risk rather than pay a bit extra. Only recently have I changed tack, partly owing to the fact that I’ve had a couple of medical emergencies in the past years.

But while you’ll hopefully enjoy an incident-free trip and won’t require medical attention or hospitalization, there are no guarantees. Something could happen that might quickly prove costly and stressful.

Read related: Yes, It’s Still Safe to Travel to Paris. Here’s How to Stay Secure.

Even lost baggage or a last-minute emergency that forces you to cancel, interrupt or delay your trip can be a genuine hassle. And while health care costs in France are much lower than in the U.S. and many other countries, the ininsured still have to pay out of pocket for doctor’s visits and hospital stays.

All of these factors should be considered before you decide whether to purchase a policy ahead of your next trip.

Editor’s note: This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase products through these it comes at no additional cost to you, and will help to fund more free, engaging content at this site. Thank you.

2 thoughts on “Travel Insurance for France: What You Need to Know

  1. When my wife and I visited Paris for five weeks in 2017 we both became sick. We found an English speaking doctor and had to pay cash up-front for an appointment. Fortunately, we had trip insurance that reimbursed us for the visit and drugs. The cost of the insurance was about the same as the cost of the visit this time but it was nice to have the comfort of knowing we were covered. It could have been much worse.

  2. regarding the policy you purchased, did you actually use the policy to get coverage or treatment? Meaning you had some cause to use the insurance and experience how well it works.

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