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Travel insurance for China

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Do I need travel insurance for China?

The vast country of China, with its teeming cities and remote mountains, attracts adventurous tourists, business travellers, and people visiting family.

Whatever your reasons for your trip, taking out travel insurance before you go is a good idea.

It can be very expensive to be repatriated from China if you are taken seriously ill or need treatment that can only be provided at home.

Repatriation is a standard feature of most travel insurance policies.

What’s covered by travel insurance in China? And what isn’t?

Travellers to China need to think about a few specific risks, so research your trip and go prepared in order to enjoy your stay safely

Natural disasters

Travel insurance policies can exclude natural disasters, but it’s complicated - some only cover volcanic ash, whereas others broadly exclude unforeseen problems.

May to November is the country’s typhoon season, so keep a close eye on storm warnings, particularly in southern and eastern coastal regions, and follow advice from the authorities.

Typhoons can cause danger to life as well as severe travel disruption, as can the earthquakes that occur in western and south-western areas.

If you’re travelling to China during typhoon season, there’s no harm in asking the insurer what it’ll help you with if you get into difficulties.

Legal

Foreigners in China must abide by certain regulations, including carrying your passport at all times if you are over 16 and registering your place of residence with the Public Security Bureau within 24 hours of arrival.

There’s a zero tolerance drugs policy, carrying severe penalties including the death sentence, and police frequently raid bars and clubs.

Your insurance won’t cover you if you’ve taken drugs, or if you break the law, so it’s more important than ever to act sensibly.

Health issues

Healthcare is not free in China and can be very expensive.

One problem is pollution in big cities such as Shanghai and Beijing, which can irritate those with asthma and similar conditions.

Make sure you take any medication you need with you, as you might find it hard to get it once you’re there.

Before you travel, always check for up-to-date health information such as outbreaks of diseases and avoid affected areas if possible.

Look for travel insurance that includes good medical insurance with repatriation cover - but make sure you disclose any pre-existing conditions to avoid invalidating your insurance.

Theft

Your policy should cover theft or damage to your belongings - but check that the level of cover is enough and see if cash is covered.

Business travel

If you’re heading to China for work, you should make sure you choose a policy that’s suitable for business travel.

Check that the policy covers laptops, smartphones and other essential work items that could be lost, damaged or stolen on your trip.

Some policies even include ‘replacement colleague’ cover in case you can’t make the trip yourself.

Do I need a visa for China?

You need a visa to travel to China on a UK passport - there are different types for business, leisure and family travel. You can get a visa for either short-term or longer-term trips.

Full details are available from the Chinese Visa Application Service Centre

Travelling to Tibet

A trip to the mountainous region of Tibet is high on many travellers’ wish lists. However, due to Tibet’s political status, a visit takes some preparation.

You can only travel there on an organised tour and will need to obtain a permit first from the Tibet Tourism Bureau. Your tour operator can arrange it but allow at least two to three weeks.

In Tibet the political situation is tense and security measures are tight. Your insurance won’t cover anything illegal and will exclude injuries caused by violence (unless it's self-defence).

The British Embassy and consulates in China also warn that they have limited ability to help travellers in Tibet.

Another problem is that the authorities sometimes close areas to tourists with little or no warning, throwing your travel plans into disarray. For that reason, make sure you've got cover for any cancellations or delays.

Finally, Tibet is mountainous and remote. Make sure you have a good level of medical cover to so that in the event of an emergency, you can get airlifted to a good hospital or repatriated back to the UK.

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