Travel insurance for France

Compare travel insurance for a trip to France 

Do I need travel insurance for France?

Although your trip to France doesn’t legally require travel insurance, taking out a policy that covers a trip to Europe will make sure you’re protected if:

  • You need medical care or emergency treatment
  • You need to be brought back to the UK (repatriated)
  • Your trip is cancelled or curtailed
  • Your stay is extended for reasons beyond your control
  • Your luggage and/ or personal possessions are lost or stolen

European travel insurance covers you for trips inside the EU, including the UK. Countries outside of the EU, but in Europe, are usually covered too. Each policy is different, so check documents for any ‘geographical limits’.

Annual travel insurance

An annual European policy will cover you for 12 months after the policy’s start-date. As well as being more cost-effective, it can also save you the hassle of organising single trip insurance each time you travel.

If you’ve got more trips planned this year to places outside of Europe, you might find a worldwide annual multi-trip travel insurance policy is the most cost-effective. Compare your options to see which works out best for you.

Key points

  • Unless you’re travelling solo, look for more cost-effective cover with couples’ travel insurance, a family policy or group travel insurance
  • Medical repatriation back to the UK also isn’t covered by an GHIC, but is by your travel insurance
  • Whether you’re taking your own car with European car insurance or hiring one, you must be insured to drive in France

Healthcare in France

The healthcare system in France is strong - the World Health Organisation found that France provides the best overall healthcare in the world. It’s made up of private and public hospitals.

Can I use my EHIC or GHIC in France?

Yes. An EHIC (European health insurance card) means you can access state-provided medical treatment, exactly as French citizens do.

Since the UK left the EU, EHIC cards have been replaced by GHIC (Global health insurance cards). Similarly to the EHIC, these allow you to access state provided medical treatment whilst abroad. It's worth noting that the GHIC card is only valid in EU countries.

You can apply for an GHIC using the NHS website. If you lose your GHIC, or don’t have it when you need treatment in France, you can call the Department of Health Overseas Healthcare Team on +441912181999 to get a Provisional Replacement Certificate.

Having travel insurance in place on top of this will cover healthcare costs if you’re taken to a private facility by ambulance in an emergency - something your GHIC won’t cover you for.

Medical repatriation back to the UK also isn’t covered by an GHIC, but is by your travel insurance.

If you need prescription drugs in France, you’ll need to bring a doctor’s note explaining why you’re taking the medication.

Driving in France

Whether you’re taking your own car with European car insurance or hiring one, you must be insured to drive in France. If you’re taking your own car, your UK car insurance should cover you third party to drive in France.

Always carry the following with you:

  • Full UK Driving licence
  • Passport
  • V5C certificate
  • Insurance documents
  • GB stickers on your car (unless it’s equipped with EU number plates)

To avoid any potential fines, always carry:

  • Warning triangle
  • Reflective safety jackets
  • Breathalyser
  • Beam deflectors
  • Spare bulbs
  • Snow chains (during winter in some areas)
  • Safety helmets with compliant reflective elements (for motorcyclists and passengers)

These items often come as a kit, so buy one online before you travel to France.

Low emission zones

Paris has introduced a Low Emission Zone to improve air quality - visit the French Ministry of Environment website website for more information on how this could affect your trip. It’s also illegal to drive using headphones or earphones.

Seat belt rules

Seat belts must be worn by all drivers and passengers. Drivers have a responsibility to ensure all passengers under 18 are buckled up.

The fine for not using a seat belt is €135, reduced to €90 if paid within 15 days.

Breaking down in France

If you break down on a motorway or toll road in France, use the orange emergency phones at the roadside. A local company will tow you to a recovery zone where you can contact your cover provider.

With language barriers and a lack of local knowledge making breaking down more stressful, European breakdown cover is highly advisable for driving in France. Policies vary, so check wording carefully, but typical features include roadside assistance, garage labour costs, onward travel and car repatriation back to the UK.

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