Get travel insurance for trips to Portugal, Madeira and Azores
Travel insurance isn’t a necessity for a trip to Portugal, but it could offer you some peace of mind that you covered while strolling through Lisbon’s streets or relaxing on an Algarve beach.
Portugal has private and public health care, and we Brits can access emergency state medical care for free or at a discounted rate with a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) or Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC).
GHICs were brought in when the UK left Europe, to replace the old EHIC. It’s worth remembering that the GHIC is only valid in EU countries. You can apply for a GHIC using the NHS website.
Lost your GHIC, or don’t have it with you in Portugal and need treatment? Call the Department of Health Overseas Healthcare Team on +441912181999 to get a Provisional Replacement Certificate.
A GHIC or EHIC isn’t a replacement for travel insurance though – you may get rushed to a private hospital in an emergency and some public clinics might charge you, so it’s best to have cover in place just in case.
Repatriation – emergency transport back to the UK – also isn’t covered by your GHIC or EHIC, but is something your travel insurance would include.
As well as medical cover, travel insurance will also cover you for a range of other risks.
Your suitcase and hand luggage contains everything you need to have a great holiday, but also some potentially valuable things, like your spending money, designer clothes and accessories. Travel insurance can help cover the cost if your belongings are lost or stolen.
Taking expensive tech, like a smartphone, camera or a smartwatch? You’ll need separate gadget cover if their value exceeds the single item limit for your travel policy.
Cancellation and curtailment cover is also a common part of travel insurance, but you’ll need to check your airline won’t help you out first. It only applies to certain circumstances though – you or a close family member falling ill would probably be covered, but simply deciding you no longer want to travel wouldn’t be. If your travel policy has travel disruption cover, delays and cancellations are more likely to be covered but it’s not a standard part of every policy so check the policy docs for it when comparing cover.
Certain adventurous sports and activities might be covered by travel insurance, but which ones and the level of cover varies between providers, so that’s another reason to check the T&Cs before you buy.
Most travel policies won’t cover claims due to:
Generally, If it’s not included in the list of things that are included, it’s safer to assume that it isn’t covered.
It’s also advised to practice social distancing from those not in your travelling party and wash your hands regularly.
In Madeira, it’s slightly different. Those aged six and over are expected to do the above, plus it’s recommended you use a facemask in any enclosed or covered areas and whenever social distancing isn’t possible.
If you’re off to Azores, those aged nine and over need to wear a face mask when:
You must also have proof of a recent negative Covid test to visit medical facilities, retirement and nursing homes.
To drive in Portugal, you must be over 18. Driving licences from countries within the EU are valid, as well as those with licences from the US (for up to 185 days). Otherwise, you’ll need an international driving permit (IDP).
You must be insured to drive in Portugal – your current car insurance might offer you third party cover in Europe – and should read up on the driving laws there before getting behind the wheel.
It’s not a legal requirement to have travel insurance when visiting Portugal, but you might want a policy for your own peace of mind.
Yes, an EHIC or GHIC will cover you for some state provided emergency medical care while you’re in Portugal, but it’s nowhere near as extensive as having travel insurance with medical cover.
Ask your hotel if they can recommend a local doctor, or try the emergency room at your nearest hospital as they might have a walk-in clinic for illnesses that aren’t life-threatening.
You need to either prove you are fully vaccinated, that you’ve recently recovered from coronavirus or that you have a negative Covid test. Children ages 12 or younger don’t need to do this.
You’ll need to self-isolate at your own expense for seven days if you’re in mainland Portugal, and for five days if you’re in Madeira or Azores. If you need medical advice while isolating, you can call one of the non-emergency helplines, or call 112 in an emergency and let them know you’ve tested positive for Covid-19.