UAE, Dubai & Abu Dhabi Travel Insurance

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Do I need travel insurance for the United Arab Emirates?

Yes, it’s become a mandatory requirement that all international visitors need to have travel insurance which must include Covid-19 cover.

You’ll need a valid policy before you can get a visa to enter any of the UAE’s seven emirates - two of the most well-known and popular to visit are Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

You won’t have access to free medical treatment in the UAE but travel cover can provide you with protection from anything that might interrupt your travel plans.

What's covered?

As with any travel insurance, cover for travelling to the UAE is designed to protect you if your trip doesn’t go to plan.

UAE travel insurance policies typically cover:

The UAE has a good standard of healthcare, but you could be refused treatment if you don’t have enough funds or a valid policy. So it’s best to have some readily accessible cash in case you need it.

Exclusions to look out for

Policies vary so you’ll need to check what is and isn’t included, but most standard policies won’t cover:

  • Pre-existing medical conditions - If you don’t tell your insurer about your medical conditions, it may invalidate your policy and any related treatment you require while you’re away won’t be covered. You may need a specialist policy or pay extra to cover this
  • Accidents under the influence of drugs or alcohol - You won’t be covered if you injure yourself or have an accident when you’ve been drinking or taking drugs
  • High-risk sports and activities - More risky activities are unlikely to be covered so check your policy. Many providers offer policy add-ons for adventure sports cover
  • Travelling against government advice - If you travel to a location you’ve been advised to avoid, you won’t be covered. Check up-to-date government foreign travel advice here
  • Leaving your belongings unattended - Leaving your belongings so they’re out of your sight or unprotected means they won’t be covered if something happens to them

Optional extras

There are several policy add-ons you can choose from to tailor your policy to what you plan to do while you’re in the UAE.

These vary between providers but usually include:

  1. Gadget cover

    You can take out extra cover to make sure gadgets like your mobile phone, tablet or laptop are covered against damage, loss or theft

  2. Golf cover

    The UAE is a hotspot for top golf courses, so this add-on is useful for covering your golf equipment and all your golfing specific insurance needs

  3. Single-item cover

    With this option you can increase the amount you can claim for the loss, damage, or theft of a single item up to approximately £1,000

  4. Extreme sports cover

    If you’re planning any adventure sports on your trip this policy add-on will make sure you’re covered

  5. Winter sports cover

    Dubai has one of the world’s largest indoor ski resorts, so winter sports cover might be useful

Cover options for your trip

There are several different travel insurance options you can choose from when you’re taking out cover, these include:

  • Backpacker insurance - If you’re planning to backpack to the UAE, this policy will cover you for visiting multiple countries in one trip. It typically includes more benefits than standard insurance, like cover for adventure sports
  • Annual multi-trip - Taking out this type of cover can be a good idea if you’re planning on taking two or more trips in a year. Buying annual cover can be cheaper than taking out several single-trip policies
  • Family travel insurance - If you’ll be travelling to the UAE with your family (who live at the same address as you) it might cost less to have a policy that covers you all
  • Single trip - This type of policy is ideal if your trip is a one-off holiday and you’re only planning to go away once in the near future
  • Sports and leisure - If you’re planning to do more adventurous activities that aren’t covered on a standard policy, this optional add-on can make sure you’re still covered
  • Medical conditions - If you have a pre-existing medical condition, you’ll need to let your insurer know and you may need to pay extra to get the right cover. You can also buy specialist insurance that’s specifically designed to cover people with existing conditions
  • Travel insurance for seniors - This is specifically designed to give older travellers the protection they need. Some policies may have an upper age limit and restrictions on the activities covered or how long you can travel for. Specialist cover is also available

Things to consider when travelling to the UAE

The UAE has plenty to offer visitors, not to mention its year-round sunshine, showstopping modern architecture, luxury hotels and high-end shopping malls.

But before you set off there are a few things you should bear in mind:

  • Respect the culture - While it offers ultra-modern luxury, the UAE’s traditional Islamic values are still important. Note that certain western habits are illegal, including public displays of affection, swearing, wearing immodest clothing, being drunk and disorderly
  • Don’t get snap happy - With its impressive mosques, desert landscapes, and glittering architecture, you’re spoilt for choice when it comes to good shots. But taking pictures of people without their permission is illegal - so be careful where you point the lens
  • Currency and tipping - The Emirati Dirham is the currency (written as Dh or AED) so it’s a good idea to take some with you, but there’ll be plenty of ATMs you can also use. Tipping in the UAE is discretionary but appreciated if you want to reward good service
  • Vaccine and health requirements - Different Covid-19 entry requirements can vary depending on where you’re going in the UAE. Check the government’s foreign travel advice and get up-to-date information from TravelHealthPro at least eight weeks before you travel
  • Watch the sun - Temperatures can reach over 42°C in the summer, so make sure you’re prepared and protected with the right SPF sunscreen

Do I need to have a COVID-19 vaccine?

You’ll need to check up-to-date advice, as requirements may change over time. Plus, the testing and isolation rules are different depending on where in the UAE you’re travelling to.

Currently, you can enter the UAE if you have one of the following:

  • A valid vaccination certificate to show you’re fully vaccinated
  • A valid Covid-19 recovery certificate that has less than one month from the date of recovery to your arrival
  • A valid negative Covid-19 PCR test certificate issued within 48 hours of the sample being collected

But always check with your airline before you travel.

Do I need a visa for travel to the UAE?

No, if you’ve got a full British passport when you arrive in the UAE you’ll be given a free of charge tourist visa as you pass through immigration.

You don’t need to apply for one in advance and once your passport is stamped with the visa it will be valid for 30 days.

What’s the standard of healthcare in the UAE?

With plenty of state-of-the-art medical centres and facilities, the standard of healthcare in the UAE is considered to be high.

And if you have a medical emergency while you’re in Dubai, you can call 999 for help just as you do in the UK.

But if you require unexpected treatment you’ll need to pay and the costs could soon rack up - so it’s important you have valid travel insurance.

What are the travel risks associated with the UAE?

The crime rate in the UAE is low - petty crime like bag snatching and pickpocketing happens occasionally but is rare.

But as with anywhere else, you should avoid walking alone after dark. And also be aware of the cultural rules in the UAE around what you should wear and how to behave when you’re out in public.

Conflicts in the Middle East and Gulf region could affect the UAE, so monitor any official warnings and government travel advice before you visit.

The UAE can have extreme weather and depending on the time of year temperatures can top 50°C. Sand and dust storms are also common. So, make sure you’re prepared for the heat and the sun, and drink plenty of water.

Is healthcare free in UAE?

It’s only free for UAE citizens, so if you need unexpected treatment while you’re visiting, you’ll need to pay.

You may also need to prove you can afford the medical costs before you receive attention.

It’s important to take out travel insurance to make sure you’re covered, as well as it being a mandatory requirement to visit the UAE.

Where is the UAE for travel insurance?

To take out travel insurance for the UAE, you’ll need to buy worldwide cover.

This type of cover takes into account the higher medical costs you’d need to pay outside Europe, so policies will usually be more expensive.

Most policies will cover you for a trip lasting up to 30 days and you can choose to take out single-trip cover, or an annual policy if you think you’ll be travelling twice or more in a year.

Optional add-ons can make sure you’re covered for things like adventure sports.

What if it’s not safe to travel to the UAE?

If you’ve taken out travel insurance in good time before you’re due to travel, this can provide financial protection if your plans are unexpectedly cancelled.

Typically, you’ll be covered if the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office’s (FCDO) travel advice for the UAE changes to ‘all but essential travel’.

You should try and get a full refund from your tour operator or travel agent, as your travel insurance policy may only cover you for non-refundable expenses.

But policies vary, so check what is and isn’t included when you take out cover.