1. Do you need travel insurance for France?
It is advisable to take out travel insurance for any country you travel to, and France is not exempt. Here are some ways that your travel insurance will cover you while in France.
Medical assistance or emergencies: Should you fall ill while in France, or sustain physical injuries, resulting in the need for medical assistance, your travel insurance will cover you. For more serious injuries that could mean being airlifted back to Australia, your insurance will cover these costs, if you have stipulated this in your cover.
Emergency evacuations: Some insurers will cover you for any emergency evacuations that are needed for medical requirements. Check with your insurer if this is an option.
Lost or stolen property: With petty crimes a reality in any destination, you run the risk of having your personal belongings such as phones, tablets, wallets, or jewellery stolen. Likewise, the loss of luggage is always a threat when travelling, and could leave you in a pickle. Thankfully, travel insurance will cover any lost or stolen belongings, as long as negligence was not involved. Be sure to check with your provider for what you are covered for.
Cancellations or delays: A cancelled or delayed flight is not only frustrating, but can be expensive if extra accomodation or flights are required, particularly if it means missing your pre-booked trip to a French theatre. Your travel insurance should cover you for any expenses incurred as a result of a cancelled or delayed flight.
Car rental cover: You are legally allowed to drive in France as long as you carry your Australian drivers license with you, together with an International Driving Permit (IDP), which will need to be issued in Australia before you depart for France 1. If you have all these in place, your travel insurance should cover you for any damage or excess required should you be in an accident while in France.
24/7 emergency assistance: Depending on your insurer and your cover, you can get 24/7 emergency assistance anywhere in France, should you need it. Check with your insurer for what they offer.
2. What does my travel insurance exclude while in France?
Negligent behaviour: Loss or theft of property, or physical harm due to negligent behaviour, such as alcohol or drug abuse, will not be covered by your insurer.
Pre-existing medical conditions: Most insurers do not offer cover all pre-existing medical conditions that you are receiving treatment for, or have received treatment for in the recent past. Some pre-existing conditions are automatically covered if disclosed before purchasing cover, while others will either be excluded, or will require a medical assessment and an extra premium.
Emergency evacuations due to terrorist attacks or natural disasters: Some insurers may not cover you for any emergency evacuations required due to a terrorist attack or natural disaster if there was advance warning to these events before you left Australia. Check with your insurer whether you will be covered or not before your trip.
Unattended belongings: If you leave your belongings unattended for any period of time, or in an unlocked hotel room, you will not be covered for any loss or theft of these belongings.
Driving without a license: Driving a motorbike or car in France, without a valid Australian license and IDP, is not only illegal, but will also invalidate any claims should you be in an accident. Most insurers will only cover you for motorbike/scooter damage if you have a valid Australian motorbike license. Check your cover with your insurer before your trip.
Adventure activities: Most high-risk adventure activities are not automatically covered by your insurer, and would need to be added on at an additional cost. Scuba diving is often only covered if you have a diving license that is recognised in Australia, or are diving under licensed instruction.
3. Who do I contact in an emergency?
There are some very real threats to travelling to France at present, with the Smartraveller website 2 advising a “High degree of caution” for anyone wishing to enter the country. These include:
- Increase in terrorist attacks: There has been a massive increase in terrorist attacks around France, since 2015, with multiple shootings, stabbings and suicide bombings, with over 200 people killed and hundreds injured. This has resulted in increased security levels around France, where certain areas may be restricted or unaccessible. You can expect extra security checks at borders – this is all for your safety. The Gouvernment.fr website 3 offers some assistance with what to do in the event of a terrorist attack.
- Petty crimes: Petty crimes such as pickpocketing and bag snatching have become a serious concern in well-known tourist locations and on public transport. Always keep your belongings close to your body and in sight at all times – be aware of people around you who may be watching you for an opportunity. Carry only the important items that you need for that day – leave everything else in your hotel room if possible.
- Protests and public demonstrations: Protests and public demonstrations have become quite popular around France, and can often turn violent. Avoid these areas where possible, and be aware of your surroundings.
- Summer forest fires and flash floods: Forest fires are quite common along the Mediterranean coast of France, and can build up quite quickly. Likewise, flash floods can occur in different areas around France, seemingly out of nowhere, and can be life threatening. Take care if you are travelling along the coast, or are in an area affected by flash floods – evacuate immediately at any sign of danger.
If you are unfortunate enough to experience any of the above threats, you need to seek help immediately, and vacate the area of concern as soon as possible. Your best option is to contact the local police as soon as you can on the Universal European Emergency Number, 112. If you suspect any criminal activities related to terrorist attacks or theft of a person’s belongings, please contact the police. For medical emergencies in France, you can also dial 112.
In the event of you needing to make an insurance claim for any emergencies, it would be wise to have your insurers details on hand. If you can, keep a printed version of the insurers Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) and your Certificate of Insurance with your other travel documents to assist you with any information you may need.
Our four insurers details are made available for you, should you choose to insure with one of them.
4. Which activities need additional travel insurance cover in France?
Hiking and climbing activities: Hiking trails and mountain climbing are extremely popular activities in France, with many tour guides offering these as packages. These can, however, be dangerous activities to partake in, and your insurer may not cover you for any medical expenses incurred as a result. You will most likely need to add this as an extra cost to your travel insurance.
Cycling: Thousands of people ride around the streets of France by bicycle, as a common means of transport and recreation. The dangers of cycling are real though, with French drivers being a little on the scary side and not always giving way to cyclists. You may need additional travel insurance, should you choose to make your way around France by bicycle.
Skiing and snowboarding: These are both extremely exciting, yet dangerous activities, with lots that can go wrong on the slopes, such as avalanches or broken bones. You will need to take out additional cover for snow activities.
Water adventures: With the South of France surrounded by the warmer Mediterranean Sea, water sports, such as jet skiing, sailing, fishing, scuba diving, and snorkeling, are a huge attraction. Most of these water activities will not be included in your travel insurance, and would need to be added on.
Thrill-seeking activities: Hang-gliding, paragliding, hot air ballooning, bungee jumping, or skydiving, are some of the thrill-seeking activities available in France, that are seen as high-risk. If you plan on participating in any of these, you will need to add this to your insurance.
5. How to cut travel insurance costs
Have a set schedule: Plan your itinerary thoroughly before leaving for France, so that you can avoid any unnecessary mishaps or expenses along the way. This will also allow you to trim on travel insurance costs, excluding any unnecessary added extras.
Leave out the adventure activities: There are plenty of things to do around France that don’t involve putting your life at risk, and inevitably having to take extra travel insurance, just to do them. You can easily get away with sipping on wine, tasting cheeses, devouring pastries or travelling through the countryside – all while still enjoying a fantastic holiday in France.
Take the scenic route: Travelling through France by bicycle or public transport, will not only give you a first-hand French experience, but will also help you to save on travel insurance for a hired vehicle. Plus, travelling by bicycle will help to ward off those added pastry kilos, keeping you healthy on your travels.
Travel by numbers: Travel insurance gets cheaper when you travel with other people, all using the same insurance. Explore this as an option, and chat to your insurer about travel insurance for groups of 10 or more people.
Look for travel insurance discounts: Keep an eye out for any insurers offering travel insurance discounts for France – they are sometimes available and can save you a lot of money.
6. France travel tips
Parlez Vous Francais? (Do you speak French?): It’s no secret that the French are extremely loyal to their country, and love their home language, but the majority of French people will speak English when necessary. It wouldn’t do you any harm, however, to learn a few (or many) French words, to not only impress the French natives (and get on their good side), but also to make your trip a more relatable one.
Travel by day: The streets of France can become a little scary after dark, in certain areas. Where possible, explore the streets by day and visit well-lit, popular areas by night. You don’t want to come across any French gangs after dark.
Learn to park in tight spaces: If you do decide to hire a car while in France, it would be wise to hire the smallest car you can find, because the street parking can be quite congested. Parking is often limited, or the spaces are so small, you would need to be an expert parker. Make sure you have travel insurance cover for rental vehicle excess, in the event of an accident.
Only use ATMs in popular areas: If you need to draw cash, try to do so at an ATM that is located in a shopping mall or bank, where there are lots of other people around – to avoid being robbed. If you do fall victim to theft while at an ATM, let your insurer know immediately, so they can process your claim.
Be aware of the news: Being on holiday does not mean that you should become oblivious to what’s happening in the news, especially in a high alert country like France. Keep an eye on the news daily, looking out for any potential threats to the country while you are there. You can also sign up and subscribe to updates concerning France, through the Smartraveller website for up-to-date information on any terrorist threats or natural disasters.
Contact details to assist you on your trip to France:
|Australian Embassy, France
4 Rue Jean Rey,
75015 Paris FRANCE
Telephone: +33 1 4059 3300
Facsimile: +33 1 4059 3310
+61 421 269 080 Website: france.embassy.gov.au
|24-hour Australian Consular Emergency Helpline
1300 555 135
+61 2 6261 3305
+61 421 269 080
|Universal European Emergency Number (24/7)
Dial 18 or 112
|Medical Emergencies (24/7)
Dial 15 or 112
|Office du Tourisme et des Congrès de Paris
Address: 29 Rue de Rivoli, 75004 Paris, France
Phone: +33 1 49 52 42 63
|Tourist Office Nice Côte D’Azur
Address: Avenue Thiers, 06000 Nice, France
Phone: +33 4 92 14 46 14
|Tourist Office Val d’Amboise
Address: Quai du Général de Gaulle, 37400 Amboise, France
Phone: +33 2 47 57 09 28
1 “Eng Driving in France”, Australian Embassy in France, accessed 29 August, 2018. https://france.embassy.gov.au/pari/driving.html
2 “France”, Smartraveller.gov.au, accessed 29 August, 2018. https://smartraveller.gov.au/Countries/europe/western/Pages/france.aspx
3 “How to React in the Event of a Terrorist Attack”, Gouvernment.fr, accessed 29 August, 2018. https://www.gouvernement.fr/en/how-to-react-in-the-event-of-a-terrorist-attack
We also offer insurance for other destinations such as Germany