It is not mandatory to have travel insurance coverage to visit France — unless you are traveling from a country that requires a Schengen visa. US citizens can enter France with a valid passport for up to 90 days, after which they must submit a visa application.
Although travel insurance is not required for American tourists, you may still choose to buy coverage. Travel insurance can reimburse you for prepaid, non-refundable costs (subject to conditions) in the event of unexpected trip cancellations or delays. Most policies also protect your belongings, including your luggage, against theft, loss and damage.
The US Department of State recommends you purchase travel insurance if you do not have health care coverage abroad. France does not offer free health coverage to tourists, and treatment may be expensive if you require medical treatment while on vacation. It’s a good idea to choose an insurance policy that covers sporting accidents and injuries if you’re participating in activities such as snow sports in the French Alps or water sports along the French Riviera.
Cancel for Any Reason Coverage
Cancel for any reason (CFAR) coverage is supplemental travel insurance for those who prefer flexibility when planning a trip. Standard travel insurance policy includes predetermined reasons for which you can claim reimbursement for travel cancellations, including medical emergencies, the death of a family member and legal obligations.
CFAR ensures you can cancel your travel plans at your discretion. Say you’re traveling to Paris for a wedding, but the wedding gets cancelled, and you decide to visit Lyon instead. With CFAR coverage, your provider can reimburse part of your prepaid trip costs.
It’s important to note that CFAR coverage is subject to disclaimers, deductibles and restrictions. For example, many insurance companies include time restrictions for reimbursement, such as a clause to cancel within 48 or 72 hours of departure.
Gear Theft Protection
You may plan to take valuables with you for activities on your French vacation, from photographing the Eiffel Tower to rock climbing in Fontainebleau and cycling in Bordeaux. Gear theft protection is useful to help recover the cost of lost or stolen goods. For a trip to France, you may wish to take the following:
- Smartphones or tablets
- Professional cameras and equipment
- Sports equipment, including snowboards
As general advice, trip insurance is subject to predetermined coverage limits and exclusions may apply. Your policy may not cover the full value of stolen or damaged items. For this reason, consider leaving irreplaceable items at home or in a locked hotel safe.
Medical Emergency Insurance and Emergency Medical Evacuation
France has a highly-ranked healthcare system, but the country does not extend coverage to tourists. And European health insurance cards (EHIC) are not available to residents of non-European Union countries without Schengen visa insurance.
Travel medical insurance is recommended for US citizens as Medicare doesn’t apply overseas. However, you may have coverage if you have private insurance.
Medical costs may be significant if you require treatment for pre-existing conditions or emergencies in the absence of insurance. Travel insurance for medical emergencies can cover a range of expenses, including:
- Hospital fees
- Operating room charges and anesthesia
- Dental emergencies
- Lab tests and X-rays
Most travel health insurance plans include emergency medical evacuation and repatriation if local medical care is not available and you need to fly back to your home country.
Rental Car Protection
Even though public transportation offers an easy way to explore France, you may prefer the freedom of renting a car. Car rental rates include unlimited liability and fire insurance coverage in France. Rental companies may also offer premium car insurance to further limit liabilities while on the road.
Premium insurance policies typically include the following safeguards:
- Collision damage waiver and theft protection
- Tire and windshield protection
- Roadside protection
- Personal effects coverage
- Personal injury insurance
In addition to local car insurance, some travel insurance covers rental vehicles to help you recover losses if you’re liable for damaged or stolen cars.
Trip Cancellation Insurance
If your trip to Europe is canceled, travel insurance can help protect you against financial loss. Standard travel insurance generally offers reimbursement for non-refundable and prepaid costs (like your flight or hotel) up to a predetermined limit.
As a general rule, standard travel insurance policies accept cancellation claims due to the following reasons:
- Hospitalization or serious injury
- Death of a family member
- Severe weather conditions (excluding some natural disasters)
- Jury duty or other legal obligations
- Military orders
- Acts of domestic or international terrorism
If you need more flexibility for a French vacation, opt for CFAR insurance.