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It’s not hard to be seduced by France. After all, it’s the land of love, fashion and scrumptious pastries. What more could you ask for? Imagine yourself trawling through the world’s largest art collection at the Louvre, sunbathing on a star-studded beach in the Côte d’Azur or simply enjoying the French ‘joie de vivre’ with a croissant and a glass of red in hand (a weird combination, but hey – you’re on holiday).

Whether you’re travelling to popular destinations like Paris, Champagne, Nice or anywhere in between (or beyond), here’s why taking out a travel insurance policy may be a wise move.

How you should select your travel cover

Picking your cover comes down to a few key steps.

  1. Assess your needs while on vacation in France.
  2. Determine the value of how much you’re taking with you (e.g. your belongings, how much cash you’re carrying, etc.)
  3. Get a good idea of your health status.

These considerations will better help you determine what level of cover you’ll require: basic, mid-range or comprehensive cover.

Do I need travel insurance for France?

The real question is whether you can afford not to have travel insurance. Mishaps, injuries and accidents can happen anytime and anywhere. Travel insurance is designed to help protect you financially against the unexpected.

Answer this: could you afford hospital treatment in France if you broke your ankle riding around the Champs-Élysées? What about replacing everything that was in the suitcase you lost in transit from Paris to Marseilles? Could you afford to pay for another flight if your scheduled flight home was cancelled because of bad weather? If you’re unable to answer ‘yes’ to any of these questions with confidence, you could benefit from travel insurance.

View Of Aiguines Village And Renaissance-style Chateau Overlooking Lac de Sainte Croix Lake-Alpes de Haute Provence, France

What should you look out for in France?

Attacks on the populace

There have been multiple terrorist attacks in France since 2015 and, most recently, the country has seen an increasing number of demonstrations linked to the yellow vest movement. As a result, French authorities are on high alert for any suspicious activities, meaning you’re likely to encounter tight security around public places and at border points.

These increased measures can be a cause for relief, as you can travel the country safe in the knowledge that local authorities are extremely wary of security risks. As an additional comfort, travel insurance can cover your medical and emergency evacuation expenses.

We recommend you check the Smartraveller website when considering a trip anywhere, to ensure there are no active travel warnings in place for the country you plan on visiting.

Scams and thieves

Tourists getting hoodwinked is (sadly) a practise as old as time, which means you have to be very cautious when you’re visiting popular French cities (e.g. Paris, Marseilles, Nice). As you can imagine, popular tourist attractions and high-traffic public transport provide the perfect hunting grounds for petty criminals who are known to snatch bags and pickpocket when people are distracted.

Be sure to keep your money and your passport separated from one another, don’t carry all your cash in the one place, and maintain vigilance wherever you go.

Cycling and driving

If you’re planning on hitting the road in France, you’ll need a valid Australian driver’s licence and International Driving Permit (IDP).

Here are a few things to remember before you hop in the driver’s seat and hit the gas:

  • drive on the right-hand side of the road
  • be mindful of the parking rules. In some cases, you park on one side of the road on all the odd days of the week, and on the other for the even days of the week
  • pick a small car to rent, because space is at a premium in some towns.

But what about cycling, or driving a scooter around? It’s a great idea as it can help you experience the city like a local and reduce pollution at the same time. Just be mindful that your travel insurance may exclude certain activities (perhaps cycling) or deny claims if you disregard safety standards like if you ride without a helmet, for example. You need to check your Policy Disclosure Statement (PDS) prior to signing up for cover to make sure you know the terms and conditions of your coverage.

France is a gateway to so much more. Get covered for your travels to other countries.

What should my travel insurance policy for France include?

Typically, you’ll have the choice between single-trip and annual cover travel insurance. Single-trip policies cover one trip, and potentially layovers as well, until you return to your home in Australia.  An annual or multi-trip policy generally covers any number of overseas trips taken within a year, however, the policy will stipulate what the maximum trip length is for any one journey. The maximum trip length will vary – some policies could be as low as 15 days, some as high as 93 days. It’s important to ensure that your longest trip doesn’t exceed the policy’s stipulated maximum trip length.

Whichever type of travel insurance you choose, a comprehensive policy usually provides benefits for:

  • overseas medical and hospital expenses; be sure to collect any documentation regarding your treatment (hospital reports, notes from your doctor, etc.)
  • trip cancellation, amendment and delay costs
  • lost, damaged or stolen luggage and personal belongings, in which case you need to report the crime to local police and start gathering proof of ownership (e.g. receipts, photos of your items, etc.)
  • theft of cash
  • out-of-pocket expenses
  • hire car excess
  • some sports and activities
  • personal liability
  • permanent disability and loss of income
  • accidental death
  • dependents under 21
  • 24-7 emergency assistance.

Carefully read your policy’s Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) for limits of cover, policy terms, conditions and exclusions.

France travel insurance: Exclusions and what to watch out for

Travel insurance comes with a set of common exclusions you should be aware of before you decide to purchase any policy. Generally, travel insurance doesn’t cover:

  • travelling to countries or regions that have government-issued travel warnings (these are listed on Smartraveller)
  • negligence leading to loss or damage of personal belongings and valuables (i.e. forgetting your luggage outside your hotel)
  • trip cancellations due to change of mind or being unprepared (i.e. forgetting to renew your passport)
  • extreme or high-risk sports and activities, such as skiing (you may be able to cover these activities by purchasing additional specialised cover)
  • hire car excess if the accident was caused by not adhering to road rules or if the driver was under the influence of alcohol or drugs
  • claims arising from drug or alcohol
  • claims arising from unlawful activities
  • loss or injuries from unapproved pre-existing conditions or mental illness
  • acts of war, terrorism or civil unrest.

Top travel tips for France

1. Register your trip with the Australian government

Even if you’ve taken out travel insurance, you can always benefit from extra protection. Register your trip with Smartraveller, so that the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade can keep track of you in France and contact you or your family in case of emergency. Registering your travel is especially important due to ongoing terrorist threats in Europe.

The Australian government provides free advice, alerts and up-to-date information on over 170 countries to help keep Aussies safe overseas. Remember, however, that registering with Smartraveller doesn’t guarantee you consular assistance if you break the law, or you get into trouble abroad.

2. Familiarise yourself with local laws and customs

Remember that you’ll be subject to local laws and penalties as soon as you set foot in France, even as an Australian citizen. So, it may be worth doing your research on what these are before you depart.

For example, concealing your face in public places in France is illegal. It’s also illegal to take photos of police officers or police vehicles, even partially or in the background. You should also know that it’s required by law that you prove your identity when asked by authorities by providing valid documents. Otherwise, police can keep you for up to four hours at a police station until they can verify your identity. As a foreign national, you may also be asked to prove you’re in France legally.[1]

3. Check your passport and visa requirements

If you’re travelling to France as an Australian citizen, you should make sure your passport is valid for at least three months after the period of your intended stay.

Australians don’t need a visa to enter France for visits of up to 90 days (unless travelling for reasons other than tourism), because Australia has a bilateral visa waiver agreement with not only France but also several other countries in the Schengen area. The Schengen area consists of 26 European countries, allowing visitors to travel through these certain countries without requiring a visa for every country or going through border controls.

4. Learn some basic French

Most people in France will speak English, so you shouldn’t have a problem communicating or finding your way around. However, locals appreciate it when visitors at least try to speak the native language. Learning a few basic French words and phrases could go a long way when ordering your morning coffee – this could even make you new friends on your travels.

Compare travel insurance

Looking for travel insurance to help protect you on your French adventure? Use our free comparison tool to compare a range of comprehensive and basic policy options based on your preferred level of cover, policy benefits and excess payable if you claim, to find a travel cover that fits your needs and budget. Best of all, it only takes minutes to find great value. Bon voyage!

Sources

Australian Government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade – France (2019).

Gov.uk – Foreign travel advice France (2019).

Australian Government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade – Europe entry requirements: Schengen area (2019).

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