Getting travel health insurance should be one of the first things anyone does as soon as they book a trip abroad. A good travel insurance policy can give you financial protection in case you need to cancel the trip and cover your medical bills if you have a medical emergency abroad.

This is why a lot of countries have added travel health insurance as part of their visa requirements. But if we travel to a place where visas are not required, travel insurance is usually optional – so many of us tend to overlook it.

If you want to travel to one of the countries listed below, chances are you won’t have a choice except to get travel insurance – and maybe that’s a good thing.

Here is the complete list of countries that you cannot enter without travel insurance:

All Schengen Countries

Anyone who applies for a Schengen Visa has to submit proof that they have obtained travel health insurance for the entire duration of their stay. The insurance must be at least €30,000 and valid in all Schengen countries (listed below).

Travellers who do not normally need a short-stay visa for Schengen may not be required to purchase travel insurance but that doesn’t mean it’s not a good idea to do it anyway!

Citizens of EU countries can get by with their EHIC (European Health Insurance Card) as well.

Cuba

Cuba’s vibrancy, sandy beaches, tropical climate and the beautiful colonial architecture make it a popular tourist destination. However, before you can hop on a plane, or apply for a Cuban visa you will very likely have to make sure you’re equipped with adequate travel health insurance (covering sudden illness, accidents, and repatriation). Travel insurance is a requirement regardless of what type of visa you apply for.

You have to get travel insurance even if you don’t need a visa for Cuba at all.

Ecuador

Ecuador, named after the Equator line which runs across the country*, will also not let you in if you don’t have Ecuador travel health insurance. You must get health insurance (either private or public) which will cover the duration of your stay in Ecuador. This applies to tourist visas as well as temporary and permanent resident visas.

*The have actually drawn a line across the ground, marking the two sides of the Equador, and you can stand with one leg on the Northern Hemisphere and one leg on the Southern one. It’s pretty cool.

Iran

All foreign travellers who enter Iran must have adequate travel insurance. This applies to those travelling via an Iran visa obtained at an Embassy or an Iran Visa on Arrival. If someone does not have travel insurance, many travellers have reported they had to buy it at the airport, at the office for issuing travel insurance for foreign nationals.

Turkey

Another place where you won’t be able to visit without a comprehensive travel insurance policy if Turkey. Visa-required visitors under the age of 65 are required to have travel insurance with minimal coverage of €30,000 for the Turkish territory.

Health insurance is also obligatory for foreigners who want to get a Turkish residence permit, except retirees over the age of 65.

If you are from an EU country, you don’t have to apply for a Turkish visa, but you still need travel insurance since your EHIC is not functional in Turkey.

Morocco

Morocco receives millions of visitors every year, who come to visit the popular attractions like the Marrakech Medina, Casablanca, Rabat’s picturesque Oudaias Kasbah neighbourhood, and its countless breathtaking mosques.

Anyone who travels to Morocco or applies for a Moroccan visa is advised to obtain travel insurance. However, not every Moroccan representative office will ask you to submit proof of travel health insurance for Morocco along with the visa application… but they might.

Thailand

Thailand is one of the most visited countries in the world, due to the diverse attractions, starting from the countless temples and ancient ruins to the canals and vibrant, floating water markets to the sandy tropical beaches and modern cityscapes.

Although it’s not technically a Thailand visa requirement, the Thai government has been discussing making travel health insurance an entry requirement for a few years now. The reason behind that is the large amounts of unpaid hospital bills left from the travellers.

Bottom line is, you may be required to present travel health insurance if you apply for a Thai visa or when you enter.

The UAE

If you’re travelling to Dubai or another city in the United Arab Emirates, you have to present proof that you have obtained travel health insurance. This is a requirement for all foreign visitors, regardless of whether they need a UAE visa or not.

Antarctica

Okay, Antarctica may not technically be a country, but it is a relatively dangerous place to visit. One which you can only visit as part of a cruise.

That’s not to say you’ll be facing death if you’re on a cruise to Antarctica, but since it is prone to harsh weather conditions, you will have to be equipped with a good travel insurance policy before you embark.

Do I Need Travel Insurance to Enter the USA?

The USA does not necessarily require foreign visitors to obtain travel health insurance before they’re allowed to enter, however, it is highly recommended. The US is known for having very high healthcare costs, where a simple ER visit can reach thousands of dollars. If you need hospitalization or more extensive treatment, the bills that can reach tens, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars. If you do not have health insurance, you will have to cover all of the expenses yourself. This is why US travel health insurance is a must for all visitors, no matter how short the visit is.

See where to find US travel health insurance.

What’s the Point of Travel Insurance?

Travel insurance is a type of protection for your trip. It ensures that you will receive compensation for any unplanned for expenses due to medical emergencies abroad, loss of personal items while travelling, for missed or delayed flights, or in case you have to cancel your trip.

So, if you get into an accident or become ill while you’re in a foreign country and have to get medical assistance, then your travel insurance will cover the cost of your medical bills.

If you have to cancel your trip for some reason, then your travel insurance makes sure you don’t lose all your money. They will reimburse you part of your pre-paid expenses, such as accommodation and flight.

If you lose your luggage or it gets stolen during your travels, then your travel insurance will reimburse you for the cost of lost items.

You can get even more coverage, such as repatriation or emergency evacuation, where your insurers cover the costs of you having to evacuate a foreign country.

Some countries demand that you have travel insurance so that you can pay for your medical expenses. In some cases, healthcare is really expensive, and tourists leaving without paying their medical bills can put a strain on the hospitals.

What Should a Good Travel Insurance Policy Include?

A good travel insurance policy should cover any medical emergencies which may happen abroad, as well as protect you against financial loss. You can customize it according to your needs, but a basic policy must always have the following features:

  • Medical emergencies coverage
  • Trip disruption (cancellation, delay) coverage
  • Coverage for loss of personal belongings
  • Coverage for emergency evacuation or repatriation

Guide to Choosing the Best Travel Insurance Policy

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