Every year, millions of holidaymakers from the UK head to Spain for its combination of glistening beaches, unique culture and Mediterranean cuisine.
If you’re planning a trip, get up to speed on what you should consider when buying travel insurance for Spain.
The currency for Spain is the euro, which is one of many currencies available with the Post Office Travel Money Card.
Healthcare for Brits in Spain
Healthcare arrangements for UK travellers visiting EU countries like Spain have changed as of 1 January 2021.
If you're a UK citizen travelling in an EU country, you can apply for a UK Global Health Insurance Card (Ghic) that will provide access to emergency and necessary state healthcare while you're there for free or at a reduced cost. If you have an existing Ehic, its predecessor, that is still in date, you can use that for the same. Find out about the changes here.
Remember, Ehic and Ghic don't cover everything. For instance, repatriation and airlift rescues aren't included. So you should buy travel insurance with medical cover to ensure comprehensive protection too.
Like the UK, Spain has both public and private healthcare systems, sometimes operating out of the same clinics or hospitals.
If you need to access healthcare, it may be worth insisting you are treated at a public health centre or hospital. Travel insurance may cover you for private healthcare, but it’s worth checking your policy before you depart to be aware of your options in case something goes wrong.
The Spanish word for the accident and emergency department is “urgencias”. The emergency phone number is 112 or 061 for an ambulance.
Some regions of Spain are remote and ambulances might take some time to get you to the nearest public hospital. If you are staying somewhere remote, it’s a good idea to check where the nearest health centres are and whether they are private or public before you leave. This is particularly important if you have pre-existing medical conditions.
Travel risks in Spain
The most common travel risk faced by holidaymakers in Spain is theft. This can come in many forms, such as pickpocketing or things going missing from hotel rooms. The Foreign and Commonwealth and Development Office advises that thieves are likely to go for money and passports, so ensure that these are well protected.
That doesn’t mean to say that the rest of your belongings are safe. Gadgets, especially smartphones, are always targets for thieves, so stay alert and don’t advertise your belongings.
Thieves may work in gangs and use distraction techniques to rob you, such as asking for directions with a map. While no one wants to be antisocial on holiday, always be on your guard against people who appear suddenly and are over-familiar.
There are instances of thieves playing a longer game in order to scam or rob people, perhaps even offering to take you out for drinks. Again, always be mindful of a person’s motivations and keep your belongings on you at all times.
Dangers of drinking excessively in Spain
Lots of us enjoy a tipple whilst on holiday, but there are dangers of taking it to excess aside from obvious health concerns.
Having an accident while intoxicated or requiring medical care as a result of drinking alcohol may impact your travel insurance cover. Read your policy documents carefully to understand the risks.
There are risks that don’t mix with alcohol regardless of how much you’ve had. Clearly, driving a car or riding a moped should be avoided. Spain’s drink driving limit is much lower than the UK’s – 0.5 milligrams of alcohol per litre of blood versus our 0.8 – so it may be safer not to drink and drive at all. This is even stricter for new drivers, where the limit is 0.1.
The FCDO have a section on their Spain travel advice page about the risk of balcony falls which are often alcohol-related.
Drinking alcohol during the day in the heat of Spain can dramatically increase the risk of dehydration. Try to stay shaded and, even if you don’t feel like it, drink a lot of water.
Follow the advice above and always be aware of people approaching you suddenly or touching you, even if it is lightly.
There are areas particularly notorious for pickpocketing, like La Rambla and Sagrada Familia, however it’s important to be on your guard everywhere.
You should exercise the same caution in all major cities, including Madrid, Seville, Bilbao, Granada and Alicante.
Popular activities in Spain – are they covered?
Most of what you will want to do in Spain won’t be considered an ‘activity’ from an insurer’s perspective – such as walking around, eating out, seeing the culture and sunbathing.
But remember that your insurance might not cover you for a range of beach, water and adventure activities, so check your policy before you leave and take a copy of your policy documents with you in case you want to check if you can do something on a whim.
Things that you might not be covered for include pony-trekking, surfing, banana boating, quad biking, renting scooters or mopeds (unless certain safety precautions are observed), scuba diving while not part of an organised group and more.
Taking part in organised activities with licensed groups will be safer and more likely to be covered, but always make sure you’ve checked your policy beforehand.
Always have travel insurance
Being safe and aware of danger isn’t always enough to prevent something undesirable happening to you while you’re away. There are many ways you could simply be unlucky while away.
While you can’t completely guard against all eventualities, you can make sure that you’ve got adequate travel insurance.
Does Lanzarote come under Spain for travel insurance?
The Canary Islands are part of Spain, which in turn is part of Europe, so you’ll usually find travel insurers class islands like Lanzarote as part of Europe in their policies. That’s certainly how we do it with Post Office Travel Insurance – but you should always check the policy to be sure, whoever the provider. Read more about travel insurance to the Canary Islands.
Does Majorca come under Spain for travel insurance?
Majorca (or Mallorca) as well as Menorca, Ibiza and the other Balearic Islands, are part of Spain and so insurers treat them that way when offering their policies and providing a quote for cover. Usually, that means including Spain as part of cover for Europe as a whole. Post Office Travel Insurance counts the Balearics, Canaries and other Spanish islands as part of Spain. It’s important to always check the policy wording to be sure the destination you’re travelling to will be covered, though.