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
If you have a valid EHIC, then state healthcare in Spain is normally free. 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, insist you are treated at a public health centre or hospital if you want your EHIC to cover the costs.
Travel insurance may cover you for private healthcare, so it is 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”, and 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.
Remember that medical repatriation to the UK is not covered by EHIC, so good travel insurance is a necessity.
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 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.
Drinking to the point at which you are out of control is likely to invalidate your policy. Any harm you come to as a result of being drunk may mean that you’re no longer covered. Some insurers will even have a specific blood/alcohol limit.
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 FCO 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.
Barcelona – one of the most popular destinations in Spain – is famous for its population of pickpockets. 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.
Many tourists visit Spain specifically for beach resorts and holidays. While these are generally safe, it’s always good to be on your guard and follow the advice in our guide.
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. Combined with a valid EHIC, this can give you protection in the event that things don’t quite go as planned.