Italy is one of the world’s most popular destinations for travellers. From the hills of Tuscany to the historic sites of Rome, the cosmopolitan fashion of Milan and the unrivalled beauty of the Amalfi Coast, every region of this fascinating country is packed with uniquely memorable holiday experiences.
Before you depart Australia for Italy however, consider taking out comprehensive travel insurance.
Do I really need travel insurance?
While the Australian Government has a reciprocal health care system in place with Italy, it does have its limitations.
In addition to dealing with a foreign medical system, there are also plenty of other general travel risks you may contend with while travelling in Italy:
Luggage can be lost or stolen
Thieves can make off with your cash
Flights can be delayed
Rental cars can be crashed and
Unforeseen circumstances can force you to cancel your trip
It also makes excellent financial sense to take out travel insurance cover to protect yourself against the specific safety concerns of traveling in Italy.
How do I get travel insurance for Italy?
The best way to get travel insurance is to compare policies online and nominate the appropriate region when you apply. Italy is typically considered part of the Worldwide region, or under the European region
Simply enter your trip details below to get travel insurance deals to Italy
Why the reciprocal health care agreement is not enough (and why travel insurance is essential)
The reciprocal health care agreement between Australia and Italy entitles Australian travellers to subsidised health care while in Italy, providing similar support to what the Medicare system provides in Australia. However, there are several limitations to this agreement.
Maximum of 6 months of cover. The agreement only entitles you to subsidised health care for a period of up to six months from the date you arrive in Italy. If you fall seriously ill at the end of a 10-week holiday and are hospitalised for several months, the cover you receive under the agreement will end and you’ll have to dig into your own pocket to cover expenses
Public system. The agreement only entitles you to treatment in the public system, not in private hospitals, so the standard of care is not the highest. While nurses in Australia will change your bed linen and make sure you are fed, in Italy these duties usually fall to your family members
Take out travel insurance
With this in mind, despite the protection offered by the agreement it still makes sense to take out travel insurance cover anyway. Not only can it provide a higher level of cover for your medical expenses but it can also provide protection against a range of other travel risks.
Seven Italian travel risks you should know about
Petty crime. Petty crime. Pickpocketing, bag snatching, theft from cars and theft of passports are all common risks in some of Italy’s heavily populated cities, including Rome and Naples. Reports state that roughly 65% of crimes reported by travellers to Italy are stolen passports, followed by pick pocketing at 13% of all crimes. If you’re in a major city, visiting one of Italy’s many tourist hotspots or at an airport or train station, be wary of your personal space and of where your valuables are at all times
Theft on trains. If you’re riding on the public transport network in Italy, especially to Fiumicino airport in Rome, watch out for thieves who attempt to distract you while their associates make off with your valuables
Credit card skimming. Credit card and ATM fraud are common risks travellers to Italy face. Only use ATMs in secure locations and keep an eye out for any devices that may be used to steal your credit card data. It’s also a good idea to monitor your account for any suspicious transactions
Counterfeit currency. Carefully examine any notes you receive to make sure you have not been given counterfeit European currency. There have been reports of counterfeit capital in circulation near the Naples
Spiked drinks. A large number of tourists have reported having their food or drinks ‘spiked’ and then being robbed, particularly around train stations and popular tourist areas of Rome, Florence and Naples
Robberies. Cars stopped at traffic lights, stop signs and service stations are common targets for thieves in Italy Keep the doors locked at all times and never leave valuables unattended in your vehicle
Industrial action. Strikes and public demonstrations occur quite commonly in Italy and can disrupt public transport, close buildings and roads, and also shut down tourist sites
If you encounter any of the above risks on your holiday in Italy, in many cases your travel insurance policy will be able to financially protect you from their effects, provided that you take reasonable care to avoid these risks.
Diane's Italian Nightmare
Diane has just landed in Rome after flying in from Sydney. After a quick meal at a bar within walking distance of the Colosseum, Diane heads out onto the street with all her luggage in tow for the short walk to her hotel. But Diane is set upon by thieves in a dark area of the street and has her handbag and suitcase stolen, while she is knocked to the ground and suffers a broken arm.
While Diane’s holiday has taken a particularly nasty turn, the good news is that she has comprehensive travel insurance in place. Her policy covers all the costs incurred for the treatment of her broken arm, plus it also offers the financial support she needs to replace her luggage, all her clothing, her credit cards, passport and travel documents.
Would I have been covered for the recent heat wave?
The July 2015 heat wave
North-western Italy was struck by a fierce heat wave that saw the first ten days of July reach temperatures in the high thirties. Tragically, the intense weather conditions led to the deaths of hundreds of pensioners, while it also caused significant disruptions and delays to the rail transport network.
You are covered, but under certain conditions
Most insurers would typically provide cover you if your travel plans were delayed or re-scheduled due to a heat wave - provided that there was no warning of the extreme weather approaching before you booked your trip.
Check your policy
If there had been warnings in the mass media about the heat wave and you ignored those warnings and decided to continue with your holiday, your insurer may not provide any cover. Check the list of general exclusions on your policy to determine when you will and when you won’t be covered.
Five extreme activities that you should consider adding as extras for Italy
For many travellers, the best way to explore all of Italy’s unique and beautiful holiday experiences is to embrace your inner adventurous spirit. Popular extreme activities in Italy include:
Hiking or trekking, mountain biking. Italy's Cinque Terre park is famous for such high altitude activities
Parasailing or water skiing. Parasailing and water skiing are exhilarating but dangerous activities you can find on the Amalfi Coast
Rock climbing. The Dolomites of the Italian/Austrian border offers some of the most challenging rock climbing activities in the world
Horseback riding. Riding a horse through the spectacular Italian countryside is considered by many an essential experience, but one that comes with many risks
Motorcycle riding. For some, the only way to get around the country is to use the quintessential Italian method of transport – the motorcycle
Check if it is automatically covered
It always pays to check the fine print on your travel insurance policy before participating in any of these activities. While some policies will include certain adventure sports as standard, others such as skiing will require you to add optional adventure sports cover to your policy for an extra fee.
For motorcycle cover, you will need an Australian license
If you want to ride a motorbike or scooter, make sure you satisfy any policy conditions that enable you to qualify for cover. These usually include wearing a helmet and making sure you hold a valid licence to ride a motorbike in Italy and/or back home in Australia.
I'm planning to travel around Europe after – can I get cover?
European travel insurance cover
You may want to travel to the surrounding countries of Italy. Although you should check your travel insurance policy, European countries covered by travel insurance include:
the Balearic islands (Ibiza, Majorca, Minorca)
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Canary islands (Tenerife, Fuerteventura, El Hierro, La Gomera, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote, La Palma)
Republic of Ireland
Republic of Montenegro
Check official government warnings
The Department of Foreign affairs currently suggests that travellers exercise a high degree of caution if travelling to Kosovo, Russia, Turkey and Ukraine. Make sure you stay up to date to changes to the status of these countries as well the rest of Europe.
If something goes wrong, how I do I get cover in Italy?
Notify your insurer
If an event occurs that may lead to a claim, it’s important that you notify your insurer about what has happened as soon as possible. You will then usually need to fill out a claim form to provide full details of the event that led to your claim, and in most cases this will need to be completed no later than 30 days after your return to Australia.
Keep a hold of your documentation
When you submit your claim form you will have to attach supporting documentation, which may include:
Police reports. If you’re the victim of theft, report it to the local police immediately and obtain a written copy of the report.
Medical reports. You may need to provide evidence to support your claim for the cost of outpatient treatment.
Receipts. You’ll need to provide evidence of the additional meals, accommodation and travel expenses you have incurred in certain circumstances.
Proof of ownership. Your insurer may request evidence to prove your ownership of items you claim have been stolen.
The Italian hospital system
If you’re hospitalised in Italy, you’ll be happy to hear that the standard of health care is high. While private doctors and specialists require up-front payment for treatment, private hospitals will usually require a substantial deposit (or evidence that you have sufficient medical coverage in place thanks to your travel insurance policy) before commencing treatment. Always contact your insurer as their medical team can often deal with the hospital in emergency cases to help you get the appropriate treatment.
What are the specific entry requirements or rules for Italy?
Visa for stays longer than 90 days. Travellers who wish to stay for longer than 90 days will require a visa.
Italy is one of 26 European countries that is party to the Schengen Convention, which means that Australian travellers will not need a visa if they stay less than 90 days
Entry stamp from initial point of entry. Schengen Convention countries have abolished passport and border controls at their common borders but it is essential that you get a clearly legible entry stamp on your passport when you enter the Schengen Area for the first time
Permit to stay. If you stay in commercial accommodation in Italy, under anti-terrorism laws your accommodation provider must provide the Italian authorities with your personal details. If you’re not staying in commercial accommodation while in Italy you may need to apply for a ‘permit to stay’
Declare large amounts off cash. Finally, make sure your passport has at least six remaining months of validity from your planned return date to Australia, and remember to declare to customs officials if you are carrying more than 10,000 Euros into Italy
When is the best* time to travel to Italy?
There are fantastic travel experiences to be had in Italy all year round.
July - September
Peak season and attractions are filled with tourists.
Just before July
Travelling just before or after this period will allow you to enjoy the same perfect weather combined with cheaper prices and crowds.
October and November
Most rainfall occurs during this time but Italy is still a beautiful site to see.
Organising my money for Italy
What currency do I need?
The currency in Italy is the Euro, which can make organising your finances much easier if you’re also travelling elsewhere in the European Union.
Beware of fees
You should always be wary of ATM withdrawal fees, foreign transaction fees and currency conversion fees. Look for a credit card that features minimal or even zero charges for overseas transaction - high-end credit cards may also come with some form of travel insurance.
Remain alert when withdrawing
When you withdraw money in Italy, make sure to exercise all the usual safety precautions you would in Australia. Keep an eye out for skimming devices, protect your PIN, don’t flash your money around in public places and avoid carrying large sums whenever possible.
Learn the language. Just like the French, Italians love it when you make an effort to learn their local language. A little bit of effort can go a long way to winning you new friends and improving your holiday experience
Siesta. Some shops and restaurants in Italy will still shut for a siesta from 2-4pm
Dress appropriately when you visit a church. Make sure to cover up and don’t bare too much flesh when visiting any place of worship
Theft risk. Pickpocketing, muggings and theft from cars are all common, so keep a close eye on your surroundings at all times
Scams. Common scams used to swindle travellers in Italy include the fake car crash, overcharging for entry to attractions, dodgy taxi drivers and fake fashion salespeople
While a holiday in Italy is not without its risks, this is one of the world’s great countries and certainly worth visiting. Just make sure you have adequate travel insurance in place before you leave home for your Italian adventure.
Who do I contact in an emergency?
If you need emergency assistance while you’re overseas, phone your insurance provider’s 24-hour hotline for advice on finding a medical practitioner, replacing stolen credit cards and much more. Alternatively, your friends and family or even your travel agent may be able to provide the support you need.
If you need help from the Italian police, ambulance or fire emergency services, the national emergency number in Italy is 113.
Embassy contacts for Australian travellers are below:
General benefits and exclusions of travel insurance
Although cover varies depending on the insurer and the policy, comprehensive travel insurance typically covers:
Overseas emergency medical and hospital expenses
Cancellation fees and lost deposits when unforeseen circumstances force you to cancel your trip
Lost or stolen luggage and travel documents
Luggage delay and travel delay
Personal liability expenses when you cause injury or property damage to someone else
Theft of cash from your person
The rental vehicle insurance excess when your rental car is stolen or damaged.
However, there are a range of circumstances when you will not receive any cover, such as:
If you leave your luggage unattended in a public place.
If you ignore a warning from the Australian government or in the mass media about travelling to a certain destination.
If it arises from a pre-existing medical condition.
If you fail to take reasonable steps to prevent yourself suffering a loss.
If you’re planning to travel to Italy, make sure to take out an adequate level of travel insurance cover before you go. This will give you the protection and peace of mind you need when you set out on the trip of a lifetime.
Five steps to selecting travel insurance for Italy
When selecting the level of travel insurance for Italy, there are five questions to ask yourself:
Where are you going? Consider which part of Italy you are going e.g. There may be a higher rate of theft in one city than another
How long are you going for. Decide on single trip or annual multi-trip cover
What will you do there? Get extra cover if you will be undertaking risky activities such as rock climbing
Are you taking valuable items? Consider extra cover electronics or expensive equipment
Do you have any medical conditions? Make you declare any pre-existing medical conditions and pay the necessary premium's
*The use of terms 'Best' and 'Top' are not product ratings and are subject to our disclaimer. You should consider seeking independent financial advice and consider your own personal financial circumstances when comparing travel insurance policies. Picture: Shutterstock
Jessica Prasida is a graduate publisher for travel insurance at Finder. She has a Bachelor of Business and four years of experience in the travel industry, where she learned about the importance of travel insurance. Jess is currently studying a Masters of Marketing at the University of Technology in Sydney. In her spare time, she eats, and travels the world.
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