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InsuranceHealth insuranceIllness or injury abroad: the 3 key questions for travellers

Illness or injury abroad: the 3 key questions for travellers


You should have adequate insurance in case something happens while you are on holiday.

If you are sick or injured while on holiday abroad and need to see a doctor, there are a few things to keep in mind with regard to insurance. provides the answers to the three most important questions about illness and injury abroad.

It was supposed to be the best time of the year – but then you end up spending the few weeks you have sick in your hotel room or, even worse, in hospital. There are a few things travellers should consider to make sure their treatment will actually help them get better and won't cause trouble with their health insurance afterwards.

When does basic insurance cover sickness abroad?

Under mandatory basic insurance, health insurance only pays out in the case of a medical emergency. According to the Health Insurance Ordinance, an emergency arises “when an insured person on a temporary stay abroad requires medical treatment and a return to Switzerland is not appropriate”.

It is difficult to judge when an illness falls under this definition. This is why we strongly advise you to contact your health insurer and ask first. It is also recommended that you take your insurance card with you. Usually this counts as a European health insurance card. In EU and EFTA countries, medical services payments can thus be settled directly with your health insurance provider and do not have to be paid for in cash. 

How much does health insurance cover?

If you fall ill while abroad, mandatory health insurance pays a maximum of double the costs that would arise for the same treatment in Switzerland. As in Switzerland, the insured person must pay the deductible (300 to 2500 francs per year) and coinsurance (10 per cent of every claim up to a maximum of 700 francs per year) out of pocket.

For travel in countries with high health costs, for example Australia, Japan, Canada or the USA, it may be worth taking out supplemental insurance.

Usually, basic health insurance does not cover the cost of transportation back to Switzerland (repatriation). Emergency transportation to the next hospital abroad is only reimbursed at 50 per cent (no more than 500 francs per year).

A good supplemental insurance covers the full cost of repatriation. In addition, it will pay a larger share than basic insurance in case of an emergency transport or transfer transport. Coverage usually also includes search and rescue missions up to a certain amount.

Our tip: If required, buy adequate supplemental insurance or separate holiday and travel insurance.

Who pays in the event of an accident abroad?

If you have an accident abroad, the arising costs are covered by your accident insurance. Accident insurance is mandatory in Switzerland. Everyone working for the same employer at least eight hours a week is insured through this employer.

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