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A Guide to Lapland in Winter: Travel Insurance

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Travel insurance is one of those things that people know is important…yet somehow it nearly always ends up at the bottom of the to-do list. However, it’s very important to make sure you move it up your list when heading to Lapland because the process may take longer than you expect.

Travel Insurance

Before You Start

Before applying for any insurance policy, you should find out if your country has reciprocal health care agreements with the country (or countries) you’re going to. These agreements, like the one Australia has with Sweden and Norway, will not cover all medical expenses but could take enough of a chunk out of them that you feel travel insurance is unnecessary. Just make sure you bring your national healthcare card with you!

All EU citizens that carry a European Healthcare Card are eligible for healthcare — however, you have to make sure you apply for this card before leaving your home country.

Region Cover

Abiskoeatnu Canyon in Abisko National Park

Many insurance companies feel that places like this are just too risky to insure.

The most important thing when you apply for travel insurance is knowing whether Lapland is covered. Because much of Lapland is above the Arctic Circle, many companies exclude it as being too high-risk. World Nomads, for instance, will only cover you if you are doing day trips to the Arctic, and even then, you have to buy the highest level of adventure cover in addition to normal cover. More than likely, this means you’ll need to look elsewhere.

At this point it may seem simpler to just go without, but you really should have some form of cover. Even if you don’t plan to do anything classed as an “adventure” activity — dogsledding, snowmobiling, et al — just walking could result in a hefty medical bill if you’re not used to winter conditions. One slip on the ice could have major repercussions.


Snowmobiling on the Gulf of Bothnia

Snowmobiling is one of the riskier activities you can do in Lapland.

Once you’ve found insurance that will cover the right region, you need to verify that most of the activities you’re doing will be covered. It’s possible that some small trips, like hovercrafting in the Luleå archipelago, will not be covered by any insurance, but if major activities like snowmobiling aren’t covered, you should probably keep looking. Activity providers will make you sign a liability form, so if you run into a tree and have to be airlifted 100km to the nearest airport followed by a long hospital stay, you won’t get any money out of them.

Pre-Existing Conditions

Knee MRI

If you’ve ever had one of these scans done, it may count as a pre-existing condition.

As with travel insurance policies for anywhere in the world, you should find out what constitutes a pre-existing condition. Many people think this would only include conditions that are currently affecting them, but that’s not how insurers see it. Take the case of a broken leg from 12 months prior to the start of a trip — one that that doctors considered to be fully healed. That’s still a preexisting condition. If you had that injury and were evacuated from a ski slope only to be told by a doctor that your injury was related to the old one, you would not be covered.

Obviously it’s impossible (as well as not financially feasible) to try to cover every old injury or illness, but it is worth assessing whether there is anything that could cause you trouble. If so, certain travel insurance providers will allow you to fill out a medical assessment online and pay an extra premium to have those conditions covered.


Round the World Travel Gear, version 1.0

The climate and environment in Lapland may also cause problems for things other than your health — particularly, your electronics. Most digital cameras — even high end SLRs — are only rated down to 0°C. As mentioned in the weather section, it’s rare that you will experience temperatures warmer than this, so there is a higher chance than normal that your gear will malfunction.

There is plenty more information in the cameras section of this guide about how to deal with camera issues, but if you do have any problems, you’ll want insurance that will pay for repairs. Most policies will only cover electronics up to a certain threshold, which will be detailed in the policy’s PDS (product disclosure statement). If you want a camera of higher value to be insured, you will have to declare it and pay extra.

It’s also worth looking into your home contents insurance. If they cover items outside of the home (and in foreign countries) you may not have to add them again to your travel insurance.

Fingers Crossed

Whatever insurance you end up buying will not be fail-safe and there will almost certainly be gotchas that take you by surprise. Taking the above factors into account when you initially buy the policy will hopefully limit these problems and give you some peace of mind as well.

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