Safety and Travel Insurance Advice for Visitors to Austria
Austria evokes decadent pastries, evenings at the opera, and twirling among green hills like The Sound of Music. It’s perfectly positioned for visitors keen to experience European life. And it’s a beautiful country, with superb health care. But that doesn’t mean there is nothing for travelers to be concerned about. Here’s what you need to know about safety and Austrian travel insurance for visitors to Austria.
Health Concerns for Foreigners in Austria
Tick-borne illnesses are a serious problem in some regions of Austria. Long sleeve shirts and trousers offer hikers sun and mosquito protection. They are also a reassuring barrier against encephalitis and Lyme disease-carrying ticks.
Pharmacists can advise hikers about the presence of tick-borne encephalitis in the region. And pharmacies are also a convenient spot to buy tick removal kits. You’ll want one by your side should you go hiking and inadvertently pick up a new friend.
Pharmacies are called Apotheke in Austria and they are widely available, even in small towns. But while many countries use the terms “pharmacy” and “drugstore” interchangeably, this isn’t the case in Austria. Drugstores, called Drogeries, sell toiletries.
Vaccine Recommendations for Visitors to Austria
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends routine, up to date vaccines for all travelers. This includes diphtheria, tetanus, measles, mumps, rubella, polio, and hepatitis B. A vaccination for tick-borne encephalitis is also highly advisable for hiking in Austria.
General Safety Information
If you’re planning hiking or ski holidays, Austria is where you want to be. But hiking and skiing in Austria is no joke. Always follow best practices for safe trekking and safe mountain sports. This includes telling someone when to expect your return and remembering to pack in water, food, a change of clothing, and a small first aid kit (with tick-removal tools).
Reported incidents of hate speech are on the rise in Austria. However, at least part of this increase can be attributed to stronger efforts to make prosecution of these crimes uniform across all Austrian provinces. Austrian law prohibits both hate speech and attempts to revive Nazism, which is a growing concern online. Support for the far-right political party, FPO, has increased as Austria has experienced higher levels of refugee applications. However, in general, Austria is a very safe country. Incidents of serious crime are very low and it remains a beloved travel destination.
Short-Term Travelers Need To Think About Their Coverage
For travelers without insurance coverage, a routine doctor’s visit can start at about $100. Meanwhile a more complicated and urgent situation – such as a mountain rescue for a serious skiing injury – can be catastrophically expensive. You don’t want to be stuck without travel insurance.
Best Travel Insurance for Visitors to Austria
- COVID-19 coverage outside your home country.
- You choose between the basic and more extensive coverage.
- Meets Schengen visa insurance requirements.
- 24/7 worldwide travel and emergency medical assistance.
- Comprehensive trip protection for U.S. residents traveling abroad.
- Optional rental car collision coverage available.
- Optional Cancel for Any Reason coverage available (if eligible).
- Trip protection for non-U.S. residents traveling up to 30 days.
- $100,000 personal liability benefit.
- 24/7 multilingual travel assistance.
Who to Call in Case of Emergency
The nationwide number for emergency medical services in Austria is 144. This number can be called toll-free from any phone (fixed-line, mobile or phone booth). This also applies to all the other emergency and most of the non-emergency numbers mentioned below. For the Fire Department, call 122. Dispatchers speak German and at least an intermediate level of English with a focus on medical issues.
Understanding Austria’s Health Care System
Austria has a two-tier health care system. Under this system, virtually all Austrian citizens (over 99%) enjoy a high standard of publicly funded health care. Austrians can also purchase private supplemental insurance. This supplemental insurance is sometimes called “comfort class”. It includes flexible, comfortable, and private care options. International citizens living in Austria can also purchase a global health plan to cover them worldwide.
All employed people (and their spouses and children) are enrolled in the public health care system. Job security for workers on short-term medical leave and longer periods of disability are included. Seniors, students, and those receiving unemployment benefits are also covered.
Expatriate Health Cover in Austria
Employed expats must pay into the public health care system just like Austrian citizens. As the healthcare system is part of the social security network, there is the option to pay into accident insurance and pension insurance. It’s important to consider your choices in advance. Expats must register with their district health insurance fund (known as a Gebietskrankenkasse) within one week of starting employment. Happily, payments to the Gebietskrankenkasse are matched by employers, so there’s a bit of compensation for all your hard work. This is just one of the many reasons why expats adore Austria. A whopping 82% report being satisfied with the quality of healthcare.
If you would prefer Global Health Insurance, Learn About Expatriate Health Insurance Plans
Expats who are self-employed have to do some additional paperwork as they don’t have an employer or state agency acting on their behalf. Fortunately, the cost of health care coverage is based on income, with no consideration of health risk factors. Therefore, it represents good value even to expats with modest revenue.
Best International Insurance for Expats in Austria
- The flexibility to tailor a plan to suit your individual needs
- Access to Cigna Global’s network of trusted hospitals, clinics, and doctors
- The convenience and confidence of 24/7/365 customer service
Care in Austria is Always Improving
Since the recession of 2008, public health investments are slowly rebounding. There are occasional political tensions regarding funding and responsibilities as health care in Austria is a joint venture between federal, provincial, and municipal actors, Reforms in 2013 focused on improving quality of care. Those enrolled in the public health care system are issued an “e-card”, which allows for the digital processing of health care claims, a streamlined improvement over the previous voucher-based system.
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