Find out which insurances are mandatory in Spain, and what extra coverage you need to protect your lifestyle and family while living in Spain.
Knowing which insurances are mandatory in Spain and tackling the paperwork to get Spanish insurance can be a challenge for newcomers. The article below provides an introduction to insurance in Spain for expats, including information about what the law requires and what you might need in addition to the mandatory Spanish insurances. Protect yourself and your loved ones by getting your Spanish insurances sorted out before an emergency or accident happens.
Which insurance in Spain is legally required?
- Car insurance: Like elsewhere, it is mandatory that cars and some other vehicles have insurance.
- Health insurance: it is not mandatory as free healthcare is covered by social security payments, although some foreigners opt for private health insurance for shorter waiting times, wider choice and in some cases, English-speaking specialists.
- Dental insurance: dental care is not covered by the Spanish healthcare system, except in certain circumstances, for example, if you’re under 18.
- Home insurance: it is not mandatory to take out home insurance but in some cases it may be requested, for example, if you try to take out a Spanish mortgage.
- Contents insurance: while not mandatory, if you leave your house empty for long periods of time or rent it out, you may consider insuring your property inside.
- Unemployment and life insurance: in some cases, foreigners will qualify for state unemployment benefits, although this should be compared against the benefits offered by a scheme. Life insurance is also not mandatory.
- Pet insurance: this can cover the cost of unexpected vet bills, and in some cases, burial and theft.
- Travel insurance: in some cases, travel accidents may be covered by a private health insurance scheme.
Below is an explanation about each type of insurance in Spain.
Car insurance in Spain
A minimum level of insurance is required by law in Spain, called seguro a terceros. It covers damage to third parties, fire and theft. If you want comprehensive insurance, you should opt for seguro a todo riesgo, which will cover damage to your car, the other car and other matters arising. Occupants typically will be covered separately by their health or travel insurance. Lower monthly payments may be available if you have proof you haven’t made a claim for several years and/or are willing to pay a higher excess (franquicia). In some cases, you might be able to present your accident or insurance history from your previous country of residence.
Boats, bikes and other vehicle insurance
Most vehicles require insurance to operate legally, including trucks, RVs, motorbikes, scooters, boats and planes. Bicycles do not need insurance.
Health insurance in Spain
Spain has a state-run healthcare programme, which provides free healthcare to children, pregnant women and those on low incomes. If you qualify to access the state system, it will be covered by your social security contributions. Otherwise, salary earners can pay a monthly fee (convenio especial) to access Spanish healthcare; it is effectively for state-run health insurance and costs €60 per month for those under 65 and €157 for those over 65. Many expats choose to add private health insurance to their budget, as this can give greater choice and shorter waiting times. It may also give you more access to English-speaking medical professionals. Note that ambulance and dental services are typically separate or part of an enhanced policy.
The basic state cover does not include EHIC (European Health Insurance Card) membership. A reciprocal agreement between EU countries (plus a few more) lets EHIC carriers access urgent treatment in member countries as though they were resident there. Private health insurers in Spain may be able to provide you with an EHIC card. This is not a replacement for travel insurance, but a good back up.
Dental work is not typically covered by health insurance policies unless it’s added as a supplement or you take out a separate dental policy. Study the costs and benefits of a dental insurance policy carefully before taking it out as some simply offer a discount on services. While a 50% discount may seem attractive, consider how often you’ll use the policy and whether it costs more than your annual check-ups and cleaning. You may also be locked into a single network of providers – if so, you might want to check if your nearest English-speaking dentist is on the list before you sign. At the low end, dental insurance can start from around €10 per month.
Building insurance is not a legal requirement, but it is often recommended if you buy a property in Spain. Your mortgage provider may insist that you have building insurance, and will often offer you their in-house deal. You are not required to take it, and more competitive options might be available if you shop around. Look for cover that insures against natural disasters, fire, flood and other damage. New builds should be already covered against defective workmanship.
Apartment buildings often have insurance included in their service charges. This insurance is not a replacement for building insurance: do not make any assumptions about the cover without fully understanding the policy details.
Contents, computers and jewellery: insuring your stuff
Contents insurance is not legally required in Spain, and estimates suggest that up to 45 percent of homes are not insured. However, if you expect to rent your property or often leave your house empty – for example, if you travel – you might feel more secure with insurance. Many insurers cover portable goods (such as mobile phones, laptops and bicycles) outside the home for an additional fee.
Life insurance, unemployment and injury insurance
While government-run programs assist the unemployed and those in poverty in Spain, foreigners should check if Spain’s social safety nets are available to them. You should investigate how much you might receive under a state unemployment scheme compared against the costs of life, unemployment and injury insurance. This cover can be available through your health insurance provider, pension fund, or separately. Life insurance, which pays a fixed lump sum in the event of your death, is readily available and typically affordable. Unemployment or injury insurance is typically more expensive.
If you have a pet in Spain, insurance for domestic animals typically covers medical expenses. It may also cover burial or cremation expenses, travel and theft. Some services include assistance for finding lost pets.
A minimal level of travel insurance (seguros de viaje) may be covered by private health insurance: check the level of cover offered. If you regularly travel abroad, undertake extreme sports (including skiing or cycling) or visit for extended periods you might consider topping up with specialised travel insurance. Single-trip, multi-trip and annual options are available, and can cover long trips up to 120 days. Insurance may also cover problems that arise with your trip, such as cancelled flights.