Tips

Travel insurance and your duties in Slovakia

25 Apr , 2015   Gallery

So, you are planning a long term traveling but you’re not sure what duties you have in Slovakia? Or what kind of insurance should you buy? Continue reading.

Social insurance

When you leave your job (it doesn’t matter whether you quit or get unpaid leave) you’re not obligate to do anything. Your employer will inform Social Insurance Agency and that’s it. Once you come back and start working again you employer will inform them again. Please be careful, the whole time during your leave won’t be counted to your retirement years. Of course, you can paid social insurance by yourself if you want but it’s not mandatory.

Health insurance

Health insurance in Slovakia is mandatory by law. When you leave your job (again, it doesn’t matter whether you quit or get unpaid leave) you have 8 days to inform your health insurance company about this situation and you have to start paying insurance by yourself. There is one exception for which you have to meet these 3 conditions:

  • you are going to travel somewhere outside of Europe
  • your trip will be at least 6 months and 1 day long
  • you buy your own commercial travel insurance

The most common questions:

Q: Is commercial travel insurance for 6 months sufficient?
A: No. It has to be at least 6 months and 1 day which in reality means 1 year.

Q: How will they know that I am not in Europe?
A: This is quite tricky. They don’t know until you have to visit hospital or doctor. When this happens, they will be informed and you have a problem. The point is – as soon as you are back in Europe you have to inform your health insurance company and start with regular payments.

Q: What will happen when I come back to Slovakia sooner than 6 months and 1 day?
A: You have to pay health insurance for all months since you left.

Q: How do I proceed when I meet all 3 conditions?
A: It’s very easy. First, buy commercial travel insurance. Second, visit your health insurance company, explain them your situation and ask them to cancel your health insurance. You have to provide a copy of your commercial travel insurance and return your insurance card.

Q: What if I travel longer than 1 year? Do I have to inform health insurance company every year and provide them new commercial travel insurance documents?
A: No, they don’t care anymore.

Q: What do I have to do once I come back to Slovakia?
A: You have to inform your health insurance company that you’re back. You also have to state date from which you want to be insured again and honourably declare that you had commercial travel insurance during the whole time you were travelling.

Inform local authorities

As my friend Mahros pointed out it’s mandatory to inform local authorities in the city where you have permanent residence about the fact that you’re leaving Slovakia for more than 90 days. This has to be done prior your departure. More information can be found on the official government site. The truth is that I didn’t inform them in advance because I had no idea about this. It seems to me quite pointless to inform someone at my city that I won’t be at home for more than 90 days. There’s no way how they can find out what’s the reality. I also considered the option they need it in emergency cases (like earthquakes, floods or something) but there’s a separate electronic system for that. I also believe there are no consequences when you ignore it. Well, this is Slovakia, make your own opinion.

Unpaid leave vs. quitting job

Maybe you ask whether there is any difference between unpaid leave and quitting your job. Well, it depends. From the social and health insurances point of view no. You don’t work and the reason doesn’t matter. However, the other side is more complicated. When you’re are taking unpaid leave you still have employee status. Yes, your employer doesn’t pay your social and health insurances anymore but you still have duties. For example, if you decide that you don’t want to come back anymore, you cannot just call your boss and quit your job. You have to follow the law which means 2 or 3 months leave period depending on how many years you work there. Of course, this is usually not the case. You were already replaced by someone else during your traveling period so you can usually make a deal with you employer and quit job immediately. However, if he insists that you have to come back for the time of leaving period, you have to do it.

Commercial travel insurance

So, what are your options regarding commercial travel insurance? There are hundreds of international insurance companies (many of them operate online with specific products designed just for nomads, e. g. http://www.worldnomads.com/travel-insurance) but I personally prefer Allianz in Slovakia. The products of other Slovakian companies are more or less the same and they change it so often that it’s quite pointless to describe them here. I tested Allianz 5 times (3 car crashes and 2 injuries) and they’re amazing. I have never had any problems or delays.

Good advice, don’t forget to include activities with higher risk in your insurance. Sports like surfing, bungee jumping or zip lining belong there. Yes, your insurance will be twice as expensive because of that but you never know what can happen. Also, be prepared that your insurance will be way too much expensive if you include USA and Canada in covered countries (try to avoid them if you’re not going there). Anyway, don’t try be extremely cheap here, it’s not worth. I paid 380€ for 1 year travel insurance, high risk activities included, no limit how long I can stay, valid in all countries except Slovakia, USA and Canada.

What to do in case of injury

Use your brain and go to the hospital. Prepare your passport, insurance card and even some money. My experience in Panama was better than I expected. As you maybe know I scratched my foot while surfing in Playa Venao. Scratch became infected very quickly and visiting a hospital was inevitable step. I decided for one in Las Tablas. First, they found me a translator because my Spanish was really not so good. Then they did some questioning, gave me an anti-tetanus shot and prescribed me antibiotics. The funny thing is they didn’t ask for any money. AT ALL. I just bought my pills for $36 and went ahead. They didn’t even give me any report about what they did and I was quite worried what my insurance company will say.

And so I opened a new case with Allianz, provided pictures of all medicaments, my passport and stamps. Fortunately, packages from pills contained my name so it was obvious I am not faking it. In less than 2 weeks I had money on my bank account. It would be even faster but I was traveling a lot and didn’t have any time to respond to their emails. Yes, it was only $36 but still, that’s 3 nights in hostel.

Story of my friend Sarah was even better. First thing to notice – she is from Australia and she has the best insurance I have ever heard of. She had the similar issue as I did and so she contacted her insurance company. Because she was quite far from any good hospital they paid for the FLIGHT to San Jose (the capital of Costa Rica), paid all taxis and provided a phone number to doctor who was available 24 hours to answer all her questions. Of course, they paid the return ticket as well. I would call it the best insurance company I have ever heard of, what do you think?

As you can see there aren’t many things you have to do before your trip. They are quite easy and it’s worth to pay the attention to them. Believe me, you don’t want to receive a letter in 5 years from now saying that you owe hundreds of euros on insurance because you forgot something.

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