Insurance in the Czech Republic
How to get covered in Prague: A beginner's guide to health, car and property insurance
By law, all foreign nationals should have health insurance during their stay in the Czech Republic.
If you're an EU citizen you can apply for a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). For UK citizens, this replaces the E forms.
The EHIC entitles you to emergency treatment in the public health system at the level of Czech nationals. It doesn't cover repatriation, ongoing treatment, or non-emergency cases.
If you have long-term residency in the Czech Republic you'll need to organize insurance here. In accordance with Czech law your employer should provide coverage for you.
This doesn't prevent you from taking out private health insurance but going through a private company could entail more paperwork, and there's always the possibility that public hospitals won't recognize your provider and you'll have to pay up front.
Freelancers or non-EU citizens on short stays can organize insurance through Pojišťovna VZP. You pay 70 CZK/day if you're working or 35 CZK/day if you're a tourist. For stays over 90 days the price is 49 CZK/day if you're working and 24.50 CZK/day for tourists.
Some insurance companies require medical checkups, but the nature of these visits varies.
I've heard of blood tests being taken at checkups, but in my experience it involved little more than a withering glance at my less-than-toned physique, and questions about smoking and allergies.
Medical checkups aren't required for short-term contracts.
What It Covers
Most long-term insurance contracts cover visits to the GP, hospitalization and medication. Dental care is not included.
Short contracts tend to vary and it's advisable to check the terms and conditions of each. Some don't cover medication.
If you're asked to pay cash for treatment explicitly covered by your insurance, contact your insurance provider before you get out your wallet. You have the right to refuse payment if you're insured.
This will be a little tricky as most Czech insurance companies are, understandably, oriented toward their Czech-speaking clientele. Where there are English-language pages, you may find discrepancies between the Czech original and English equivalent.
In this case it could pay to go through the Czech document carefully with a dictionary. Even a very fluent English-speaking Czech may struggle with the dense, unwieldy prose on insurance company contracts. It's a daunting task and could cost you a night out with friends, but you should know every detail of your contract before you sign it.
Third-party car insurance -- povinné ručení -- is mandatory in the Czech Republic for all car owners. When you're searching the internet for offers, it's advisable to use the Czech term since searches in English don't turn up much.
Two useful sites are Povinne-ruceni.com and Top-Pojištění.cz.
Both will help you find the cheapest deal for your insurance while Top-Pojištění.cz has regular insurance updates listed under the header Aktuality ze světa pojištění ("News From the World of Insurance").
Keep the dictionary and translator handy, though, as both sites are in Czech.
Top-Pojištění.cz also lists contact details for several major Czech insurance companies.
These companies' websites have English-language pages but, as with health insurance, not all information is available in English.
All the listed companies do, however, have English-speaking telephone operators.
The same companies that offer car insurance also offer property insurance -- pojištění majetek.
Rental properties should be insured for damages by the owner. This, however, doesn't cover your personal belongings.
If you're on a short stay it might be worth checking whether your travel insurance covers personal items. It will depend on the definition of travel -- as these are insurance companies, expect them to question all claims.
Long-term residents will find that as with health insurance, property insurance is nullified upon obtaining residency.
The US State Department website rates the crime situation in the Czech Republic as low, but points out that pick-pocketing and muggings are a problem in Prague.
So if you're concerned about your possessions while visiting it would be advisable to get coverage.
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July 16th, 2008
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