EU nationals can take advantage of Italy's health services under the same terms as the residents of the country - to obtain this benefit you'll need to present a form E111, which you can get over the counter at main post offices. However, the E111 won't cover the full cost of major treatment, and the high charges for medical treatment make travel insurance essential if you're a non-EU citizen - and the risks of theft or other unforeseen setbacks make it highly advisable even if you are. For medical treatment and drugs, keep all the receipts and claim the money back later. If you have anything stolen (including money), register the loss immediately with the police, as without their report you won't be able to claim; the department you should go to is once again the Questura .
It's always advisable to make sure that you are insured for loss, theft and illness. Bank and credit cards (particularly American Express) often have certain levels of medical or other insurance included, especially if you use them to pay for your trip. It can be quite comprehensive, anticipating anything from lost or stolen baggage and missed connections to charter companies going bankrupt; however, certain policies (notably in North America) only cover medical costs. Note also that very few insurers will arrange on-the-spot payments in the event of a major expense or loss; you will usually be reimbursed only after going home. In all case of loss or theft of goods, you will have to contact the local police to have a report made out so that your insurer can process the claim
Most travel agents and tour operators will offer you insurance when you book your flight or holiday, but these are often more expensive than if you shopped around. As ever, you should check the small print: if you feel the cover is inadequate, or you want to compare prices, any travel agent, insurance broker or bank should be able to help. If you have a good "all risks" home insurance policy it may well cover your possessions against loss or theft even when overseas, or you can extend cover through your household contents insurer. Many private medical schemes also cover you when abroad - make sure you know the procedure and the helpline number.
Many credit cards offer travel insurance if you buy your tickets using the card, but these packages rarely offer the full cover of normal travel insurance. In Britain and Ireland, travel insurance schemes are sold by almost every travel agent or bank, and by specialist travel insurance companies; Rough Guides now offer their own scheme too. Cover varies, but a standard policy will cover the cost of cancellation and curtailment of flights, medical expenses, travel delay, accident, missed departures, lost baggage, lost passport, personal liability and legal expenses.
Insurance for North American travellers
Before buying an insurance policy, check that you're not already covered. Canadian provincial health plans typically provide some overseas medical coverage, although they are unlikely to pick up the full tab in the event of a mishap. Holders of official student/teacher/youth cards are entitled to accident coverage and hospital in-patient benefits - the annual membership is far less than the cost of comparable insurance. Students may also find that their student health coverage extends during the vacations and for one term beyond the date of last enrolment. Bank and credit cards (particularly American Express) often provide certain levels of medical or other insurance, and travel insurance may also be included if you use a major credit or charge card to pay for your trip. Homeowners' or renters' insurance often covers theft or loss of documents, money and valuables while overseas.
After exhausting the possibilities above, you might want to contact a specialist travel insurance company; your travel agent can usually recommend one, or try Rough Guides' own scheme. Travel insurance policies vary: some are comprehensive while others cover only certain risks (accidents, illnesses, delayed or lost luggage, cancelled flights, etc.). In particular, ask whether the policy pays medical costs up front or reimburses you later, and whether it provides for medical evacuation to your home country. For policies that include lost or stolen luggage, check exactly what is and isn't covered, and make sure the per-article limit will cover your most valuable possession. Note that most North American travel policies apply only to items lost, stolen or damaged while in the custody of an identifiable, responsible third party - hotel porter, airline, luggage consignment, etc. Even in these cases you will have to contact the local police within a certain time limit to have a complete report made out so that your insurer can process the claim.
Doctors and pharmacies
If you need minor treatment, go to a doctor ( médico ), taking your E111 with you if you're an EU citizen: this should enable you to get free treatment and prescriptions for medicines at the local rate. If you're looking for repeat medication, take any empty bottles or capsules with you to the doctor - the brand names often differ. An Italian pharmacist ( farmacia ) is well qualified to give you advice on minor ailments and to dispense prescriptions; most speak good English. A rota of Farmacie di Turno ensures that there's always a pharmacy open all night: every farmacia should display the address of the nearest night pharmacy on its door - or you can ring 192 for information. If you get taken seriously ill , hunt out the nearest hospital and go to the Pronto Soccorso (casualty) section, or phone 113 and ask for ospedale or ambulanza .
Dental treatment is expensive and is not covered by the Italian health service; private insurance is the only way to avoid getting seriously out of pocket, and even then you'll have to pay on the spot and claim later.
No vaccinations are required for entry to Italy
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