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Do insurers need a geography lesson? Is Turkey part of Europe?

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Written by: Paloma Kubiak
26/07/2017
Straddled between Europe and the Middle-East, Turkey often confuses holidaymakers when it comes to currency, travel insurance and mobile roaming. Here are the facts you need to know before hitting this 2017 tourist hotspot.

Sharing its north-westerly border with Bulgaria and Greece, and its south-eastern border with Syria and Iraq, Turkey sits slap bang between Europe and Asia. Istanbul spans both continents, but the country is out of the European Union, so it’s not surprising that there is some doubt as to which rules apply.

For holidaymakers hitting this top 20 family holiday destination for 2017 (based on TravelSupermarket.com searches) this can cause confusion over which currency is needed and the cost of using a mobile phone.

It’s not just holidaymakers who blur its classification, travel insurers differ as to whether they classify Turkey as being within Europe.

So before you travel to Turkey, here are three points you need to check:

Travel insurance

Out of 51 travel insurance providers sampled by comparison site TravelSupermarket.com, 90% classify Turkey as being within Europe. The remaining 10% classify it as being ‘rest of world’ or worldwide.

For instance, Legal & General and InsureandGo include Turkey as being within Europe while the RAC and Thomas Cook define it as being ‘rest of world’, according to the travel comparison site.

While this does little to dispel the confusion, this can actually be a major benefit to holidaymakers. TravelSupermarket said that the cost of an annual multi-trip policy for Europe is typically around 45% cheaper than purchasing a policy for worldwide cover.

Emma Coulthurst, travel expert at TravelSupermarket, said: “There has always been ambiguity around whether Turkey is in or out of Europe when purchasing travel insurance. As our investigation found, some providers class the country as in Europe, while others do not. My advice is to do a search on a price comparison website where you can enter the country you are visiting to avoid any confusion.”

But just because your travel insurance provider treats Turkey as being within Europe, the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) is not valid in Turkey as it only applies to those countries within the European Union.

Currency

The warmer climes of Turkey can be reached in just four hours depending on the starting and destination airport, on a par with flight times to some European and Mediterranean sun spots.

A survey by Globehunters revealed that 10% of Brits admit to having taken the wrong currency abroad with them while travelling in the last three years. The most common confusion was around which countries use the euro or US dollar.

Turkey ranked number one in the top ten list of destinations for Brits travelling with the wrong currency. As part of its survey of 2,000 Brits, 10% said they had taken the wrong currency and 24% of those assumed that Turkey used the euro rather than the Turkish lira.

TravelSupermarket adds: “Despite its troubles in recent times, Turkey is actually one of the best value destinations for British holidaymakers this summer with good availability for last minute deals.

“A three star, seven night family holiday to Marmaris, departing on Monday 7 August starts at £390pp (based on a family of four). Or for couples looking to go later in the year, a three star, seven night break departing on Wednesday 6 September is available from just £228pp (based on two sharing).”

Mobile roaming

EU roaming charges were scrapped from 15 June this year as EU regulations were enforced, meaning anyone travelling to an EU member country is able to use their mobile phone minutes, texts and data at the same price as if they were still in the UK.

While users will still incur charges in the EU for exceeding agreed allowances, the mobile roaming fee ban was a welcome move for holidaymakers.

Holidaymakers to Turkey will find that mobile roaming charges still apply, unless travellers have already bought special bolt on packages.

As an example, a pay monthly o2 user in Turkey will face a call cost of £1.50 per minute, £1.25 per minute to receive a call, 40p to send a text and £6 for each MB of data. o2 pay-as-you-go customers will pay £1.49 per minute to call a landline or mobile, 99p per minute to receive a call, 49p to send a text and £6 per MB of data.

With Three, pay monthly customers will pay £1.40 a minute to call a UK number, 35p to text, 99p per minute to receive a call, £3 per MB and £1.40 per minute to listen to a voicemail. Its pay-as-you-go-customers will pay the same amounts.

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