Forget what you may have heard about Iran on the news or social media; the country is one of the safest and most diverse travel destinations in the world. Iran is a country rich in ancient tradition (Persia) and offers hidden surprises for tourists expecting to see little more than a vast scorching desert.
Despite a year-long civil war (1978-1979) that left most of the country in ruins, the Iranian government has taken great strides in encouraging tourism in the region. Today, around 8 million people travel to Iran (2019), including Brits who hold a passion for natural wonders and ancient history.
Here are a few specific reasons why people visit Iran and why you might want to consider doing the same at least once in your lifetime:
One of the best things about Iran is its people. While the locals stem from various cultures and ethnicities (Persians, Kurds, Lurs, Baloch, etc.), they are generally hospitable and friendly towards tourists. This stems from age-old traditions of being helpful and inherently curious towards travellers.
Iran is the birthplace of the Persian empire — one of the oldest civilisations in the world. People flock to the country to catch a glimpse of archaeological sites like Persepolis and Pasargadae. There’s no shortage of historical places to visit, such as the Fire Temple in Yazd and the Golestan Palace in Tehran (Iran’s capital). This makes Iran a haven for history buffs looking to explore the country’s tangled past.
Another reason tourists visit Iran is to catch a glimpse of its ancient architecture, unlike anywhere else in the world. Many Brits can’t help but become enthralled by the arches and ceilings of ancient mosques and public bathhouses.
Likewise, Iran has no shortage of modern architectural marvels. Structures like the Tabiate Bridge and the Termeh Office Building are proof of the country’s progressive nature.
World Heritage Sites
Iran is home to no less than 21 world heritage sites established by UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation). This includes the cultural landscape of Bam, Naqsh-e Jahan Square, and the Persian Qanat.
While these heritage sites are located across the country, you can see several of them by visiting the Fars and Khuzestan Province.
You wouldn’t know it from the news, but Iran has some of the most beautiful gardens in the world. This is proof of the local’s collective love for the outdoors. Even in dense megacities like Tehran and Isfahan, you’ll find plenty of parks and green spaces.
Most people think that Iran is solely covered in desert sand, which isn’t true. The country also hosts some natural wonders from dense forests teeming with wildlife to waterfalls, canyons, and hot springs. The country’s natural wonders are about as diverse as the ethnicities of the people who call Iran their home.
What should you know before travelling to Iran?
Having mentioned some of the great things that you can do and places to visit in Iran, you might be excited to go and book that trip. However, before you do so, you should obtain adequate Iran travel insurance to guard against any eventuality.
While insurance is not a requirement for travelling to Iran, there is no guarantee that nothing will go wrong during your trip. Hence, it would be prudent to obtain Iran travel insurance to ensure you get all the help you need in an emergency without worrying about the expense.
What you do need for entry to Iran (aside from your visa) is an escort or guide whose service you can procure through an Iranian travel agent. You can hire a personal guide or enter the country as part of an organised tour. You must also have a hotel reservation waiting for you, the details of which will be forwarded by your guide to the immigration office at least two days before your arrival.
Healthcare for Brits in Iran
It’s a good idea for UK citizens to check with NaTHNaC (National Travel Health Network and Centre) at least 2 months before their trip to Iran.
They offer vaccine recommendations and the latest news on outbreaks and other health risks as well as factsheets that contain useful information for staying healthy during your travel.
Note that the Iranian government does not offer free medical care for Brits in Iran. This means that without travel insurance, you’ll have to pay for medicines, doctor and hospital fees out of pocket.
As you might imagine, these unforeseen expenses can be significant, which is why it’s important to ensure that you get good travel insurance before you leave.
If you take prescription medication for an existing health condition, the NHS recommends that it’s also a good idea to get in touch with the Iranian embassy for assurance that you can safely bring those medicines with you inside the country.
You’d also want to make sure that you bring a note from your doctor verifying that you need the medicine to manage an existing health condition.
You can check the NHS website for pertinent advice on pertinent vaccinations and health checks for more information.
What About Pre-Existing Medical Conditions?
As per the norm in the travel insurance business, you need to disclose any pre-existing medical condition you have to your policy provider. While this means that you’ll likely have to pay more to obtain travel insurance for Iran, it’s better than falling ill during your travel (related to your pre-existing medical condition) and being denied coverage.
Policy providers typically offer free screenings for thousands of medical conditions and provide ample coverage to offset the cost of repatriation and medical care.
While it’s unlikely that you’ll get injured or fall victim to a crime if you confine your activities to safer regions in the country, it’s best not to take any chances and obtain a single or multi-trip travel insurance policy before your departure.
Make sure you disclose all pre-existing medical conditions when applying for travel insurance for Iran. Doing so would help ensure that you don’t run into any problems should you need to file a claim.
The human body is an incredible work of evolution and as such there are plenty of things that can go wrong in both the short and long term.
For that reason it can often be difficult to understand what constitutes a medical condition that you have to declare to your travel insurance provider.
Have/are you or anyone in your party:
• taken any prescribed medication, or received any medical treatment in the last 2 years;
• attended a medical practitioner’s surgery, or hospital or clinic (out-patient or in-patient) in the last two years;
• awaiting medical treatment or investigation;
• been diagnosed by a medical practitioner as suffering from a terminal illness.
All medical conditions you have must be disclosed as well as any previous medical conditions if they could have an impact on your current health.
That said, your policy provider will let you know if your pre-existing condition is not a factor for your trip cover.
For example, here at Emerald Life, we don’t require clients to disclose their HIV status for as long as they meet the following conditions:
- The patient has taken antiviral treatment for no less than 3 months.
- The patient has not been advised to switch to a different/new type of antiviral regimen.
- If your CDR count is below 350, then you’ll need a note from your GP stating that you are fit for your multi/single trip to Iran.
- Submit a recent test result showing that the patient has an undetectable viral load or less than 50mls.
Note that conditions can vary from one policy provider to another. It’s ultimately up to the insurance company to decide which pre-existing medical conditions are exempted from disclosure and set pertinent conditions for the exemption.
What to Look For When Shopping for Iran Travel Insurance
At this point, you probably already have an idea of just how important it is to obtain travel insurance before you travel to Iran (whether multiple or a single trip). This begs the questions — what factors do you need to keep in mind before buying travel insurance?
Well, the answer doesn’t need to be all that complicated. After all, the purpose of travel insurance is to give you peace of mind while you enjoy the sights and wonders that Iran has to offer. For that, you can set your sights on a few essential factors:
Repatriation and Medical Cover
The most important part of any travel insurance policy is emergency medical expenses cover. Typically ranging from £5 million to £10 million – the higher in our case – this covers your costs if you become ill or injured abroad and require medical treatment.
Medical expenses often include repatriation cover so that if your condition means you have to return to the UK urgently then there is cover for transporting you along with any necessary medical equipment and staff. Unsurprisingly, these costs can be staggering.
Before you leave for Iran, it’s important to ensure that your travel insurance policy offers enough coverage to pay for emergency medical services and repatriation back to the UK.
Here at Emerald Life, we provide coverage of up to £10,000,000.
Travel Insurance Iran Cancellation and Curtailment Cover
If you are ill or injured before you travel then you may have to cancel your trip. Some policies will also cover you if a close relative is ill or injured, or your home is burgled, and you have to cancel as a result.
If you expect to make multiple trips to Iran in a given year, you can probably secure a better deal if you sign up for annual multi-trip travel.
An annual policy will help you save time since you don’t have to reapply before every departure. More importantly, annual multi-trip insurance cost is bound to be cheaper than obtaining numerous single trip policies over the course of a year.
Iran Travel Insurance Luggage cover
Luggage can get lost during transit, and if that happens, it’ll be a major inconvenience in your travel plans. That’s why you need travel insurance that will reimburse you for the trouble should it happen.
For luggage delays, Emerald Life offers optional baggage cover which serves as compensation for the inconvenience.
If the luggage is lost (missing for more than 21 days), you’ll be paid the amount stipulated in the luggage cover.
Travel Insurance Iran Excesses
While it can be tempting when buying travel insurance to just look at the final price, it is important that you check any excesses you have to pay.
That is because some cheap policies will have very high excesses which means any claims could be very expensive despite having the insurance. Sometimes excesses are so high it might not even be worth claiming. Therefore, make sure you buy a policy that balances a good price with a reasonable excess.
Most travel insurance policies will also include different excesses for different types of claim and you can find these in your policy documentation, but generally the medical excess is the most significant.
Do You Need Insurance to Travel to Iran?
It can be argued that the real question is — can you afford not to have travel insurance when you leave for Iran?
Again, tourists have no free access to healthcare services when visiting the country, and private medical care can be costly.
Travel insurance should cover the cost of medical treatment if you fall ill or become injured during your travel.
While no one expects to get sick or become injured while holidaying in Iran, accidents can happen. If things go south, it’s always helpful to know that you have travel insurance to fall back on.