Insurance Overview – Interview with Colin Birch

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Colin Birch is a general lines insurance agent serving clientele in Greece in their insurance needs for 30 years.  Originally from London, England, he worked with Lloyds at the time, was sent to Greece to provide insurance services for Lloyds, and decided to stay in Athens.  As an expert in helping expats insurance needs he provides us a perspective of the similarities and differences between Greece and England focusing on the three most important issues facing someone interested in moving to Greece.


Health Insurance

Does a health insurance application require underwriting review to be approved?  

Health insurance companies will issue a policy to an applicant based on health history.  The determination is either accepted, accepted with the condition of a pre-existing condition limitation in terms of a waiting period, or exclusion of cover for the condition.  A doctor is appointed by the insurance company to meet the applicant, ask basic questions, and take blood to be examined, with results reported to the insurance company. 

Are policies approved for certain individuals with health conditions with a substantial markup from the base quote?  

There is a possibility the cost could be increased if the insurance company decides to do so to place to policy.  

Generally speaking, are health insurance policies providing immediate cover or are there deductibles (excess) and copayments?

Most policies have deductible costs, otherwise known as excess, and may have copayments for certain services.

Would a British or American expat be eligible for free health cover in any way if they were full time residents of Greece?

Yes, it’s possible, provided the individual is a permanent resident, is registered as a taxpayer and pays taxes in Greece, or can be a foreign resident collecting government pension or social security.  There are plenty of services available to assist in obtaining all this or obtain the services of an accountant.

How has Brexit changed the reciprocity of health cover for UK citizens?

The European Health Insurance Card was once an option, but since 1 January, 2021, the EHIC card only covers short duration travel for emergency needs.  Colin Birch can find cover in the international market to help with the short term needs of comprehensive cover.  A new requirement is to have a Biometric card that Colin is also able to help someone obtain.


Automobile Insurance

Does a vehicle need to be registered in Greece to obtain insurance cover in Greece?

Yes, absolutely.

Is there a bare minimum amount of cover a driver is required to have in Greece?

Automobile insurance is required of everyone who owns a car in Greece.  Minimum cover is for 3rd party damage, otherwise known as liability coverage, for damage to someone else’s property, whether it be damage to a car or home, or injuring someone while driving.  Comprehensive and collision coverage is provided for cars up to 5 years old that can be carried past 5 years only for that vehicle if it was continuously insured.

Are there better rates depending on a driver’s age and sex?

New drivers and those under 23 years old have a higher premium cost to pay that is only affected for the liability insurance.  There is no rate-up for comprehensive and collision cover based on age or newly licenced driver.

Is there a requirement to provide proof of a person’s no-claims record to obtain cover?

There is no need to provide prior no-claims bonus or driving history information in Greece.  

Based on your experience, are insurance companies reluctant to pay out on claims or drag the process along?

Claims payments and repairs are efficiently handled by sending out claims adjusters to evaluate damage and to contract with the auto repair shops.  

In the event of an accident, do insurance companies have preferred auto shops to provide repairs?

The choice of repair shop is the choice of the policy holder but there may be incentives to the policy holder if they use the insurance company’s preferred shop.  

What amounts are available for deductibles (excess) to help reduce premium costs?

Premium costs can be reduced if the policy purchaser selects a higher deductible, or excess, to insure the car. 


Homeowners Insurance

Do policies cover earthquakes, floods, and other natural occurrences?

Yes, homeowner policies will cover natural occurrences but will not cover for self-destruction of property

Do policies include liability cover if someone hurts themselves on your property?

Yes, that is standard

There has been an increase of homeowners policies as risks have changed that people want to insure their homes for natural disasters and criminal acts.  The age of the building, the amount to insure, and the construction of the building are taken into account when the application is evaluated for cover.


Renters Insurance – Contents policy

Is this something available to the average renter?  

Yes, and it’s a smart policy to have, to cover things like electronics, appliances, and other valuable items in the event of fire, theft, or natural disaster.

What can be covered in a renter’s policy? Are they similar to homeowner’s policies?

The policy covers personal items in the home not for the actual structure.  As an example, 15,000 Euro worth of personal contents may cost as little as 50 Euro per year.  

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