July 31, 2023
Reading Time: 9 min

Insurance in Portugal: a detailed guide to all types of coverage for individuals

In Portugal, there are both mandatory and optional types of insurance. Obligatory insurance includes public healthcare and social security systems. These are available to citizens and legal residents of the country and are supported through taxation.

Aside from that, car owners are obliged to have at least basic coverage for each of their cars. And homeowners must protect their properties with housing insurance.

Alina Mishurenko
Alina Mishurenko

Explained Portugal’s insurance system

Health insurance Portugal

Insurance in Portugal: a detailed guide to all types of coverage for individuals

Types of insurance: mandatory and optional

Portugal residents can use various types of insurance; some are mandatory, others are optional.

Firstly, all citizens and residents have public healthcare coverage, which is supported through taxation. The social security system is also obligatory and is supported by compulsory monthly payments from citizens and businesses.

Car owners and property owners are obliged to obtain at least minimal coverage to protect their possessions.

Other types of coverage are optional: people can pay extra if they want to get insurance for their life or their pet’s health or have additional coverage for their vehicle. There is also paid health insurance and coverage protecting from losing a job.

What types of insurance are obligatory in Portugal?

Health insurance. The state provides mandatory coverage in Portugal — citizens and residents pay for it through taxes. Universal healthcare is not available to visitors of the country who do not have a residency permit in Portugal.

Car insurance. Every vehicle in Portugal has to be insured with at least third-party coverage. If an accident happens, this type of insurance will pay only for the third parties of the accidents — the other damaged cars instead of the policyholder.

Home fire insurance. Homeowners must obtain insurance that protects their real estate from fire damage. They can also get extra coverage for other risks for properties and their contents.

Social insurance. Social security in Portugal is state-provided; citizens pay for it through their employers. This mandatory insurance covers unemployment, maternity and paternity leaves, sickness, etc.

State-provided healthcare: who is eligible for public insurance and what it includes

The healthcare system in Portugal provides two options for medical coverage to residents of the country: public and private.

Serviço Nacional de Saúde (SNS), the National Health Service, provides public health insurance and is financed mainly through taxation. It is available to all residents of Portugal regardless of their nationality.

Public health insurance in Portugal covers all kinds of medical procedures, including diagnosis, preventive care, and treatment of emergency and non-urgent conditions. It does not, however, include dental care and cosmetic surgeries.

Universal healthcare also covers prescribed medicine. If a doctor prescribes a specific medication, a Portuguese citizen or resident can get it in a pharmacy for free or with a small co-payment.

Most patients taking advantage of public healthcare pay a small co-payment fee for each service. Usually, it is around €5—10, depending on the service.

Some groups of patients are exempt from co-payment for services included in universal healthcare:

  • pregnant women;

  • children under 18;

  • people with a disability;

  • dependents and unemployed people;

  • blood and organ donors;

  • firefighters;

  • military;

  • refugees.

Public insurance is available only to citizens and residents of the country. People with residency visas who have yet to get residency cards cannot use public healthcare. This also applies to people with temporary-stay visas and tourists.

EU citizens with the European Health Insurance Card are also entitled to public healthcare in Portugal. For them, it is only available for necessary treatment that cannot be postponed until they return to their country of citizenship.

Aside from that, EU citizens can receive planned medical treatment with an S2 form — it is granted to patients when the medical board agrees that their condition will be better treated in another EU country.

Free healthcare is provided in public hospitals and clinics in each region of Portugal. Additionally, each municipality is covered by a health centre that provides primary medical care. Overall, there are over 100 public hospitals in Portugal.

Health insurance in Portugal | São João Hospital

Each municipality has its medical centre — the area’s biggest public facility for receiving medical care. In Porto, it’s the teaching hospital Centro Hospitalar Universitário de São João

How to move to Portugal

Foreigners can take advantage of the public healthcare and social benefits in Portugal only with a residency card. Those looking to move to the westernmost country of Europe but do not have family, employment or academic ties with it still have options to obtain a residency visa.

Residency for financially independent people. Foreigners who have a stable passive income of over €760 monthly can apply for a D7 residency visa and move to Portugal.

Almost any type of legal income received remotely from sources outside the country qualifies for the D7 visa. It could be pensions, royalties, interest, rental payments or salary on a remote job.

Individual cost calculation of the visa D7 in Portugal

Individual cost calculation of the visa D7 in Portugal

Startup visa. Entrepreneurs willing to start an innovative business in Portugal can obtain a Startup visa and residency there. For that, they need to submit their application to IAPMEI, a funding agency for startups, and collaborate with a Portuguese business incubator.

There is no investment threshold to participate in the program. However, applicants must prove they have rented or owned accommodation in Portugal and sufficient funds for everyday expenses.

Individual cost calculation of the Portugal Startup Visa

Individual cost calculation of the Portugal Startup Visa

Digital Nomad visa. Remote workers who earn at least €3,040 a month can obtain a Digital Nomad visa.

There are two types of this visa: a temporary-stay one and a long-term one. The first option allows staying in Portugal for up to a year. The long-term Digital Nomad visa allows one to obtain a residence permit in Portugal and stay there for as long as it is valid.

Typically, the Digital Nomad Visa allows obtaining a residence permit for two years. Later, it can be renewed.

Individual cost calculation of the Portugal Digital Nomad Visa

Individual cost calculation of the Portugal Digital Nomad Visa

Features of private health insurance in Portugal

Non-state companies and private clinics provide voluntary health insurance. It requires a set monthly payment and co-payment for each service a patient gets. It’s also possible to visit private clinics without paid insurance — in this case, service will be more expensive.

Paid health coverage in Portugal comes in two forms: health insurance (Seguro de Saude) and health plans (Plano de Saude).

Health insurance provides a package of medical services from a specific chain of hospitals and clinics that belong to the insurer. The price for private medical coverage depends on the client’s age, medical history and the chosen package.

Paid health insurance always covers hospitalisation and surgeries. The prices start from around €10—20 monthly, and the minimal coverage is €15,000 for a single person. More extensive packages can cost between €30 and €100 and cover up to €500,000 of medical expenses.

€10—100 monthly

The price range of private health coverage in Portugal

In basic packages, consultations, examinations and treatments come with a co-payment. A patient can add extra services to their package, such as stomatology, mental care, pregnancy care, etc.

Typically, health insurance packages imply a waiting period. This means a patient cannot use their coverage right after contracting their insurance. The medical services will be available to them after the waiting period, which is generally 90 days.

Another health insurance limitation is that most packages are unavailable after a specific age. Most providers don’t include coverage for people older than 65—70 in basic packages.

The biggest private health insurance providers in Portugal are:

  • Multicare,

  • Medis,

  • AdvanceCare,

  • Allianz.

Health plans are essentially memberships in networks of healthcare providers. Typically, a health plan enables its holder to use discounts for services in private clinics that belong to a specific network.

Usually, health plans include services like consultations and examinations rather than hospitalisation and surgeries.

An example of a health plan is the +CUF plan in the chain of Portuguese private clinics CUF. The plan costs €14 monthly for a single person and provides special prices for clinic services. The plan also includes three free consultations.

Unlike health insurance coverage, health plans do not have age limitations and are active from purchase. On the other hand, a health plan does not provide comprehensive health coverage, as it does not include essentials such as hospitalisation.

Universal healthcare or private healthcare: which is better in Portugal

Regarding the quality of medicine, the care in public and private hospitals is quite similar. When choosing private insurance, Portuguese pay primarily for extra comfortable conditions and faster service.

Schedules for planned services in public clinics and hospitals are very busy. And if the case is not urgent, the wait can take up to several months. For instance, a regular visit to a dermatologist can be scheduled 3—4 months ahead. However, it does not apply to severe cases that require immediate hospitalisation.

Sometimes, doctors in private clinics forward clients to public hospitals — typically, this is the case with difficult kinds of diagnosis, such as leukaemia. It happens because public hospitals are more extensively equipped and have easier access to donor banks.

Pros of Portugal’s public healthcare:

  • high-quality medical care;

  • free and accessible to everyone;

  • best for emergencies;

  • extensive equipment and easy access to donor banks.

Pros of private healthcare in Portugal:

  • easy scheduling of procedures for non-urgent cases;

  • no lines;

  • comfortable conditions.

Medical coverage for expats and tourists in Portugal

Any foreigner planning a short-term or long-term visit to Portugal must have medical insurance valid in the country — this is one of the mandatory conditions for obtaining a visa.

Insurance for expats. If a foreigner enters Portugal with a residency visa, they use their paid insurance until they obtain their residency cards, which can take from a couple of weeks to a couple of months.

After receiving their resident permits, foreign nationals have access to public healthcare. To access it, they must apply for their SNS number in a health centre in their neighbourhood. One can find the right health centre on the ePortugal website.

Tourist insurance. Foreigners planning a short trip to Portugal must have travel insurance of at least €30,000 to obtain a visa. They can purchase medical coverage from providers in their country of residency, international healthcare companies, or those in Portugal.

In Portugal, some medical coverage providers for travellers are Portinsurance and Bonus Seguros.

Travellers looking to do sports or extreme activities need to purchase extended coverage. That is because, most often, the basic packages do not cover injuries resulting from those activities.

Car insurance in Portugal

Car insurance policy in Portugal is similar to those of other European countries. Every car driven on the state’s territory must have at least minimal coverage. If a person owns multiple vehicles, each of them should be insured.

Mandatory car insurance in Portugal is the minimum package covering only third parties in case of an accident. If an accident happens, it will cover only the personal and material damage of other parties, not the policyholder.

The price for third-party insurance starts at around €150 a year. It should cover at least €6 million in personal injury damages and €1.22 million in material damage.

Third-party extra coverage. The minimal package can be extended with additional coverage for the owner’s car. Typically, this applies to theft, fire, and storm damage.

Car owners who wish to get extended third-party insurance pay around €200 per year. Note that the pricing and coverage of supplementary policies vary between providers.

Comprehensive car insurance. This type of insurance protects a car from all kinds of risks. If an accident happens, it will cover the personal and physical damage to the policyholder as well.

The prices for full car coverage start from €350. The cost is calculated individually and depends on the policyholder’s driving record and claim history, the age and value of the vehicle, and other factors.

Mandatory and optional housing insurance in Portugal

Fire insurance is required for all apartment buildings with a condominium regime. Each part of the building — this includes not only apartments but also elevators, staircases, common areas and others. Typically, this insurance covers damage caused by fire, heat, smoke, steam, lightning, explosions, storms and other natural occurrences.

Basic coverage costs around €80 a year. The insurance is paid by homeowners, even if the property is rented out.

Multi-risk home insurance is an optional and more expensive coverage for those who want to protect their property from other risks, such as water damage, robbery, storm and flood. In some cases, it protects the contents of the property as well.

The price for multi-risk insurance starts at €100 a year and depends on the value of the housing and its contents. Affordable packages provide at least €50,000 of coverage. More extensive tariffs cost over €300 and provide safe capital of up to €500,000.

Commercial insurance in Portugal

People who run a business in Portugal can insure their companies to protect them from any risks that might arise. There are insurances obligatory for all businesses, insurances required only for some types of companies and optional coverage packages.

Compulsory coverage:

  • employee insurance — is a part of the social security system; it is mandatory if a business has employees as it provides social benefits, such as parental leaves;

  • public liability insurance — protects businesses against claims from third parties that result in reputation damage, financial losses or injuries.

Optional insurances:

  • property insurance — it protects real estate from fire damages, natural disasters and sometimes thefts;

  • equipment insurance — protects any equipment from damages or thefts;

  • commercial auto insurance — it covers vehicles in case of any damages that might occur during business operations;

  • business interruption insurance — helps in cases of income loss due to emergencies.

Insurance companies often provide several types of insurance in one package.

The social security system in Portugal

Portugal has a state-provided social security system that protects citizens and residents in case of unemployment, sickness, disability and other situations. The system is supported through compulsory fees of 11%—21.4% withheld from a resident’s salary.

Social security provides benefits for Portugal residents who are in a vulnerable position. These include benefits for:

  • unemployment;

  • sickness;

  • maternity and paternity leaves;

  • children;

  • widowed persons.

Self-employed people and freelancers are also eligible for social security benefits, provided that they make a monthly contribution of 21,4% of their income.

Voluntary types of insurance

Aside from obligatory insurance, companies also provide individuals with all kinds of optional coverage. Here are some examples of voluntary insurance one can obtain in Portugal.

Life insurance protects the policyholder’s dependents against the death and disability of the insured person. If the insured persons can no longer support their family members, the coverage ensures that your dependents are taken care of.

The price of life insurance depends on the policyholder’s age, occupation, and family composition.

Unemployment insurance is additional coverage for those who want more protection than the social security system provides. In case of involuntary job loss, the policyholder will be protected. Sometimes, this kind of insurance is required by banks when a person wants to take a significant loan.

Pet insurance provides veterinary coverage for domestic animals — typically, it applies to dogs and cats. Some providers may offer packages for horses as well. Pet insurance can be annual or for a lifetime of the pet. Prices for yearly packages start at €300.

Pros and cons of insurance in Portugal

Among the most important pros of Portuguese insurance are the following:

  1. comprehensive coverage — Portugal’s insurance market offers a broad range of coverage options, including life, health, auto, home, and travel insurance, providing consumers with the means to protect themselves against various risks;

  2. competitive market — there are many local and international providers. This competitiveness can result in better prices and service for consumers as companies strive to attract and retain customers;

  3. regulated Industry — the insurance industry in Portugal is regulated by the Autoridade de Supervisão de Seguros e Fundos de Pensões (ASF). It helps to ensure that insurance providers adhere to fair practices and offer comprehensive coverage.

However, there are some cons:

  1. language barrier — for expatriates, language may pose a significant barrier. Though many companies have English-speaking staff and resources, the majority of the documentation and legal terms are in Portuguese, which might lead to misunderstandings;

  2. complex regulations — the insurance laws and regulations can be complicated for the average consumer to understand, especially in cases where a specific level or type of insurance is legally required;

  3. potential for high costs — depending on the specific type and amount of coverage, insurance in Portugal can be expensive. This can be particularly true for health insurance, where private plans can come at a high cost.

Key takeaways

  1. There are both obligatory and optonal types of insurance in Portugal.

  2. Obligatory types of coverage include public healthcare, the social security system, basic car insurance, and home fire protection.

  3. Portugal’s healthcare system includes both public and private insurance.

  4. Public insurance includes all kinds of medical care except for cosmetic surgery and stomatology. It is available only to citizens and residents of the country.

  5. Paid health insurance in Portugal is available to the country’s long-term and short-term visitors.

  6. People who want to get residence in Portugal can obtain one of the long-term visas. For instance, people with a stable passive income of at least €760 monthly can get a D7 visa for financially independent individuals.

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Practical Guide

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Frequently asked questions

  • What types of insurance are mandatory in Portugal?

    There are four mandatory types of coverage in Portugal. Every citizen and legal resident of Portugal is entitled to public health insurance and social security benefits. Aside from that, car owners are obliged to get coverage for their vehicles, and homeowners need to insure their property.

  • How much is private health insurance in Portugal?

    The prices for basic packages start from around €10—20 monthly, and the minimal coverage is €15,000 for a single person. More extensive packages can cost between €30 and €100 per month and cover up to €500,000 of medical expenses.

  • Is there universal healthcare in Portugal?

    Portugal does have public health insurance that ensures that any national of the country has access to medical care. Public health insurance covers all types of medical procedures except for cosmetic surgeries and dental care.

    Most patients still pay a small co-payment when receiving medical care in public hospitals. Typically, it is around €5—10, depending on the service. Pregnant women, children up to 18 years old, blood donors, unemployed, and some other groups of patients are exempt from co-payment.

  • How much does health insurance cost for expats in Portugal?

    The price for a basic package starts from around €10—20 monthly. For this price, an expat can get €15,000—20,000 coverage that includes mainly hospitalisation and surgery and allows receiving other services with a co-payment.

    An expat will have to pay more than €30 per month for a package that includes additional services such as dental care, stomatology, pregnancy assistance, and others.

    Aside from that, Portugal also has state-provided healthcare that is available to all citizens and legal residents of the country. In public clinics and hospitals, the services are provided either for free or for a small co-payment of around €5—10.

  • Can foreigners get public health insurance in Portugal?

    Foreign nationals with residency permits in Portugal can use the public healthcare system. For that, they need to obtain an SNS number at the nearest health centre.

    EU citizens can also receive services in public hospitals and clinics in Portugal with their European Health Insurance Card. It will cover only urgent cases that cannot wait until the holder of the card returns to their country of residence.

    Non-EU nationals who reside in Portugal on the grounds of a temporary stay visa can use only paid insurance.

  • Do I need health insurance in Portugal?

    Any foreigner visiting Portugal must have travel insurance covering the whole duration of their stay. It is a mandatory condition for obtaining any visa to Portugal.

  • How much does housing insurance cost in Portugal

    The mandatory fire damage insurance cost is around €80 per year. More extensive coverage will cost €100—€300 a year and more depending on the value of the property and its contents.

  • Is health insurance in Portugal free?

    There are two types of health insurance in Portugal: public and private. The public one is free of charge; however, it doesn’t cover dental care or cosmetic surgeries. The Social Security Fund pays the costs of other procedures, but patients are usually required to pay a small fee of up to 10 euros.