Do I need backpacker travel insurance?
Whether you’re a gap year student or an intrepid traveller, backpacker travel insurance is a must-have. It gives you a peace of mind that, if something happens to you, your plans or your possessions you’ll be protected and looked after.
Whether you’re off to Australia, USA, Africa, Southeast Asia, Central or South America your main needs will be the same and getting the right travel insurance policy is key.
Bear in mind, the cost of the average annual travel insurance policy is £37, compared to the average medical claim of £1,300.
Frequently asked questions
What is backpacker insurance?
Backpacker insurance is a type of cover aimed at people who plan to travel for long periods of time, and often to multiple countries, as part of one trip. It offers more than standard insurance so that you’re covered for all parts of your backpacking itinerary.
If you’re travelling on a budget, we’re here to help you find a great-value deal.
Why do I need backpacker insurance?
Backpacker insurance can help cover the cost of medical expenses, which can be very high in another country.
It could also cover you for lost or stolen baggage, damage to personal items and personal liability. All of these can be inconvenient and costly, if the worst happens while you’re abroad.
You should review your policy details carefully to see what you’re covered for.
What should backpacker insurance cover?
All good travel insurance policies should offer similar features, regardless of whether they’re specifically aimed at backpackers.
Make sure you choose a policy that covers you for:
- Medical expenses – this should pay for the cost of treatment abroad and emergency flights to get you home.
- Cancellation or curtailment – useful in the event of your trip being cancelled or cut short. (It’s also a good idea to check whether you’re protected if your holiday provider goes bust.
- Delays and missed departures – this could compensate you for any expenses incurred if your flight is delayed due to an insured event, such as a strike. It’s also worth checking that you’re covered for missed departures, as providers tend to be very specific about what counts as a good reason for missing a flight.
- Lost luggage – most policies will cover the cost of replacing any lost or stolen baggage but check with your provider that the cover amount is enough to replace everything you’re taking with you.
- Extreme sports – if it’s likely your trip will involve adventure sports and activities, such as bungee jumping, white water rafting or diving with sharks, make sure you’re covered.
- The same goes for winter sports, including skiing or snowboarding – check you’re covered before you hit the slopes.
- Personal liability – this could cover the cost of any damage or injury you unintentionally cause while you’re away. It’s worth being aware that a claim could be invalidated if, say, a doctor or other specialist treating you after a skiing injury reported that alcohol was involved.
Should I consider backpacker insurance if I have a European Health Insurance Card?
You’ll still need to think about backpacker insurance if you have a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). As the rules currently stand, an EHIC will give you access to the same medical treatment as people in that European country. But having this card won’t pay to get you back home (from Spain, an air ambulance can cost £25,000) or any other costs linked to a medical emergency).
It’s worth being aware that while travel insurance isn’t compulsory in Europe, it may be a requirement in other parts of the world. For example, if you’re visiting Cuba you’ll need to show proof of travel health insurance.
Can I get backpackers insurance with a pre-existing condition?
If you have a pre-existing medical condition, you should always tell your insurance provider. A medical condition doesn’t mean you won’t find cover, it just means that your premium in some cases could cost you a little more.
If your provider finds out that a medical emergency you had on your trip was linked to a condition you already had and didn’t declare, they might decide not to pay out. Therefore, it’s always best to be honest about your medical history.
What else should I consider?
Once you’ve worked out where you want to go and have considered the length of your backpacking holiday, there are a few important things still to think about.
- Return visits – if life throws you a curveball and you need to come back home, be it for a wedding or a family emergency, then you’ll be in a much better place if you’ve planned this as a feature of your insurance cover.
- Working abroad – while some policies will cover you for injury or illness while abroad, be aware this isn’t always the case when it comes to manual labour.
- Countries covered – you might have to pay a higher premium if you’re visiting certain countries. Not all backpacker policies cover you for travel to USA, Mexico or the Caribbean. Sometimes this can be linked to the high cost of medical treatment in such countries.
- Age limits –some backpacker insurance policies have age restrictions if, for example, you’re a mature student or you’ve taken a sabbatical. You might want to look instead for a policy that will cover you regardless of your age.
- Political unrest – many policies will not provide cover if the UK government (Foreign & Commonwealth Office) has advised against travel, often due to a country being at war or in a time of civil unrest.
Do you have any advice for backpackers?
Here are seven things for backpackers to bear in mind before they begin their adventures.
- Visas – find out if you need a visa and make the necessary arrangements to get one if you do. (YouGov is a good place to start.)
- Vaccinations – check with your GP whether you need any vaccinations. If you do, make sure you get an appointment in plenty of time before you travel.
- Cash – ensure you have enough money to fund your trip.
- Safe places – look at whether the Foreign Office cautions against travel to any of the regions you’re planning to visit. If you do visit a country or an area with restrictions or warnings in place, you could invalidate your insurance.
- Behave yourself – insurance providers take a dim view of incidents that occur because you were affected by drink and drugs and are highly unlikely to pay out for any claims made. The authorities in some countries can also be very severe if you commit a drug-related offence.
- Respect – understand the local customs and adhere to them.
- Learn – if English isn’t widely spoken where you’re going, then think about whether you can get by with what you know of the local language. Alternatively, stock up on phrasebooks.
How do I compare backpacker insurance quotes?
Start your travel insurance quote with us today. Once you’ve got your list of prices, read each policy to check what is and isn’t included.
Don’t assume the cheapest option is the best option. Instead, choose a policy that works for you based on where you’re going, what you’re doing and how long you’re travelling for.
Compare travel insurance for backpackers today and get a quote in minutes.