Comparing backpacker travel insurance
Whether you’re a gap year student or simply a traveller at heart, backpacker travel insurance is a must-have. And if you’re travelling on a budget, we’re here to help you find a great-value deal.
What is backpacker insurance?
Backpacker insurance is a type of travel insurance policy aimed at those who plan to travel for long periods of time, and often to multiple different countries as part of one trip. This type of policy differs from annual (or multi-trip) cover, which typically offers you a fewer number of days you can be away for.
Why do I need backpacker insurance?
Having backpacker insurance can help to cover the cost of medical expenses, which can be very high in another country. This insurance could also cover you for lost or stolen baggage; damage to personal items; and personal liability; all of which can be very 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. Before you head off on your travels, check your policy to see whether it includes cover for:
1 Medical expenses – This could cover the cost of medical treatment abroad and emergency flights to get you home.
2 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.
3 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.
4 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.
5 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.
6 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 still consider backpacker insurance if I have a European Health Insurance Card?
Yes, you’ll still need to think about backpacker insurance if you have a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). If you’re travelling in Europe, as the rules currently stand, an EHIC will give you access to the same medical treatment as people in that specific European country. But having this card won’t pay to get you back home (or any other costs linked to a medical emergency).
It’s also 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 trip, 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.
It’s important to be aware that, on the points above, individual policies will vary and so you should be careful to ensure that any limitations are not going to impact on the type of cover you want.
How do I compare?
Start your travel insurance quote with us today and 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.