So you’re thinking of heading off on a travel adventure? Backpacking can be a fantastic experience and many people have the trip of a lifetime. But it can be worrying, too, as you’ve no idea what will happen and what unexpected setbacks you might experience.
A great way to get peace of mind, is to make sure you have a backpackers travel insurance policy in place. In general, travel insurance is essential and is there to protect you if things go wrong when you’re far from home.
What does travel insurance cover?
The main idea behind travel or holiday insurance is to cover you for cost of medical treatment abroad – which can cost thousands of pounds in a different country. Your travel cover could also pay for you to be taken home if there was a medical emergency.
Policies vary from provider to provider, but most should include emergency medical treatment costs. These include things such as hospital charges and ambulance fees. Insurance often covers your travel after medical treatment abroad, if you can’t use your original tickets. You could also be covered for the costs of a friend staying with you while you’re treated, or even flying out to be with you if needed.
Your policy can also cover you for the loss of your precious backpack and its contents. Sometimes you can be refunded if the trip has to be cancelled or cut short for some reason.
What kind of policy do you need?
But what sort of policy will you need to buy? The first question to answer is how long you expect your backpacking trip to last. With basic cover, single trip travel insurance will only cover travel up to a certain number of days, or limit the countries you can visit. Policies have a maximum duration, which could leave you without cover if you go over this, so make sure to check first.
Alternatively, with annual travel insurance you’re usually insured for several shorter trips rather than one long one so weigh up your options. Depending on the details of your trip, then, you may be better off looking for a specific backpackers travel insurance policy. All travel providers, though, will ask you the same questions to give you a quote.
Where are you going?
When you compare travel insurance you need to know which countries you’ll be visiting – should your policy cover you for the UK, or for Europe, or the USA, Canada and Caribbean? You’ll need extra cover if you’re going to the USA, Canada or Caribbean, and if you’re going further beyond you’ll need worldwide travel insurance. Do check specifically that the countries you are planning to visit are covered.
You might think you don’t need travel insurance if you have a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). In many European countries the EHIC means that the holder can get medical treatment on the same basis (maybe free or at a low cost) as people who live in that country. However, it will be on the basis you get taken to a public not private hospital. In the event of an emergency you will be taken to the nearest hospital.
But the EHIC isn’t a substitute for travel cover – it wouldn’t pay for getting you home or other costs linked to your medical emergency. Be aware too, that not all European countries recognise the EHIC. They are also date-specific, so check the expiry on your card before you travel. Also some policies will waive the excess you may have if you have an EHIC card.
And of course outside the EU there’s no EHIC, so it can be more expensive again to get medical support.
A final point on where you’re going. Your travel insurance won’t cover you if you are travelling to a country that the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) doesn’t consider to be safe. If you’re not sure, check the FCO website.
What are your plans?
If, as part of your travels, you’re planning to do any skiing or snowboarding, or taking a cruise, not all policies will cover you. With winter sports there’s more risk of injury, while cruises need specific elements like cover for being confined to your cabin, or an emergency airlift to hospital. Planning on being adventurous? You might need to check whether that bungee jump, white water rafting or diving with sharks is covered in your policy.
Feeling fit and healthy?
From a provider's point of view, if you have a health condition you might be more likely to need medical help while you’re travelling. So some conditions might make your insurance more expensive but this isn’t always the case with all conditions.
As part of buying and comparing insurance, you can expect to be asked some questions about your health and to state the names of any medical conditions you have.
It’s important that you do list any medical conditions and give providers all the information they need because, if not, you might be charged more by your provider or not be covered. If your insurer finds out that the medical emergency you had on your trip was linked to a condition you already had, they might not cover you or add a cost.
Compare and save!
Use comparethemarket.com to compare prices, and once you’ve answered all the questions you’ll get a page of travel insurance quotes. These are listed in price order, so the cheapest travel insurance is at the top.
All the main details of each policy are shown – how well it’s rated by Defaqto, how much medical, baggage and cancellation cover you get and how much excess you would pay if you did make a claim. You can filter and sort your results on these factors too. Then, to find out more about what is and isn’t included in the policies, click each one for more details.
Once you have found a travel insurance quote that suits you, click the button to go through and buy. But make sure you read all the details. We hope you have an amazing trip and never need to claim, but make sure you have the right cover, just in case.