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Backpacker and gap year travel insurance

Updated on May 28, 2011

So you’ve decided you want to go backpacking, travelling around the world? Maybe you’ve decided on your route, found a great deal on a rtw ticket and booked some cheap flights, possibly even started packing. It’s vital that with all the excitement of planning the more fun aspects of your trip you don’t forget to ensure you have adequate travel insurance for the length of your trip. It’s not a happy thought but there are so many things that can go wrong when you’re travelling – flight cancellations, illness, having all your cash or your passport stolen. Perhaps the most important thing you can do before you leave is make sure you’re covered for these eventualities so that they become an inconvenience rather than a disaster.

Specialist backpacker insurance

Normal travel insurance, even yearly policies, are normally not sufficient to cover a gap year or an extended trip. They will usually have a clause in the policy wording stating that your trip can not extend a certain number of days. This may be suitable if you’re only taking a short trip but if you’re going to be away for a month or more, you’ll need to look into one of the specialist backpacker travel insurance policy plans.

Luckily there are a wide variety of plans available on the market, suitable for every traveler from the adrenaline junky to the gadget-crazy flashpacker. Take time to have a think about the activities you’ll be taking part in while you’re travelling and what you’ll be taking with you. If you’re travelling with a laptop or taking an expensive camera, you’ll want to make sure that the single item limit is sufficient to cover the cost of replacement if these are lost or stolen. If you’re going to be doing any extreme sports or even just activities such as diving, mountain biking or hiking, make sure that these are covered in your policy. Most insurance companies offer different levels of cover so you can tailor this to your requirements. And remember it’s better to be over-insured than under-insured. Think there’s no way you’ll ever be doing a sky dive? You may feel differently once you’re on the road!

Travel insurance comparison

Once you have an idea of the sort of cover you require, head to one of the travel insurance comparison sites so you can get an idea of prices. Make sure you read through the full policy wording before you sign up for anything. Check the rating of the insurer (most comparison sites now offer this information) as a policy that sounds good on paper may not measure up when you need to actually make a claim.

If you’re travelling within only certain countries you may be able to get cheaper deals so make sure to look for these when you’re searching. For example several companies now offer policies just covering Australia and New Zealand, as many people travel there on a Working Holiday visa. Also if your trip includes the USA it’s likely to make your quote rocket as the cost of medical cover is so expensive there.

Not all insurance companies will be covered by the comparison sites so make sure to have a general search and check out their websites directly too. World nomads is a popular choice with backpackers for long-term travel insurance and most of the big insurance companies offer some kind of backpacker or gap year travel insurance.

Preparing to leave

Once you’ve arranged your policy and you’re ready to set off on your trip, make sure you have a copy of your details of cover, policy number and worldwide contact numbers with you. I’d advise to take print outs and also email yourself an electronic copy if possible (scan the documents if you only have paper versions). If something does go wrong you’ll want to make sure you can contact your insurance company quickly and have all your details on hand. With your insurance sorted you can go ahead and enjoy your gap year or your backpacking trip around the world!


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    • wawies profile image


      8 years ago from Indonesia

      Nice Hub! your article open my eyes about what we have to do to protect our travel gear. Especially for our camera and laptop.


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