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Backpackers Insurance

Updated on August 21, 2014

Introduction to Backpackers Insurance

Backpacking is a fun and cheap way to travel however don't stinge on getting Backpackers insurance. When traveling, anything can happen. Baggage gets lost or worst still, you might get sick and need a hospital. Foreign hospital can be expensive for foreigners and if they charge you for being a foreigner, that's nothing you can do about it.

Being a backpacker means you will tend to travel off the beaten track more compared to regular tourist. Off the beaten track usually equals less access to medical care should you get yourself hurt while tracking or taking part skiing or other sports.


Some backpackers insurance require you to purchase the insurance before you leave your home country. While backpacking, you tend to leave things to the last minute and forget buying the insurance, my practise is to buy the insurance as soon as I get my air ticket.

The reason is simple. Once you have bought your ticket and confirm you flight, should there be any cancellation or delay, you might be entitled to claim if you suffer any financial lost from that cancellation. If you delay until the last minute, your backpackers insurance policy might not be in force.

Some countries do not offer backpackers insurance. If that is the case, you can either get a normal travel insurance or go online to get it. 

Insurance Terms

Whatever type of insurance you buy or who you get it from, make sure your insurance covers the following.

1. Medical emergencies & evacuation

If nothing else, medical emergencies and evacution are the reason to get backpackers insurance. Take the time to read this part of the policy in detail, especially the areas
of cover for emergency evacuation, limits on medical expenses and cover for emergency dental work. Also make careful note of the general policy exclusions.

2. Trip cancellation

If you can't travel for unforseen reason like an accident, illness or the death of a close relative. For this section of the policy to be useful, you have to buy the policy when you start booking tickets. Not all policies cover cancellation, and only some cover your non-refundable, pre-booked costs if your trip is interrupted after you've left home.

3. Baggage & personal belongings

Many people buy backpackers insurance due to loss of baggage and belongings. The loss that you might suffer is usually small. Most backpackers insurance expects you to take reasonable care of your belongings. Some insurance policy do not cover or have limited cover for electronic gear especially laptop, camera and other valuables.

4. Personal liability

If you are involved in an accident or accidentally cause damage and are held accountable for it, insurance can cover your liability and legal expenses.

Terms to understand and be clear about

Read the policy wording and look at the clauses for period of cover and the terms "medical evacuation", "trip interruption" or "curtailment" for details on when you may be covered for expenses if you have to return home early.

Also check out what is not covered. Generally the following is not covered:

  • Medical conditions that exist before you travel
  • Deliberately put your life in danger
  • Taking unnecessary and unreasonable risk
  • Anything that involves alcohol or drugs

If you plan to ski or take part in high risk sports, then make sure your backpackers insurance covers such activities. Sports to take note of include scuba diving, paragliding, bungee jumping and winter sports. Carefully check your backpacker policy wording to ensure that the activity you intend to do is covered by your policy.


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      West 7 years ago

      Thanks for the article. I've forgotten to get backpackers insurance on a few occasion. Will keep this in mind the next time I travel.