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Backpackers’ travel insurance

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What’s backpacker insurance?

Backpacker travel insurance - sometimes called long-stay, extended trip or gap-year insurance - covers you for a continuous trip lasting between two and 18 months.

It’s useful for those travelling to multiple countries or if you’re going away for a long time.

You can buy backpacker insurance for individuals, couples, families and groups.

What backpacker insurance should cover

Your backpacker policy should cover:

  1. Medical treatment and repatriation
  2. Holiday disruptions, delays and cancellations
  3. Legal fees
  4. Your luggage and personal possessions
  5. Your money and travel documents
  6. A couple of visits back home
  7. A wider range of activities than standard
  8. Some work or volunteering

When should I buy insurance for backpacking?

It’s a good idea to buy travel insurance as soon as you’ve booked any part of your trip - that way you’ll be covered for cancellation straight away.

You can buy travel insurance at the last minute, but the sooner the better.

Does my destination affect the cost of backpacker travel insurance?

Yes. For example, the US has higher medical fees than most places in Europe.

Insurers cater for this by selling policies suitable for different parts of the globe - so the cost of worldwide travel insurance that includes America would be higher than for European-only cover.

What else affects the cost?

Your backpacker insurance will be priced according to where you plan to go and your own personal circumstances:

Health

You must declare pre-existing medical conditions to your insurer. This will increase the cost of your cover as there’s a higher risk you’ll need treatment abroad.

Age

As you get older, the cost of your travel insurance will rise, as you’re more likely to have medical conditions or need treatment while you’re away.

Possessions

If you need to take any valuable possessions with you, like a camera or laptop, your travel insurance will cost a little more, as it takes into account the added cost of replacing your expensive item(s) if they’re damaged, lost or stolen.

Activities

Your travel insurance will cost more if you need a policy with lots of adventurous sports, watersports or winter sports included.

If you’re going to be doing something especially risky that isn’t included as standard, you might be able to add it on for an extra fee.

Length of travel

The longer you’re away, the higher the possibility of you needing to make a claim, so you’ll have to pay more for backpacker insurance than you might for single-trip cover for a week’s break, for example.

Backpacker insurance exclusions

Here are a few things that could mean any travel insurance claims you make will be rejected:

  1. Not following advice

    You won’t be covered if you ignore the advice of official bodies like the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) and World Health Organisation (WHO)

  2. Drugs and alcohol

    If it’s found out your judgement was impaired by drink or drugs, your claim will be rejected. Check your policy wording - some policies will have specific alcohol limits, but others will only state you must not drink excessively

  3. Acting maliciously, recklessly or illegally

    If you intentionally cause harm to yourself or others, participate in illegal acts or behave recklessly (unless to save a human life), you won’t be covered for any claims as a result

  4. Unattended possessions

    If your belongings are left unattended or unsecured and they’re stolen, you won’t be able to make a claim

  5. Wrong information

    You need to be as accurate as possible when applying for backpackers’ travel insurance. Your insurer could refuse to pay out if you’ve given them the wrong information or withheld details which could affect your claim

  6. Disappointing trips

    You won’t be able to claim if you aren’t enjoying your trip and want to end it early

  7. Medical claims and your EHIC

    If you’re backpacking in Europe, your insurer won’t pay for treatment that’s covered by your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC)

How to claim when you’re abroad

Make sure you take your insurance policy number and your insurer’s emergency contact details on your trip.

If you’re claiming for stolen items or baggage, you’ll need to have informed the local police within 24 hours of the incident and got a crime reference number to give to your insurer.

For medical treatment claims, get in touch with your insurer as soon as you (or someone on your behalf) are able.

Preferably, you should let your insurer know before you accept any medical treatment, but in an emergency this isn’t always possible.

For smaller claims you’ll usually have to pay for things upfront and then reclaim the cost from your insurer when you get home, so get receipts for everything relating to your claim, including medical treatment, medication or replacement clothes.

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