Travel insurance for working abroad

If you want to work while you’re abroad, then your travel insurance needs to include cover in the workplace.

Kim Jones
Kim Jones
Updated 22 March 2022  | 3 mins read

When should I consider working abroad travel insurance?

Whether you’re heading abroad to work as a holiday rep or ski instructor, travelling on a gap year and want to fund your adventures with some casual bar work, or doing voluntary work overseas, your travel insurance needs to include cover in the workplace.

Key points

  • If you’re intending to do any sort of work abroad, your travel insurance policy needs to include working abroad cover
  • This will pay for the cost of medical treatment and for your return home if you have an accident while working
  • Without this cover, you’d have to pay for any costs relating to incidents that might happen while you’re working
  • Even if you’re doing unpaid voluntary work, you’ll still need this type of cover

Does standard travel insurance cover you for working abroad?

Many standard travel insurance policies won’t cover you for working abroad as they’re designed solely for leisure and holidays.

That means, if you were unfortunate enough to have an accident while working, you’d be faced with having to pay any medical bills yourself - plus the cost of returning home early or late if the accident requires it.

These sorts of expenses could set you back thousands of pounds.

Can long-term travel insurance cover me?

Long-term travel insurance is sometimes called backpacker insurance. It’s designed to cover people who are visiting multiple countries on their trip and travelling for long periods - typically from six months up to 24 months.

Long-term travel insurance does sometimes offer cover for some types of paid or unpaid work, but you’d need to check the policy to be sure.

Depending on what sort of work you’re doing, you may need to take out a specialist policy.

What’s included in working abroad travel insurance?

A specialist working abroad policy will cover you to work when you’re away while including all the usual benefits of a standard travel insurance policy, such as:

  • Medical cover - If you fall ill or have an accident, your travel insurance will pay for your treatment
  • Repatriation - Pays for the cost of getting you back to the UK if you need further treatment or if your return travel plans are affected by illness or an accident abroad
  • Lost, stolen or delayed luggage and belongings
  • Cancellation and curtailment - If you have to cancel or cut short your trip because of illness, injury or bereavement
  • Personal liability - Cover if you injure someone or damage their property and you’re legally responsible. Most working abroad policies won’t include cover for personal liability in the workplace

You may also be able to purchase add-on insurance for your policy:

  • Winter sports cover
  • Adventure and sports cover
  • Gadget cover

Am I covered for personal liability claims while working abroad?

Personal liability cover is offered on most standard travel insurance policies. It provides cover if you injure someone or damage their property and they try to sue you.

While working abroad travel policies will provide this type of cover for things that happen in your leisure time, it usually won’t apply to things that happen while you’re working.

Personal liability cover while working is usually supplied by your employer or voluntary organisation, but do check to confirm this. You may need to look at taking out a separate international professional indemnity insurance policy.

What are my options for insurance to make sure I’m covered?

You might find that some standard backpacker insurance policies will cover you for certain types of work such as in an office, bar or restaurant.

Jobs which are considered higher risk may require more specialist policies. For example, if you want to work with wild or dangerous animals in a sanctuary.

Is manual labour covered?

Plenty of policies offer cover for jobs like bar, restaurant and office work, as well as fruit and vegetable picking.

But it can be more difficult to find cover for jobs that are classed as heavy manual labour - such as construction work, working with machinery, or agricultural farm work using tractors.

That’s because this sort of work is more hazardous, so is seen as being higher risk.

You’ll likely need a specialist policy, which can mean it’s more expensive, and you’ll need to adhere to all safety rules for your policy to remain valid.

Will I be covered for charitable work abroad?

Whether you’re doing conservation work, teaching or volunteering at a hospital, you’re in a working environment that carries its own risks. So you’ll need a working abroad policy to cover you.

Your charitable role may be varied, so be sure to check that all the duties you’re expected to carry out are included in your cover.

Am I better off taking out international health insurance if I’m working abroad?

Generally speaking, travel insurance is designed for people going on holiday or for those away from home for periods up to a year.

Healthwise, it covers you for emergency and short-term medical treatment, plus repatriation and getting you home for further treatment if you can’t use your original ticket.

If you’re moving abroad to work for a longer period of time - whether alone or with your family - then international health insurance (sometimes called international private medical insurance) can provide you with more comprehensive healthcare cover.

In fact, it might be a requirement in the country you’re moving to that you have this type of health insurance in place. It could even be part of your visa application.

International healthcare insurance pays for emergency treatment and daily healthcare, too.

It can include cover for:

  • Hospital stays and surgery
  • Outpatient appointments and treatments
  • Consultations
  • Check-ups
  • Maternity care
  • Doctors’ visits
  • Treatment for ongoing conditions
  • Diagnostic tests
  • Prescription drugs
  • Optional dental and eyecare plans
  • Medical evacuation and repatriation