Travelling the world can be unpredictable as much as it can be fun, which is why backpacker travel insurance can help give you peace of mind while you’re exploring. Whether you’re hiking up hills or swimming along shorelines, it’s always useful to know what you’re covered for, so you can concentrate less on worrying and more on enjoying your adventure.
What is backpacker insurance?
Backpacker insurance is travel insurance that provides extra protection for people backpacking around the world. This means that, unlike many standard travel insurance policies, you’re likely to be covered for:
- Stays in multiple destinations: 75% of backpackers who took out travel insurance using MoneySuperMarket picked a worldwide policy, according to quotes between January and May 2018
- An extended time period of travel: Backpacking used to be seen primarily as an extended trip option, usually for 12 months. However, more people are choosing to go backpacking for shorter periods, with the number of trips lasting 90 days or more having fallen by almost 10% since 2015.
- A wider range of activities: Backpacking gives you the chance to try new activities, such as skiing or white water rafting. On standard travel insurance policies activities such as these generally need extra coverage, but many backpacker insurance deals offer this as part of the deal.
Backpacker insurance also covers all the things you’d expect from a travel policy, including:
- Holiday disruptions if your flights or accommodation are cancelled or delayed
- Legal fees if you need to claim for compensation or damages for something that happened during your holiday
- Industrial action if your airline/accommodation company’s staff go on strike
- Working abroad if you need to take up a temporary job to raise your funds
- Home visits if you want to return home temporarily for a holiday or a family illness
- Possessions if any items go missing on your trip
- Medical treatment if you need emergency care for injury, illness, or a pre-existing condition
However backpacker insurance can vary, so it’s important to read the policy documents to know exactly where your cover begins and ends.
16% of backpackers travel for less than 21 days, 20% travel for 46 to 90 nights, and 46% travel for more than 90 nights. According to 10,822 quotes run on MoneySuperMarket between January and May 2018
Who is backpacker insurance for?
Backpacker insurance is a good option for travellers going away for extended amounts of time, or to several different countries. The majority of backpacker policies are generally taken out by individuals: in 2017, 88.3% of policies were bought by individuals. However, you can also get backpacker insurance policies for groups and couples.
When to buy backpacker insurance?
It’s a good idea to buy any kind of travel insurance as soon as you’ve booked your trip, however many people leave it late to organise travel insurance: 11% take out cover on the same day they leave.
Booking travel insurance as early as possible means you might be able to claim back the cost of your holiday if you have to cancel unexpectedly. This could be due to:
- Illness or injury
However not all insurance policies include coverage for cancellations, so it’s important to check beforehand in your policy documents.
34.05% of travel insurance policies are bought one or fewer days before the policy start date, according to 774,739 quotes run on MoneySuperMarket.com between January and May 2018
How much does backpack insurance cost?
The cost of backpack insurance can vary depending on a few different factors. For example, the average price for a backpacker travel policy in Europe is £22.74, but for worldwide cover it’s £70.51, and for Australia and New Zealand it’s £92.42. That’s according to quotes run on MoneySuperMarket between January and May 2018.
Destination is a big factor when it comes to the cost of backpack insurance, but the price can also be affected by:
- Your health: pre-existing medical conditions can increase the risk of you needing treatment while abroad.
- How old you are: while most backpackers are generally under 30, a higher age is likely to mean costlier cover
- What you take with you: you may have to take out extra cover for things like instruments, sports equipment, and gadgets
- What you’ll be doing: cover for adventurous sports is likely to raise premiums
- How long you’ll be travelling: longer trips mean higher insurance costs
Based on the average price of backpacker insurance by destination according to MoneySuperMarket data between January and May 2018.
Common backpacker insurance exclusions
While backpacker insurance may be the most suitable type of policy for your trip, there may still be a number of exclusions that mean the insurer won’t pay out. These can include:
- If you don’t follow advice from any official authorities such as the Foreign and Commonwealth Office or the World Health Organisation, concerning preventative measures like vaccines or anti-malaria pills.
- If you act maliciously or take part in illegal activity.
- If you are under the influence of drugs or alcohol (though this may exclude prescription drugs given to you by a doctor).
- If you have left possessions unattended or unsecured when they were lost, damaged, or stolen – check if your insurer requires a certain level of security for your items when you’re away, such as special locks.
- If you haven’t answered any of your insurer’s questions accurately – including information about possessions or medical conditions.
- If you aren’t enjoying your journey and want to end it early.
These can vary depending on the insurer and the coverage you take out, which makes it crucial to check the key facts and documents before selecting a policy.
71% of people taking out backpackers insurance are aged between 18 and 25, according to quotes run on MoneySuperMarket between January and May 2018. The proportion of backpackers aged 26 to 30 fell to 20% in the same period.
How to claim when you’re abroad
If you need to make a claim while you’re backpacking across the globe, it’s worth considering a few things to make sure the process is as smooth as possible – you should also keep your policy documents at hand, whether it’s a paper copy or online, as it can be helpful when you talk to insurers.
When you claim:
- Speak to local authorities, if relevant. If you were the victim of a crime, you might have to tell the police and get a report within 24 hours for some insurers to cover your claim, for example
- Contact your insurer. You may have a 24/7 contact number for your insurer so you can make a claim as soon as possible – in some cases there may be a deadline of 31 days for it to be accepted. You could also be given a number to call for medical emergencies before going to the hospital or doctor, to ensure your treatment can be covered.
- Keep the evidence. Insurers are likely to request evidence to support your claim, such as a police report with a reference number, medical forms from a hospital or GP, or receipts to prove ownership of items lost or stolen.
88% of backpacker travel insurance policies were taken out by individuals, according to quotes run on MoneySuperMarket between January and May 2018.
Top tips for buying backpacker insurance
When you’re looking for the best deal on backpacker travel insurance, there are a few things you should keep in mind:
- Activities. Make sure your planned activities are included in the policy, and not listed as exclusions – and see if you can bolt-on extra cover if you decided to do an excluded activity
- Possessions. Review the policy’s price limit for single items and consider taking out extra cover for any valuables that exceed that value
- Cash. Find out how much your insurer will reimburse you for if your cash is stolen, and limit the amount you carry around to no more than what you’re insured for
- Destinations. Make sure everywhere you plan to visit is included on your insurance policy
- Medical cover. Many people don’t think about checking whether mental health is included – but if you have to cancel your trip as a result of a pre-existing mental health issue such as depression, your insurer may be required to know about the condition beforehand.
- Customer support. Find out if you’ll be able to contact customer support 24/7 while you’re away, as you never know when you’ll hit a speedbump on your travels.
- Change of plans. Look for is whether the insurer will be able to cover you if you change your plans, such as extending your trip or visiting more countries.
- Excess. It may be wise to choose a policy with a lower excess, since you may have to claim on your travel insurance multiple times
35,000 policies were sold on MoneySuperMarket in 2017.
Compare backpacker insurance quotes
When you know exactly what cover you need, comparing backpacker insurance quotes is a great way to find the right deal for you. With MoneySuperMarket you’ll be able to see all the important details, from the activities you’ll be covered for while you’re away to your maximum excess payments and the policy’s Defaqto customer rating.
When you find a policy you’re interested in, you can click on more details and see the variations of that particular insurance. This allows you to compare the different levels of backpacker insurance to see how much the cover changes if you were to upgrade the policy.
You may be tempted to go for the cheapest backpacker insurance, and for some people that will certainly be the best option. However, it’s more important that you compare by features rather than cost, as being under-insured or falling foul of exclusions can ruin a trip of a lifetime.
And when you’re considering the excess level, you should weigh up whether choosing a higher excess to save a few pounds now is the most economical decision – if you have to claim, it could cost you much more than the saving you make now.