What is backpackers insurance?
Backpackers travel insurance covers travellers to be away for one extended trip, typically lasting for 12 months.
Backpackers insurance is different to annual (or 'multi-trip') travel insurance because, whilst the latter also provides cover for a whole 12 months, it imposes a cap on the length of each individual trip, usually of between 30 and 60 days.
So if you are off around the world with your backpack, and returning within a year, backpackers travel insurance is likely to be the policy for you.
What do I need to know about backpackers insurance?
Backpacker policies usually last for 12 months but maximum cover can vary from 90 days all the way up to 18 months. Check the wording of the policy carefully and make sure it fits the duration of your trip, preferably with time to spare.
Some backpacker policies allow you to extend your trip should you so decide. But, on the other hand, if you come home to the UK ahead of schedule- even just temporarily - backpackers insurance typically becomes invalid.
However, some insurers now cover up to two trips back to the UK to cater for those who want to return home for Christmas or a wedding, for example. But the maximum time you can spend in the UK for the policy to still be valid, is usually around 14 days.
Benefits of backpackers travel insurance
The main benefit of backpacker cover is that it will insure you for a whole host of countries on one extended trip. This means you don't have to organise cover for each country separately.
Backpacker holiday insurance will also incorporate cover for working abroad as well as for a raft of sports and adventure activities that are popular among backpackers (although you should check individual policies as adventure sports can sometimes be excluded).
If planning to work, do read the small print to make sure the type of work you are planning to do is covered. This applies to both paid and voluntary work as well as manual labour.
Backpacking travel insurance, as with any good comprehensive policy, also typically offers a 24-hour help line which is especially useful for people travelling perhaps alone, or for the first time.
But, as this kind of holiday insurance is generally aimed at young people, you may be refused cover if you are over a certain age. In this case you will need to continue shopping around or perhaps opt for an extended single trip policy.
Common exclusions with insurance for backpackers
While backpackers insurance may be the most suitable type of policy for your trip, it can also come with a raft of exclusions. It is imperative you know what these are as, when you are away for a long time in different countries and climates and possibly travelling alone, you don't want to find out too late that you are not covered after all.
For example, certain countries - such as war zones or those in a state of political unrest - will not be covered under the policy. So always check the terms and conditions of geographical limits if you decide to change your itinerary.
It's likely that your backpacker travel insurance will cover you for some basic adventure sports, others however may fall outside its terms and conditions. These might include potholing or scuba diving for example. Again, check the small print. Many activities can usually be covered as a bolt-on to your premium for a small additional sum.
If you have any pre-existing medical conditions, you may be refused backpackers insurance. However, it is crucial you are honest about these - even if it results in a higher premium or taking a different kind of policy - as failing to disclose information can result in the policy becoming invalid.
Weighing up price and cover
Whilst it's always a good idea to shop around and compare deals on backpackers insurance, you should ensure you opt for the most suitable policy with the cover levels you need in the relevant areas, rather than simply choosing the cheapest policy.
It's quite common for cheaper policies to come hand in hand with higher excesses (the amount you would need to pay up front in order to facilitate a claim) and you could be missing out on cover in key areas such as medical, baggage and personal item cover.
Backpacker travel tips
As well as getting the right backpackers travel insurance in place, there are other preparations you will need to make well in advance of the date you wish to travel on.
Get your vaccinations. Not only do some jabs need to be administered over a course of several weeks, but the effects can knock you for six. Give yourself time to feel well again before you leave. It's also a good idea to check if you will be travelling to any malaria hotspots and seek antimalarial tablets from your GP where necessary.
Apply for your tourist visas. A visa for Vietnam for example, which you will need in advance, will take at least seven days to process and could delay your trip if you don't sort your paperwork out before travelling.
Be savvy with your spending money. When it comes to your spending money, make sure you shop around for the best currency conversion rates and consider getting a pre-paid card which is a safer way to carry holiday spending money.
To make sure you don't have to call your trip short in the event of your wallet or backpack being stolen, split your spending money over 2 or 3 cards and keep these in a hidden money belt on your person at all times.
Finally, it's always a good idea to have some currency on you when you first arrive at your destination in case of unexpected expenses.
Take copies of your paperwork. Make sure your travel insurance policy - as well as all other travel documents, including a photocopy of your passport - are printed out and kept on your person.
Make a note of emergency numbers. Highlight relevant phone numbers to save having to look for them in an emergency - such as the British Embassy at your destination, local emergency service numbers and 24 hour help lines provided by some travel insurers - and always remember to keep your mobile phone charged at all times.
Register with the FCO Locate System. Registering for the free FCO (Foreign & Commonwealth Office) Locate System can help the embassy get in touch with you easily in the event of a terrorist attack or natural disaster. This is a brilliant idea if you have friends and family back home who might be worried about you.
Find out about the 'Know Before You Go Campaign'. The FCO launched this campaign in 2011 with the purpose of educating would be backpackers on travel tips and country specific advice.
You can find more info here.
To begin comparing travel insurance for backpackers, why not click on the link below or hit the 'get a quote now' button at the top of the page.