We’re positive people and we don’t like to dwell on the possibility of bad things happening while travelling. And realistically, things go wrong and accidents happen everywhere, everyday, whether people are travelling the world or not. But there’s no getting around that if you’re planning a backpacking adventure, long term travel insurance is a necessity.
Because here’s the thing, being in a foreign land where you’re unfamiliar with the local health and legal systems is never going to be a good thing if you run into trouble. It’s also very likely that medical treatment for even the simplest of things will be expensive. Taking a huge chunk of your travel fund, or worse, meaning you have to cut your backpacking trip short.
Do I Need Backpacker Travel Insurance?
We’ve heard loads of travel horror stories over our years on the road. Nasty blood infections from motorbike exhaust burns, parents having to remortgage their house to pay for medical costs, broken backs in car accidents and some downright gruesome tropical parasite infections.
Fortunately none of these are things that we’ve experienced, but what we’re trying to say is, shit happens. Regardless of how careful you are. And being in a different country complicates things hugely. Having long term travel insurance is your backup if things go wrong. Your plan B.
If you’re like us you’ll want to get the best cover for the best price not just grab any old deal. But we totally get it, comparing backpacker travel insurance policies is just about as dull as it gets when it comes to planning your epic travel adventure. It’s a fun sponge. Which is why we’ve used our experience to do most of the unexciting stuff for you.
How To Choose Long Term Travel Insurance
Here we’ve put together the essential things you need to know about choosing the best travel insurance for backpackers. From one way travel insurance key terms to the most frequently asked questions about round the world travel insurance, we’re covering it all.
To save you even more time, we’ve also scoured the backpacker travel insurance market so that we can tell you exactly which are the top long stay travel insurance companies out there.
What Is The Best Gap Year Travel Insurance?
Whenever we get asked this we always recommend World Nomads. Due to their range of cover, no nonsense approach and reliability, they are hands down the most widely used within the backpacking community.
If you’re after travel insurance for a 2 week all inclusive holiday look elsewhere, but when it comes to multi destination adventure travel these are the guys you want.
There’s tonnes more useful info below yet, but if you’re already convinced you need backpacker insurance & you just want to jump straight in with a World Nomads quote – here you go:
Long Stay Travel Insurance Considerations
When choosing the best backpacker travel insurance for you, here’s the most important things you need to consider.
Where Are You Travelling To?
The destinations on your backpacking itinerary can have a large effect on the cost of long term travel insurance. Simply because travelling to some countries puts you in a higher risk category. For this reasons it’s important to choose a travel insurance provider who specialises in round the world travel insurance policies.
High risk countries such as Afghanistan or South Sudan that the Foreign Office advises not travelling to are unlikely to be covered by standard backpacker insurance providers. You can check travel safety warnings for every country here.
What Activities Do You Have Planned?
Similarly most activities and excursion you plan to do, such as scuba diving or mountain trekking, need to be covered on your backpacker travel policy as standard. No quibble.
This is where basic budget travel insurance can let you down. Because you either end up having to pay a silly high premium for additional cover or risk that pesky small print not covering parts of your trip.
Do You Have Pre-Existing Medical Conditions?
This is one first time backpackers can easily fall foul of. Depending on the long stay travel insurance provider you choose, any pre-existing medical conditions can significantly bump up the policy price.
So they opt to not declare and keep their fingers crossed they don’t get ill. It can be a craptacular move. Especially when there are backpacker travel insurance companies who specialise in covering pre-existing health risks and hence don’t add on crazy premiums.
What Are The Long Trip Travel Insurance Excesses?
It’s well known in the insurance world that cheapest backpacker travel insurance companies always have the highest excesses. So while the initial price of a one way travel insurance policy may look attractive, it’s no good if claiming is then gonna cost you megabucks.
We all know who’s quids in there, and it ain’t you. The whole point of having round the world travel insurance is that it is available to use if you need to.
What Should The Best Backpacker Insurance Cover?
Always check what the medical expenses coverage is. It should be high, at least £1 million plus. I know this sounds a lot but good quality health care doesn’t come cheap. And overnight hospital stays with tests and scans or emergency procedures can all too quickly add up.
You do not want to be in a position where you have travel health insurance but can no longer be treated because your cover is maxed out. Also be aware not all travel medical insurance covers dental expenses.
Find out if you need to check with the long term insurance provider before going ahead with medical treatment? And do they have a 24 hour claim line? This is essential if you’re in a different time zone.
Also does the extended stay travel insurance specifically cover repatriation costs? i.e. the cost of getting you home from wherever in the world you are. In whatever condition you may be in.
None of this is nice stuff to think about but it is an essential part of planning a backpacking trip that you will remember for the right reasons, not the wrong ones.
Personal Liability Coverage
What exactly is this? Personal liability insurance for if something happens that results in a third party being injured or property damage which you are held legally responsible for. Well, you may think – I’m not planning on hurting anyone or smashing up anyone’s stuff so I don’t need that.
Unfortunately as we keep saying, shit happens that’s out of your control sometimes. And in that instance you are going to want a backpacker travel insurance that has your back. Again make sure your coverage for personal liability is upwards of £1 million. Legal fees are expensive.
Is Stolen & Lost Stuff Covered?
What if you arrive in your next travel destination but your backpack doesn’t? It’s a backpackers nightmare. Most often your airline will find and return it. But it may take a while. And then sometimes they are just lost. Gone. Puff. It happens. In this case you at least want your long term travel insurance to cover the cost of buying your stuff back.
Also check what your long trip travel insurance policy classes as valuables. Because when it comes to lost or stolen electronics they are not always covered as standard. Especially if they are over a few years old. Depending on the value of the gadgets you are travelling with, you may need to purchase an add on and the cost of those can vary greatly.
Trip Cancellations & Missed Flights
Trip cancellation covers costs if you suddenly can’t go on your trip for an unforeseen circumstance such as illness, an accident or a death of a close relative. The key here is that you have to have bought your gap year travel insurance before you start booking tickets.
Compare Backpacker Insurance
Okay, let’s get into the nitty gritty of which long term travel insurance to choose. The following companies, in our humble opinion, have the best policies on the market when it comes to the the best backpacker travel insurance policies.
The information we are providing is based on our extensive research, what we know about the unexpected nature of travel and recommendations from within the travel community.
World Nomads travel insurance is designed specifically with adventure and long term travel in mind. They have a no bullshit approach to policy wording so there’s no ambiguity over what you may or may not be covered for. Cover is also available for residents of most countries.
Key Travel Insurance Policy Features:
- You can buy it after you’ve set off or extend your cover while on the road.
- 24/7 emergency medical assistance including dental care.
- Covers over 150 activities as standard such as hot air ballooning and bungee jumping.
- Covers you for working while you travel e.g. fruit picking or bar work.
- Claim online from anywhere in the world.
Alpha Travel Insurance
Flexible and affordable insurance for short and long term travel. At Alpha Travel Insurance they understand how plans can change when travelling long term so they make it as easy as possible to make adjustments to your cover. Cover is only available for UK residents.
Key Travel Insurance Policy Features:
- Ability to choose your own excess from £0 – 175.
- Up to 2 years cover with two trips home included.
- £10 million emergency medical cover and emergency repatriation cover.
- 24 hour doctor managed emergency assistance helpline.
- Discounts for couples and gadget extension insurance available.
Travel insurance to cover all pre-existing health problems. For people of any age. World First specialise in affordable medical travel insurance to cover a range of difficult to insure conditions. If you are over 55 or have any serious health conditions these are who to contact.
Key Travel Insurance Policy Features:
- Covers serious health problems including HIV, Parkinson’s and cancer.
- Covers any pre-existing medical condition.
- Insurance for travellers over the age of 65.
- 24 hour emergency medical assistance.
- Covers over 150 sports and activities as standard including scuba diving and surfing.
Best Backpacker Insurance FAQs
Is Budget Travel Insurance Worth It?
No one wants to pay over the odds when it comes to long term travel insurance, after all, the hope is that you won’t actually need it. However beware of cheap travel insurance policies. They likely won’t cover you for all you need.
Because you can choose your level of excess on claims, Alpha Travel Insurance is a great option for keeping your initial outlay as low as possible.
Can I Get Backpacker Insurance For 2 Years?
Yes, Alpha Travel Insurance straight up offers 24 month policies. You can also extend World Nomads travel insurance whilst you are still travelling. But just be aware, in that instance any medical claims will be classed as pre-existing medical conditions in the renewal.
Will Backpacker Travel Insurance Cover Electronics?
Yes, up to a limit. Then you will need to buy an add on. Alpha Travel Insurance covers £200 of non-specified electricals and £500 for laptops as standard on their policies. World Nomads cover £250 worth of gadgets on their standard plan and £500 on their explorer plan.
Gadget extension with Alpha travel insurance covers upto £1000 with no single item limit. Meaning if you lost your camera bag with DSLR, tripod and lens you could claim £1000 for it. The cost is £113.99 and it is currently through a partner company called Bastion.
World First travel insurance also uses Bastion for their gadget extension add on.
To add high value items onto World Nomads backpacker insurance the cost is an additional 12% of the specified value of each item.
For example insuring a £400 phone adds £48 onto your policy price. For the standard plan, the single item limit is £400 upto a total of £2,500 and for the explorer plan the single item limit is £750 upto a total of £4,000.
Please note these prices were quoted based on a single female, UK resident, 33 years in age travelling around South America for 12 months in 2018/19. Depending on your specific circumstances prices may vary.
You can also check out a separate gadget cover provider such as Gadget Cover. They cover you worldwide for up to 180 days per year.
What If I Am Under The Influence of Alcohol or Drugs?
If you make a claim for something that happened while you were pissed and your long term travel insurance provider finds out, it’s highly unlikely that they’ll pay out. It’s also likely to be the case “if you were acting like a right git”, in the words of World Nomads.
How Do I Claim On My Long Term Travel Insurance?
With World First you can download the forms online but they need to be posted along with receipts to make a claim. For Alpha Travel Insurance you can download the forms online and send them back via email. With World Nomads you can claim directly online.
As mentioned above it’s best to choose a long stay travel insurance provider who have a 24/7 emergency medical helpline. All three backpacker insurance providers that we are recommending here have that.
Can I Buy Travel Insurance While Travelling?
Fo shizzle. If it’s something you’ve forgotten to do before you set off travelling, World Nomads offer this. Obviously you can’t claim for anything that happened prior to taking out the policy.
If I decide to travel for longer, can I extend the policy?
Sure thing. Both World Nomads and Alpha Travel insurance offer this.
What if I don’t have a return ticket booked yet?
Nae bother. Both World Nomads and Alpha Travel Insurance are totally cool with this and provide one way travel insurance.
Should I declare pre-existing medical conditions?
Yes. Don’t mess about with this. Most travel providers cover the most common health issues such as diabetes or asthma as standard. But if you have anything more serious choose a long stay travel insurance provider who specialises in providing travel medical insurance, such as World First.
What if an act of terrorism occurs in the country I am in?
Where no official body has recommended evacuation, your policy will continue as usual with World Nomads. If you are officially advised to evacuate, the explorer level of backpacker travel insurance will cover those expenses. This is not available in the standard policy.
What if there is a natural disaster in the country I am in?
If an earthquake, cyclone, flood, volcano, tsunami, or asteroid hitting earth affects your travel plans and/or injures you, World Nomads has you covered. And if you’re so badly injured you need to go home, they’ll get you there.
With Alpha long term travel insurance you need to purchase a Force Majeure add on for an additional £30. If a natural disaster happens before you set off, you can claim up to £3000, after that it’s limited to £1000. It also covers you for if a tour operator goes into insolvency.
What if I accidentally injure someone or damage their property?
The help available varies on a case to case basis. But there is one thing that is always the same. Never admit liability. Even if it is your fault.
And contact your travel insurance provider straight away. It’s worth noting World Nomads explorer plan covers you for £1,500 rental car access.
What if I have to cancel my trip before I even leave?
If you have to pull out of your backpacking trip for a legitimate reason such as serious illness or the death of a close relative, World nomads will cover unused, non-refundable, pre-booked travel expenses. Up to the value of £3000 on their standard plan or £5000 on the explorer.
Same with Alpha travel insurance, except they only cover up to £1,250. But if you choose to cancel after a 24hr delay, they’ve got you covered for £2,000.
What if I take a trip home while backpacking?
Alpha travel insurance allows for two trips home, no longer than 21 days. World Nomads also allow for a trip home. In both cases your policies aren’t paused, the expiry date stays the same.
Remember you never need travel insurance until you do. And the whole point of having it in the first place is so that if you need it, you can use it. So even if you don’t use any of the long term travel insurance providers we are recommending here, travel safe and get it from somewhere.
If there’s anything else we can help with long term travel insurance wise, get in touch in the comments.
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Yorkshire born & bred, Sarah is a professional blogger who loves to travel. Pushing her boundaries with new adventures is her jam, so you likely won’t find her in one place for too long. Also a serious Marmite addict.