If you are planning to backpack across Europe, South America, Australia or some other exotic and interesting location, staying in youth hostels, couchsurfing and generally travelling on a budget, you might want to seriously consider taking out a specific insurance policy for backpackers. While the topic may not be as exciting to contemplate compared with thinking about where you are going, considering the coverage of your items and person may be the smartest add-on to your trip. The right coverage can bring peace of mind and save you money if things go awry on the road.
The benefit of backpacker coverage with insurance companies is that the policies cater to the target customer’s specific trip type and financial situation. These policies also often include additional coverage of adventure sports for little or no extra cost, something which standard policies would not include. As a backpacker, activities such as snowboarding, bungee-jumping or rafting can be popular and it is vital that you are protected for these extra risk events.
One of the keys to a backpackers or gap year policy is the flexibility for the trip length. Standard cover tends to be for a certain trip length i.e. 5-7 days or up to 30 days. Alternatively, a multi-trip policy tends to allow a certain number of trips per year but the length of each trip is still limited in time-frame. Backpackers cover on the other hand tends to allow one extensive trip i.e. up to 1 year, with the whole protected for. It is vital to consider the length of the trip and allow for any extension you might be inclined at a later date to make to the trip. Some of these policies can also be purchased for up to 18 months.
The nature of a backpacking trip is that you genuinely may not know exactly what countries you will travel through for the duration of your trip. The nature of this type of trip is of course that you will find offers on hostel message boards to travel with other like minded people to various locations and to share transportation. Having a holiday insurance policy which covers all countries you are likely to visit is thus essential for this type of trip. If you know that your trip will only be within Europe then certainly do not waste money by including North America on the policy (this adds quite a bit onto the cost) but if you will possibly travel through USA or Canada then it is absolutely essential to be covered. Break a leg snow-boarding in the U.S. and you without insurance, you could yourself spending 10 years re-paying the debt.
Backpacker cover does tend to share many of the benefits also of standard policies in that features such as 24 hour telephone support, trip cancellation coverage, personal accident and medical cost coverage and, in some cases, student loan repayment in the event that something happens to you, are included on many of these policies. These plans sometimes also offer compensation if you happen to be a victim of crime while travelling or a relative becomes ill and you have to cancel a trip as a result.
Several companies promote and sell Backpacker insurance including:
Do make sure to shop around and to check the small print and do check the age limit for the policy you are considering buying. Some backpacker policies have an upper age limit i.e. 25 or 35 years old.