Backpacker Travel Insurance

Travel Insurance

Travel insurance is an essential part of your travel.  No matter what your budget is going to be, getting the basic type of insurance will cover you for hospital treatment and re-patriation at the very least.  So setting aside some money from your travel funds will be a very wise and highly recommended thing to do.

Obtaining suitable travel insurance for your needs will be directly dependant on the length of your travel.  If your travel plans are going to be for more than 30 days (which is very likely on a gap year or round the world trip) then the travel insurance you will require will be different  ( backpackers travel insurance) to the normal holiday travel insurance which companies generally offer. Dont be fooled by the term 'annual policy', these insurances are good value for people who holiday a few times a year. These policies are seldom valid for only a maximum of 30 days travel at a time, taken on an annual basis.  Look out for travel insurance labelled as Backpackers or Gap Year.

The backpackers insurance can also cater for type of activities intended, for example, skiing, scuba diving and for the highly adventurous traveller even sky diving and bunjee jumping.  However these are considered 'optional extras' and you would need to ensure you are covered for such activities.

An important part of a backpackers travel insurance should include international medical rescue and repatriation which will fly you back home in an emergency situation or fly you to the cheapest place, in close vicinity, for medical treatment.  Usually, this will be a decision made without your consent.

If travelling in the EU region you can acquire a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). There are agreed terms between the UK and EU countries to provide cheaper or free public health care in an emergency. To qualify for these benefits, requires obtaining a European Health Insurance Card which you can apply for on-line.  Note the EHIC card is no substitute for Travel insurance, here is a quote from the EHIC  'Whats Covered' section to illustrate the difference:

"The EHIC is not an alternative to travel insurance. It will not always cover all your medical costs and never covers the cost of things such as mountain rescue in ski resorts, repatriation to the UK or lost or stolen property. For these reasons and others, it is important to have both an EHIC and a valid private travel insurance policy."

Thus it would be foolhardy to travel without insurance cover in general and in the EU.

Below is a comparison chart to outline what can be covered in the gap year travel insurance policy from low end to high-end:





Medical Expenses


Personal Liability

Personal Accident


Legal Expenses

Criminal Injuries





Lost Baggage

Personal Possessions

Delayed Departure/Arrival

Cancellation of Flights

Travel in USA/Canada

Some tips:

Make sure whatever Backpackers travel insurance policy you wish to go for, you are well covered for the basic items in the table above, make sure there is sufficient cover for Repatriation (bringing you home in an emergency) and Personal Liability (e.g when you are the cause of an accident and you have to pay out). Also Cancellation, Legal Expenses (so you can claim against someone who has done you wrong).

It may be a good idea to guage how 'good' an insurance company in the Insurance companies response to the volcanic ash cloud incident . The last thing you need when you are in a trouble, is an insurance company refusing you cover when you need it the most.  You can be sure that smaller companies that offer insurances are underwritten by some of the larger ones.
These companies provided some cover for the Ash cloud after the incident and thus are recommended over others:

Also most crucially, do not forget to read the small print of the policy you intend to take out, so you know exactly what you have paid / paying for. Also remember by law you have the right to cancel any policy within 14 days of purchase, giving you time to review the documents and make sure the policy suits your needs.