Backpacker Travel Insurance; Essential Information
We’ll admit; planning a trip of a lifetime often means that backpacker or gap year travel insurance probably isn’t top of your list. Amongst the trip planning, budgeting, and inevitable countdown calendar, trying to wrap your head around an often lengthy insurance document can be the last thing you want to do, so we’ve written a quick piece on all the essential bits and what they could mean to you.
Cancelling your gap year trip
You may not want to cancel your trip, but life has this funny way of getting in the way of things. You could be called up for jury service, have to re-sit some exams, or fall ill before you’re due to travel. After spending so much time and money planning this trip, having to pay out on cancellation charges for pre-paid planned excursions, accommodation and flights can only add to the gloom of missing out on your plans.
Having a travel insurance policy which covers you for cancellation from the day you purchase is ideal – as soon as you click ‘Buy Now’, you have peace of mind that should anything pop up, you’re covered.
Seeking medical attention whilst backpacking
It’s surprising how many backpackers need to seek medical attention whilst abroad. Often a change in climate and diet can lead to you needing to find the nearest medical professional for help or medication. The language and cultural barriers alone can be daunting enough, but when you’re presented with a huge medical bill for various treatments, it can add to unnecessary stress when you’re meant to be enjoying your time away.
It’s important that you have a backpacker insurance policy that offers adequate medical expenses cover for your trip. For example, people travelling to America – one of the most expensive places in the world to seek medical attention – should consider a larger cover limit for their travel insurance policy than those travelling to Prague.
What to do in an emergency
Being at home and in an emergency situation is very different to being abroad and in a similar circumstance. At home you would know where you were, where to go or what to do, but things are different in other countries.
Make sure your travel insurance provider also offers a 24/7 emergency assistance service that you can contact from anywhere in the world, 365 days a year. These people have vast amounts of experience in helping people just like you in similar situations across the whole world, so they’ll know where is best to go for medical treatment and will advise you and your travelling companions throughout.
TOP TIP: If you do need emergency treatment abroad you should contact your insurer’s emergency assistance company as quickly as possible. If you are admitted to hospital do NOT hand over your passport or credit card details and do NOT sign anything without first contacting your insurers.
Keeping your personal possessions safe
Whilst the majority of people you will meet backpacking will be warm, friendly and often some of the best human beings you’ve ever met, if you’re planning on carrying most of your worldly possessions on your back, it’s important that you have adequate protection for the duration of your trip.
Top tips for backpackers:
- Ensure that you have luggage which not only locks, to offer protection from thieves or other cash-strapped travelers, but is also waterproof.
- Don’t show off your valuables or keep them all together. Spread things throughout your person, bag and in various secret places.
- Report any theft or loss with the police. This is vital if you later need to claim on your travel insurance policy. Make sure you know where the nearest embassy is too, depending on the severity of the crime.
Making sure you have adequate cover for all of your gadgets is also important. Most people may assume that these will all be covered under your personal possessions section, but ensure you check the cover limit to see how much of your stuff can be claimed back, or check to see if they have a specialist gadget insurance section specifically for your smartphone, tablet, e-reader etc.
Losing your passport whilst backpacking
Coming back to your accommodation and discovering that you are missing your passport can be potentially devastating for any backpacker. Most gap year travel insurance providers offer cover for you to receive an emergency travel document from the nearest embassy in order for you to return home.
We don’t want you to cut short your trip, so make sure you keep multiple photocopies of your documents in waterproof pockets throughout yourself, bag and accommodation, along with copies of your longstay travel insurance policy documents.
Gap year sports and activities
They say that the only thing you can buy that makes you richer is travel, so backpacking or going on a gap year is the perfect excuse to try out new experiences or enjoy what you already enjoy but in some of the most incredible places in the world.
If you’re planning on trekking the full 2,430 metres to Machu Picchu, bungee-jumping in New Zealand, scuba-diving in Thailand or water-skiing in America, it’s a good idea to ensure that your travel insurance policy covers you for undertaking these activities. Most providers will cover activities such as bungee jumping or skydiving for an additional premium and you can enjoy whatever you choose to do with peace of mind that you are covered.
The best thing about your gap year travel insurance policy is that it protects what is important to you, so to avoid any nasty surprises, take care to choose the right policy. Ensure you’re not only checking price – the cheaper policies often have ‘skeleton’ sections of cover, or the bare minimum to get their price so low. Make sure you compare cover and have an excess which can fit in with your budget, just in case anything does go wrong.