The world has many adventures available after you turn 50. The outback of Australia or the sandy beaches of Mexico with whitewater drafting are calling you and your backpack. While many think backpacking is just for the young, the reality is that anyone can go on an adventure - and find a backpacker travel insurance policy for extra peace of mind!
What is backpacker insurance?
Travel insurance, in general, is essential because things can go wrong on a trip. Of course, you can always rely on the NHS to provide care at home, but when you are abroad, things can be trickier - and costlier!
Backpacker insurance works like travel insurance and gives you extra coverage without a substantial additional premium cost. This is useful because backpacker travel is way different from a traditional holiday. For example, you might move from one location to another frequently and enjoy activities like bungee jumping or trekking on beautiful trails in Australia's wilderness. So regular travel insurance might not be sufficient, which is where backpacker travel insurance gives you extra coverage.
Common backpacker insurance policies
Backpacker insurance covers everything that a typical travel policy would cover, including:
- Cancellation cover and other holiday disruptions like delayed or cancelled flights or unavailable accommodation
- Medical treatment in case of illness or injury, including repatriation to the UK
- Luggage cover, as well as cover for other valuables and personal possessions
- Legal fees cover if you need to claim compensation
But backpacker policies also come with additional cover. Some of the most common backpacker insurance policies include:
- Multiple destinations - Backpacker policies often include numerous destinations or are a worldwide policy that allows you to travel from one country to another without having to get several policies. However, many might be region-specific, only covering Europe or Asia, for example, so be sure to read your travel insurance policy details.
- An extended travel period - Travel insurance typically covers only the dates you are away, and these policies can seem short for a long-stay, backpacking trip. Backpacker travel insurance policies can sometimes last up to 12 months, so you don't need to worry about a last-minute decision to extend your trip.
- A more comprehensive range of activities - Backpackers travel insurance lets you try many adventure sports, like whitewater rafting, with peace of mind you have cover. Standard policies generally require costly extra cover, but a specialist backpacker policy covers these adventures as part of the deal.
Bear in mind that backpacker policies can vary from one provider to another. Therefore, reading the policy documents is essential to ensure you know what's covered.
Common backpacker insurance exclusions
Travel insurance tends to come with exclusions, and backpacker policies are no exception. The most common exclusions include the following:
- Travelling to excluded locations - Official authorities, such as the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO), publishes a list of sites where travel is not advised. These locations are typically not covered by travel insurance policies.
- Not following official advice - Aside from restricted locations, other curtailment measures can apply. For example, you must follow official advice regarding preventative measures like vaccines, anti-malaria tablets or coronavirus. So, for example, if you travel to a place where you're advised to take anti-malaria pills and don't, you may not be covered should you catch malaria.
- Getting injured under the influence of drugs or alcohol - You may not be covered if you are under the influence and get hurt.
- Leaving possessions unattended or unsecured - Always check what level of security your insurer requires, as you may need special locks for your equipment, for example.
- Lying to your insurer - You shouldn’t omit information on pre-existing conditions or other things, or you might lose coverage.
It’s vital to review your policy for possible exclusions to avoid inconvenient surprises. Of course, you can always talk to your insurance provider if you need clarification on your coverage.
When to buy backpacker insurance
Backpacker insurance is an excellent option if you're planning an adventure in New Zealand rather than a chill holiday by the Spanish coastline. If you are looking to hop from one location to another and try your hand at different activities, a backpacker policy provides you with more coverage than traditional travel insurance.
When planning a backpacking holiday, you should start shopping for cover as soon as possible. Unfortunately, many people leave insurance until the last minute, but if you start early, you might find a cheaper deal.
Sorting out your travel insurance as soon as possible can help you claim back the cost of your holiday if anything unexpected happens at the last minute, too. However, be careful, as some backpacking policies might only include partial coverage for cancellations. Knowing what coverage you have is crucial and can help you avoid costly mistakes.
Remember that you'll need backpacker travel insurance even if you have health insurance. Most health insurance policies don’t cover medical assistance abroad. In addition, you should consider backpacker travel insurance even if you have the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) or the Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC). These can cover you against some medical emergencies but don’t help with all unforeseen problems that may occur abroad.
How much does specialist backpacker insurance cost?
Backpacking holidays are great for enjoying the world on a budget. If you go with an open mind, you might find great places to see without breaking the bank.
Travel insurance can be costly, especially as the prices increase as you age. Backpacker travel insurance cost considers:
- Your destination - Most backpacker insurance has worldwide coverage as standard, albeit with some exceptions. The more exhaustive coverage can make backpacker insurance costlier.
- Your age - Your age won't stop you from getting backpacker insurance. But the older you are, the fewer options you might find, which can mean higher prices. Some backpacker policies have an upper age limit, so check before you purchase.
- Your health - Insurance costs rise if you have pre-existing medical conditions. However, pre-existing conditions aren’t going to block you from buying insurance.
- Your planned activities - Backpacker insurance typically includes cover for more activities and extreme sports. However, some insurers may not cover all winter sports, such as snowboarding, without you paying some extra.
The cost of backpacker insurance can depend on many moving parts. So while travel insurance can seem like a costly part of your holiday, you shouldn't skip it. The cost of getting injured and needing emergency assistance abroad can be even higher, and you might return from your travels with a hefty bill.
How to find cheap backpacker insurance
Backpacker insurance is often a significant expense. Luckily, you can find different policies with various price tags. Finding the right policy is essential to guarantee a successful trip, whether you’re heading to the USA or Japan.
While backpacking is supposed to be a more relaxed and unplanned way of travelling, you should have a rough idea of your plans. You want to know when you’re looking to travel and where you want to go so you can pick the right plan. It’s also a good idea to consider what activities you want to do to see that they’re covered.
Ensure you compare backpacker insurance policies to find the best deal. You can use price comparison websites, which are easy to use and give a good range of options. However, please remember they might not always have all available policies, and some insurance providers may offer cheaper deals if you buy with them directly.
As such, you should always check backpacker travel policies directly from the insurer. You may find better deals, and some insurers might not even have their products on price comparison websites.
Above all, ensure you read the fine print and fully understand the policy wording. Policy conditions change from company to company, and you want to avoid making costly mistakes. For example, if you're heading out to the Alps for a backpacking trip, check if the policy covers skiing. Likewise, avoid assuming certain activities or things are covered only to find out you need to pay for your medical costs yourself.
You should also pick a policy from trusted insurers regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).
Get the most of your backpacker travel insurance cover
Carefree travelling is for more than just young ones enjoying their gap year. Life’s an adventure, and you can enjoy the beauty of our planet at any age. Perhaps you want to go scuba diving to celebrate retirement or taste the best Asian cuisine with a backpacking trip across the region! No matter your plans, backpacking travel insurance can guarantee your trips don’t end up in a costly mess. Comparing different options will help you find affordable travel insurance. So time to start thinking about your next adventure!