One of the greatest things about backpacking is venturing into the unknown and diving into new cultures head first! Whether you're planning to visit the temples of Nepal or trekking to Machu Picchu, grab some backpacker's travel insurance to protect yourself against any mishaps.
In a nutshell: Backpacker's travel insurance, which is often also called student travel insurance, covers you for your standard travel insurance (medical, luggage and personal belongings), as well as extras like extreme sports that younger or more youthful travellers tend to gravitate towards.
Longer time limits: If you're planning on travelling for a while make sure you get annual backpacker's travel insurance because single travel insurance usually only covers you for a maximum of 90 consecutive days. Backpacker's travel insurance policies on the other hand will cover you anywhere from 3-18 months. If you decide that the hippie backpacker lifestyle is too good to give up, some providers even allow you to extend your travel insurance by paying an extra premium.
Multiple destinations: Backpacking trips are defined by the unpredictability and freedom that they come with, which means you could be in Thailand one day and decide to pack off to Cambodia the next! That’s why backpacker’s insurance generally cover multiple destinations so you don’t need to hold yourself back on your adventures.
Cover when working in a foreign country: The best way to really immerse yourself in another culture is working and living there. By grabbing some backpacker's travel insurance you'll be covered against any kitchen cuts and burns at the least!
Extreme sports: Snow sports and activities like sky-diving and bungee jumping are considered "extreme sports" by most insurance providers but backpacker’s cover will usually include some sports coverage. So before you zoom down the slopes of Whistler just check what you are and are not covered for!
Repatriation: In the unfortunate event of serious injury or death, most backpacker's travel insurance policies will cover your travel (air-flights) home.
Pick the right policy: Backpacking can be a spontaneous event, but purchasing your travel insurance shouldn't be. Don't just jump on the net and buy the first (or cheapest) policy you see. Check what's included and if the travel insurance policy is suitable for the countries you are planning on visiting.
No go zones: Often countries under sanction by the UN are not covered by insurance providers. Check the Smartraveller website to see if your destination is labeled under ‘Do not travel’ or ‘Reconsider the need to travel’ and then ask the insurance provider if these places will be covered or not!
Policy expiry dates: One of the best things about backpacking is not having a time limit but if you decide to extend your trip, just make sure that you've got the coverage to suit you and your wallet if there is an emergency.
Hostels and homestays: It’s quite common for backpackers to cut costs by looking for budget accommodation in the form of hostels or homes on Airbnb. Since these are often shared spaces, they may not always be the most secure for your belongings. It’s a good idea to check with the insurer in case there are any limitations to the insurance cover while you’re staying in such a place.
Excess fees: The excess fee that you may need to pay at the time of filing a claim will vary according to the policy you purchase. The less expensive the cover, the cheaper your insurance. But this also implies that the excess could be higher than other policies.
Do read the fine print: When you’re travelling on a shoestring you have to be very careful with your expenses. Understand the exact inclusions and exclusions of your policy to make sure you’re not spending on something that won’t be of any help at the time of need.
Don’t lie about pre-existing conditions: Always be honest with your insurance provider about any pre-existing medical conditions like asthma or diabetes because if you need to make a claim regarding that condition later, your claim can be rejected. It’s better to buy an extra cover if required rather than be left without any insurance in a foreign land.
Do carry receipts and proofs: If you’re carrying any expensive items with you, keep receipts or photographs of your belongings so you can prove you had those items in case they are lost or stolen. Same goes for any new purchases you make on your trip - save any invoice you may need later.
Don’t leave your bags unattended: Whether you have proofs or not, if you lost something while it was left unattended or in an unmanned car, the insurer can refuse to accept the claim for it. So be extra cautious if you’re staying in a youth hostel or shared accommodation.
Do report incidents ASAP: Whether it’s a theft or medical emergency, report any incident as soon as possible. In fact, it’s not only when something is stolen that you need to file a police report. Let the local officials know even if you lose something. You will need official documentation while making a claim.
Don’t hire unregistered vehicles: Only rent a vehicle that you are registered to drive. Check the local traffic rules and if you don’t have the licence to drive a car or bike in that area, don’t bother taking the risk. You won’t be covered for an accident if you were driving a vehicle you’re not licenced to drive.
Don’t drink in excess: Drinking is fine of course but don’t go overboard. Apart from the risks that come with losing control of your senses in an unfamiliar land, you also won’t be insured for any mishaps that happen when you were drunk. For instance, even if you’ve purchased extra cover for extreme sports, if you hurt yourself while you were under the influence of alcohol, the insurance company can reject your claim.
Do submit the claim promptly: There will be a time limit until when you can file an insurance claim. It’s best to register a claim as soon as possible to ensure a smooth and successful process. The simplest and fastest way to do this generally is to fill up the form online and attach any relevant documentation. Don’t forget to keep a copy of the claim for your own records.
You can start you search for backpacker’s travel insurance with Mozo’s travel insurance comparison calculator - it’s free to use and will only take a few minutes to give you a list of insurance providers to choose from. All you need to do is type in some details such as your age, the number of people travelling with you and if you’re planning to try any adventure activities. Mozo’s comparison tool will crunch the numbers and present the most suitable results.
While you’re looking for the best backpacker’s travel insurance, also read what other travellers have to say about products you’re planning to buy. You can access Mozo’s travel insurance customer reviews for a better insight into insurance providers and policies.