Are you planning on taking a gap year holiday? Brace yourself for the trip of a lifetime! Whether it’s an extended vacation in between studies, a breather before your first job, a much-needed career break or just a journey in self discovery, don’t forget to look for a suitable travel insurance policy to cover your adventures.
The great thing about taking a gap year is freedom. Freedom to travel where you want, when you want, for how long you want and to do what you want while you are there. The unexpected is one of the great things about travelling but you also want to make sure that if something did go wrong you could get help, recover any financial loss or make changes to your itinerary to suit your circumstances, this is where gap travel insurance comes in.
For instance, medical emergencies, flight cancellations and loss of luggage can happen anywhere, anytime and the last thing you want is to have to cut short your trip because you can’t afford these emergency costs. And the reality is that Travel insurance is only going to be a very small percentage of the overall cost of your trip and while we hope you never have to use it, it’s an expenditure worth making.
Each policy will have its own terms and conditions and will offer different inclusions at different price points. That is why, if you are taking a gap year and your travel plans are not completely settled you should look for a comprehensive worldwide policy that will cover you for a wide range of options including:
Unlimited medical expenses. This is one of the most crucial inclusions in travel insurance, and fortunately, many policies offer unlimited medical cover. But while checking the costs, do check on the excess fee that you may need to fork out in case of a medical claim. Also, make sure you’ve let your insurer know any of any pre-existing conditions such as diabetes or asthma to know exactly what you’re covered for while on your gap year.
Cancellation and delays. It’s likely that you’ll be spending lots of time at airports during your gap year and so look for a policy that will cover you for cancelled or delayed flights. Generally, if your flight is delayed by more than 24 hours, you’ll receive travel delay reimbursement.
Loss of luggage or personal belongings. Your backpack becomes your home while you’re taking a gap year abroad so if you were to lose your bags or any other personal belongings it is a bigger deal than normal so look for a comprehensive travel insurance policy that will cover you if your bags go missing. If you’re carrying something precious or expensive like computer equipment, you might need to take out extra cover as general policies have limits for these items. Also, don’t forget that you will not be reimbursed if you lost something while it was left unattended or in an unmanned vehicle.
Personal liability. You’re going to be away for an extended period and it’s good to cover yourself against any kind of accidents. In the unfortunate circumstance where you're found responsible for causing someone else injury while travelling, the personal liability cover ($2 million is the standard amount) can come in handy.
Accidental Death and Injury. In the unlikely event that you face permanently disability or death as a result of an accident while you’re away on gap leave, you or your estate will receive money to pay for repatriation or loss of income.
Airline and holiday insolvency. A lot can change over a year long trip and while it’s not all that common, airlines and pre-paid holiday companies do sometimes go bust. That’s why an airline and end supplier insolvency cover will protect you if the tour company shuts down after you've prepaid your expenses.
It’s tempting to buy the cheapest travel insurance policy that comes your way but don’t be in such a rush to get this over with. A policy that does not cover your needs could turn out to be a waste of money. Here’s a list of questions to ask yourself before you narrow down the best gap year travel insurance policy for your trip.
What does the fine print say? Always read the minute details of your policy carefully so that you know what’s included and what the exclusions are so that you’re not caught unaware if you ever need to make a claim. Whether it’s a pre-existing condition or a steep excess fee, always be aware of what you’re covered for and what you’re not.
How long will I be away for? Most insurance policies require a return travel date. If you decide to extend your gap year while you’re away you’ll need to update your policy to reflect your new return date.
Are you planning to visit Australia during this gap year trip? Some worldwide policies may not allow for a visit back home in the middle of your gap year trip. If you are considering a trip home then an alternative travel insurance option could be an annual multitrip policy - this allows you to make multiple trips within a year up for a set number of consecutive days per trip.
Will you try adventure sports? If you’re thinking of experimenting with any kind of adventure activities like bungee jumping or skiing, make sure you’ve got the required extra cover. Standard policies don’t generally cover extreme sports.
While most legitimate travel insurance claims will be paid, there are situations when travellers don’t pay attention to the policy ‘exclusions’ and find themselves in a last minute insurance mess. Here are a few reasons why travel insurance claims get rejected:
No official police report. For claiming any belongings that were lost or stolen during your trip, you need to file an official police report. This document that details where and when you last had the item, will need to be attached with your claim form. Lack of proper documentation could lead to your claim being rejected.
Unattended baggage. Even while you may be covered for lost or stolen items, many policies will not reimburse you for items that went missing while they were unattended.
Proof of purchase. When you claim compensation for items that were lost or stolen, you’ll also need to show the provider that you actually owned these items. It’s always advisable to keep copies of receipts or photographs, especially for expensive items.
Failed to disclose existing conditions. Don’t try to outsmart your insurer by lying about a pre-existing medical condition. It’s better to pay a little extra if you need to rather than have your claim rejected at the time of emergency.
If you’re looking for gap year travel insurance, kick off your search with Mozo’s travel insurance comparison calculator - it’s free to use and will only take a few minutes to shortlist insurance providers suitable for your trip. You don’t need to feed in your email address or other contact details - just plug in some basic details about your travel plans and the tool will show you the results instantly.
As you shortlist the best travel insurance providers for your gap year trip, also read other travellers’ opinions who’ve used these products before. Mozo’s collected a whole lot of reviews that could give you a better insight into a particular destination or experience.