Worldwide Travel Insurance – Made Simple

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4 Insanely Helpful Tips to get Backpacker Travel Insurance (Worldwide)


I think you will agree…

Fortunately 95% of the time you never need to use the coverage you sign up for – you are just paying for piece of mind.

But it’s the other 5%, that makes it well worth the money … assuming you get paid.

Why Backpacker specific travel insurance?

In this page, I will explain exactly what backpackers need and how you can get the right coverage at a reasonable price.

The best part – we aim to seek out insurers that have a habit of paying.

Most “travel insurance” policies are expensive and quite useless for backpackers.

This is because a regular travel insurance plan may not cover you for many of the activities often associated with backpacking. It may also not be suitable for the flexible nature of many backpacking trips.

After all, you haven’t traveled halfway across the world to simply spend months sitting by the pool. You need excitement! And adventure! And freedom! Unfortunately, these are words that have most travel insurers looking to “minimise risk” and “forgo payment”.

Fortunately there are an ever growing number of insurers that are interested in covering you for surfing, mountain bike riding and even working overseas.

One of the most important things you can do, is to ensure that you are covered for and any activities you want to partake in.

How can you get the insurance you need and still be a backpacker?

There are basically four things that backpackers and long-term travelers should check before taking out insurance. Before we take a deep-dive into the nitty gritty details, here is a quick overview of what you need to take into consideration.

  1. Residency – Where you live, where you are from, and whether or not you are already traveling can make a huge difference to the plans available. Mess this up, and your entire policy may be null-and-void. Check out our pages for Residents of Australia and the UK. Bare in mind that different insurers have different rules surrounding where your residency is.
  2. Visa and Nationality – Different visas often have different conditions in relation to insurance and healthcare.
  3. Flexibility – Backpackers often need more flexibility in terms of length of trip and countries visited than other travelers. Make sure your policy allows for this!
  4. Specific Activities – Planning to bungee jump in New Zealand? Or trek through the rainforests of Columbia? Then you need to make sure your insurance plan has your back!

Also check out our helpful FAQs

By checking these insurance must-haves are part of your coverage before you go on your trip, you will be seriously reducing the chances of not being covered while on your trip.

Let’s take a look at what to check for!

1: Where Is Your Current Country Of Residence?

Your country of residence can have a big effect on your travel insurance. For example, if you are residing in a foreign country, it is unlikely that you will be able to buy a regular plan from a provider in your home country.

What is more annoying, is that you may get all the way through the application process (or even sign up) before you realize that you aren’t covered by the insurance that is offered.

On the other hand, insurance providers in your country of residence will often allow you to take out insurance with them.

While this can be good, if something goes seriously wrong, they may only provide for repatriation to the country where you took the insurance, not your home country. Therefore, think about this before you sign-up.

Another situation that can be especially problematic is if you want to go on a long-term backpacking trip straight after a stint working in another country. Where should you put down as your country of residence? And will you be covered?

In situations like this, it is certainly a good idea to check the fine print, or even simply get on the phone and speak to someone from your insurance provider if you are unsure on their policy.

Many of the backpacking insurance companies on our list are global companies that offer insurance to residents of many different countries, no matter where they are from.

However, it is still important that you choose the correct country of residence as the insurance underwriter will be different based on your location.

What to think about:

  • Check that your insurance provider knows your country of residence when you take out a plan.
  • If you are signing up for insurance from a company in your home country while resident in another, you may not be covered. So check!
  • Where would you want to be repatriated to if things go wrong?

2: What Visa Do You Have/Want? And What Is Your Nationality?

Your visa and nationality can make a difference when it comes to the type of travel insurance that you need.

For example, if you are on a working holiday visa, in certain countries you will sometimes get access to the healthcare available in the country you are traveling to. This can affect the type of travel insurance that you need as well as how long you need it for.

Another way that your visa can affect your insurance is that sometimes you will be required to have a certain type of insurance in order to get a visa. Because of this, when signing up for a plan you should check the terms of your visa to see whether or not you are required to have a certain type of insurance.

In terms of your nationality, this can seriously affect not only the type of insurance you need, but also the price you pay. For example, EU residents visiting other countries in the EU will not need to pay as much as residents from outside of the EU visiting the same countries.

What to think about:

  • Check if there are any insurance requirements in the conditions of your visa.
  • Check if you can sign up for health care once in the country. If so, do you still need travel insurance for your entire trip?
  • If you are already in a foreign country, check that the insurance company knows your nationality and visa status.

3. How Set In Stone Are Your Plans? And Do You Need Some Flexibility?

If you are a backpacker or long-term traveler, there is a fairly high chance that you won’t have every detail of your trip planned out.

People will often decide to make trips to other countries that they didn’t originally plan to go to, or they will not have a set date that their trip will end on.

Sound like your plans?

If you haven’t decided on every aspect of your trip, then it is pretty important that your travel insurance company allows you to make adjustments to your policy.

While traditional travel insurers will often only let you take out insurance before your trip, many backpacker plans will allow you to extend your plan (or take out a new plan) midway through your adventure.

The benefits of this are that you can ensure that you are insured for the duration of your trip, however long that may be.

Many insurers also insure you by area, as opposed to by country. This means that assuming you stay in the countries covered by your plan, you have a bit of flexibility about where you choose to go.

What to think about:

  • Are you likely to extend your trip while away?
  • Do you want the freedom to choose which countries to visit while abroad?

4: Extreme Sports? Expensive Equipment? Think About Your Specific Coverage Needs

No one trip is the same. Because of this, it makes sense that no one backpacker’s insurance plan would be the same either!

Most backpacker insurance plans have a high degree of flexibility when it comes to covering specific activities and items. While the standard insurance will cover your day-to-day travel activities, you will usually be able to add on extras such as:

  • Sports or adventure activity coverage
  • Coverage for work while in a foreign country
  • Coverage for high-value items such as laptops, cameras, etc.

The great thing about this is that you are able to get coverage for the things that you need, all the while saving money by not paying for the things that you don’t.

If you are planning to do some sports and activities while traveling light, simply choose add-ons for the activities you will do while leaving out the high-value item extras.

Meanwhile, if you are planning on digital nomading your way through your trip, you will likely need coverage for things such as a notebook computer. Because of this, ensure that you this is included in your plan!

What to think about

  • Travel insurance plans are often quite limited so check that the activities you are planning are covered before taking out a policy.
  • Sometimes, even common activities like boating, camping, or cycle touring require some extra coverage.
  • No matter what insurance you buy, some extreme activities like base jumping, parkour, ski acrobatics, etc. are unlikely to be covered.

How To Choose An Insurance Plan

Once you have worked out what you need from your insurance plan, you then have to simply find an insurance provider that will give you the cover your need.

While not as plentiful as standard travel insurance companies, there are some specialist long-term travel/backpacking insurance companies that can be great for travelers. These include World Nomads (Standard or Explorer), Insure and Go, Globelink, and others.

While many of these companies do offer some of the options we have spoken about above, it is still necessary that you check for yourself that you are covered. One of the best ways to do this if you are unsure is simply by getting in touch with the company.

Other things you can do is check out customer reviews. However, be warned that Insurance company reviews on the internet are often filled with negative comments about how the customer didn’t get exactly what they wanted.

While these can be legitimate complaints, many of them come from the fact that the customer didn’t know the real extent of the things that they were covered for and ended up with a large bill when something went wrong.

Because of this, you should certainly take into consideration what these reviews say but, more importantly, you should ensure that you check what you are covered for and if there are any excess fees before committing to a plan!

This Is All Great, But Isn’t Travel Insurance Just A Waste Of Money?

We really hope the answer to this question is “yes, your travel insurance was a waste of money. You didn’t use it, and got no value from your cover.”

After all, this would mean that nothing went wrong on your trip and you probably had a great time.

However, in reality, travel insurance is pretty much an essential part of any trip abroad.

From covering you when things go wrong to not making you think twice about doing certain activities, having insurance can help you make the most of the trips that go well while covering your back if things go wrong.