Top 11 Backpacker Insurance Tips – FAQ Style

What if buying backpacker insurance was easy AND you were confident in purchasing it?

Sound too good to be true?

Well we think it can be much easier, and it starts right here on this page with knowing the basics.

FAQs for Backpacker Insurance

After getting the answers to your most pressing questions check out our country guides for Australia, UK and Everywhere Else.

The questions you need to ask;

  1. How do I not pay too much?
  2. How do I ensure I get what I need?
  3. Bad reviews – am I wasting money?
  4. Does paying more mean better insurance?
  5. What is the difference between “travel insurance” and “backpacker insurance”?
  6. What is the difference between “annual insurance” V “backpacker insurance”?
  7. Is “trip cancellation” for me?
  8. How do I get insurance for iPhone and laptop?
  9. Can I get insurance with no return ticket?
  10. Why 18 month coverage?
  11. How do you work out if you are a resident?

1) How do I make sure I don’t overpay but get the coverage I need?

Paying for any insurance (even the cheapest) is VERY expensive if they don’t pay you when you need it.

On the flip side, it is really easy to pay way too much to be covered for stuff you will never claim.

Fortunately there is a simple way to get what you need AND not pay too much.

It starts with a little planning:

Think about questions such as:

  • What activities will you be taking part in?
  • Will you be bringing any expensive items?
  • Are you likely to extend your trip?

These are all things that can seriously affect the final cost of your plan.

Another thing you must do is work out where your country of residence is. If you are living abroad, this may be harder to do than you first think so be sure to check with the insurance company before signing up!

Basically, the most important thing is not leaving anything to chance. If you do this, you will be able to get what you need from an insurance plan, without paying for things you don’t need.

2) How do I know if the policy I am signing up to is a good one (without hiring a lawyer)?

No matter how clear the fine print, or good the website, or how you feel about the agent who sold you the insurance – if it is a struggle to get them to pay out when things go wrong, it isn’t much use!

However, there are certain things you can check.

Firstly, reputation can be a good indicator. If you know the company and they have a lot of positive user-generated reviews then that can be a good sign that they are a reputable company.

Check out our resident country guides for Australia, UK and Everywhere Else to get a really good idea of reputation.

Secondly, the most useful thing you can do is dig deep into the details of your plan so you know what exactly you are covered for.

For example, you may have high-value item cover, but what expectations are on you to look after these items? Most insurance policies will have conditions where they will only pay out if you were looking after the item when it went missing (ie. they won’t pay out if your camera goes missing after you left it on a busy beach while swimming).

There will also likely be similar conditions for the medical aspects of your insurance. Fallen sick and need to go the doctors? This is likely covered on a basic plan. Hurt yourself while skiing? Well, it is likely that you won’t be covered unless you pay a bit extra.

Both of these examples show how important it is to know exactly what you are actually covered for before you take out a plan.

3) Almost all insurers have bad reviews – Am I wasting my money?

While there is no doubt that there are some legitimate complaints out there, often, bad reviews come down to a misunderstanding of what the plan actually offers vs what the purchaser thought the plan would offer.

Because of this, it is important to take a look at the reviews and see which of them are down to this kind of misunderstanding, and which are down to a company being generally not very good.

One thing that we would never suggest is that buying backpacker insurance with a good company is a waste of money. Even if you don’t end up using it (and hopefully you won’t), you never know what will happen on a trip and when you will need your insurance.

4) Is it worth paying more to get better insurance?

Of course, you don’t want to go for the cheapest insurance just because it is cheap. This could leave you stuck with a bad deal that costs you in the long run. However, there also isn’t necessarily a correlation between price and what an insurance policy offers.

Because of this, it is best to simply get a good idea of what you need to have covered and then shop around a bit to find the best deal for you. As much as you wouldn’t go for a cheap insurance policy just because it is cheap, you shouldn’t go for an expensive one just because it is expensive!

5) What are the main differences between travel insurance and backpacker insurance?

The main difference between regular travel insurance and backpacker insurance is the amount of time that you can be covered for. Travel insurance will often limit your coverage to three months (or less), while backpacker insurance will cover you for one year or more.

You may also see things called annual multi-trip insurance. While this often last for a whole year and can seem cheaper than backpacker insurance, there will often be limits to how long a single trip can last for and the total amount of time you can be away for during the year.

Of course, there are usually some other differences as well as the length of the trip. The following features are more commonly found on backpacker insurance plans than normal travel insurance plans:

  • Extend your policy while abroad.
  • Take out a policy while abroad.
  • Coverage for work (great for working holiday plans).
  • More flexibility in the activities you are covered for.

Of course, not all backpacker insurance plans are the same so you should certainly check what is covered before booking.

6) What is the difference between annual insurance and backpacker insurance?

If you see an annual insurance plan while looking for cover, you may notice that it not only covers you for an entire year, but is also often much cheaper than backpacker insurance! However, before you sign up, take a look at the small print.

With annual travel insurance, you will find that policies usually have a limit on the length that one trip can be (often around 90 days), as well as a limit on the total amount of days that you can spend abroad in one year.

Therefore, if you are planning to spend an extended period of time abroad, even if it is less than a year, backpacker travel insurance may be your only option.

7) Why would “trip cancellation” insurance be important?

Trip cancellation is important as it may cover you if something goes wrong leading to the cancellation of your trip. It is worth remembering that not every potential outcome will be covered and the specifics may vary depending on your policy. Some things are commonly covered include:

  • Illness of you or the person you are traveling with.
  • Weather-related issues leading to cancellations.
  • Other issues relating to your carrier.
  • Natural disasters.
  • Terrorism.

Basically, it is usually things that are out of your control. Also, as we mentioned above, it is always best to check your policy to see exactly what you are covered for.

8) How do I make sure I am covered for gadgets like my laptop and iPhone?

Again, check your policy! Many insurance providers have something called high-value item coverage which you will need to take out when buying your plan. You may also have to not only take out the high-value item coverage, but also list the items and their values before you go.

Other things to check for is if you will expected to pay an excess when you claim for a high-value item, what situations you will actually be covered for (it is likely that you will be expected to take due care of the items), and what evidence you will have to provide in order to get your money (police reports, pictures of broken locks, etc).

If you lose a high-value item. It can be a good idea to speak to your insurance company as soon as possible. It is no use putting it off until you get home only to find out that you can’t get your money back because you were expected to have filed a police report or taken pictures of broken locks, etc.


9) Can I get backpacker travel insurance with no return ticket?

Yes, of course! This can be really useful for backpackers who don’t know the exact date that they will be returning home. However, this is certainly not a standard thing that is offered by all travel insurance policies.

As such, you should definitely check the terms and conditions of your insurance policy before taking out insurance if this is something that you need. Also, if you want to be insured on the way home, you may need to keep your insurance company up to date with your return trip plans.

10) Why do some companies only offer 18 month coverage and how do you make it work?

For most people, 18 months of coverage is going to be more than enough. However, if you need more than this it is still possible even if the first place you look at doesn’t offer more than 18 months of coverage.

The easiest thing to do is simply choose a different coverage provider. There are plenty out there that offer coverage for up to two years. Alternatively, if you are unsure about how long you will be traveling for, some companies give you the option to extend your trip while you abroad while others even let you take out coverage while you are away.

11) How do you work out if you are a resident or not?

This is a very important thing to get right if you are looking at buying insurance while away from your home country. However, it can also be a complex thing to get right, especially if you have residence in more than one country.

What we would really recommend is that if you are unsure about anything, the first thing you should do is understand the requirements of the insurance company before you buy the insurance.

Different companies have different definitions of resident so the only way you can be sure is by checking with the website you are planning to buy with.

World Nomads, for example, have the following requirements for your country of permanent residence. These are that you:

  • Are a citizen or permanent resident.
  • Have access to long-term medical care.
  • It is the country that you will be repatriated to should things go wrong.
  • You have unrestricted right of entry.
  • You have a residential address.

However, consider a UK resident as being someone who has been living in the UK or the Channel Islands for six out of the last 12 months. This suggests that you wouldn’t have to be a permanent resident of the UK to be insured with this company.

In Australia, say that Australian residents who are eligible for a Medicare card can purchase insurance assuming their trip starts and ends in Australia. This would seem to suggest that travels on a working holiday visa taking a trip abroad during their time in Australia would be covered.

So, what does these differences all mean?

Well, it means first of all that you should definitely not assume you are covered as there seems to be a number of different definitions depending on the insurer. If you are in any way uncertain, then it will probably be best to get in contact with the company you are thinking about getting insurance from and check them out directly.