Home Backpacker Travel Insurance

Backpacker Travel Insurance

It’s a dream come true, your Round the World Trip is coming closer! However, before packing and flying away, this ultimate trip needs a few preparations. However, the unexpected can happen, and that’s where backpacker travel insurance becomes essential. As there are many offers for travel insurances, it can be difficult to choose one. This guide will help you understand why you need travel insurance, what it should cover, and how to choose the right policy for your journey.

Compare travel insurance

Comparing the plethora of travel insurances out there is a tedious affair. First, have a look at what the backpacker travel insurance policies include. If you’re going on a round-the-world trip, they should definitely cover the majority of countries. You might have to decide whether you want to travel to the USA & Canada or to high-risk countries, as those are often excluded from a standard policy.

Furthermore, they should offer a 24-hour emergency assistance. They should cover your luggage and personal belongings, travel documents, a minimum of 1,000,000 EUR of medical expenses and personal liability, repatriation, trip cancellation and curtailment costs. It’s a big plus if you can extend your insurance as you can’t plan your trip in detail. You might change your mind a few times on such a long journey.

There are a plethora of comparison websites with search engines that spit out an overwhelming number of travel insurances. It’s difficult to make a general comparison though, as individual interests and plans differ. We have been working successfully with the partners listed below. If their policies don’t meet your needs, you will surely find a travel insurance provider that offers what you want, when doing your own research.

Safety WingTrue TravellerGo Walkabout

We receive a fee when you get a quote using these links. We do not represent the insurances companies. This is not a recommendation to buy travel insurance.

Established in 1999, Go Walkabout aims to provide quality insurance cover to UK residents. With the Long Stay & Backpacker Plans, you can find the perfect coverage for your trip around the world for a maximum duration of 2 years. Get 10% off your Travel Insurance with the promo code ABG10.

SafetyWing Insurance is designed to meet the medical and travel needs faced by Digital Nomads and remote workers while they are travelling the world. Nomad Insurance option provides coverage for those traveling outside their home country in case of illness or injury. Remote Health option is a fully-equipped health insurance for freelancers that works regardless of where you live, work or travel. Work from your home country, or any country you choose. Your insurance travels with you.

True Traveller offer three Policies on single trips, called True Value, Traveller and Traveller Plus. True Value is designed for travellers under 40 years of age, and is designed for last minute travellers and backpackers. The Traveller policy is designed for holiday makers and adventurous travellers alike, and Traveller Plus gives enhanced medical and cancellation cover.

There are also other companies on the market that can cover you for your trip. Among them, World Nomads with a core concept of offering the ability to buy a travel insurance policy and extend it again and again as needed. World Nomads aims to cover trip essentials. Even if you run out of travel insurance or leave without it, you can still purchase it.

To view the details of these policies, please refer to the general conditions of each insurance company.

Why Do Backpackers Need Travel Insurance?

When leaving your country, you usually lose your rights to your national health care system. For passport holders of member states of the European Union, if you are travelling in the European Union, you can get the European Health Insurance Card, that allows you to get treated in any European country at no cost for you. 

When you are travelling outside of the European Union, know that any medical or hospital costs that you may need will be your responsibility, and it can quickly become a massive bill.

It provides coverage for unexpected events like illness, accidents, trip cancellations, and lost belongings. It’s essential because it offers financial protection and peace of mind during your travels.

Trips out of the European Union

During a trip to countries of the European Union, you are covered by the health care system of your country. For UK citizens, you should have a UK Global Health Insurance Card or a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). The UK Global Health Insurance Card(GHIC) replaces the EHIC and lets you get state healthcare in Europe at a reduced cost or sometimes for free. If you have a UK European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) it will be valid until its expiration date. Once it expires, you’ll have to apply for a GHIC.

You can apply for or renew your European Health Insurance Card if you’re from the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland. This health card will allow you to get state healthcare in other EEA countries and Switzerland at a reduced cost or for free depending on the situation. You can apply for it online on the government website or at your public health insurance fund. It is valid for a maximum of 2 years. Outside of Europe, you will no longer be covered by the Social Security of your home country.

Credit card cover

If you use a standard Visa or MasterCard, the covers are virtually non-existent. 
However, some Visa Premier or MasterCard Gold cards offer you travel insurance if you pay for your flight ticket using the card. However, they are usually limited to travel periods of less than 90 days. Also be cautious as the banks use high deductibles and have several exclusion clauses. In most cases these credit card travel insurances are insufficient but, discuss with your bank all the pros and cons.

Cost of medical care overseas

The highest risks are obviously related to your health. A simple fracture could cost you thousands of dollars, potentially even more if there are complications. On top of the financial aspect, logistics also can cause a financial nightmare if you require repatriation. If you are planning to travel to Australia, the country has high-quality healthcare, but it can be expensive for non-residents. Insurance can cover these costs.

Many backpackers also engage in adventure sports or activities that come with risks. Specific travel insurance can offer protection in these cases.

Luggage loss or theft

What’s more annoying than having your backpack stolen right in the middle of your long-awaited world trip? With the right insurance and luggage cover, this kind of situation would be easier to manage. When deciding on an insurance company make sure to thoroughly read through the terms and conditions as you want to avoid any bad surprises especially in the case of theft.  

Overall, travelling with travel insurance is travelling with peace of mind. You’ll know that if insurance related problems were to occur, you will receive support to manage and rectify the situation.

Health Risks in Australia

Koalas and kangaroos aren’t the only animals living in Australia! Pay special attention to mosquitoes. Although the risk is low, cases of dengue fever have been reported in northern Queensland. Mosquitoes are also carriers of the Ross River virus, Barmah Forest virus and Murray Valley encephalitis (a disease similar to Japanese encephalitis). These illnesses will cause you to have flu-like symptoms. Again, the risk of infection is very low but it is always a good idea to protect yourself against mosquito bites. Use citronella wristbands and bug sprays to stop them from spoiling your trip. Some regions have a high risk of mosquito bites and disease transmission particularly Western Australia and the Kimberley and Pilbara areas. Avoid spending time near stagnant water, which are breeding grounds for mosquitos.

You should also be careful of spiders. Some are poisonous and their bites can even be fatal if they are not treated quickly. The most infamous spider in Australia is the Redback, also known as the Red-backed Black Widow. They are small in size and not always visible to the naked eye. You will find them all over Australia.

Other dangerous animals such as sharks, crocodiles, jellyfish and snakes are also to be avoided! As an example, more than 800 snakebites were recorded each year between 2020 and 2022 in the state of Queensland. 2023 has already been a bad year for snake bites – 97 people were bitten in January alone. You might not come across any of these animals during your trip to Australia, but it’s important to be aware of them.

Always watch out for the famous yellow and black signs indicating the presence of certain animals. Be careful where you step and always follow swimming rules at the beach, swimming within the boundaries of shark and stinger nets etc. Some bathing areas are strictly prohibited due to the presence of sharks or jellyfish. Surfers, check in advance where is safe to go. Some free camps in the Northern Territory and Queensland are populated by crocodiles, so stay on your guard and read the comments of other travellers on Wikicamps for example.

Even if the risk is minimal, stay as far away as possible from bats, as some carry a virus similar to rabies.

How to choose your travel insurance plan?

To get the best backpacker travel insurance, it is not enough to choose the one that everyone else recommends to you or the one you hear about the most. Although the popularity of an insurance provider is a positive indication for their reliability, you should make your choice based on your individual needs and the way you travel. Generally speaking, here are some coverage criteria that you need to consider when choosing your worldwide travel insurance.

Backpacker insurance is tailored for long-term travelers who may engage in adventurous activities. It often offers extended coverage for a more extended duration compared to standard travel insurance.

Consider the Length of Your Stay

First, it is important to determine how long your trip will take. You will be travelling around the world, so it won’t be a short one! A Round The World flight ticket is usually valid for twelve months. Ensure the policy covers the entire duration of your trip. Some policies offer extensions if you decide to stay longer. Also make sure your insurance covers worldwide travel.

You get travel insurance for a single trip for up to 6 months or multiple trips for long term travellers. Check that the travel insurance plan you intend to purchase covers you for your entire trip or that it can be renewed even if you are already on the roads.

Weight the travel-related risks 

When determining the risks you may be exposed to, you should think about:

  • The countries of destination and the seasons you will be travelling there. You might need medical and evacuation coverage depending on your destination. Find out, what countries are covered by the travel insurance of your choice.
    You usually have to choose between a worldwide coverage including or excluding US, Canada, and the Caribbean. So if you intend to travel in those countries, make sure you include them in your insurance plan.
  • The mode of transport you will use. The risks won’t be the same if you are riding a bike or if you only fly from point A to B.
  • Standards of food hygiene and sanitation in the countries you are visiting.
  • Your health. If you have a medical condition for example, you will probably need a higher coverage.
  • The activities you will be doing. What would be a round the world trip without the fun of doing all kinds of activities. If you plan to participate in activities like scuba diving, hiking, or surfing, make sure your policy covers them. Some of these activities are riskier than others, and not all insurances are equal in coverage. For example, not every insurance company covers sports like scuba diving or surfing.

⚠️ You must be aware that certain countries are not covered. This could be because of a war, the political situation etc. Make sure you verify with your insurance companies that you will be covered in EVERY country you will be visiting. 

backpacker travel insurance 2

Overseas medical expenses and hospitalisation

A crucial point of a backpacker insurance is the reimbursement for medical expenses and hospitalisation. You need to know how the insurance will cover you and how your expenses get reimbursed. Remember to keep all of your invoices as well as important forms and documents related to your claim.

Also check if there’s a support service included in the cover. You should be able to contact your insurance quickly and easy at any time (we don’t always have internet reception when travelling).

Repatriation assistance

In extreme cases, repatriation assistance is essential. For example, if you need surgery and you are in a country where medical care is not well-developed, your insurance covers your repatriation. You should also consider whether you want your insurance to reimburse a return ticket in the event of hospitalisation or death of a relative.

Luggage & Personal belongings Cover

When travelling for a long time, you are carrying everything you need with you. You also carry valuable goods such as camera, travel documents, jewellery etc. If your bag gets stolen or lost, you are going to be in a stressful situation having to replace all your belongings.

On a long trip like this one having a high luggage coverage is essential. Insurances offer different levels of coverage for belongings. These range from luggage delay on flights to theft. Carefully read the conditions! It’s often the case that electronic devices such as mobile phones or cameras are not covered.

Civil liability and legal assistance

In some situations (e.g. car accidents), you might be directly responsible for the consequences, in which case you will have to pay the costs. This could be for replacing property of a third party or even medical expenses.

Also make sure that legal assistance is included in the insurance package!

Cancellation insurance

Also remember to check whether your insurance includes coverage for cancellations: trip cancellations, hotel reservations, flight tickets etc.

In addition to the criteria in this list, read the general conditions of the insurance. You find information on the conditions of reimbursement, how you make claims, and the cases in which you won’t be covered.

Worldwide travel insurance including the USA and Canada

Perhaps you have already noticed that insurance companies offer worldwide travel insurance including or excluding the USA and Canada. Insurances that include the USA and Canada are more expensive. This is because the health care system in the USA and Canada is much more expensive than in other countries.

Make sure to read the fine print & Check the providers reputation

Understand what is and isn’t covered. Pay attention to exclusions, limits, and deductibles.
Look for reviews and ratings to gauge the insurer’s customer service and claims process.

Tips for Backpackers

  • Keep Your Insurer’s Contact Information Handy: Store it in your phone and keep a physical copy in your luggage.
  • Document Everything: In case of theft, loss, or medical treatment, keep detailed records and receipts for your claim.
  • Understand the Claims Process: Familiarize yourself with the process before you go. Knowing what information and documents are needed can expedite your claim.

FAQ Backpackers Health Insurance

Which travel insurance for backpackers already abroad?

Don’t panic, you can still purchase travel insurance if you’re already overseas. Unfortunately you won’t be able to make a claim for an incident that already occured. Most insurance companies allow you to subscribe while already overseas (i.e.World Nomads, True Traveller, Safety Wing, etc).

What to look for in Backpacker travel insurance?

Always check the following is covered: Medical treatment and repatriation, luggage and personal belongings, activities, holiday disruptions and cancellations.

Is it worth buying expensive travel insurance?

Hopefully you won’t ever have to claim on your policy. However, it will give you peace of mind if something bad happens. Most policies for backpackers aren’t very expensive, so you will be able to find a cover without spending a lot.

Can I travel to Australia without travel insurance?

Medical care in Australia can be expensive for travelers and visitors. So it is strongly recommended to have travel insurance when travelling to Australia.

Are adventure activities and sports covered by backpacker insurance?

Many backpacker policies cover a range of adventure activities and sports. However, the specific activities covered can vary between insurers, so it’s crucial to check the policy for details.

Are there any exclusions or limitations in the policy?

Yes, policies typically have exclusions and limitations. Common exclusions may include coverage for high-risk activities, certain pre-existing conditions, or specific destinations. Read your policy documents carefully to understand these limitations.

What if I have pre-existing medical conditions?

Disclose any pre-existing conditions when applying for insurance. Some conditions may be covered, while others might require an additional premium.

How do I make a claim?

Keep all relevant documentation (receipts, reports, etc.) and contact your insurance provider as soon as possible to initiate the claims process.

Updated on 13.05.2024

5/5 - (10 votes)


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here