What Are The Best Backpacker Travel Insurances?

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Alexandre Desoutter updated on April 3, 2020

You are planning to take a gap year to work abroad or are organising a fancy round-trip? Whatever your next travel plans are, you should definitely get backpacker travel insurance to get covered for any unexpected event that may arise during your adventure.

Hence, you are probably looking for the best insurance you could get, and more information on long stay travel cover?
You are at the right place.

Stay tuned, and we will tell you everything you need to know on backpacker travel insurance: what is it, what you will be covered for, prices, tips and much more.

What is backpacker travel insurance?

Backpacker travel insurance, also known as long-stay or gap year travel insurance, protects you for a long time period and for multiple destinations. Long stay travel insurance is tailor-made for people wishing to backpacking around the world.

Insurers offering backpacker travel insurance usually cover:

  • an extended travel time slot: from 1 day to 18 months (but most insurers stop at 12 months).
  • multiple destinations: preventing you named all of them on your policy.
  • more sportive activities included as standard: winter sports, rafting, scuba diving etc. for which you need to pay an extra premium for standard policies might be included for free in your backpacker travel insurance.
  • return home at no extra charge: if you want to break your round-trip midway and see some family, you will be covered. Return home must not exceed a certain period of time though (usually around 20 days) and the cover will be suspended whilst you are at home.
  • stop-over travel cover: you might be covered in case you’d like to stop (or transit) by higher risk travel areas such as USA as long as your stop do not excess a certain number of days (usually 7 days).
  • excess waiver option: you can pay an extra charge (usually around £15) to not have to pay any deductible in case of claim.

Gap year travel insurance also usually have some restrictions:

  • upper age limit, often much lower than for single and annual travel insurance (around 45 years old)

Although available for couples, families and groups, backpacker travel insurances are mainly bought by individuals travelling alone. We advise to get backpacker travel insurance as soon as you’ve booker your flight ticket in order to be covered in case you need to cancel your trip.

Why do I need backpacker travel insurance?

A comprehensive backpacker travel insurance covers you in the event of a mishap encountered anywhere whilst you are travelling. In fact, you, or your travel partners, are not immune to an accident or illness that could go so far as to justify your repatriation to UK. There are many examples: infections, transport accidents, loss or theft of luggage.

Just to show you how important applying for travel insurance is, here are a few examples of what an unfortunate and unexpected event might cost you during an example holiday if you are not covered:

How much will you have to payWithout backpacker travel insurance nor EHIC
(trip to USA)
Without backpacker travel insurance but with EHIC
(trip to Europe)
With gap year travel insurance
I got injured whilst travelling and I need surgery abroad£50,000£0
in public hospitals only
until medical limit is reached
My spouse needs to be repatriated to the UK£41,000£29,000£0
most often real fees
I need to cancel my trip for medical reasons£8,000£5,000£0
until trip cancellation / interruption limit is reached
I lost my baggage at the aiport£900£900£0
until personal belongings limit is reached
Expenses you could face abroad

Did you know that a survey conducted by Which in 2018 showed that of about 10000 UK travellers of all age ranges, 64% had medical treatment while they were travelling abroad?

Today the average medical claim abroad is £1300 according to comparethemarket when you can find annual backpacker travel insurance starting at a few pounds per day.

Good to know

Applying for backpacker holiday insurance will prevent you from having to face any unexpected and significant expenses for you or your travel partners on your own.

Should I get backpacker travel insurance if I have European Health Insurance Card?

Always remember that while travelling in Europe, your first ally is your European Health Insurance Card.

The European Health Insurance Card:

  • is free-of-charge for any UK residents holding a valid UK passport until 31/01/2020;
  • is by individual (you can't get one card for a family, or a group);
  • is valid in any EU countries as well as Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein and Iceland;
  • covers any treatment needed abroad as a local national, including pre-existing medical conditions treatment and maternity care;
  • doest not cover any emergency rescue and repatriation;
  • should never be considered as a substitute for travel insurance.

What is covered by EHIC?

  • Any treatment of a pre-existing or chronic medical condition while abroad
  • Any routine medical care for pre-existing medical condition if monitoring is needed
  • Any maternity care

What is not covered by EHIC?

  • Any private treatment
  • Any repatriation expense
  • Any emergency rescue (air rescue from ski station, for instance)
  • Any treatment on cruises
  • Any specialist consultation

Good to know

Remember that your EHIC will only cover you until 31/12/2020, the time of Brexit. Make sure you have both EHIC and travel insurance before travelling. Many insurers will ask you to get your EHIC if travelling in Europe, and would waive the excess if you have a valid card with you.

What are the best backpacker travel insurances?

Find competitive and cheap backpacker travel insurance policies is always a challenge as you always need to dig into insurers' booklets to be sure you are well covered.

In order to help you save time and money, we've come up with a list of companies you could apply for your eyes closed.

Compre best travel insurance in seconds.
No email, no spamming, promise.

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Who can apply for backpacker travel insurance?

You can apply for backpacker travel insurance whether you are travelling alone, with your partner, your family or as part of a group.

You will be able to name several persons on a backpacker travel insurance if criteria described below are respected:

Who can apply for backpacker
travel insurance
Adult travelling alone
  • More than 18 years old and less than upper age limit set in the policy
  • More than 18 years old and less than upper age limit set in the policy
  • 2 persons living at the same address or with a defined status (marriage, civil union etc.)
  • Usually up to 10 persons
  • No need to show any family link
  • Can be a group of adults and children
  • Everyone must be in the age limit defined in the policy
  • At least one adulte and one child
  • Usually up to 2 adults and 8 children
  • Everyone must be in the age limit defined in the policy
Who can apply for backpacker travel insurance

Most insurers will ask any people named on a gap year travel insurance policy to:

  • travel out from and returning to the UK.
  • be a permanent resident of the UK (England,Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and Isle of Man) - specific backpacker travel insurances exist for non UK residents.
  • not travel against GP advice.
  • not travel with the intention of receiving medical care abroad.
  • hold a UK National Insurance number.

Does backpacker policy cover all destinations?

While applying for gap year holiday insurance, you will be asked to mention your backpacker destination. They are usually grouped in the 4 main categories described below.

DestinationsOur comment
UKBackpacker travel insurance protects you for your local stay in the UK including England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and Isle of Man but usually excluding the Channel Islands.
EuropeBackpacker holiday insurance for Europe include all European countries (usually EU members as well as Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein and Switzerland). Some insurers may also cover Egypt, Tunisia and Morocco.
Worldwide (excluding USA, Mexico, Canada, Caribbean)Destinations such as USA, Medico, Canada or The Caribbean are seen as very high risk regions by travel insurers as healthcare systems are the most expensive in the world. A 4 days surgery in the US might cost you around £100 000. Excluding them from your backpacker travel insurance policy will allow you to get cheaper quotes.
Worldwide (including USA, Mexico, Canada, Caribbean)Worldwide gap year policies including high-risk destinations are the most expensive ones. It will allow you to travel anywhere and get covered especially for any medical treatment you would need in those regions.
Some war zones may be excluded from the worldwide destinations list.
Australia, New-ZealandAustralia and New-Zealand are sometimes backpacker separate destination from the rest of the world. UK has specific healthcare agreements with both countries. UK residents are covered as local national for any medical expenses they may face abroad which lead to cheaper travel insurances.
Backpacker destinations

Good to know

When applying for backpacker holiday insurance, you may be asked to mention your exact destination.

What are the alternatives to travel insurance?

Depending on the trip you are preparing, you could go for alternative to gap year holiday insurance:

Alternatives to backpacker travel insurance
Single-trip travel insurance
  • Covers you for a one-off holidays, in a specific region and within a defined period set in the policy.
  • Is available for individuals, couples, families and groups.
  • Is available for a trip of 2 days and up to 365 days at some companies.
  • Check the age limit of your single trip policy (you may find some policies with no upper age limit).
Annual travel insurance
  • Covers you for multiple holidays within a period of a year, and in any region you have included in the policy.
  • Is available for individuals, couples, families and groups.
  • Is available for a maximum number of days per single trip limit (usually 31 days or 60 days at extra charge).
  • Check the age limit of your annual travel insurance (usually lower than for single trip) .
Alternatives to backpacker travel insurance

What does backpacker holiday insurance should cover?

Each backpacker travel insurance policy is different, since it is the insurer who determines the content of the contracts it offers: guarantees, compensation limits, deductibles, travel insurance prices, etc.

However, all backpacker travel insurance contracts must include at least the following guarantees, applicable in Europe or worldwide, for all individuals mentioned on the policy:

  • Medical expenses: compensation of any medical expenses during your backpacker stay (consultation, analysis, emergency treatment, longer hospital stay, etc.)
  • Repatriation assistance to the UK: financial and logistical support by a dedicated 24/7 team for your early return to your country of residence if necessary
  • Trip cancellation and cover for delayed or missed departure: compensation if you need to cancel your trip for whatever reason or if you missed your departure
  • Personal liability: compensation for any damage or injury made to a third party
  • Baggage: compensation for any lost or theft of baggage while travelling

Most of the time, travel insurers offer different formulas. Cover types involved are usually the same but the compensation limits and deductibles vary.

When applying for holiday insurance for backpacker, you should pay close attention to:

CompensationAverage amountGood to check
Medical expenses compensation amountFrom £5M to £10M
(depending on your medical situation and your destination)
  • Are surgery and stays in private hospitals included in medical compensation?
  • Will we need to pay for medical fees upfront?
  • If one of us have a pre-existing medical condition, what exactly is included?
  • Will any "accompanying person" fees be reimbursed (extra travel, accomodation, car rental)?
  • Is there a 24/7 free-of-charge and UK-based assistance landline?
  • Is unlimited overseas assistance provided?
Repatriation compensation amountReal fees
  • Is any transportation mode included (by alternative schedule flight or by air ambulance)?
  • Is repatriation under the supervision of a nurse or a doctor taken into account?
Trip cancellation / curtailment£10 000
(depending on your destination)
  • Is gap year trip cancellation included as standard or as an option?
  • Which reasons exactly are included to get compensation for your trip cancellation?
  • Is trip interruption covered?
BaggageMinimum of £1500 limit
  • Is it only valid during return transport or during the entire stay?
  • Do you need the receipts for any belongings for baggage claims?
  • Is the limit fixed by value?
Missed departure, delay Minimum £500 limit (minimum £200 limit for delay)
  • Are all justified reasons for missed departure covered?
  • How many hours of delay to qualify for compensation?
Personal liabilityAverage £2M limit
  • What is the limit by article and valuables?
  • Don’t focus on overall limit only
Legal expensesAverage £15000 limit
  • Does it cover any lawyer fees (including appointment fees)?
What your backpacker travel insurance should cover

Even better, use our comparison tool to find the best deal for you! At Safe, we’ve checked out hundreds of travel insurance providers and we are now able to allow you to compare best backpacker holiday insurance deals in only a few seconds without giving any personal details.

What are the should-have features for your backpacker travel insurance?

Maybe you would also like to be covered with nice-to-have protection add-ons while travelling. Here are some examples below:

CompensationAverage amountWhat you should particularly pay attention to
Money and cashMinimum £500 for money
(pre-paid tickets, travellers cheque etc.)
Minimum £200 for cash
  • How long can you make a claim to the police to be covered?
  • Is there a 24-hour claim limit?
Dental emergency Minimum £250
  • What is included in emergency dental care?
  • Cosmetic will most of the time be excluded
Loss of passport or documentationMinimum £250
  • How many nights are covered?
  • Do you need receipts of any additional fees incurred?
What are the nice-to-have features of backpacker travel insurance

What are the extras you may choose for gap year holiday insurance?

On top of your backpacker insurance contract, you may get, paying an additional premium, extras such as:

Sports coverExtra cover for activities such as winter sports, golf, extreme or adventurous sports.
Gadget coverExtra cover for smartphones, laptops, cameras, GoPro that you may have to record your backpacker holidays.
Cruise gear coverExtra cover for your backpacker cruise gear travel.
Extras for backpacker travel insurance

How much does backpacker travel insurance policy cost?

The table below shows indicative quotes for backpacker travel insurance policies:

To EuropeTo USA
18 years old - 6 months£98,51£169,46
36 years old - 6 months£130,23£224,65
Indicative premiums for backpacker travel insurance

It is, however, quite difficult to give precise ranges of how much a travel insurance will cost for you as prices are based on a wide range of criteria. It will mainly depend on:

  • If you’re travelling alone, with your partner, family or friends
  • If you’re subscribing to upgrades such as cruise, activities or gadget cover
  • If you have (or your travel partners) pre-existing medical conditions
  • The duration and destination of your stay
  • The financial limits you’d like to get in case of a claim
  • The excess amount you’re willing to pay
  • What you will be doing abroad.

What are the backpacker travel insurance exclusions?

Most companies insuring backpacker will not give financial compensation for:

  • Any claim made as a result of a pre-existing medical condition or pending diagnosis undeclared at the time of purchase
  • Any claim made as a result of being under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • Difficulties due to natural disaster, war, civil unrest (look out for strikes)
  • Any claim made as a result of a terrorist act (except if you took out this cover as an option)
  • Any claim made as a result of extreme sport practice not disclosed at the time of applying.

Watch out!

We would strongly advise you to carefully check your policy booklet for the main exclusions before leaving home with your travel partners.

What about pre-existing medical conditions for travel insurances for backpacker?

As well as for any other type of travel insurance, you are required by law to declare any pre-existing medical condition of a named travellers when purchasing gap year travel insurance.

Get to know more on travel insurance and pre-existing medical condition here.

A pre-existing medical condition is typically one for which you have been diagnosed and have received treatment before you apply for any travel insurance policy, regardless of whether this is short- or long-term. Here is a list of most common pre-existing medical conditions you may also need to declare:

  • Diabetes (with insulin injections)
  • Heart-related conditions (stroke, cardiomyopathy, etc.)
  • Any respiratory illness (lung problems, asthma)
  • Blood-circulatory conditions (high-blood pressure, high cholesterol)
  • Any mental or physical disability (depression, etc.)
  • Any neurological problem (e.g. Alzheimer’s)
  • Any treatment related to cancer care
  • HIV
  • Any allergies
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Hernia conditions, etc.

The exact definition of what counts as a pre-existing medical condition and what needs medical screening may vary from one insurer to another. Carefully check our reviews as well as insurers’ policy booklets to be sure your medical condition is well covered.

Watch out!

Not disclosing medical condition could invalidate future claims as well as your entire backpacker travel insurance policy.

Top 5 tips for backpacker travel insurances

  • Always take your EHIC with you for your backpacker in Europe.
  • Check the upper age limit of your gap year holiday insurance.
  • Be aware of the maximum number of days you can travel for with your backpacker insurance.
  • Carefully check deductibles and compensation amounts as well as main exclusions in your backpacker insurance policy booklet.
  • Benefit from family, couple or group discounts you can have on backpacker policies, adding several names on your contract.
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Alexandre Desoutter

Alexandre Desoutter has been working as editor-in-chief and head of press relations at HelloSafe since June 2020. A graduate of Sciences Po Grenoble, he worked as a journalist for several years in French media, and continues to collaborate as a as a contributor to several publications.

In this sense, his role leads him to carry out steering and support work with all HelloSafe editors and contributors so that the editorial line defined by the company is fully respected. and declined through the texts published daily on our platforms.

As such, Alexandre is responsible for implementing and maintaining the strictest journalistic standards within the HelloSafe editorial staff, in order to guarantee the most accurate, up-to-date information on our platforms. and expert as possible. Alexandre has in particular undertaken for two years now the implementation of a system of systematic double-checking of all the articles published within the HelloSafe ecosystem, able to guarantee the highest quality of information.