Best Backpacker Insurance – The Ultimate Guide
If you’re itching to pack all your essentials in your backpack to explore new terrains and exotic places on foot, we’ve (quite literally) got your back! WWB writer, Praveena, has created an ultimate guide to the best backpacker insurance for the adventurer in you!
The backpacker is the ultimate traveler. The backpacker is one who is willing to compromise on comfort and luxury for the sake of authentic adventures and experiences.
Backpacking is one of the most down-to-earth ways of getting to know new cultures and people from different countries all around the world.
More importantly, backpacking allows you to immerse in the experience of your travel and, at the end of the day, isn’t that what traveling is all about? To soak it all in, wherever you are.
As a result of the immersive nature of backpacking, it is extremely popular among students, young adults, and adventurous seniors who value the experience of exploring new places and going with the flow.
That being said, backpacking does come with a little bit more of a safety risk than your traditional means of travel.
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What is backpacking?
Generally speaking, backpacking can be said to be a flexible, low-key, and independent way of traveling on a budget.
It can be on a fixed schedule or a relatively relaxed schedule, depending on the type of trip and traveler in question.
It can involve exploring different areas of one country, or it can be traveling through multiple countries for an extended period.
It can be done solo, or in a group.
Backpacking usually involves traveling light, carrying only the very essentials so that you can easily make your way from one country to another with the least amount of fuss.
So, if your make-up bag has its own luggage tag, you’re not a backpacker.
What is backpacker insurance?
If you are a regular traveler, you have most certainly heard about travel insurance. Travel insurance provides you with coverage for any unforeseen events that may occur during your travels such as stolen valuables, lost baggage, or missed flights.
This will depend on the type of travel insurance plan that you purchased before embarking on your trip, and the amount of insurance premium that you paid in return for such reimbursement or coverage.
However, general travel insurance may not provide you with sufficient coverage if you plan to travel on foot, or if you travel with everything you own on your person at all times.
This is because backpacking brings with it an increased risk of injuries, as well as a higher chance of your valuables getting misplaced or stolen, especially if you are inclined to be spontaneous and hitch a ride with a local who you met at the bar.
In recognizing the fact that backpacking is an increasingly common means of traveling around the world, insurance companies have teamed up with travel insurance brokers to offer specific backpacking travel insurance.
Why do I need backpacker insurance?
As a backpacker, the cost of your travels is undoubtedly a concern. Granted, backpacking travel does not necessarily mean cheap travel. However, as a backpacker, you ultimately place importance on your travel expenses being value for money.
On that tangent, you may be reluctant to purchase specific backpacker travel insurance because of how much it may add to your travel budget. However, there are a multitude of things that can go wrong during your backpacking trip.
As such, it is well worth it to pay the premium for the peace of mind that you will inevitably enjoy, knowing that any expenses you may incur for any unexpected incidents will be covered by your insurance provider.
The most common incidents that backpackers may face include:
- Medical emergencies
- Lost or stolen travel documents and money
- Lost or stolen baggage
- Lost or stolen valuable such as jewelry or gadgets
- Emergency dental issues
- Flight cancellations
- Internal transportation cancellations
If you find yourself in any one of the above situations or (touch wood) in a worse situation than any of those listed, you will be glad that you spent a little more on your backpacker travel insurance premium to cover you in those tricky and unfortunate circumstances.
Best Backpacker Insurance: What Should I Look For?
In the excitement of getting on with your backpacking adventure, it may be extraordinarily tempting to sign up for your backpacker insurance with the first company that shows up on your internet search results list.
Please don’t do that.
As tedious as it might be, it is extremely important to read the fine print of the policy document and understand the extent of the coverage provided before you decide on which backpacker insurance policy to sign up for.
For example, if you are looking to insure against the loss or theft of your Macbook Pro or your brand new DSLR camera, you are going to want to check if your backpacker insurance policy covers the entire value of your gadget or just a part of its value.
Other things that you should keep an eye out for when looking for the best backpacker travel insurance include:
Make sure that your provider of choice is available to be contacted 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
You would not want to be in a state of limbo, not being able to communicate with your provider to clarify what needs to be done if you wanted to make an immediate claim for the replacement of your lost or stolen passport.
Especially not if your flight to your next destination is in less than 2 days.
When you’re signing up for your backpacker travel insurance, make sure that all your destinations are covered by your insurance policy. Some providers only cover injuries that occur in the USA and Canada.
Some providers explicitly exclude injuries that occur in specific countries. Whether you are entitled to coverage also depends on your country of residence.
Clear these details up with your provider before agreeing to the terms of your policy.
A high medical coverage limit
In the event you get seriously injured during your backpacking trip, it is important to note that in most countries, medical care does not come cheap.
Expenses can pile up, and in some countries, the cost of medical care tends to be more expensive for foreigners. In situations like this, it is worth it to pay more for higher coverage for medical expenses.
Don’t be cheap when it comes to medical coverage on your travel insurance policy. If it is something you can afford, try to ensure that you have the highest medical coverage possible.
You don’t want to be in a position where you have run out of coverage benefits before you are fully able to be discharged from the hospital or medical care facility.
Generally, most travel insurance, even the best travel insurance for backpackers do not cover the following:
- Travel to or backpacking in an unstable or dangerous country or region (you may need to pay for additional coverage for travel to such destinations)
- Accidents caused by the consumption of drugs or alcohol
- Loss or stolen valuables caused by your carelessness or oversight
- Accidents that occur as a result of your participation in extreme adventure activities (You can check out our ultimate guide to the best adventure travel insurance for more information on this type of coverage)
- Medical expenses incurred due to pre-existing medical conditions i.e. medical conditions that you already had before purchasing your backpackers travel insurance
What is the best backpacker insurance?
Planning for your backpacking trip can be stressful enough as you try to look for flights, accommodation, and internal transportation that give you the best value for money. To save you from some of that stress, we have compiled a list of some of the best insurance for backpackers to help you with your travel plans.
1. World Nomads
If you are an experienced international traveler, then you are no stranger to World Nomads. This travel insurance provider is all the more special in this context because it was founded by backpackers who are passionate about independent travel.
World Nomads see travel as a way of life and have the widest range of coverage when it comes to travel-related activities.
They also offer specific backpacking coverage for up to 4,500 meters and you can opt for an add-on of up to 6,000 meters.
World Nomads’ plans are straightforward, customizable, and easy to understand, making them one of the best backpacker travel insurance providers.
STA Travel Insurance is well-known for being budget-friendly and student-friendly in their plans. They have a long history of being in the travel industry, and they know what travelers want.
More importantly, they know what travelers need.
STA also knows specifically what backpackers need and offer both single trip and annual multiple-trip insurance policies that are easy to tailor-make, with the different levels of coverage that they make available to backpackers.
They also provide coverage for a return home visit during your travels if there is an emergency at home that you absolutely need to attend to. If that should happen, this type of coverage ensures that your trip home will not interrupt your backpacker insurance coverage.
Insure My Trip has various travel insurance plans but their Comprehensive Plans have to be one of the most extensive ones available out there. These plans provide coverage for almost any incident that may occur on your backpacking explorations, including trip cancellations or interruptions, dental emergencies as well as pre-existing conditions.
Over and above this, Insure My Trip works with a wide range of travel insurance providers such as Tokio Marine, Travelex, AIG, and Medjet to give you the best coverage for your backpacking needs.
It probably doesn’t get clearer or easier than this to get backpacking insurance from Backpacker Travel Insurance. They offer around the clock multi-lingual support and cover long-term trips for up to 2 years for travel.
They appear to be straightforward as to what is and is not covered, and these terms are not hidden away in complex policy documentation.
The product information document for their Premier Backpacker Travel Insurance clearly provides the basics of their travel insurance policies to get you started with the easy customization of your plan.
Insure and Go provides specific backpacker insurance coverage for up to 18 months of travel.
More interestingly, if you are a student planning a backpacking trip that may be a little on the wild side, Insure and Go provides an extremely attractive option of covering up to AUS$15,000 of your student loans in the unfortunate event that you sustain any permanent injuries during your travels.
With its tagline being ‘Insurance For Nomads, By Nomads’, it is easy to see why SafetyWing is extremely popular among backpackers.
SafetyWing specialises in travel medical insurance and they cover travelers from all over the world while they are outside their home country.
The one thing that stands out about SafetyWing is that they cover children from the age of 14 days to 10 years at no additional cost. So if you’re planning to start the kids young with the backpacking life, SafetyWing is the perfect choice for your backpackers travel insurance.
If all of this is a little too much information for you, fret not! Check out the table below for a glance at our best backpackers insurance review!
|World Nomads||24/7 Emergency Assistance|
Wide range of travel activities
Allows you to buy additional coverage while you are traveling
Easy to understand, straightforward plans
|STA Travel Insurance||Offers different levels of travel insurance plans based on your budget|
Covers working holidays
Provides policies for single and multiple trips at affordable rates
|Insure My Trip||Comprehensive plans|
Wide range of providers
Options to cover pre-existing medical conditions
Allows for cancellation of coverage up to 48 hours before departure
|Backpacker Travel Insurance||Key facts of the product are set out clearly|
Affordable Provides for coverage in most countries around the world
Multi-lingual support 24/7, all year round
|Insure and Go||Unique student loan coverage for certain policies in situations of permanent injuries sustained while traveling|
Allows for 1 home visit without interrupting backpackers travel insurance coverage
|SafetyWing||Ability to sign up even after commencement of travel|
Automatic extension of coverage every 28 days until they are informed of an end date
Provides coverage at no additional cost for children between 14 days and 10 years old at 1 child per adult, with up to 2 children per family
Useful Tips When Buying Backpackers Travel Insurance
With so many backpackers insurance providers available, it is easy to feel overwhelmed when looking at customising your plans. Here are some quick tips to help you out:
Make sure your policy covers the full value or at least a substantial value of your gadgets
- A coverage of $200 for a gadget that has a value of $1500 is unlikely to be helpful in getting you a suitable replacement
Disclose any pre-existing medical conditions honestly
- If you don’t, there is a good chance that your entire policy may be cancelled and you won’t be covered for any emergency medical expenses at all
Don’t buy the cheapest backpackers travel insurance available
- You do get what you pay for when it comes to travel insurance. If your coverage is at the minimum, you may find yourself paying for plenty of emergency expenses out of your own pocket
Make sure your policy covers stolen as well as lost personal items
- Travel insurance documentation can be extremely specific and definitions can be somewhat rigid. So if you are covered for lost baggage but your baggage is stolen instead, then you probably won’t be able to make a successful claim from your provider
Read the policy documentation to make sure that everything you need covered, is in fact covered by your backpackers insurance provider
- If you aren’t sure, don’t be afraid to ask the provider questions to clear things up. The last thing you need is to begin your trip feeling secure that any emergency can be completely taken care of, only to find out that the fine print in your backpackers travel insurance policy excludes that special medical boot you need to keep your broken leg stable.
While it is understandable that the last thing you would want to think about is all the ways in which your backpacking trip could go wrong, getting covered with backpacker travel insurance is probably one of the best things you can do for your well-being – mental, physical, and financial.
It may seem to some to be a little morbid, tedious and for the superstitious among us, it may even be tempting the fates!
In the long run, however, if some unfortunate and unexpected incident occurs, you will be glad that you made the effort and took the time to look into the different types of travel insurance available to find and purchase the best backpacker insurance for your next adventure into the unknown.