I’ve had to claim on my travel insurance four times over the last ten years of traveling. I’ve suffered everything from infections, robberies, broken equipment, and a couple more things that I’m too ashamed to talk about.
To hit the road without backpacker travel insurance really is a big mistake – eventually, something will go wrong and if you haven’t got travel insurance you can end up in a lot of financial trouble.
That being said, there’s no reason you can’t find cheap backpacker insurance out there either. There are literally hundreds of companies out there offering deals, so you have plenty of options to shop around.
In this post, we’ll talk about what you need to look for in a good insurance policy and what you should have at a minimum. We’ll talk about a few cheap travel insurances, a few specialized, and a few more of my favorites.
So let’s get to it and look at some of the best travel insurance companies for backpackers!
Table of Contents
- Quick answer: These are the Best Travel Insurances for Backpackers
- Why You Should Always Have Backpacker Travel Insurance
- Looking for the Right Backpacker Travel Insurance
- An Overview of the Best Backpacker Insurance
- How to Compare Cheap Backpacker Insurance
- Cheap Backpacker Insurance – What Should Be Included
- Things to Consider before Buying Backpacker Insurance
- What is the Best Travel Insurance Company?
- World Nomads
- The Best Overall Travel Insurance Provider
- World First
- The Best Cheap Backpacker Insurance
- Best Medical Travel Insurance
- Some More Options…
- How to Make a Claim on your Backpacker Insurance Policy
- Common Things that you CANNOT Claim with Backpacker Insurance
Quick answer: These are the Best Travel Insurances for Backpackers
World Nomads – The Best Overall Travel Insurance for Backpackers
World First – The Best Cheap Travel Insurance
SafetyWing – The Best Medical Insurance for Travelers
Why You Should Always Have Backpacker Travel Insurance
If you’re not convinced that you need travel insurance, then listen to this story of mine. (Spoiler: I do something stupid.)
I struggled through the forest, angry red lines obscuring my vision, the rain soaking my skin. My head throbbed, I was drenched with sweat. Blood sloshed in my boot, I fell to my knees for the hundredth time and continued to crawl. Darkness was coming.
Was I to die in this lonely jungle?
Up ahead, I could just make out a faint light; was it even real or was my fever-addled mind playing tricks on me? With one last surge of energy, I pushed myself forwards, struggling through a bamboo door appearing out of the mist and collapsing. It was my first near-death experience whilst backpacking.
Most backpackers hitting the road are so excited about having crazy adventures that they tend to forget about one of the essentials of any trip abroad – backpacker travel insurance.
What you need to remember is that travel insurance for backpackers is a lot more than just medical protection. Insurance covers you when you drop your rucksack down a cliff, your flight is canceled, you spend two weeks in a Latin American hospital or you are robbed in Delhi.
Don’t think that anything bad is likely to happen to you? All of it has happened to me. And I’m not the only one.
When my leg got infected in Costa Rica, I racked up medical bills of over $10,000 and if it hadn’t been for my travel insurance I really do not know what I would have done.
Insurance is the single most important thing that you should invest in. For the small amount of money it costs per day – usually around the $1 mark – you would be stupid not to get it.
Looking for the Right Backpacker Travel Insurance
Picking a good backpacker insurance policy can be pretty confusing. With the huge range of travel insurances for backpackers available, it can be even more difficult to know what kind of cover you should go for and why.
Given how important travel insurance is to your trip I want to cover the topic in depth. I have met way too many people on the road who have decided against backpacker travel insurance and ended up regretting it.
Travel insurance is something you definitely need when you’re on the road, especially if you are a budget backpacker. If you are traveling the world on the cheap, then you will probably end up taking some risks, such as using dodgy public transport or staying in cheap rooms that don’t lock properly. You need to be protected in all of these situations.
Ultimately, when backpacking you never know what can happen and you must be prepared for anything. I never thought I would have my camera broken by an enthusiastic local in India, smash a motorbike to smithereens in Vietnam or get evacuated from the jungle in Costa Rica. But when all of that shit happened, my travel insurance made everything a lot simpler.
Finding cheap insurance for backpackers can be tough and, let’s be honest, it’s a really unexciting thing to spend money on. I honestly would not travel without backpacker insurance though.
If I had traveled to Costa Rica without insurance then my travel career would probably have come to an end – there is no way I could have afforded the massive hospital bill from my misadventure in the jungle.
An Overview of the Best Backpacker Insurance
Travel insurance is without a doubt one of the smartest investments you will ever make. Without it, you could end up paying out-of-pocket to replace cameras, laptops, limbs, bundles of cash from inflation ridden Venezuela, anything that goes missing whilst backpacking.
So, let’s talk about how to get the best deal and how to choose cheap backpackers insurance that will properly cover you for your adventures abroad. Take a quick look at this table, which outlines a couple of my favorites:
|World Nomads Insurance
|World First Insurance
|Columbus Direct Insurance
How to Compare Cheap Backpacker Insurance
What you need to remember is there are hundreds of travel insurance companies out there and many of them are evil.
Choosing a good insurance policy can be pretty overwhelming. Often, in the fine print you’ll find that policies are not as good as advertised.
For example, some (really!) cheap travel insurance companies will insist that you pay a high excess on claims for electronics or other personal belongings.
When hunting for a plan and comparing backpacker insurance policies, start with the basics.
First and foremost, make sure that your insurer has a high coverage limit on your medical expenses. Many companies provide up to £1,000,000 in medical coverage and some more expensive policies providing provide even more. High coverage limits are important because if you get seriously sick or injured your medical bills could skyrocket.
With decent backpacker insurance, you get what you pay for and I recommend steering clear of dirt cheap policies which offer only basic medical coverage. It is easy to find backpacker travel insurance which will fit your budget and also provide the cover you need.
Secondly, you want to make sure your policy covers emergency evacuation. If your trekking at altitude and you break a leg, you will need evacuation cover to pay for the helicopter. If you don’t have it, it’s going to be pretty damn expensive.
Crucially, your policy should also cover repatriation back to your home country if necessary; you don’t want to have to pay for a flight home if you end up being too injured or sick to continue your travels.
At the end of the day, if your travel insurance company DOES have an out then they will use it to avoid paying – it is therefore really crucial you cover your ass and, if trekking at altitude for example, you get the relevant add-on to your policy.
Cheap Backpacker Insurance – What Should Be Included
On any good backpacker travel insurance policy, all of the below should be included. If something is missing from your policy, then consider looking for a different provider. Your backpacking insurance policy should…
- Cover most countries in the world.
- Cover for lost, stolen or damaged luggage, possessions, documents etc.
- The option to increase cover of high-value items e.g. a laptop.
- A 24-hour emergency helpline.
- At least £1 million personal liability insurance in case you injure a person or cause damage to their property.
- A minimum of £1 million of medical cover.
- Repatriation to your home country in the case of serious illness or injury – check the small print, occasionally the repatriation will only take you so far.
- A minimum of £1000 cancellation/curtailment cover so that you can get home fast if there is an emergency such as a death in the family.
- Cover for any legal expenses you may need.
- Extendability – If you decide to travel for longer than originally planned you want to be able to extend your policy easily.
Things to Consider before Buying Backpacker Insurance
- Small print: Many backpacker travel insurance policies will not cover you if you are injured whilst doing any kind of ‘high adrenaline’ activity so it is crucial you read your policy and understand it. Sometimes even hill walking is classified as “high adrenaline.” For an extra premium, you can usually add activities to your policy; think about what you will be doing and add accordingly. If you are trekking make sure your policy will cover rescue at your elevation as if you are not covered you may have to pay for the rescue helicopter yourself.
- Alcohol and drugs: Most travel insurance policies will not cover you if you were under the influence of alcohol and drugs at the time of an accident. Try to avoid getting breathalyzed if you get injured whilst fucked up. For a ton of practical, real advice on staying safe whilst traveling, check out this post.
- Valuables & electronics insurance: Almost all cheap backpacker insurance policies will have very high excesses and fixed limits on the amount you can claim on personal belongings. Ideally, you should pay a bit more to properly insure your valuables. Whether you choose to ensure your gear is up to you; certainly, your overall policy will cost more if you do. You may be better off just keeping a bloody good eye on your valuables and not paying the extra money to insure them.
What is the Best Travel Insurance Company?
OK, in my opinion, there is ONE company that offer the best travel insurance for backpackers – World Nomads.
Check out my backpacker insurance reviews below…
The Best Overall Travel Insurance Provider
I highly recommend going with the travel insurance provider World Nomads. I have been using them for some time now and they are without a doubt the best, most professional, travel insurance provider I have used.
They provide some of the most comprehensive coverage available at a good price. World Nomads is the only company I know of that lets you buy travel insurance after leaving on a trip. If there’s one insurance company I trust, it’s World Nomads and this is the company I use for my own backpacking travel insurance.
The Best Cheap Backpacker Insurance
World First is a pretty reliable and cheap option for backpacker travel insurance. They offer great travel insurance right from business trips to worldwide adventures and family holidays.
All policies offer coverage for travel delays, luggage loss, legal fees, and personal liability for trips, which is a huge blessing considering how screwed up travel plans can get if any of these things get messed up.
They even offer cover for travelers affected by up to 1,000 medical conditions including Alzheimer’s, cancer, Crohn’s, diabetes etc. So if you have a pre-existing medical condition, give World first a try.
They also cover a ton of sporting activities.
Click through on the link to receive a 10% discount on your policy!
Broke Backpacker Tip: If you’re a long-term traveler, keep in mind that a year-long policy may work out more cost effective for you than buying single trip travel insurance.
Best Medical Travel Insurance
For those who just need basic medical insurance for traveling, SafetyWing is one of the best options available. It is easy to set up, affordable, and will cover you in most medical situations.
SafetyWing uses a convenient monthly payment scheme that is subscription-based. This means that you can start, stop, and pause your enrollment at any time and don’t have to pay for something that you don’t use. It’s kind of like Netflix or Spotify in that you pay each month instead of upfront.
Paying on a monthly basis instead of all at once in the beginning can be a more financially wise decision for many travelers. With rates for as low as $37 per 28 days, SafetyWing can be a much more reasonable backpacker insurance for those who are tight on funds.
SafetyWing also covers:
- Partial medical expenses in your home country – 15 days per 90 if you’re from the USA and 30 days per 90 for everywhere else.
- Coverage in case of lost baggage, delays, and emergency situations.
Note that SafetyWing does not cover electronics e.g. laptops, cameras, cellphones. As such, we suggest that you insure important personal items using a secondary insurance like Gadget Cover.
Some More Options…
Alpha Travel Insurance is designed with backpackers in mind and they are one of the few insurers who can cover trips up two years in length (with 2 visits home included as standard).
The £10,000,000 medical cover on all policies includes air ambulance and mountain rescue, so really Alpha Travel Insurance is one of the best backpacker insurance providers out there. For an additional 5% off use my Alpha Insurance discount code: BACKPACK5
These guys offer some kickass deals on backpacker travel insurance for Aussies and Kiwis. If you have a pre-existing medical condition, be sure to read the terms and conditions thoroughly before taking up the insurance.
Cover specifically for UK residents. Cover your pricey and precious electronics while on the road. Particularly suited for people who take numerous trips per year, returning to the UK often. Gadget Cover’s Total Transparency Manifesto makes understanding their policies plain and simple.
How to Make a Claim on your Backpacker Insurance Policy
If you need to make a claim, get all your documents in order early on. This is the best piece of advice I can give you.
If you have been robbed you will need a police report. In general, getting a police report tends to vastly speed up receiving payment from an insurance company.
Keeping receipts of all the valuables you take traveling is a really good idea – the insurance company will want to see that you actually bought the items in the first place before they pay out.
You need to be patient when it comes to actually getting paid as even the best insurance companies sometimes drag their feet. If the first offer that the travel insurance company makes you is ridiculously low then dispute it – the second offer is usually a lot better.
Common Things that you CANNOT Claim with Backpacker Insurance
Most travel insurance companies will not cover the following mishaps:
- Pre-existing medical conditions – they’ll usually say that’s an issue for your regular health insurance.
- Knowingly traveling to dangerous areas – most travel insurances will not cover you if you decide to visit areas that are publically deemed hazardous. This includes armed conflicts, like Syria, natural disaster zones, like Haiti after the earthquake, and radioactive areas, like Fukushima.
- Pregnancy – I’m not able to bear children but this one is still good to know for our courageous female travelers.
- Reckless driving – a lot of travel insurances will try and the burden on your car insurance provider. If you have no car insurance, they may try to get out of paying anything if you did anything remotely dangerous. Alternatively, you can purchase a RentalCover.com policy. It covers your car against any common damages such as tires, windscreens, theft, and more at a fraction of the price you would pay at the rental desk.
- Flights bought with airline miles – that’s like laundering money.
- Mental health breakdowns – if you claim you did something stupid because you were not of sound mind, they’ll tell you to go to the looney barn.
- Medical tourism – that’s a great new nose you got there dude but no travel insurance company is going to pay for that.
Travel insurance is an investment; it is a Plan B. Don’t think you won’t need it, just get the damn insurance. It may be the best money you ever spend.
No matter who you choose I always recommend shopping around and comparing travel insurance providers. It is unlikely you will ever need to use your travel insurance but if you do then you want to make sure you are confident in the policy you have gone for.
My highest recommended travel insurance company is World Nomads.
You can use the booking form below to get affordable backpackers insurance for your adventures and, at no extra cost to you, I will earn a referral fee which I shall spend on beer in far-flung lands.
Even if you don’t use the booking form, please get travel insurance from somewhere. Be covered, be safe and have an incredible journey.
Do you have any horror stories from traveling? We’d love to hear about them and what you did stay safe. Please share them with us in the comment section!
Yay for transparency! Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. This means that if you book your accommodation, buy a book or sort your insurance, I’ll earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. I only link to stuff I’ve actually used and never endorse crap. Your support helps me keep the site going.
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