We are definitely not travel insurance experts and this post is based on our opinions, we should put this caveat up front! But we’ve recently renewed our annual travel insurance and had to do a lot of research to support our purchasing decision. We like to be sure that we get a good deal. But also that we have the best travel insurance with comprehensive cover suitable for our situation as Digital Nomads and occasional backpackers. Here’s what we found.
Why do we need travel insurance?
There are many reasons that anyone travelling overseas may need to call upon travel insurance. The main reasons that we buy travel insurance are as follows:
- Trip cancellation and flight delays
- Cancellation caused by medical issues prior to travel
- Medical and dental emergencies as well as emergency situations requiring evacuation
- Lost or stolen goods or baggage
- Incidents resulting from being the victim of crime overseas
Why do backpackers need travel insurance?
Backpackers are likely to need specific travel insurance tailored to their particular scenario. Travel insurance for backpackers would most likely need to include:
- Multi-trip or annual coverage
- Cover for trips that are more than 30 days or for constant travel up to 12 or 18 months
- Baggage cover, to include some tech and gadgets like mobile phones or iPads
- Allowance for staying in shared accommodation, such as hostels
- Round the world coverage (depending on your destination)
If you are buying travel insurance as a backpacker, you should check that it covers all of these things.
More tips for travel insurance for backpackers:
If you’re travelling with a companion, be sure to check out policies that allow you to add an additional traveller onto the policy for free.
If you’re only planning to backpack for a couple of months, then check out best travel insurance for long stays (below.)
The best travel insurance for backpackers
World Nomads are a specialist travel insurance provider for backpackers and digital nomads. They provide policies that are useful for anyone travelling continuously for a length of time without returning to their home country.
This is a good policy for backpackers because it covers things like delays to baggage arriving and incidental costs you might accrue to buy essential items. It is also specifically tailored to backpackers.
There are two downsides to this policy (or at least things to take note of for backpackers.) Firstly, you won’t be covered for any loss as a result of intoxication. So if you lose your bag on a night out, you may not be covered. Secondly, you are responsible for keeping your items as secure as possible at all times – this means locking them away in hostels.
Outbacker Travel Insurance – link here.
We like Outbacker is that it has cover for anyone who plans to go on working holiday whilst backpacking. Therefore, if you’re travelling to Australia and working on farms, working in a vineyard in South Africa or working in any kind of ski season job, this may be the best option for you.
Post Office Travel Insurance – link here.
For British backpackers, the Post Office has a solid travel insurance option. We like their travel insurance because it can cover backpacking trips for up to 18 months. This makes this a great option for anyone taking a long trip. Post Office also offer Student Discounts.
Best travel insurance for long trips overseas
We were surprised by how many annual multi-trip travel insurance policies did not allow for long stays in their small print. Specifically, many were limited to 30 day trips overseas. This was not always suitable for us as we travel, therefore we have been shopping for travel insurance which provides cover for stays of over 30 days and up to 90 days. Here are the best ones we found:
We like this annual multi-trip option as you can buy insurance to cover overseas trips of up to 62 days duration. There’s an option to pay for extra gadget cover.
This is also a popular annual multi-trip option as you can buy insurance to cover overseas trips of up to 60 days.
One thing to check on travel insurance for long stays, is whether the policy requires you to book a return trip or not. If you’re planning to keep your long stay trip open-ended, then any stipulation that you have a return trip may prevent a claim on your insurance.
Why do Digital Nomads need travel insurance?
For Digital Nomads, like us, travel insurance can be quite tricky. There are a number of things that Digital Nomads should look out for when buying travel insurance, such as:
- Does the policy cover you for long stays of over 30 days or more? On average, most Digital Nomads stay in one place for eight to ten weeks (that’s 56 to 70 days). You may also need insurance that covers you for open-ended travel.
- Does the policy cover you for all countries that you plan to visit? As a Digital Nomad, plans can change quickly. So ensure that you check your cover before you move to a new country.
- Does the policy insure you for expensive tech equipment such as laptops, iPads and mobile phones? If so, is the cover comprehensive and cover theft as well as damage?
Best travel insurance for Digital Nomads
World Nomads – link here. Why we like it? World Nomads insurance allows for long term travel and is specifically for nomadic lifestyles. It also has £2000 tech cover and cover for 200 sports.
SafetyWing – link here. Why we like it? SafetyWing is one of the most well known travel insurance providers for Digital Nomads. The product is different to others on the market as it is Digital Nomad Travel Medical insurance. This means you can access cover for a range of medical needs whilst travelling too. Based on reviews it seems to be tried and trusted. The other thing we like about SafetyWing is that it provides different rates for Digital Nomads under 39 years of age. You can also pay monthly and cancel any time. So it’s a bit like having annual insurance, but without the upfront cost.
Best travel insurance for Covid cover
Covid cover is the big one! We are so pleased to be out of the period of extremely restrictive travel caused by Covid. Nevertheless, it is still a risk and its important to look closely at travel insurance policies for Covid cover. Many travel insurers have tightened up their policy wording since the pandemic. This has made it quite tricky to claim for any travel issues arising from Covid.
You will most likely want to check that your insurance covers for:
- Cancellation or curtailment due to changes in your Government travel advice due to Covid
- Cancellation or curtailment due to travel bans, border closures or new requirements to quarantine in the country you are due to travel to
- Changes to your travel plans due to new Government advice about return to your home country – for example, instating a requirement to quarantine on return
- You or your travel companion testing positive for Covid prior to travel that results in cancellation
- You or your travel companion testing positive for Covid during travel and any curtailment, travel costs, quarantine costs or medical expenses.
Policy in relation to Covid is always changing, so we are not going to recommend a specific policy but we would suggest you consider the points above when making a decision on your policy. Always read the small print!
Travel insurance for sports
We found that most travel insurance cover has an option to add cover for specific sports. Fortunately many annual travel insurance policies have cover for hiking, yoga, some sailing and other low risk activities which we tend to do as part of our travels. However, many insurance policies will not automatically cover higher risk activities such as sailing across oceans, mountain climbing and snow sports like skiing.
If you plan to undertake any sports activities whilst you travel, be sure to check the small print!
Should I get annual travel insurance cover?
Many people make the mistake of buying travel insurance just prior to travelling, even on the day of their journey. This is problematic because travel insurance is only valid from the day of purchase. Therefore, if you booked your travel in January (for example) and you are due to travel in March and you wait until March to buy travel insurance, you will not be covered for trip cancellation that occurs in February (for example.)
Travel insurance is much more effective if you purchase it at the same time as you book or organise your travel. If you have annual cover, then you will be covered for any travel throughout the year. We like annual cover because we don’t have to think about it once we have it!
Annual cover tends to be less expensive if you travel frequently and would otherwise have to take out multi-trip insurance. However, if you are taking a particularly unusual trip, for example diving with sharks in Australia and the rest of the year you tend to take less high-octane holidays, then it may serve you to purchase single trip insurance with specific cover for your shark driving trip.
Annual travel insurance cover is best for:
- People who travel frequently throughout the year
- Anyone who intends to take long trips
- People who travel to similar parts of the world or take holidays with similar risk factors throughout the year
What is never covered by travel insurance?
Based on our own experience, our research and the wisdom of Martin Lewis (money saving expert), there are a number of things that are never covered by travel insurance:
- Any issue with a passport or travel document
- Visa problems or not getting a visa (or ESTA) in time ( a mistake we nearly made when flying to Costa Rica via the USA)
- Just plain old changing your mind about travelling somewhere (and breakups, fallings out with friends etc)
- Illness you have prior to buying your travel insurance (if this is your reason for calling off your trip)
- Injury or liability as a result of illegal acts (such as drink driving or hiring a scooter without an appropriate license)
- Stolen items if you didn’t take due care with these items (such as leaving expensive tech equipment in a car boot)
- Cash being stolen from you
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