The very idea of backpacking probably conjures up all the right images of adventure, excitement and freedom of the open road. Travel insurance might therefore sound something of an anathema.
On the contrary, however, backpacking insurance might help to ensure that the exploration and activity you are seeking goes off without some emergency illness or loss putting an untimely end to your travels.
Here’s how – together with some of the considerations to keep in mind when arranging this important cover:
- backpacker’s insurance typically takes into account the fact that travelling is likely to be considerably longer than the two to three weeks of the average package holiday;
- although you need to make sure the insurance you arrange meets your proposed time abroad, cover may be available for a maximum of 12 to 18 months;
- if your plans are at all open-ended, you might also want to make sure that the policy may be extended if necessary, if you lengthen the trip – bear in mind, however, that if you return home at any stage, the cover is also likely to terminate and you need to start over again if you resume your travels;
- you may be able to find exceptions to the latter restriction, but even so, the length of your return visit home is likely to be limited (to, say, just a week or two);
- backpackers may be more inclined than many other travellers to indulge the adrenaline rush of more extreme sports and activities – you might want to check that those you are planning to do are covered by your insurance policy;
- on the general question of safety, of course, you might need to remember that some countries are safer than others and that civil strife or other emergencies may make travel within them especially dangerous – if advice from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office is issued against visiting a particular region, for example, your insurance is unlikely to be valid if you insist on going there;
- the insurance is also likely to offer cover for those occasions when you might take on local employment – in a bar or restaurant or light construction work, for example – in a bid to work at least some of your passage;
- at the heart of your insurance, however, are likely to be the provisions for medical treatment and care in the event that you fall ill or are injured;
- these medical safeguards are probably the most critical aspect of the cover since treatment abroad – not to mention repatriation back to the UK under medical escort – is likely to prove extremely expensive;
- some backpacker packages offer different levels of cover so that even on a tighter budget you are still able to secure basic medical insurance, whilst the more expensive plans offer further protection against other forms of loss, theft or damage.
Far from being a chore or hindrance, therefore, the appropriate backpacking insurance that covers the type of travelling you plan to do, for as long as you intend to do it, may help to ensure that your time abroad goes without any major hitch.