If you’re seeking the best travel insurance for backpackers and solo travellers, you’ve come to the right place.
Sure, finding good quality travel insurance can be dry and boring.
It can also seem like just another expense eating away at your budget.
In my opinion, it’s one of the most important things you can do to:
- Ensure you’re protected
- Save you thousands of dollars if something goes wrong
- Have peace of mind while you travel
The reality for many travellers is that eventually, something will go wrong on your travels. Whether it’s getting a broken ankle whilst running after your flight, getting so sick that you need to go to hospital, losing luggage or needing to cancel your trip due to a death back home.
In this article, I’m going to share everything I’ve learned when it comes to booking travel insurance as a fellow backpacker / solo traveller.
Benefits of Having Travel Insurance
Just as accidents happen at home, they can also happen whilst travelling abroad.
If planning to travel the world on a budget, then you’re naturally going to end up taking more risks than you would at home – whether it’s using cheap and potentially unreliable transport or staying in hostels with poor security.
What makes accidents scarier and more problematic overseas is that you’re no longer covered by your home Government’s Medical System or private health insurance. Therefore, you can’t just present your Medicare or health care card to pay for your fees.
Instead, any international hospital expenses will need to come entirely out of your own pocket (unless you have travel insurance that will help to cover some of these expenses).
What Does Travel Insurance Cover?
Although serious injuries are rare, they can still happen.
This is why I believe that it’s always best to be cautious, plan for the worst and be safe, not sorry.
Some of the most common things that travel insurance covers travellers for include:
- Medical emergencies (eg. Hospitalisation)
- Emergency evacuation (due to injury or natural disaster)
- Illness and injury overseas
- Dental emergencies
- Cancelled or delayed flights
- Damaged or stolen gear (eg. Electronics)
- Lost or stolen luggage
- The death of a family member back home
- Trip cancellations (due to unforeseen circumstances or the death of a family member)
- Death oversees (but let’s hope that doesn’t happen…)
However, do keep in mind that every travel insurance policy is different and may cover different things.
What Does Travel Insurance Not Cover?
Although most travel insurance plans cover a lot of things, there are many things that they don’t.
This is why it’s important to read the fine print of EVERY travel insurance policy. You can do so by reading their product disclosure statement before you buy.
I’ve had many occasions where I’ve almost bought a travel insurance policy, but upon reading the fine print, discovered that there were various loopholes which left me uncovered.
It’s important to be aware of what is not covered by your plan, so you’re not left disappointed.
Some of the most common things that insurance policies for backpackers don’t usually cover include:
- Alcohol and drug-related incidents
- Carelessness or negligence
- Accidents related to driving overseas or hiring a car
- Pre-existing medical conditions
- General doctor check-ups.
- Stolen cash (unless you pay for a more comprehensive plan)
- Changing your mind about your trip
- Accidents incurred whilst participating in extreme adventure sports and activities (Eg. hang-gliding, paragliding, or bungee jumping).
And possibly if:
- Your visa is refused causing you to want to cancel your trip
- Your government has released an alert that a destination is unsafe or dangerous to tourists and you decide to go anyway
- Civil unrest or terrorism makes your destination unsafe but your government hasn’t called for an evacuation, you may not be able to claim evacuation as part of your insurance
The reality is that every travel insurance policy is different and will have exclusions, unless you willingly pay a premium for them.
This is why it’s important to keep an eye out for common exclusions and loopholes.
You should also have a clear understanding of what you NEED to be covered for, and what you could get away without to help narrow down your options.
How to Choose the Best Travel Insurance
A common situation that backpackers and solo travellers find themselves in is that they’ve bought travel insurance, but they bought the CHEAPEST insurance on the market.
Sure, they’ve taken the right first step (buying travel insurance) and feel pleased with themselves for saving a few bucks, but later when they try to call and make a claim, they learn that they’re not covered.
This causes them to PANIC, feeling disappointed, distressed, angry, and extremely stressed.
This is why it’s best to look for VALUE FOR MONEY not the “cheapest” travel insurance available.
In my opinion, it’s always better to pay for insurance with the risk of nothing happening, compared to losing a substantial amount of your travel savings because of a life-threatening emergency that you have to pay for out of pocket.
Here are the steps I take to find the right travel insurance:
- Get clear on the type and level of cover I need
- Compare, Compare, Compare!
- Focus on value for money NOT the price
- Always take time to read the fine print
1) Get Clear on the Type of Cover You Need
Whether you’ll be backpacking, staying in hotels or doing a cruise, consider the requirements of your trip.
A person backpacking the world for a year may need entirely different travel insurance compared to someone doing a seniors river cruise in Europe for 3 weeks.
The great thing about travel insurance is that there’s a range of different options to suit various needs and budgets.
There’s no point:
- paying top dollar for a plan that is excessive and that you’ll never use, or
- buying an extremely cheap plan that offers little coverage, with the only benefit being saving a few hundred bucks.
You need to find that sweet spot.
Personally, I usually prefer to pay that little bit extra for a more comprehensive than “bare bones” policy.
2) Compare, Compare, Compare!
The greatest thing to do when researching travel insurance options, is to compare a variety of different policy quotes before making your decision.
Focus on their benefits, flaws and value for money. Also take the time to check out customer reviews.
That way you can feel confident with your final choice.
Sometimes an insurance policy can look awesome, yet after doing some research you discover that there are hundreds of really bad customer testimonials.
There may be recurring problems with claims being approved or processed quickly, or even with getting good customer service.
Now, just to be clear… Having negative reviews doesn’t mean that an insurance provider is all bad.
People have more of a tendency to leave negative reviews than positive ones.
Especially when it comes to denied travel claims, people can get very angry, stressed and emotionally charged when writing them. Therefore they lash out.
However, in some cases, it mightn’t be the insurers fault – the traveller simply didn’t read the fine print or bought the wrong travel insurance for their needs.
This websites can be helpful when comparing different types of travel insuracen:
3) Always Allow Time to Read the Fine Print
Although many of us skim over the lengthy “terms and conditions” disclaimers and tick the “agree” box on many websites, doing this with your travel insurance could land you in trouble.
Whilst it can be tedious and possibly a bit dry and boring, the fine print is often where your insurance provider includes exclusions, giving them an out for certain coverage.
This is why you should always read and understand the fine print before making your purchase.
How to Buy Good Travel Insurance – Backpackers & Solo Travellers
I know you’re probably thinking…
“Ok, cool so I understand travel insurance now, but do I really need it?”
Realistically, the choice is yours.
However, as a backpacker and solo traveller, you do open yourself up to extra risks because:
- You’re constantly on the move and in different locations
- You often rely on small and often local travel providers
- You have limited supplies on you
- You’re often travelling by yourself
- You have a tendency to do more adventure activities
- You’re more open to living with strangers (eg. Airbnb, Work-away, Couchsurfing)
Although we can cross our fingers and hope that nothing bad will happen, we’re not super-human. Things happen.
People get sick.
Bones get broken.
Stuff gets stolen.
Flights get cancelled.
You could be healthy now and have never made an insurance claim in your life, but things can go south very quickly when overseas.
But on the other hand, I have also had numerous trips where nothing has gone wrong and I haven’t had to worry about submitting any claims at all.
The Best Travel Insurance Companies / Comparison Websites
If you’re wanting to buy travel insurance, then my first recommendation is to jump onto an online insurance comparison website to familiarise yourself with the best travel insurance companies.
If from Australia, some popular comparison sites include:
If you’re a backpacker, adventurous thrill-seeker or solo traveller, you can also check out:
- World Nomads Travel Insurance (World-wide)
So, there you have it…
I hope that this has given you a simple guide into travel insurance for backpackers & solo travellers and how to buy it.
The Best Travel Insurance for Australians, Backpackers & Solo Travellers.
In summary, within this article we spoke about:
- The benefits of having Travel Insurance
- What travel insurance covers
- What travel insurance does not cover
- How to buy good travel insurance – for backpackers & solo travellers
- Some travel insurance companies & comparison sites to check out
If you have any further questions that I didn’t answer, feel free to send me a message and I’ll do my best to help you.