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Best Backpacker Travel Insurance

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Getting travel insurance for long stays brings its own challenges - get the inside track here

Best Backpacker Travel Insurance
Photo by Tristan Pineda / Unsplash

We've ranked the best backpacker travel insurance policies of 2024 to help you compare backpacker insurance.

Top 10 Backpacker Insurance 2024

  1. Outbacker - Platinum Travel Insurance 🥇
  2. Explorer - Backpacker Plus 🥈
  3. CoverForYou - Gold 🥉
  4. InsureFor - Backpacker Travel Insurance (up to 8% cashback)
  5. Flexicover - Gap Year Gold
  6. Admiral - Backpacker (up to £8 cashback)
  7. Columbus Direct - Globetrotter (up to 20.8% cashback)
  8. Post Office - Backpacker Travel Insurance (up to 16% cashback)
  9. InsureandGo - Black (up to 16% cashback)
  10. Virgin Money - Backpacker Black or Gold (up to 11.2% cashback)

We created our list of the best backpacker travel insurance policies using an independent financial review service that rates how comprehensive a policy is; the score Fairer Finance gave each insurance company for customer happiness, complaints, trust, and transparency; the latest backpacker travel insurance ratings on Which?; and whether the company has won any awards.

Keep in mind that the best backpacker insurance policies won't necessarily be the cheapest. Our list should give you an impartial ranking of insurers that have an excellent level of cover and offer good customer service.

Best Backpacker Insurance: Reviews

Want to dive deeper? We have detailed reviews of many of the best backpacker insurance companies:

Designed to give you a complete picture, these reviews bring together expert analysis of the policies with feedback and recommendations from real customers. Just bear in mind that for companies that offer regular travel insurance alongside backpacker insurance, the information may not be about their backpacker travel insurance policy specifically (though it should still give you a sense of the company is seen).

Why is backpacker travel insurance important?

You could be carrying several thousand pounds on you without even realising it. An iPhone or a MacBook, a digital camera and lenses or perhaps your favourite jewellery - it all adds up.

Many of these items may make it into your bag when you set off on a backpacker trip, along with wads of foreign currency. If any of these possessions are lost, stolen or damaged while you're travelling, having good backpacker insurance can make all the difference. It means you can set out on a trip with peace of mind and make a successful claim if anything does go wrong.

Another key feature of backpacker insurance is its medical cover. British travellers often overlook these cover levels because we're used to getting free treatment on the NHS but in other countries, even those with low costs of living, medical care can cost thousands of pounds. And some hospitals may not offer you treatment unless they know you can pay for it.

Some people buy insurance and assume they're covered without looking at the policy wording.

What does my backpacking travel insurance really cover?

Travel insurance policies often look similar but subtle differences in wording can have a big impact on what you're covered for. Unfortunately, the only way to be 100% sure what your backpacker insurance covers is to spend a bit of time reading the policy document. However, we've highlighted a few things that are worth checking.

And please remember that cheap backpacker insurance is not necessarily the best backpacker insurance.

Does backpacker travel insurance cover gadgets and laptops?

Although laptops, phones and gadgets are often within your baggage limit, as high-value items they are classed by most insurers as 'valuables'. It is very likely that when you read the small print of your backpacker travel insurance policy, you’ll find it has a separate ‘valuables’ or 'single-item' limit, which is much less than the £2,000 total baggage cover. Check out our article on travel insurance cover for valuables to learn more.

For example, in Endsleigh's popular Essential gap year policy, the baggage cover gives you £2,000 but there is a valuables limit of only £250. You can’t claim more than this for ‘valuables’ so if your £1,000 MacBook Air goes missing, you won't get the full value back.

Does backpacker travel insurance cover cameras and photographic equipment?

Similar to laptops and phones, cameras and other photographic equipment (like lenses) are often classed as ‘valuables’. At this point, you might be losing faith and thinking that insurance isn't worthwhile at all but a good tip is that valuable items such as your camera or phone could be covered on a home insurance policy. Many providers will let you extend your home cover to include cover for your possessions while out of the house, including abroad.

Does backpacker travel insurance cover cash and passports?

Cash and passports are usually covered by a separate limit, similar to the ‘valuables’ one. It’s called the ‘cash and passport limit’ - for example, Outbacker's Platinum cover specifies £1,500 of baggage cover, but £400 for personal money and £350 for passport and travel documents.

In addition, many backpacking insurance providers make a distinction between "Personal Money" (which encompasses Travellers’ and other cheques, event and entertainment tickets and pre-paid vouchers) and "cash" (bank notes). So if you have all your cash stolen in Thailand but everything else is left in place, you might find you are only covered for a couple of hundred pounds rather than the thousands you expected. Outbacker, however, has the same limit of £400 for both personal money and cash across its bronze, silver, and platinum policies.

Our tip is to make sure you know your cash and passport limit and avoid carrying more than you're covered for.

Some of the best backpacker travel insurance policies may have higher limits than cheaper rivals. Their policy documents can help you compare cover before you buy.

Does backpacker travel insurance include cover for sunglasses?

Some insurers don’t separate sunglasses but some do because they are fragile and easily broken or misplaced.

For example, Columbus Direct Travel Insurance's Globetrotter policy has a £100 limit on sunglasses. With less valuable items it’s also worth checking the excess on your policy because they may be less expensive than the excess. This means the insurer will expect you to cover the costs if they go missing or get broken. If you lose a £120 pair of Ray-Bans but the excess is £100, you'll only get £20 for your claim.

Backpacker travel insurance exclusions

Backpacker insurance policies may have certain exclusions. It is important to read the small print carefully before you buy. Your policy might come with cover for certain sports and activities as standard but exclude other sports, for example. Certain items, like sunglasses, can be excluded from your baggage cover.

A lot of backpacker travel insurance, for example, will not cover you if you travel to an unstable country, or against the UK government's foreign travel advice.

Do I need special backpacker travel insurance for Australia and New Zealand?

No – Australia and New Zealand are included as standard, provided you choose worldwide cover from providers like Outbacker. The countries you need to take extra care over when it comes to travel insurance are the USA, Canada, the Caribbean islands, and (in some cases) Mexico. Because medical and healthcare costs are so high there, some insurers exclude them from worldwide cover and ask you to pay extra.

Can you buy backpacker travel insurance when you are already travelling?

Yes, some travel insurance companies will let you buy travel insurance after you've set off – two example are True Traveller and Big Cat Insurance. Bear in mind, though, that you won't be able to claim for mishaps that have already occurred, or medical problems you've already had symptoms of on your trip.

How to best compare backpacking travel insurance policies?

To get the right backpacking travel insurance for your needs you'll need to:

  • Check the valuables limits so you know your cover for gadgets, jewellery, etc
  • Ensure you consider the cash and passport limits to protect the notes you will take
  • Read the policy documentation for specific exclusions