Backpacker travel insurance

Travel often brings unexpected surprises, but with backpackers travel insurance you can reduce the surprises to your wallet.backpacker

Buying travel insurance before you take off on your adventure is one of the most cost-conscious decisions you can make. You’ll only spend about $2 a day up-front and then you can put it out of your mind - that is until you need cover for those bangups that will inevitably happen on your extended around-the-world adventure.

Gash your elbow surfing? Covered. Greyhound lose your luggage? Covered. Pickpocket swipe your cash and important documents? Covered.

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  • You can filter your results to customise your cover!
  • You can choose from Basic, Standard or Comprehensive Cover
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  • You can filter your results to customise your cover!
  • You can choose from Basic, Standard or Comprehensive Cover

Long-term backpacker travel insurance cover?

Brand Maximum length covered in one trip How does it work? Enquire
InsureandGo 18 months Cover can be extended, subject to approval from InsureandGo. Get Quote
1-cover-new1 24 months You can purchase a 12-month policy and apply to extend for another 12 months after your trip has started. Get Quote
Columbus Direct 24 months You can purchase a 12-month policy and apply to extend for another 12 months as long as no claims or medical conditions occurred in the first 12 months. Get Quote
covermore-logo 18 months You can purchase a new policy for an additional six months before your first 12-month policy has ended. Get Quote
Fast Cover 24 months You can purchase a 12-month policy and apply to extend for another 12 months after your trip has started. Get Quote
travel insurance saver logo 12-24 months

Bare Essentials, Essentials and International comprehensive can be extended up to 24 months

Premium plus, A, B, C Travel Plans can be extended up to 12 months.

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Travel Insuranz 12 months You can apply for up to a 12 month extension (maximum extension of insurance is 12 months. Note: There is no cover for any insured person who is in the USA for 365 consecutive days or more. Get Quote
Worldcare Travel Insurance 12 months You can purchase a policy for 12 Months and extend this while you are on your journey. Extension of insurance cannot exceed 12 months. Get Quote
12 months Cover can be extended whilst overseas, for up to 12 months. Get quote

Do I need travel insurance?

Travel insurance is very important, especially for backpackers. The biggest reason is the medical insurance. Unless you are sticking to the 11 countries that will accept your Medicare card as part of an agreement with Australia (more on this later in the piece), you won’t have medical cover. That means if you break your ankle running to catch a train in France, you could be in the hook for a lot of dough to get it treated.

Also consider the that you’ll be constantly surrounded by unfamiliar people in unfamiliar places. Most people are great, but there are always a few bad apples. So if someone steals your credit cards out of a locker, you’ll be covered for that too.

Travel is unpredictable even for someone with the most organised itinerary. As a backpacker, you open yourself up to a few extra risks including:

  • Being constantly on the move
  • Relying on numerous small, local travel providers
  • Having limited supplies
  • Travelling alone
  • Participating in adventure activities
  • Living with strangers

How to find cheap travel insurance for backpackers

There are ways you can save on backpacking insurance so don’t worry, you won’t have to give up your Contiki tour to pay for it. Here are some tips to help you save money on your insurance:

  • Find a policy with adventure activities built-in. You usually have to pay extra for adventure activities bit some policies will offer some adventure cover for free. For example, you can find policies that will automatically cover you for bungee jumping, motorcycle riding and shark cage diving for free.
  • Get a single-trip policy instead. Most backpacking policies are just singles policies with a new name and the ability to add a few extra months to your trip. But some insurers might offer you worse terms if you select “backpacking” rather than “single trip”. Get quotes for both trip types and see what one looks better. Just make sure it offers covers for all the same activities. You may be limited to one year’s worth of cover, so you’ll also need to find out if they will let you extend your cover from overseas if you’ll be travelling longer.
  • Choose medical only. If you’re really strapped for cash, you can choose a policy that covers you for medical expenses and nothing more. You won’t be covered if someone steals your luggage or if you have to cancel your trip, but you will be covered if you get sick or injured overseas. Medical costs can be astronomical, so medical cover is arguably the most important part of you cover anyway.
  • Do your homework. Prices can vary wildly from brand to brand, so make sure you get quotes from a few providers so that you can get the best deal. Just make sure that you also compare what the policies offer before buying the cheapest one. If the second cheapest one offers much better cover, that’s probably a better choice.
  • Look into reciprocal healthcare agreements (RHA). Australian has agreements with many countries around the world to provide medical cover to each other’s residents. If you have a Medicare card, you may have medical cover in a lot of countries - especially in Europe. If you’ll be spending a large portion of your time in these countries, it may be worth asking your insurer if they’ll reduce your premium for the time you’ll be there. Just remember that your benefits may be limited (see the section on backpacking in Europe below).
  • Look out for discount codes and sales. We offer exclusive discounts with some travel insurance brands and check each of our partners' sites to see what offers are available. Available offers are displayed just below.
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Travel insurance for people backpacking in Australia

If you are backpacking within Australia, you’ll need a different type of policy depending on whether you are are an overseas visitor or an Australian resident. They’ll not typically be called “backpacker insurance” and they may not extend beyond 365 days, but they will work and you can always renew your policy if you plan on travelling beyond one year.

Here’s how it breaks down:

Overseas visitors

If you haven’t purchased travel insurance in your home country, you will need to buy non-resident travel insurance from an insurer in Australia. Some of these policies will cover you for all of your medical and trip-related expenses, while others will only cover trip-related expenses. If your policy doesn’t cover medical, the insurer may decide not to cover you until you can show that you have medical cover from elsewhere. This can be though a reciprocal health care agreement where your country and Australia agree to cover each other’s residents; or through Overseas Visitors/Overseas Student Health Cover, two special forms of health insurance for people visiting Australia for long periods of time such as those on a working holiday visa.

Australian residents

If you are a citizen or permanent resident of Australia and you are backpacking here, your medical expenses are already covered via Medicare. So your best bet is to simply purchase a domestic travel insurance policy. You’ll have two choices: a single-trip policy covering the entire duration of your trip, or an annual multi-trip policy if you will be returning home periodically between travels. If you choose the annual policy, each individual trip will be limited to a certain amount of time, anywhere from 15 - 90 days.

Most domestic policies will cover you for everything that a comprehensive international policy will cover you for, except for the medical stuff (since most people will already be covered by Medicare). Here are some examples where domestic travel insurance will help:

  • Cancellation costs. If you book a side trip to Cains for a festival and a cyclone rolls through, you can get your money back for your non-refundable costs like the flights, festival tickets and hotel room.
  • Car rental excess. If you’re road-tripping it up the east coast in a rental vehicle and get into an accident, the out-of-pocket expenses (called your excess) can be sky-high. The right travel insurance will help out with that excess.
  • Lost, stolen or damaged belongings. A domestic policy can pay you back if someone steals your phone out of your hostel or an airline loses your luggage.
  • Family emergency. If you have to go back home for an emergency, such as a family member passing away, a domestic policy can pay you back for non-refundable expenses.
  • Emergency companion cover. If you get injured snowboarding in Threadbo, travel insurance can pay to have someone travel to be by your side.

Travel insurance for backpacking tours

If you decide to risk it and go backpacking without insurance, you can say bye bye to many organised tours with Contiki, G Adventures and many other organised tour providers. That’s because most of them require you to have travel insurance before they let you book.

The requirements are different based on the provider so make sure you know what they want before you book. For example, Contiki requires you to have medical and cancellation cover, but G Adventures requires only medical.

If you don’t want to be stuck alone at the hostel while all the other backpackers are off getting to know each other, you’ll definitely want to be covered.

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2 Responses

  1. Default Gravatar
    rtApril 6, 2015

    You talk about the appeal of backpacker policies offering ‘cover for long trips’ yet your finder only lets you search up to 12 month long policies (ie every other policy, not the backpacker specific ones). I need a 15 month policy with the ability to work- short of going to every single website how do I find out who does this policies given your search engine doesn’t help?

    • finder Customer Care
      RichardApril 7, 2015Staff

      Hi RT,

      Thanks for your question. Please have a look at our long term travel insurance page. On this page you will find a list of the insurers from our panel that allow long-stay or extended stay policies, along with any conditions of getting said cover.

      I hope this was helpful,

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