Backpacking Travel Insurance

February 5, 2009 by  
Filed under Backpacking Guide

travel insurance backpacking

“All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware.” – Martin Buber

Do You Need Backpacking Travel Insurance?

During my travels, I met some backpackers who opted not to travel with backpacking travel insurance. I also met a few that were forced to use their insurance for some reason or another. Thankfully, most of the injuries were minor, but many used their coverage for stolen bags and cameras.

Backpacking travel insurance is much cheaper than staying home and paying for health insurance! Unless you plan to sit in the TV room at the hostel for your entire trip, getting covered is a pretty good idea.

Why bother with travel insurance for a backpacking trip?

It could cost you or your family over US $100,000 to evacuate you back to your home country if you are seriously injured.

Once you are brought home, your travel insurance stops and your health insurance takes over. The hospital bill will not be pretty. If you do not have cheap health insurance at home (e.g., you quit your job for this trip), then consider at least getting a free quote on a high-deductible policy for emergencies. I used for mine and got a cheap deal for a US $5,000 deductible.

Some really good reasons for getting backpacking travel insurance:

  • More travelers get injured in simple bus accidents than in extreme sports such as rock climbing.
  • The #1 cause of fatalities and injuries to Americans while traveling is automobile accidents. That won’t be a surprise if you have ever seen the way taxi drivers act in Beijing, Cairo, or India.
  • Many policies cover your backpack if it is lost or stolen, as well as possessions such as your laptop, iPod, and camera.
  • Many policies cover your trip costs in the event that you have to cancel for some reason.
  • Backpacker insurance is typically far cheaper than health insurance. The peace of mind could be worth it.
  • You will not be spending most of your time watching TV or sitting in an office. While traveling, you will be more active and more exposed to the chance for minor injuries.
  • You may want to use the coverage for small, unexpected things you pick up while traveling, like this parasite that infected my trave mate’s bare foot in Laos.

Before you choose backpacking travel insurance

Make sure the company provides coverage for any adventures you think you want to do such as white water rafting, rock climbing, and trekking. If you are going to Nepal, check to see that there are no elevation restrictions in the policy wording. World Nomads, one of the leading insurers, has a useful adventure tool telling what they do and do not cover.

It is very nice to get a policy that allows you to extend coverage instantly online in case you decide to stay longer.

How do I get travel insurance for my backpacking trip?

I personally rely on World Nomads — they are the best around. Other insurers may be a little cheaper, but if something does go wrong, you’ll have a harder time trying to get reimbursed. World Nomads is trustworthy and has the best reputation in the backpacking travel community.

World Nomads’ reputation speaks for itself. They’ve got a great site and the company is run by travelers.

(You can also use the widget in the sidebar to receive an instant quote. I obviously get a small commission from these guys; it helps keep this site alive. Thank you!)

Go to Step 7: Travel Preparation