Best Backpacking Travel Insurance Providers & Who we use

Why get Travel Insurance

We highly recommend getting Travel Insurance, this may sound obvious, but we are so surprised at how many backpackers we have met who didn’t have travel insurance and have had serious accidents, from injuries while jumping in the sea, partying too hard and getting the famous “Thai tattoo” (an inner leg burn from scooter exhausts). We have seen all of these things on countless occasions while travelling and a lot opted not to get travel insurance, a for sure regret.  

Travel insurance covers medical, valuables, flights and so much more. Although it may be a big cost initially, you won’t want that cost if anything did go wrong and you didn’t have insurance. In our case, for example, we both sustained ear infections from scuba diving, which meant we both needed an ear exam and antibiotics, we also both had to get chest x-rays and medical exams for visa application. We also had a travel buddy whose phone broke while hiking to a viewpoint (something you will likely do on a regular occasion) and it cost £200 for a screen replacement, this was all covered in the travel insurance.

There are, however, some things that you may think you will be covered on, that you actually won’t.

Gage gettings his ear cleaned in thailand
Gage had an Ear Infection while Backpacking Thailand

If you are backpacking long-term, most travel insurance will not cover you

Backpacking, compared to travelling, usually lasts a lot longer, over a wide array of countries. This can make regular travel companies nervous and they either won’t cover you at all, or they will charge insane amounts to cover the extent of the trip. You can also find that the companies that do ‘cover’ actually have a limit on medical care or time you can spend in a hospital, and sometimes if something goes terribly wrong while backpacking you may have to spend an extended period in a hospital.

Due to this, a few companies came out with travel and medical hybrid insurances, advertising to ‘Nomads’ specifically who travel for extended periods. They cover multiple countries, multiple months and seem to understand that holidays can be more than 28 days at a time. The most popular of these travel insurance companies are World Nomads and the company we use SafetyWing. Both of these companies have incredibly high reviews, however, they work in quite different ways, below we will explain why we chose SafetyWing over the others. 

You likely won’t be covered on a scooter!

We see a lot of incorrect information on the topic of scooters in Southeast Asia. “You just need a car license from your home country”, “you can ride less than 150cc no matter what”, and “you just need a CBT” (England). However, all of these are wrong, in Southeast Asia you need a FULL motorbike license and an International Driving Permit for each country, even though the back of your driving license may show a scooter, that is not applicable for Southeast Asia. The scooters here are more powerful than the ‘moped’ you would see back home, so legally you are expected to have a full motorbike license. However, basically, every scooter hire company will hire you a scooter without any proof of license, and although it is the best way of getting around the countries, do it at your own risk, do not expect to be saved my travel insurance if you happen to be in a crash and need medical care. 

This is the general legal spiel found on most travel insurance companies about scooters, “In case of an accident while riding a motorbike, moped, or scooter, you are covered for your own eligible medical expenses as long as you are properly licensed for the area where you are driving and you are wearing proper safety gear such as a helmet.” Riding a scooter is fun, and if you are comfortable and safe, it is a great way to explore, just know that you will not be covered if a crash occurred, even though some content creators may tell you otherwise, and that an International Driving Permit is all you need, that is wrong.

World Nomad

World Nomads was the first insurance provider we looked into, we had seen them recommended a lot so decided to read more about what they offer and find out what price we would be looking at for our trip. However, this proved difficult as we didn’t know our exact countries or duration, we had a one way ticket to japan, knew we wanted to visit more of southeast asia, and planned to continue until we ran out of funds. World Nomads does not let you do that, you need a start date, end date and every visiting country before you get a price. We imputed what we assumed would be close to what we would be doing, and for a 6/7 month trip, the cost was around £1400 for the plan we would need to cover everything we planned to do.

In terms of plans, World Nomads offers a Standard or Explorer travel insurance plan, both plans can cover sports injuries, trip delays, baggage and lost luggage protection, and more. The plans mostly differ in how much they will cover.

What does World Nomads travel insurance cover?

World Nomads offers single trip plans, this means you are leaving your home, visiting a country or countries and then returning home. This is great if you know your exact itinerary, but as mentioned earlier, this was not the case for us. 

World Nomads also excels when it comes to covering adventurous activities that some other providers might not cover, including coverage for over 200+ activities, including scuba diving, snowboarding, rafting, and bouldering, with the Explorer plan covering more.

All plans include trip protection, emergency medical insurance, emergency evacuation and coverage to protect your gear.

World Nomads Single Trip plans

You can choose between two plans, Standard or Explorer. The Standard Plan is a good choice for those who are satisfied with trip cancellation and interruption coverage of $2,500 or less, do not need rental car damage protection and  do not need coverage for certain adventure sports. It will still cover a ton of sports though, you can check out the full list here. The Explorer Plan includes all the benefits of the Standard Plan along with higher limits, rental car damage insurance and more adventurous sports like skydiving for example.

The plans can be purchased for trip duration up to a maximum 180 days, and although you can extend mid trip if travelling for longer, you will not know the cost until that time comes, this was something we were personally a bit weary off, we wanted to know our exact costs to include in our budgeting. The price will obviously depend on the duration of the trip and the countries that you’re visiting but if those plans change and you don’t go to some countries that had a higher cost, then you just lose that money.

To see the cost of the insurance plan, you will need to input your details, your age, country of residence, countries you will visit, and time scale of your trip. You will then be given a price for standard and explorer with each difference shown between the plans. You can also add electric items, like phones, laptops, and cameras at extra costs. We originally liked this idea as we knew we were going to be bringing cameras, and laptops but it turned out none of the items are covered in full or ‘new for old’. This meant Gage’s £3000 camera would only be covered for a maximum of £750, with a £100 excess so didn’t really feel like insurance at all. You then simply sign up, pay the amount in full, and know you are covered for your trip.

Just as we did, it is worth heading over to World Nomad, popping in all of your details and electrical items, and getting a quote, reviews like this are helpful, but the best thing to do is get quotes yourself from a bunch of companies and then decide what covers best for you.

Safety Wing

The main reasons we chose SafetyWing, were the price and the form of payment. Unlike World Nomads which forces you to select start/end dates for your travels and then gives you a price to pay upfront, SafetyWing lets you pick a start date and pay on a monthly basis. Every month around £35 comes out of your account, for 364 days, however, you can cancel whenever you like with no penalty. So if your trip gets shortened or extended, which can be a common occurrence while backpacking with no plan, you will not be left paying more than you need to. This was a huge bonus to us as we have no end date, we had a rough idea of when we may finish travelling, but on World Nomads that would have been a cost of around £1500, without the possibility of a return if we stopped travelling early (which will actually be the case). Luckily because we went with SafetyWing, we will just cancel the membership as soon as we need to. 

Safety Wing Sign up Anywhere!

Although it didn’t apply to us at the time, SafetyWing is one of the few travel insurance providers that let you sign up outside of your home country, as mentioned we didn’t need this as we signed up before leaving, however, we do plan to begin travelling again after working in Australia so SafetyWing will allow us to do that without having to return to the United Kingdom just to leave.

SafetyWing has partnerships with hundreds of hospitals around the world, in these hospitals you can show your insurance and they will cover everything you need from the get-go. If you have to go to somewhere not included, you pay initially, then contact SafetyWing who gives you a refund after the deductible $250. This deductible is also another feature that made us like SafetyWing, although it may be high initially, the $250 covers the whole period of your insurance, so unlike other insurers that make you pay a deductible for every claim, with SafetyWing you pay $250 once, then never again for the remainder of your insurance.

What does Safety Wing Cover?

Here are some key inclusions that are of interest to long-term travelers or digital nomads:

  • Emergency Medical Treatment
  • Medical Expenses
  • Hospital Room and Board
  • Family member transportation from the home country in the event that you have an extended hospital stay
  • Lost Checked Luggage
  • Trip Interruption
  • Travel Delay

We are overall happy that we went with SafetyWing, although we haven’t had any serious claims as of yet and hopefully never will. We have had to be in contact with the people at SafetyWing a few times and they always responded to us on the same day, helping however they could. So we would definitely recommend them to other long-term travellers.

If you like the sound of SafetyWing, then you can Sign Up Here

Please note that this page contains affiliate links. While we only recommend products that we believe in, we may benefit financially from any purchases you make.

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