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Backpacking can be an excellent way to see the world on a budget. But with the shared accommodation of hostels, along with the potential risks of travelling in foreign countries, it is still recommended that people take out travel cover, no matter how streamlined their budget may be.

How a basic policy differs to a standard comprehensive policy

Most backpackers strive to do everything at a minimal cost, whether it’s their accommodation, or their mode of travel. So travel insurance may not be any exception. With this in mind, basic travel insurance plans differ from comprehensive travel insurance plans as they only cover the bare essentials.

Capped medical cover is always included and this benefit is the most utilised by backpackers.  Basic plans have many of the benefits removed and as a result the premium is much lower, and if you choose a higher excess, you can save even more.  By reducing the cover, backpackers can continue to have some protection across their travels, without having to break their bank accounts.

Some insurers offer specific backpackers travel insurance policies or plans which are built around offering basic cover, and many of these plans can be bought to cover longer periods of travel. While many seeking cover for periods up to 2 months will buy a comprehensive insurance policy, backpackers may be satisfied with a more basic policy for 12 months or longer, and extending their cover further while they are overseas, allowing travellers to explore the world without the fear of being unprotected.

Backpacker Camping Hiking Journey Travel Trek Concept

Who should consider backpackers travel insurance?

At the very least, backpackers should consider purchasing basic travel insurance, but spending a little more to buy more comprehensive cover could prove advantageous.   Backpackers can settle for streamlined cover to meet basic needs, or spend a few dollars more and purchase greater levels of cover.

Basic cover can be perfect if you are spending a significant amount of time travelling overseas and one affordable purchase can have you covered for your entire adventure, allowing you to then focus on where you’re going to stay and what attractions you are going to visit.

What should backpackers consider when purchasing basic travel insurance?

There are various considerations backpackers should take into account when it comes to basic travel insurance.

First, it is important to consider which country (or countries) you’re travelling to. In Australia, we can often take the Medicare system for granted – but in some countries, medical costs could potentially land you in a lot of debt. Some countries may also be more dangerous, whether it be through crime or political conditions. In these cases, having insurance coverage could give you peace of mind.

It is also a good idea to consider what time of year you’re travelling. For example, if you are travelling to a country during a wet season, backpackers could have an increased risk of injury and damage during these conditions, so it would be best to try and find a policy that can be tailored around their respective environments.

Finally, backpackers are often adventurous by nature, so it would be best to consider cover for potentially dangerous activities. Such activities can include skiing, snowboarding, rafting, mountain biking, and other physical activities that may increase your risk of being injured.

What does basic travel insurance cover?

Though often cheaper than other travel insurance policies, basic cover can still protect travellers in a variety of instances. Common scenarios include:

  • Medical expenses/evacuation: Instances where you need to be evacuating by medical professionals and need hospital care.
  • Permanent disablement cover: If an accident overseas has left you with a permanent disability, most basic insurance policies can cover these instances.
  • Cancellation: If you have to cancel your trip due to unforeseen circumstances, you may be covered up to a certain amount. As well as your potential cancellation, basic travel insurance can also cover cases of flights being cancelled.
  • Luggage: When luggage gets stolen or damaged, cover can help reimburse you for the value of your lost or damaged items.
  • Bad weather and natural disasters: If you have expenses incurred as a result of bad weather conditions or natural disasters, you may be covered by your policy.

Optional extras: Along with the areas that are generally covered, backpackers can take out other option extras such as rental car, credit card theft, income loss, travel delay, and hazardous activity cover.

Please note that policies generally have caps on how much they cover for each scenario. Before taking out travel insurance, read the Product Disclosure Agreement to learn about the extent of your cover.

What does basic travel insurance exclude?

Common exclusions for basic travel insurance may include:

  • Unattended items being stolen/lost: It is important to make sure your luggage is secure and always accounted for.
  • Unapproved medical conditions: When it comes to any medical conditions you may have, honesty is the best policy. Make sure you identify any existing medical condition you may have, otherwise you may not be covered in cases where you’re at risk.
  • Reckless behaviour: No matter which country you go to, it is always best to abide by their laws and customs. If you have any expenses as a result of breaking laws, or any behaviour considered reckless by your provider, you may not be covered.
  • High risk activities not covered: Before you undertake any potentially risky activity, such as skiing, mountain biking or rafting, it is best to make sure it is an activity approved by your policy. If it isn’t, any injuries you sustain as a result may not be covered.
  • Travel against government advice: It is important to follow government advice about certain travel destinations, since it is designed to protect you. If you are affected by a situation due to ignoring specific advice, you may not be covered for any resulting damages.
  • Change of mind: If you have to cancel your flights and accommodation simply because you have changed your mind, you most likely won’t be covered.

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While you may value price above everything, it is still important for you to get a travel insurance policy that suits your needs. With Compare the Market’s travel insurance comparison service, you can find the most suitable policy in just minutes, from various different providers. Simples.

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