Explore Travel Insurance

Heading overseas on a working holiday? Now is a great time to compare your travel insurance options!

If you’re taking a gap year between high school and university or want to earn some cash as you explore the world, working holidays can be a great option. Around one million Aussies live or work overseas at any time.1 While these extended trips can be different from a standard holiday, travel insurance is still an essential thing to consider. The travel insurance you purchase will depend on your circumstances, needs and budget.

What is travel insurance for a working holiday?

Travel insurance for a working holiday can provide cover if you plan on travelling overseas but want to work along the way. The idea is to protect you against unexpected incidents such as injury and illness while you work and travel overseas.

Perhaps you plan on taking a working holiday to the UK and plan on waiting at a restaurant abroad to fund your trip or want to work on the ski slopes in Canada. Whatever the scenario, travel insurance for a working holiday can give you peace of mind while you’re earning money and exploring foreign countries.

woman with working holiday visa travel insurance at cafe

What can travel insurance for working holidays cover?

Travel insurance for a working holiday can cover several types of work when you’re abroad, including guide work (such as working as a tour guide, on bus tours or walking tours), manual work and non-manual labour. However, you’ll usually be able to find cover for occupations relating to:

  • admin
  • farm work
  • volunteering
  • teaching
  • tourism
  • retail
  • teaching
  • hospitality
  • childcare.

Always read the Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) before you purchase travel insurance, as the cover can vary.

What’s typically excluded from travel insurance for working holidays?

While travel insurance for working holidays can cover various occupations and scenarios, there will often be exclusions to look out for. These can vary between providers, but standard exclusions we have seen include:

  • underground or offshore work: Say you see an exciting job to work in a mine or an offshore oil platform. Travel insurance usually won’t cover you while you work, but an employer’s insurance may cover you.
  • working from heights: If your overseas occupation requires you to work from great heights, your policy may not cover it.
  • personal liability: While many travel insurance policies include personal liability cover (if you’re responsible for damaging property, causing injury or death), it may not always apply while you’re working.
  • illegal or dangerous behaviour: If you purposely cause trouble or commit crimes while intoxicated or under the influence of drugs, your insurer will likely deny your claim.
  • pre-existing medical conditions: Some pre-existing medical conditions, such as chronic lung disease, terminal illnesses or heart failure, may not be covered by your travel insurance. Insurers will typically list pre-existing conditions that can be covered or prompt you to complete a medical assessment so you know if you can be covered or not. The process can vary between providers, so always check before you purchase cover. Remember that you can still take out travel insurance, but claims connected to a pre-existing condition that isn’t covered may be rejected.
  • Theft resulting from negligent behaviour: Travel insurance for working holidays can cover lost luggage and belongings. However, if you were careless with the supervision of your items or you failed to properly secure them, your claim may be denied. For example, you may leave your bags unattended to take a photograph of a landmark or fail to lock a locker with your belongings in it.

Who should consider travel insurance for a working holiday?

If you’re heading overseas, travel insurance is something to consider, no matter who you are. It can provide you with peace of mind that you’re covered in case something happens while you’re working or travelling abroad. Here are some scenarios where it could come in handy:

  • you plan on volunteering overseas;
  • you’re a backpacker who’s considering working along the way;
  • you want to intern overseas or take up a work placement opportunity;
  • you work at a summer camp in the United States; or
  • you’re employed as a ski resort worker in Canada.

friends on working holiday with travel insurance at train station

Travel insurance for a working holiday checklist

Finding the right type of insurance for your working holiday may seem challenging, especially because you can take many different kinds of holidays. Perhaps you’re thinking of working on the ski slopes in Canada or becoming an Au Pair in France. Whatever your plans, here are some things to consider.

  1. Understand what assistance may be available through the Consular Services Charter. A great starting point in understanding how the Australian Government can assist if you run into trouble overseas. While they may be able to provide some assistance, they recommend all travellers take out comprehensive medical and travel insurance that covers the places you visit, the activities you participate in and any medical conditions you have.3
  2. Does your overseas employer offer cover? Some overseas employers may have insurance cover for their employees, but always check what is and isn’t included. If this cover is limited, taking out your own policy may ensure you’re still covered for things not necessarily covered by an employer like emergency evacuation to your home country (Australia), cancelled travel plans and lost items.
  3. What will I do for fun overseas? Working is just one piece of the puzzle and a big part of your holiday is the activities you’ll participate in. While your insurance policy can cover many activities, you may need to take out additional cover such as travel insurance for dangerous activities such as base jumping, hang gliding or ski acrobatics.
  4. How long do I need cover for? Are you planning to work overseas for a few weeks or a couple of years? Ensure that your insurance policy covers you for your entire time overseas. Please note that some providers, such as those on our panel, only offer policies for a maximum of 12 months. In these cases, you may need to consider a different type of policy, such as long-term travel insurance.

Won’t another country’s health system cover me?

Living and working in another country doesn’t automatically mean that country’s healthcare system will cover you. Without the right travel insurance policy in place, illness or an accident abroad could set you back thousands of dollars if you require care or treatment.

Australia only has a reciprocal health care agreement with 11 countries around the world.2 This means you’ll only receive free or reduced-price essential care or services in:

In every other country or location, including Africa, Asia, South America and North America, you’ll only be covered for overseas accidents or illnesses with certain levels of travel insurance. Of course, other things can go wrong on your trip, so travel insurance is encouraged for any country you visit.

friends on working holiday

Frequently asked questions

Do I still need visas, even if I take out travel insurance for a working holiday?

You must obtain the appropriate working visa or have the right to work in the country you’re visiting, regardless of whether you take out travel insurance. You’ll also need to hold the right type of licence, qualification, degree or certification for some occupations.

The requirements vary between jobs and countries but can usually be verified on the country’s government website or directly with your overseas employer.

Can I purchase travel insurance for a working holiday after I’ve been involved in an incident?

If you’ve already been injured, had a flight cancelled or experience another incident that you’d want to make a claim on, you can’t purchase travel insurance and be covered for that loss. You must take out appropriate insurance before an incident occurs to be covered.

Can I get a working holiday visa and travel insurance if I’m over 30?

Most working holiday visas are designed for younger people looking to work and travel abroad and aren’t available for over-30s. However, there are some opportunities for older people looking to work abroad, such as working on a cruise ship and teaching English. Provided you hold the appropriate visas and other requirements for the country you’re heading to, you can still take out travel insurance for a working holiday.

Read more in our guide to working abroad when you’re over 30.

Can I still get travel insurance if I don’t plan on returning to Australia?

If you’re planning on staying overseas, you may want to consider one-way travel insurance. This type of policy doesn’t require a return date and can cover you for things such as overseas medical assistance, cancellation fees and lost luggage. However, it will offer very limited cover if an incident occurs due to your paid work, so read your Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) carefully.

Will I need to pay an excess if I need to make a claim?

You will typically need to pay an excess if you make a claim on travel insurance. An excess is an amount you pay if you claim on your policy and is a sum you agree to when you initially obtain cover. For example, if your excess is $400, that’s how much you’ll have to pay when you make a claim.

You must pay this amount, but your insurance provider will typically cover the rest. Always read your PDS so you’re aware of the excess for your policy.

Compare travel insurance with us

Whether you’re looking for cover for your working holiday or want an insurance quote for your next overseas adventure, we’ve got you covered. Our free travel insurance service allows you to easily compare policies, features and more from various providers, that work with us, in one place.

The best part is it only takes a few minutes and you can see results from different providers in one place.

It pays to compare, so let us help you find travel insurance.



  1. Smartraveller – ‘Going overseas to live or work’ – Accessed 05/11/2020
  2. Australian Government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade: Smartraveller – ‘Reciprocal health care agreements’ – Accessed 05/11/2020
  3. Smartraveller – ‘Consular Services Charter’ – Accessed 01/02/2021

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