Best backpacker insurance companies in 2020

We've compiled a list of some of the best backpacker travel insurance providers in the UK and tips on how to get the best rates on your policy.

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Backpacking is one of the best ways to see the world on the cheap. This is why thousands of people choose to travel this way every year.

However, though you can backpack anywhere, more often than not, it involves travel to exotic places and engaging in adventures that mean the risk of illness and injury can be greater.

Have a look at our suggestions for the best backpacker insurance to help protect you on your travels.

Some of the best backpacker insurance companies in the UK

  • Alpha. The Alpha Longstay travel insurance policy was designed with travellers in mind, catering for gap years, backpacking, volunteering and working abroad. The policy includes cover for up to 24 months, two return home trips for up to 21 days each and cover for a wide range of sports and activities. You can get insurance for most countries worldwide and add winter sports cover as an optional extra.
  • Endsleigh. Endsleigh’s gap-year travel insurance covers you for any trip from three months up to a year, anywhere in the world. The policy includes cover for medical expenses and personal accidents; legal expenses; cancellation, delays, postponing the trip and airline failures; lost or stolen bags, passports, visas and money; and over 100 activities, ranging from volunteering to windsurfing.
  • Post Office. A high-street staple, most people associate the post office with handling mail. However, it also offers a range of financial products, including insurance. For backpacker insurance, the post office offers two levels of cover: Super Economy and Economy cover. Both policies are available to people aged 18-60 and include three return trips home for a maximum of 7 days each and up to £2m emergency medical cover.
  • World First. World First is a travel insurance specialist and is part of the Rothwell & Towler insurance group founded in 1973. The company offers a Backpacker and Longstay policy for those travelling for an extended period of time. The policy is available to anyone aged 18-65 for up to a year and includes cover for work and volunteering abroad. There are three levels of cover to choose from and all include cancellation, delays and cover for lost or stolen possessions.
  • Flexicover. Flexicover has been trading for over 30 years and has several different types of travel insurance you can get, with some policies offering more protection than others. The best option for backpacking is the gap-year policy, which offers cover for up to 18 months, comes with medical emergency cover starting at £2.5 million and includes over 120 sports and activities, such as motorbiking and scuba diving, for free. There are four levels to choose from, each with its own spec.
  • Admiral. Admiral is a UK-based insurance giant that was founded in 1993. The company offers a range of insurance products, including car, home and travel. Admiral’s single-trip policy covers you for 365 days, which is far longer than most companies offer as a single-trip limit. There are three levels of cover to choose from: Admiral, Admiral Gold or Admiral Platinum, each with its own spec. All policies include cover for medical treatment, cancellation and personal belongings, and you can add things like adventure and winter sports to the policy.
  • Columbus Direct. Columbus Direct is a travel insurance specialist, established in 1988. The company offers a particularly wide range of travel policies, including family, off-piste skiing, adventure, cover for medical conditions, over-65 and destination-specific cover. Backpacking insurance is available up to 365 days and includes emergency medical care, loss of baggage and working abroad. Several sports and activities are included at no extra cost, and more risky activities can be added for an extra fee.
  • Medical Travel Insurance. Medical Travel Insurance is an online-based company that provides travel insurance to suit the needs of individuals with health issues by comparing policies and prices from specialist insurance providers. Getting travel insurance when you have a pre-existing medical condition can be very difficult and much more so if you need insurance for backpacking. As Medical Travel Insurance searches through a variety of insurers to get you the best deal for you, cover spec will vary.
  • InsureandGo. InsureandGo is a specialist travel insurer established in 2000. The company offers a wide variety of policies, from cruise cover to last-minute travel insurance, with no upper age limit and all medical conditions considered. InsureandGo has four tiers of backpacker cover to choose from, with medical expenses, baggage cover, cancellation, personal liability and mugging benefit all included as standard. You can take one return visit back home for up to 14 days and add over 50 adventure sports and activities to your policy.
  • Virgin Money. Virgin Money is the financial services brand from the Virgin Group and was introduced in 2000. The company’s backpacker travel insurance is available for between 31 days and 18 months and comes in 4 levels of cover: Red, Silver, Gold and Black. All four levels include cover for medical expenses, with the Black policy offering unlimited cover. Hospital benefits, cancellation, baggage and gadgets & valuables are also covered with all levels. 88 different sports and leisure activities, including bungee jumping and windsurfing, are included in the policy at no extra cost.
  • TopDog. TopDog is a specialist UK travel insurance provider offering a variety of policies. The company’s gap-year and long-stay policies are suitable for backpacking, and there are three levels of cover to choose from. The long-stay policy is available for up to 12 months for people up to the age of 75 and includes cover for over 100 sports and activities. The gap-year policy includes cover for up to 18 months and won’t be invalidated if you take return trips home during your time away. Both policies include cover for emergency medical treatment, cancellation and personal liability at all levels.

How to find the best backpacker insurance

  1. Whenever you’re looking for insurance cover, your first step should be to shop around and compare policies.
  2. When comparing policies, don’t just look at the price. Cheapest doesn’t mean best, so make sure the policy you go with has all the elements you require. For example, if you want a backpacking insurance policy that includes cover for extreme sports, make sure this is covered. Many insurers have a list of included activities on their site, so take a look at that before you purchase the policy.
  3. When you’ve chosen your provider, go through the application process. You’ll need to be completely honest when taking out your insurance, including about any medical conditions you might have. It is possible to find cover for existing conditions, but being dishonest can invalidate your whole policy.
  4. When you’ve taken out the cover, download your policy documents and keep them somewhere handy and safe before you go, then take them with you on your travels. It’s a good idea to give someone you trust the details of your policy as well in case something happens.
  5. Make a note in your phone or on a piece of paper of the claim line number for your provider and any helplines you might need to call in an emergency.

Compare some of the best backpacker travel insurance companies

Data indicated here is updated regularly
Name Product Maximum Medical Cover Details
Alpha
£10,000,000
Choose from single-trip, multi-trip, long stay and Winter sports cover.
TopDog Insurance
£10,000,000
Find cover for single trip, annual multi-trip, gap year trips , long stay and Winter sports.
Endsleigh
£10,000,000
Student discount available for those with a valid NUS account.
Post Office Money
£10,000,000
Choose from single trip, annual multi-trip or backpacker cover.
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Bottom line

Going backpacking can be the trip of a lifetime at any age. However, should you get ill or hurt yourself abroad, medical expenses can be incredibly expensive. Plus you will want protection if you’re taking expensive items like a camera or phone away with you.

This is where travel insurance comes in. You might not necessarily have to get a specialist backpacker travel insurance policy. If you’re only travelling for a few weeks, then a standard single-trip or multi-trip insurance deal could offer you the protection you need. So, consider the length of your travel when choosing cover.

To find the best policy for you, make sure you shop around. Don’t just go with the cheapest provider though, especially if you’re travelling somewhere that can be potentially risky or if you are planning on doing some more extreme activities.

Most providers will allow you to get a little wild while you’re away, but make sure you read the policy details carefully so that you know exactly what you can and can’t get away with.

Frequently asked questions

The offers compared on this page are chosen from a range of products we can track; we don't cover every product on the market...yet. Unless we've indicated otherwise, products are shown in no particular order or ranking. The terms "best", "top", "cheap" (and variations), aren't product ratings, although we always explain what's great about a product when we highlight it; this is subject to our terms of use. When making a big financial decision, it's wise to consider getting independent financial advice, and always consider your own financial circumstances when comparing products so you get what's right for you.

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