When planning your gap year there are plenty of exciting things to keep you busy. Which countries will you visit, and which tours and adventures will you choose? But there are also a few important safety elements that you must make time for too. Insurance is one of them.
Having the right insurance could make all the difference if you lose your wallet, your bag disappears or you need hospital treatment. Don’t leave gap year insurance to chance. Follow our simple guide and choose the right policy for you.
What is Gap Year Insurance?
If you’ve been on holiday it’s likely that you or your family had annual or single trip travel insurance. Insurance for gap years (also known as backpackers’ travel insurance), is slightly different. It often includes:
Cover for long periods of travel
Policies are normally for 12 months but can cover up to 18 months.
You can often come home during your trip – for example, for a wedding or for Christmas – before heading off on your travels again.
Travelling to numerous countries
You can choose a policy that lets you visit as many countries as you want.
Working or Volunteering abroad
You’ll often be covered if you decide to work or volunteer abroad. Some policies exclude manual labour, so if you plan to do this you may need a policy add-on.
Extreme sports organisers normally stress that they don’t provide insurance. While some sports may be covered as standard, you may require specialist extreme sports insurance if you plan to do activities such as bungee jumping, skydiving or mountaineering.
Stop over cover
Many people choose to stop over in a destination for a few nights.
The cover you get will vary by provider, so check the details of your policy carefully.
Why do I need Gap Year Insurance?
Hopefully your gap year will be a wonderfully trouble-free experience, and you won’t think about your insurance again after buying it.
However, if you lose your luggage, passport or phone, the right insurance will help you replace them.
If you have an accident or require medical care, a good insurance policy will pay for some or all of your medical bills. If needed, it could cover private treatment, flights to repatriate you back home, or to bring a parent or guardian out to visit you if you are in hospital.
If your trip is cancelled or delayed you may be eligible to claim.
Having the right insurance provides peace of mind for you and your family and could save you a lot of time, money and aggravation.
How do I get Gap Year Insurance?
Before buying your insurance you will need to decide where you are travelling and when. Follow these seven steps to find the right gap insurance for you:
- You can find a selection of gap year insurance providers in our Insurance section. For legal reasons we can’t recommend a gap year insurer, but we hope you will find the list useful.
- Take your time to find a policy that covers exactly what you want to do. Some will just offer basic cover while others will be more comprehensive. While the price will be important, weigh up the benefits of different policies, as the cheapest may not be the best fit for you.
- Check that your insurance for gap years includes the destinations you plan to visit. Most companies won’t provide cover for countries that the Government’s foreign travel advice warns against visiting.
- Insurance providers ask you to declare any pre-existing medical conditions and it’s really important to be honest. Doing so will make sure you get the right policy for you. If you don’t disclose a pre-existing medical condition you may find that your policy is invalidated.
- They may also require you to have certain vaccinations before travelling.
- Check through the small print before buying a policy. The full policy documents should be available to view, so read them carefully. They are likely to be long, but it’s worth investing a bit of time to get the right deal for you.
- Look at the premium and excess rates. The premium covers the cost of the policy, and this is often paid up-front. If you need to make a claim you may need to pay an excess, which will vary depending on the policy you choose.
What should I do once I have arrange Gap Year Insurance?
Once you’ve chosen and secured gap year insurance it’s really important to ensure you have a copy of the policy. Here are a few top tips:
● It’s sensible to have the contact details for your insurer and your policy number accessible at all times. Some people choose to keep these in their wallet or stored in their phone.
● Share the policy details with your parent or guardian too.
● If the details are sent on email ensure they are kept safe and that you won’t delete them by accident. You could create a folder for important documents within your inbox.
● If you are sent printed documents you could scan or photograph the policy and email it to yourself so you also have a digital copy.
● Before you depart, read the policy details carefully. You are likely to need certain documentation if you have to make a claim, for example, you may need a receipt from a hospital if you require medical care. Or if something is stolen you could be asked for a police report or reference number.
We know that sorting your gap year travel insurance can feel a bit tedious. But it’s an essential part of organising a gap year, and once you’ve arranged your policy you can sit back and get ready to enjoy your trip. Before you know it, you’ll be on your gap year!