Mozo guides

Backpackers travel insurance

Backpacking: low-cost, high-reward. Whether you’re on a journey to ‘find yourself’, or just like the challenge of travelling with only the bare necessities, backpacking is an ever-popular mode of tourism for young and old.

What is backpacker travel insurance?

Like a lot of backpackers themselves, a backpacker travel insurance policy does away with the bells and whistles of its more comprehensive counterparts. These policies look for the essentials like medical, luggage, and personal belongings cover, as well as extras like adventure activities and extreme sports. Going with the bare essentials might bring down the cost a bit, which is perfect for stretching out your travel budget.

As a backpacker, you might want to find a multi-trip policy that isn’t limited to one destination or a single trip. Many travel insurance providers offer multi-trip travel insurance policies, which cover you for multiple excursions over the course of a year even if you return home at any stage, so you shouldn’t be hard-pressed to find one.

What does backpacker travel insurance cover?

Backpacker-friendly insurance will vary from provider to provider, but generally speaking you should be looking for policies that cover overseas medical, luggage and personal effects, cancellations, and public liability. If you’re into adventures and extreme sports, consider adding some optional extras (for a fee) into the mix, like snow travel insurance or an adventure pack. 

You also want to make sure the countries you’re heading to are covered by the insurance provider. Some providers won’t cover travel to some destinations as they’re considered higher risk than others. This could be due to situations like epidemics, civil unrest, war, or other risk-increasing factors.

Does travel insurance cover backpacking?

As long as the travel insurance policy you’re looking at covers the destinations you’re going to, then your policy covers you for backpacking. If you’re heading to multiple destinations, then getting a multi-trip insurance policy is the right way to go.

Can I get backpacker insurance with COVID-19 cover?

Most travel insurance providers will only cover COVID-19 related claims when the destination isn’t listed on the Smartraveller website with a ‘do not travel’ or ‘reconsider your need to travel’ warning, if cover is available at all. If you’re on a shoestring budget and you opt to go with a basic, medical-only policy, then it is unlikely you will be covered in the case of cancellations or travel delays due to COVID-19. It’s a good idea to read the relevant policy’s product disclosure statement (PDS) to find out what you’re actually covered for in terms of COVID-19.

Important features to look for in your backpacker insurance policy

There are a few things which you should look out for when considering a travel insurance policy while backpacking. These include:

  • Overseas medical. Accidents and injuries do happen. With emergency medical and dental cover, you might be able to save yourself from dipping too heavily into your travel budget in the event you get injured or ill overseas.
  • Luggage and personal effects. If you’re backpacking, chances are you won’t have much more than what’s in your pack. So, if your gear gets lost or damaged in transit, or even stolen, you won’t be left with only the clothes on your back. Some policies will even cover your travel documents, like passports, if they’re lost or stolen on your travels. If you’re bringing personal items like cameras, you might want to look out for the limits on your policy’s payout amounts per item, and decide if that cover works for you.
  • Cancellations. If, for reasons outside your control, you need to cancel your backpacking trip before you’ve left, then cancellation cover can help reimburse you for the costs you’ve already paid. Providers will generally state the kinds of events that are insured in their PDS, so make sure you know what you’re covered for by giving it a read.
  • Public liability. While a lot of travel insurance providers include public liability cover in their policies, it’s always good to make sure that you have it included. That way if you’re liable for someone’s injuries or damage done to property, you could be covered into the millions.
  • Adventure activities and extreme sports. Some backpackers are known for their love of adventure. Thrill-seeking just comes with the territory. There are numerous travel insurance providers who offer adventure and activities cover as an optional extra, which could cover you for injuries whilst participating in riskier activities. From snowboarding, to abseiling, to snorkelling, or even bungee jumping, adding this type of cover to your backpackers travel insurance policy is a no-brainer. Just remember, optional inclusion can increase your policy’s premium.

Tips for buying backpacker travel insurance

  • Always read the PDS to make sure you know exactly what you’re covered for under your policy before you purchase it. Going with the basics will usually cover you for the essentials, but will often exclude a lot of other benefits which you might prefer to have, even if they cost more.
  • Make sure your destinations are covered. Some travel insurance providers won’t cover you if there is an Australian government Smartraveller warning in place.
  • Make sure your personal belongings and luggage are covered. Staying in budget accommodation and hostels can increase the risk of your personal belongings or luggage being stolen, since dorm rooms usually aren’t as secure as private accommodation. Make sure you check your policy to see what the conditions are regarding locking up or securely storing your personal possessions. For instance, some may require you to store your personal items in a secure locker or safe.
  • Be aware of excess fees when making a claim. The excess you may need to pay at the time of filing a claim will vary according to the policy you purchase. The less expensive the cover, the cheaper your insurance. But this also implies that the excess could be higher than other policies.

If your backpacking adventure is taking you overseas, be sure to read our international travel insurance hub for everything you might need to know about traveling abroad right now.

Jack Dona
Jack Dona
Money writer

Jack is RG146 Generic Knowledge certified, with a Bachelor of Communications in Creative Writing from UTS, and uses his creative flair to cut through the financial jargon and make home loans, insurance and banking interesting. His reader-first approach to creating content and his passion for financial literacy means he always looks for innovative ways to explain personal finance. Jack's research and explanations have been featured in government publications, and his work is regularly featured alongside major publications in Google's Top Stories for Insurance.