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A Backpacker’s Guide To Travel Insurance

February 9, 2016

Backpacker on top of a mountain

Backpacking is a travel option that is popular with the adventurous as well as those on a budget who want to experience new places.  Because most backpackers are trying to travel on a tight budget, they may not consider travel insurance due to the extra expense.  Before you head out on a backpacking trip, however, you should weigh the cost of the insurance policy against the possible financial risks of travelling without it – risks you may not be able to afford.

Backpacker Travel Insurance in Canada

Like any form of travel, backpackers abroad face a number of potential risks.  The biggest of these is the possibility of illness or injury in a nation where your health insurance won’t cover you.  The cost of medical care in many nations is very high, and even a minor injury can cost a great deal of money if medical attention  is needed.  A major injury or illness can mean an enormous financial burden, and since most backpackers are already on a budget, the cost of a travel insurance plan is far less than the potential cost of traveling without one.

What Travel Insurance Covers

There are a variety of types of travel insurance. Medical coverage is just one of the possible areas where an insurance plan can save you from a major financial loss.  Travel insurance can also protect you from costs associated with an unexpected need to cancel or cut your trip short, problems with flight delays and cancellations, and more.  While backpackers often believe that their budget travel choices prevent such eventualities from causing much financial loss, the cost of flights, especially last-minute changes, is much the same whether you plan to backpack when you arrive or stay in a five-star hotel.  Few airlines offer refunds and most charge change fees if you need to cancel or change a flight schedule.  Additionally, costs associated with flight delays or cancellations that can strand you in an unexpected location aren’t often covered by airlines.  In addition to covering medical bills, travel insurance can also help with other expenses associated with an illness or accident aboard, such as lodgings for family during hospitalization.

What Type of Travel Insurance Does a Backpacker Need?

While many companies sell travel insurance in packages, you can also choose the types of insurance that best meet your needs.  What that actually is depends on a few factors: where you plan to travel, the length of your journey, and what activities you plan to pursue while you are there.

Medical Coverage

Outside of Canada, your provincial health plan will not cover you for medical attention, even emergency, that you may require.  Backpacking, especially in rough terrain, comes with a potential risk of injury.  Many backpackers also engage in a variety of other activities including outdoor sports that may have an increased risk of injury.  For this reason, you should choose a comprehensive medical insurance plan that will cover you for such activities.  Many medical travel insurance plans are designed to cater to backpackers who enjoy potentially risky activities.  If you select only one coverage for your backpacking trip, make it a medical plan.

Trip Cancellation and Interruption

Chances are it required some saving to cover expenses like airfare for your backpacking trip abroad.  If you have to cancel or interrupt your trip for any reason, you could lose all of that investment.  With trip cancellation and interruption insurance, you can get that money back and plan your backpacking trip for a new date in the future.

Coverage For Flight Problems and Lost Luggage

Even when a flight delay or cancellation is the fault of an airline, it may fall to you to deal with the extra cost of being stuck in a connecting city or having to find another flight.  Lost luggage too may not be covered.  With the right travel insurance, however, you can be repaid for any financial losses caused by these common flight problems.  When you’re traveling on a budget, this can make the difference between continuing to enjoy your trip and finding yourself stressed by financial concerns.

Choosing Backpacker Insurance

There are a number of  companies offering travel insurance and some even offer packages specially designed for backpackers.  You can compare rates and features online easily to find the right insurance package for your needs and your budget.  Look to reputable insurance providers to ensure that when you need the assistance of your insurance company, you can count on them to be there with swift, reliable assistance.  Travel insurance is the best way to ensure that you can enjoy your backpacking experience stress-free.