Finding the Best Travel Insurance for Backpackers

Travel Insurance – The Most Important Article You’ll Ever Read!  

This Guide to Backpacker Travel Insurance is an essential read for people travelling to any destination, not just Southeast Asia!


I know how you’re feeling…

  • You’re annoyed because you don’t want to spend money for a part of your trip that, let’s face it, just isn’t fun.
  • You’re freaking out because there are so many travel insurance companies to choose from! You can’t figure out what’s different about them and why some are more expensive than others.
  • You don’t want to waste money on an overpriced policy, but at the same time, you don’t want to go with a cheap backpacker insurance that will let you down and won’t pay out if you make a claim.
  • You’re wondering if you can just forget the whole thing. There’s very little chance that anything could happen to you anyway right? … WRONG!
Man looking at computer screen worrying about travel insurance.
Finding the best backpacker travel insurance can be confusing!

Is Travel Insurance for Backpackers Really Necessary?

Okay, first of all, as a backpacker, you NEED travel insurance. Full stop. If you decide to leave home without any travel insurance you are literally risking your life savings (or your parents’ life savings!) on the hope that something won’t go wrong! And, with over 10 years experience as a backpacker in Southeast Asia and South America, things can and at times, will go wrong – believe me!

As a quick overview (more detail later) travel insurance covers you for:

  1. Medical and Hospital Cover
  2. Emergency Evacuation
  3. Repatriation
  4. Cancellations
  5. Missed Transport or Delays
  6. Personal Lability or Legal Fees

Not convinced? Read this article about an uninsured 24-year old traveller who was left with a 35,000 GBP medical bill after a motorbike accident in Phuket!

Is Backpacker Insurance Different from Travel Insurance?

When people talk about ‘Backpacker Insurance’ or ‘Gap Year Insurance’ they are talking about a specific type of travel insurance that will insure travellers for long periods of time across multiple countries. Most normal travel insurances are designed for only short trips to one specific destination, whereas backpacker travel insurance will cover you for up to one year in as many countries as you have time for! 


The Best Backpacker Travel Insurance – Quick Answers!

  1. World Nomads – Available to Citizens of 140 Countries.
  2. SafetyWing – Available Worldwide.
  3. True Traveller – Available to EU Citizens.

Why are they the Best?

For us, it’s all about understanding the flexible, adventurous (and unpredictable!) nature of the backpacker spirit! 

  • Flexible – Their backpacker-specific policies understand that your plans may change. Unlike many travel insurances who demand that you have a return flight ticket home, they will allow you to purchase travel insurance with a one-way ticket. (Who wants to put a deadline on their adventure!?) While most travel insurances will only insure you up to 90 days, the travel insurers above will insure you for one year or more, ideal for long-term backpackers. In addition, you don’t need to be in your home country in order to take out the insurance and you can extend your policy* whilst travelling if you decide NOT to come home for a while!
  • Activities  – They offer a huge range of activities, including many adventure sports, as standard. Unlike many normal travel insurances, they will cover you for diving and riding a motorbike, both very common activities in Southeast Asia (as long as you have the proper licenses).
  • Optional Belongings Cover – To keep the price down for backpackers, they do not include baggage or gadget cover in their standard policies, instead you can add them on separately. This means that you are not paying for extra cover that you do not need, but have the extra option to pay for it if you decide to take valuables with you.
  • They Understand Backpackers – When it comes to choosing a travel insurance, we believe that it’s wise to go with a company who aims their brand at backpackers. If they are familiar with the type of problems that a backpacker may come across in Southeast Asia, you’ve got more chance of making a successful claim!
  • Successful Claims – We’ve heard from many travellers, friends and members of our Facebook Community who have been able to make successful claims with them.

*You can only extend up to 364 days and then you will need to fly to your home country and take out a new policy. When purchasing any travel insurance, be sure to check on the ‘maximum number of days out of the country’.


What Travel Insurance SHOULD Cover

So what are the necessities when it comes to travel insurance? Whatever policy you think about buying, make sure that you read the description of coverage document carefully and see what it says about the following six points.

1. Medical and Hospital Cover

While you may not want to think about it, there is a small to medium chance that you might get sick or have an accident whilst travelling in Southeast Asia. If that happens, you don’t want to be worrying about the price of treatment, medication or an overnight stay in a hospital, you just want to make sure that you are looked after properly. You want to be in the best hospital there is, usually a private or international clinic with doctors that speak English. In Southeast Asia, decent private hospitals can be very expensive and you can quite easily rack up a bill of thousands of dollars in no time! Check your policy to see if it includes hospital cover and check how much the limit is.

Doctor performing an operation.
Make sure your travel insurance covers medical care, operations and overnight stays in hospitals.

NOTE: Eyes and Teeth! – This is where the small print gets technical. When travel insurers refer to ‘medical cover’ they are often talking about your body, which in their eyes, does not include your eyes, or your pearly whites! While some insurers do include some cover for teeth and eyes, others don’t at all, so be sure to check on it in your policy.

2. Emergency Evacuation

There are many places in Southeast Asia where you would NOT want to be receiving medical treatment. Stuck in a remote mountain village in Laos and need emergency treatment ASAP when the nearest hospital is a 2-day walk away? Don’t risk getting crap insurance that won’t cover emergency evacuation, especially if you are planning on going trekking or doing other adventure sports in off the beaten track destinations!

Helicopter in the mountains.
Your travel insurance should cover emergency evacuation.

3. Repatriation (to your home country)

This is another absolute must-have when it comes to travel insurance. If you are seriously injured or taken ill long-term and you need to get back to your home country for treatment or an operation, then you will need your insurance to cover repatriation. (However, it must be noted that the decision to repatriate you in the event of a serious injury is not your choice. No matter how much you want to be back in your own bed with your mum looking after you, the decision to send you home will be an agreement between your doctor and the travel insurer’s medical experts.)

Aeroplane on the runway.
Your travel insurance should cover ‘repatriation’ – getting you home in an emergency.

In addition, your family are also protected in the unlikely event of your death abroad, getting your body back home for a funeral. I once knew a guy who was killed in a base-jumping accident. As he was uninsured for such an extreme sport, it was up to his family to foot the £50,000 bill to get his body home. Don’t let this be you! (Sorry, I promise the next point will be a bit more cheerful!)

4. Cancellations

One of the most useful facets of travel insurance is that you can be covered in the event of cancellations to do with your trip; this is one of of the most common claims that travellers make. Cancellations include flight cancellations, any trips that you have booked, any hotels that close down etc. You can also be covered if you, personally, need to cancel your trip (or part of your trip) for any reason before you depart. To be reimbursed the reason needs to be a good one; sickness, accident, death of a family member or an unstable situation in the country that you plan to travel; for example, a terrorist incident or a natural disaster.

Hotel Closed sign.
Travel insurance covers you for hotels closing down, flights or tours that get cancelled.

5. Missed Transport or Delays

Most travel insurance will cover you if you miss a flight or a train through no fault of your own. Of course, you will have to provide valid evidence regarding the reason that you missed the form of transport, e.g. a medical certificate or a police report. You should also be covered if your form of transport is delayed and you need to put yourself up in a hotel overnight.

US Dollar notes
With travel insurance, you should be able to claim back money for cancellations and missed transport/delays/

6. Personal liability / legal fees

Lastly, it’s something that you never really think about, but what would happen in the event that you did something to injure, or heaven forbid, kill someone while you were abroad? Or, if you accidentally damaged someone’s property? Personal liability covers legal fees and compensates a traveller in the event that an accident is their fault, for example, if they hit someone when driving a car or motorbike abroad.

The roads in Hanoi Vietnam are carazy!
Asia’s roads can be unpredictable! You must be insured incase of an accident that is your fault.

What Most Travel Insurers DON’T Cover

The following is a list of what most basic travel insurances don’t insure as a standard. If you need coverage for any of the following, you may have to pay extra or upgrade to a more comprehensive policy. Some things (like drunk driving) are never insured!

1. Belongings

Whilst most travel insurance policies will include some kind of baggage cover, very few will provide the sort of cover travellers truly need. This is where the insurance companies get sneaky. 

For example, a travel insurance company may cover your baggage up to $2000 USD which sounds great. With this level of coverage, you would not be alone in assuming any items you take with you, up to the value of $2000 USD would be covered.Alas, this is not often the case.

Most of the time, even though they have a total baggage cover of $2,000 USD, the insurance company will also have a stipulation that no single item can be covered for more than $250 USD. All of a sudden your laptop, phone, iPad or camera are not actually insured to their full value! So, if you were to lose your bag containing your MacBook then you would only receive $250 USD for the MacBook, plus the value of the other lost items.

Laptop on a beach.
Backpackers often have to insure more expensive items with a separate travel insurance policy.

TIP – Keep an eye out for the Single Item Cover Limit in your policy wording!

You can often get upgrades to include more expensive items but be aware, you will need the original receipts for any items you wish to insure.

2. Motorbike accidents

Many basic travel insurances will not cover you at all if you are on a motorbike (as driver or passenger) and have an accident which requires medical attention. (Hands down the most likely cause of injury to travellers in Southeast Asia.)

Some of the more backpacker-friendly travel insurances will cover you (our top 3 recommendations will!), but only if you have an International Driving Permit AND you are legal to ride a motorbike (up to the correct “cc” of the motorbike) in your home country as well as in the country you are travelling in. Read our guide for more information on how to make sure you are insured whilst driving cars or riding motorbikes in Southeast Asia.

There are other things taken into consideration, for example, you will NOT be covered unless you were wearing a motorbike helmet, and you will NOT be covered under any circumstance if you were under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs. Also check if you are legally insured to carry a passenger.

To get an idea of what to look out for, read World Nomads’ policy on travel insurance and riding motorbikes here. Whichever insurer you decide to go with, if you plan to ride motorbikes in Southeast Asia, it’s wise to specifically ask about their policy to make sure you are fully covered. Accidents involving motorbikes are very common.

Most backpackers to Southeast Asia will end up on a motorbike at some point, but are they properly insured?

3. Extreme / Adventure Sports

If you plan to do adventure sports while you are in Southeast Asia (skydiving, scuba diving, bungee, rafting, kayaking, rock climbing etc.) then you should check if your travel insurance will cover you for these. Most travel insurances cover a range of basic activities, but there is usually an extra fee that you have to pay to be insured for extreme activities or adventure sports.

Girl rock climbing
Does your travel insurance cover outdoor adventure sports?

4. Diving

With such amazing underwater life, diving is one of the must-do activities in Southeast Asia. If you plan to dive or learn to dive whilst you are in Southeast Asia, check that your policy covers diving and up to how many metres, for example up to 10, 20, 30, 40 metres etc. Some policies will only cover you for 1 or 2 dives so, if you really want to dive whilst travelling, be sure to read your policy wording carefully!

Diving in Koh Tao, Thailand.
Do you want to go diving during your travels? Make sure you are properly insured.

5. Negligence

If you are robbed whilst abroad or you have your hire car/motorbike stolen, you will not be insured if the event was in any way your fault. For example, if you have left your key in your motorbike, or you accidentally left your hotel door open, you will not be insured.

6. Any illegal activity and/or drunkenness

You will not be insured if at the time of your accident/injury you were doing any kind of illegal activity, for example, you were on drugs or under the influence of alcohol while riding a motorbike. In fact, if you were off your face (drugged, drunk or stoned) in any way, when you have any kind of accident, you will not be covered. Of course, backpackers hardly ever do these kinds of things, so there is no need to worry! 😉

Fire show at The Hideout Hostel, Siem Reap, Cambodia.
Want to drunkenly dance with fire in Southeast Asia? Yeah, you won’t be insured for that!

7. Missed Flights

Missing a flight and whether or not you can be compensated is a grey area when it comes to travel insurance. Many travel insurances have different rules depending on; how comprehensive your cover is, the circumstances of the missed departure and whose fault it was. In basic terms, you are covered if you miss the flight for a reason that you are insured for (for example, illness or natural disaster – see below).

However, you are not insured if the missed flight is the fault of airline delays and/or a mechanical failure on behalf of the airline. (In technical terms it is the responsibility of the airline to make your flight on time and if they fail to do this, then they would be responsible for compensating you, not your travel insurance.)

To explain this a little further, if you book two long-haul flights that are connected with the same airline, then it is 100% the airline’s responsibility to make sure that you make the second flight. If the first flight is delayed for any reason and you miss the scheduled second flight, then it would be that airline’s responsibility to get you another flight and pay for any food/accommodation that is necessary. However, if you book two flights that are not connected by the same airline, and you miss the second flight because a first flight is delayed, then you will not be eligible for compensation in any way; neither from the airline nor your travel insurance. That’s just your fault. Period.

If you didn’t leave the house/hotel with enough time and got caught in traffic. That’s your fault too. You are only covered if you miss your flight due to; a transport accident, natural disasters, civil unrest, medical reasons. (Note that you must have a valid medical note explaining the reason why you missed your flight.)

Flight
Did you miss your flight? You may not be covered under your travel insurance.

NOTE: It is worth stating that some flight search engines do offer a connection guarantee, even in the event of booking multiple flights with different airlines. Kiwi is one such company. If you miss a connecting flight because of a delay with a previous flight, Kiwi pledge to give you an alternative flight or refund the cost of your unused tickets. Of course, there are terms and conditions here which require your cooperation (and sometimes, money). For more details, see this page on the Kiwi guarantee.

8. Pre-existing medical conditions

Most travel insurances will NOT cover pre-existing medical conditions. This means, that if you miss a flight, or have to cancel part of your trip because of a pre-existing medical condition, you will not be covered. (Unless you have fully disclosed these conditions to the insurer and they have been accepted at the time of signing up for your policy). Pre-existing conditions include mild to serious illnesses; from asthma to ME.

9. Trekking at over 3,000 metres

Two of our writers, Tim and Sheree, recently got back from a trip to South America where they spent most of their time conquering South America’s best hiking trails! When they started doing some research for this very article, they realised that their travel insurance (StaySure, a UK company) had not covered them for any trekking over 3,000 metres, meaning that for most of their travels in South America, they were uninsured! If you plan to conquer any mountains whilst travelling in Southeast Asia (like Mount Rinjani or Mount Kinabalu), make sure that your travel insurance covers you at heights above 3,000 metres.

Mount Kinabalu Borneo
Being covered for trekking at over 3,000 metres in usually an add-on.

10. Government travel warnings

Many travel insurance policies are void if you travel to a country against advice from your government. For example, a British traveller going to Venezuela against the advice of the Foreign Office would find themselves uninsured for the duration of their trip should they try to make a claim. You may also find that your insurance policy is invalid if you travel to any country that is receiving government sanctions. It’s wise to check up on this before you travel.

11. Vaccinations

The cost of general travel vaccinations, whether you get them done in your home country before you travel (recommended) or whilst you are abroad are, quite obviously, not covered. Read more about the essential vaccinations for travel in Southeast Asia here.

Travel Vaccinations for Southeast Asia
Vaccines will not be covered on your health insurance.

TOP 3 Recommended Backpacking Insurance Companies


1. World Nomads – Best All-Round Flexible Backpacker Travel Insurance (Worldwide)

  • Nationalities covered: 140 countries, including USA, UK, most of Europe, Australia.
  • Maximum stay: 365 days.
  • Motorcycle usage: Yes, see details.
  • Diving included: Yes, up to 30 metres.
  • Available if you’re already abroad: Yes.
  • Round ticket needed? No.

Get a quote with World Nomads here.

Benefits of World Nomads Travel Insurance

  • World Nomads are a brand aimed at backpackers which means they are used to dealing with the kind of problems that backpackers get up to.
  • They include a huge number of activities as standard (140), which is a lot higher than other insurers.
  • You can get the cover when you are not in your home country.
  • You don’t need a round ticket to purchase travel insurance.
  • You can extend your policy while you are travelling.
  • Plenty of people (including several from our Facebook community) have made successful claims with them so we know that they do pay out.
  • You are covered for riding a motorbike if you have an international driving licence and valid licence at home for the class of motorised vehicle you are buying or renting. You will need to be wearing a helmet.
  • You are covered for diving up to 30 metres, which is deeper than most insurers will go!
  • They allow you to add-on for expensive belongings that you take with you at a reasonable cost.
  • It’s easy to make a claim online 24 hours a day.

2. SafetyWing – Best For Long-Term Travellers and Digital Nomads (Worldwide)

  • Nationalities covered: Available to anyone from any home country except Iran, North Korea and Cuba.
  • Maximum stay: 364 days.
  • Motorcycle usage: Yes, see details.
  • Diving included: Yes, see details.
  • Available if you’re already abroad: Yes.
  • Round ticket needed? No.

Get a quote with SafetyWing.

Benefits of SafetyWing Travel Insurance

  • SafetyWing has been specially designed for digital nomads and remote workers who are travelling and living outside of their home country for long periods.
  • Their payment model works on a monthly subscription basis which is great for travellers who are spontaneous do not know how long they plan to travel.
  • Travellers can take out cover when they are already travelling and they do not need a return flight home.
  • The longest period you can get insured for is 364 days but after this period has passed, you can always take out another subscription, even if you are still abroad. (With our other two insurers you would have to fly back to your home country in order to take out a new policy.)
  • You are covered for scuba diving if you are PADI certified (18 metres), or you are accompanied by a certified dive instructor at depths less than 10 metres.
  • Use of a motorbike is also covered (excluding motorised dirt bikes). Needless to say, you will not be medically covered if you were racing bikes or were intoxicated when the accident happened!

3. True Traveller – Great Value for Money Backpacker Insurance for Europeans (Europe)

  • Nationalities covered: European.
  • Maximum stay: Gap year (single trip) packages can be up to 18 months in length.
  • Motorcycle usage: Yes, see details.
  • Diving included: Yes, see details.
  • Available if you’re already abroad: Yes.
  • Round ticket needed? No.

Get a quote with True Traveller.

Benefits of True Traveller Travel Insurance

  • One of the best things about this insurance company is the wide range of options that they have, so you can really tailor your insurance package to the type of trip that you plan to take, e.g. trekking or diving holiday.
  • They offer single-trip or multi-trip packages that are great value for money.
  • 92 activities are covered in their policies as standard and probably include most of the things that backpackers are likely to get up to.
  • Additional activity packages can be purchased for the most adventurous travellers, which which keeps the price low for those beach bums amongst you! (Look at the ‘Adventure Pack’, the ‘Extreme Pack’ or the ‘Ultimate Pack’)
  • Scuba diving of up to 18 metres is included as standard but more expensive policies will cover you up to 50 metres.
  • The basic True Traveller activity pack will cover you for riding motorcycles on the road up to (and including 125cc).
  • Like the others on this list, you can take out this travel insurance whilst you are already abroad.
  • You do not need a return ticket and you can extend whilst you are travelling.

Comparison Table of Travel Insurances (Example – A 30-Year Old Traveller, 6 Months Backpacking in Southeast Asia)

Scroll left and right to see all content.

TRAVEL INSURANCEAVAILABLE TOPRICE FOR 6 MONTHS IN SEAMEDICAL COVER?EMERGENCY EVACUATION?REPATRIATION?CANCELLATIONS?MISSED TRANSPORT?PERSONAL LIABILITY?NUMBER OF ACTIVITIES COVERED 
1.

World Nomads

140 countries, including USA, UK, most of Europe, Australia.£247.31 GBP£5 million GBPYes, nearest appropriate medical facility.£5,000 GBP in case of death.£3,000 GBP£1000 GBP£2 million GBP128
2.

SafetyWing

All countries except Iran, North Korea and Cuba.$222 USD$250,000 USD$100,000 USD$20,000 USD$5,000 USDX$25,000 USD94
3.

True Traveller

Europe£267.34 GBP£5 million GBPYes, ambulance. £5 million GBP£3,000 GBP£500 GBP£2 million GBP92
ChapkaEuropean economic area, plus Switzerland, Andorra, Monaco, New Caledonia and French Polynesia.€312 EUR

 

€200,000 EURReal cost.Real cost.Separate insurance needed.X€4.5 million EUROnly covered when you practice any sport as an amateur.
Travel GuardUSA$561 USD$50 USD$500 USDX100% insured trip cost.$1000 USDXAdditional upgrade required.
HTH Travel InsuranceUSA$169 USD$50,000 USD$500,000 USD$25,000 USD in case of death.XXXState dependent.
TriptimeMany countries including the USA, UK and most of Europe.$100 USD$50,000 USD$500,000 USD$50,000 USD$5,000 USDXXAdditional upgrade required.
Big Cat Travel InsuranceEuropean.£221 GBP£5 million GBP £5 million GBP£2,000 GBPOptional£2 million GBP68
AlphaUK and Channel Islands.£80 GBP£10 million (covers medical, evacuation)Included in medical (£10 million GBP)Included in medical (£10 million GBP)£1,250 GBPX£1 million GBPHundreds as standard.
Staysure (For Pre-existing conditions)UK£477.34 GBP£5 million GBPIncludedIncluded£500 GBP£500 GBPX74
AXAUK£83.33 GBP£10 millionIncluded in medical (£10 million GBP)Included in medical (£10 million GBP)£1,000 GBPX£1 million GBP70
AllianzUK – Offer insurance to other nationalities such as USA, New Zealand and Canada but not all are offered the Backpacker insurance.£104.00 GBP£5 millionIncluded in medical (£5 million GBP)Included in medical (£5 million GBP)£2,500 GBP£500 GBP£2 million105
World 2 CoverAustralia$363 AUDUnlimited (covers medical, evacuation, repatriation)UnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimitedXIncludedMost amateur sporting and adventures activities covered as standard.
TravelexUSA$415 USD$50,000 USD $500,000 USDOnly in case of death.100% of cost up to $50,000 USD$750 USDXAdditional upgrade required.
Insure and GoUK and Australia£188 GBP£10 million GBPIncluded£10 million GBP£3,000 GBP£500 GBP£2 million GBP109
ERVMost European nationalities£132.13 GBP£5 million GBP£5 million GBP£5 million GBP£2,000 GBPX£2 million GBP43
STA TravelUK£377.00 GBP£10 million GBPIncluded£10 million GBP£2,000 GBP£500 GBP£2 million GBP140

*Additional activity package upgrades are available with all insurers.


Travel Insurance with Online Banks

The world of banking has changed dramatically in the last few years and many online, app focused banks are leading the charge. Whilst there are a few stand out choices for online banks, for example, Starling and Monzo, there is only one that offers a decent level of travel insurance with one of their premium accounts…

Revolut – Click here to apply for a Revolut Account.

Revolut started in 2015 as a way to disrupt international banking and they have gone on to do just that. With free international cash withdrawals (up to a certain amount each month depending on your account), free cross-currency transfers and travel insurance included with their premium accounts, Revolut have been taking the travel world by storm.

The insurance is what you would expect from a bank. You are only covered for trips up to 40 days in length. Be aware that you MUST connect your phone to the internet within 24 hours of arriving at your destination so that they know where you are travelling. 

These two caveats can mean that the insurance isn’t ideal for long backpacking trips but they do offer a pay by the day service so even if you do not have a premium account you can pay a small amount each day for cover on shorter trips and even add packages for extreme or winter sports.

Revolut current accounts are currently available to citizens of any country from the European Economic Area as well as; Australia, Canada, Singapore, Switzerland, and the United States. They also have plans to go completely global soon so if you are not from one of these countries but are interested in getting a Revolut account, then keep your ear to the ground.

NOTE – A lot of South East Asia Backpacker readers have spoken to us about using a Monzo Plus Account that came with really solid travel insurance, underwritten by AXA. At the moment Monzo is not offering their Plus Account to anyone so this is no longer an option.

See this article for more information about the best travel cards.

How to Make a Travel Insurance Claim

When it comes to making a claim, some companies make it easy whereas others make it much more difficult. Some let you make small claims within an app while others require you to speak to a person no matter the value of the claim. This is just a general overview so make sure you are familiar with the claims process as laid out in your policy wording.

Depending on your insurer you may have to pay upfront in some instances, up to the value of around $2000, then claim back the money when you get home. If you are insured with a company who operates this way then make sure you keep all receipts and evidence of costs so you can make a successful claim later.

When you arrive home, make sure you start the claim within the time limit, as stipulated by your insurer and be prepared for any excess that you are required to pay. If your claim is less than the excess then it is not worth making the claim.

Your travel insurance company will be able to send you, or direct you to, a claim form which must be filled in carefully and sent back with copies of any supporting evidence unless specifically asked for originals. Keep a copy of these for yourself as well, just in case something “goes missing”, it wouldn’t be the first time important paperwork has got lost and a claim not been paid because of this. (Not that we are a cynical bunch, of course…)

If you get stuck requiring expensive medical treatment or evacuation while away then contact your insurer as soon as possible so that they can agree to the treatment. Whilst this may not be possible in a true emergency, the best practice would always be to talk to them before accepting medical care.

Usually, your insurer will pay large bills directly which saves extra stress your end but listen carefully to the instructions they give you over the phone.

Top Tips For Making A Travel Insurance Claim

  • Keep both hard and digital copies of the policy number and emergency contact phone numbers for your insurer.
  • Keep digital copies in a cloud service you can access from any device.
  • Some companies have different claim lines depending on which country you are calling from. Make sure you have the correct numbers before travelling.
  • While explaining your situation to the travel insurance company, keep the information short and succinct unless asked to elaborate. You don’t know who you are talking to, where they are from or even if English is their first language. Keep it simple.
  • When making a claim, stay calm. I know its a stressful time but if you are going to make it as smooth as possible you need to be able to take on all the information you are given and react in the most efficient manner.

Having Problems With Claiming?

When having problems with any big business, not just insurance companies, it can seem like you are banging your head against the wall but don’t give up, there are a few things you can do to stack the deck in your favour.

All travel insurance companies will have an appeals process which you can use if you disagree with their decision on whether or not to pay out a claim. This process will be explained somewhere in your policy wording or on the company’s website.

If the appeal does not work, then the next step is to make an official complaint to the company using their internet complaints process. Again, this will be explained in your policy wording or on the companies website. You should give your insurer up to eight weeks to reply to your complaint.

If, after eight weeks has passed, you have not heard from your insurer or a decision has not been made then you can ask for a Letter Of Deadlock. This letter, written from the insurer, confirms that you have been unable to reach an agreement over the complaint.

In the UK, you can use this Letter Of Deadlock to start a complaint with the Financial Ombudsman who will look closely into the case and rule on one side or the other. Whatever decision the Ombudsman makes, your insurer legally has to abide by. However, you do not have to abide by it and if you still disagree with the decision you are entitled to take the company to court. Be aware that this can be a very long, stressful and expensive process.

If you are not from the UK then check to see what your equivalent to the Ombudsman is and contact them directly for more information.

If you haven’t reached the point of official complaints or the Ombudsman yet there are still a few things you can do to speed up a response from your insurer.

Big companies hate bad press, even if it is just on Twitter or Facebook. Don’t start swearing or become threatening but do explain your situation to the internet and make sure to tag the companies causing you issues. Their marketing department is sure to notice and this often results in faster response times.

If telling your friends and families isn’t for you then jump on a review site like Trustpilot to leave a bad review explaining your situation. Just like Facebook or Twitter, don’t be threatening or swear too much, just explain what has happened and how the insurer has wronged you.

Insurers trawl sites such as Trustpilot and often have entire teams of people dedicated to replying to bad reviews and trying to resolve complaints. Once you’ve left your complaint, it does not tend to take long before an email appears in your inbox telling you there has been a reply!

Top Tips for Fighting a Travel Insurance Decision

  • Remember, if you disagree with an insurance companies decision then you can appeal directly with them, then (if you are in the UK) take it further to the Financial Ombudsman.
  • Name and shame on Twitter/Facebook. Just keep things clean and non-threatening!
  • Take a complaint to Trustpilot for an even swifter response from your insurer!

Travel insurance: The Verdict!

There is an old maxim, ‘if you can’t afford travel insurance, you can’t afford to travel’. However, realistically I cannot force you to go and buy travel insurance. It’s like winning the lottery, the odds of something happening are small but the financial impact of being up shit creek without a paddle is huge!

I have never met anyone who has regretted buying travel insurance. I have spoken to folks who regretted buying the wrong type of insurance but they have treated this experience as a lesson for what not to do next time.

Not buying travel insurance is a massive gamble. You could have your trip cut 6 months short or even end up in a dirty hospital with an infection and no way of getting home. Don’t let that happen to you, a few hundred dollars might seem like a lot to spend before you’ve even left home but it’s well worth the investment of both time and money.


Buying an insurance policy through one of the links on this page will provide us with a small commission at no extra cost to you. So if you like us, and you’d like to help us keep our bellies full of noodles, you know what to do!