Looking for and getting the right travel insurance is one of the biggest headaches for any traveler but as essential for your adventure as your backpack.
From backpacking in Sudan, Iraq and pretty much everywhere in the Middle East to trekking over 5,000m in the mountains of Pakistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan and also traveling across Southeast Asia and a bit of Africa, for the last few years, I have experienced quite a few different adventures across a large number of different destinations.
Therefore, after gathering some hard-backpacking experience and having tried many different travel insurance companies, I realized about the following:
Finding the right travel insurance is not about finding the cheapest or the one with the highest coverage, but the one which will fully cover your needs as a traveler and the purpose of your trip
That being said, if you are reading this article it is because you are an independent traveler who mostly travels with a backpack, which means that you are looking for a backpacking travel insurance, am I right?
Well, in this article I will help you find the right backpacking insurance according to your kind of trip and the type of traveler you are.
How to find the right backpacking travel insurance (2019)
Table of contents:
- The best travel insurance for adventurous travelers – World Nomads
- The cheapest travel insurance for backpackers – IATI Insurance
- The cheapest travel insurance for European backpackers – True Traveller
Total transparency! – If you like my website and found this post useful, remember that, if you buy any service through one my links, I will get a small commission at no extra cost to you. These earnings help me keep Against the Compass going! Thanks 🙂
3 Different backpacking travel insurance companies I trust
The best travel insurance for adventurous travelers – World Nomads
World Nomads is the best travel insurance in the market, for the simple reason that they can provide with unlimited medical coverage and their basic plan already covers for trekking in high altitudes, something that no other insurance company does.
The cheapest travel insurance for backpackers – IATI Insurance
IATI Insurance is a European-based company that provides coverage to a wide range of nationalities. From backpackers to families, IATI has many different plans and their basic plan is the cheapest I have ever found.
Furthermore, the readers of this blog can get an exclusive 5% discount, so this may be the best option for budget backpackers.
The cheapest travel insurance for European backpackers – True Traveller
They offer very high medical coverage at a very good price, especially if you get a long-term quote.
Unlike World Nomads, it is also very flexible, meaning that you can select those variables that fit your kind of trip and budget.
Moreover, one of their most unique services is that they offer specific coverage for electronics, so if you care about your camera, laptop or drone, you must get this one.
What do you need to look for when you purchase backpacker travel insurance?
What do backpackers have in common?
- They may do adventurous activities, such as trekking, horse riding, etc.
- They move around on cheap, local transportation, so the risk of an accident is higher
- The likelihood of being robbed is higher, as they stay in budget dorms, go out at night and travel on local transportation
- They usually travel to several countries in one single trip
Proper travel insurance for backpackers should cover the above criteria, so when looking for the right one, you need to make sure about the following:
It offers high medical coverage – If you are planning to do some adventurous activities (so the risk of an accident is higher), or you are traveling to a country where the health care system is very expensive (like the USA for example), you should know that hospitalizations costs could rise to several and several thousand USD.
There are many cheap backpacker insurances that will offer you a cheap quote but, if you read the small print, you will see that they will just give you 10,000 or 20,000USD of medical coverage, which can be very little depending on your type of trip.
It covers adventure activities – If you are planning to do some trekking or any other related activity, you need to make sure that your policy covers for that. For example, if you are traveling to Nepal, you need to make sure that your policy covers for trekking up to 4,000-5,000 meters at least and you should know that not all insurance providers will cover that.
High coverage for medical evacuation – Medical evacuation is the process of moving you from the place you had an accident to the hospital and, eventually, to your house. If you break your leg while trekking in Kyrgyzstan, for example, the cost of being rescued by a helicopter, sent to a hospital and put on a plane back home can rise to a couple hundred thousand USD. Cheap companies will barely cover you for that.
Worldwide coverage – Many backpackers will travel to several countries in one single trip, so when you buy the insurance, you want a provider which allows you to select a couple of countries or a worldwide option. There are companies out there, such as Allianz, which don’t allow you to select multiple countries and, for some nationalities, you can’t be traveling for more than 5 weeks in a row.
You can buy it while you are on the road – Very important. Some companies may not cover you if you have already started your trip. For long-term backpackers, this option should be a must.
Robbery – Seriously, how many backpackers have you ever heard of who had things stolen? Depending on where you travel to, I honestly think that getting robbed is the most likely unfortunate event that can happen to you.
Loss of electronics – Most long-term backpackers will travel with a laptop, an iPad and, most recently, even with a drone. For this, you might have to pay a bit extra but it is important to have your gadgets secured.
Fight cancellations, baggage delay, and loss – This is also very likely to happen. One day, they canceled my flight from Berlin to Tehran and, on another occasion, when I flew from Barcelona to Tbilisi, my baggage remained lost for almost 4 weeks. Of course, you will get the airline compensation benefit but, if you have good travel insurance, you may get paid twice.
It fully covers repatriation – If you get sick or there is a family emergency (such as family death, for example), you can cancel your trip without worrying about the costs.
24-hour emergency line – Believe it or not, some cheap backpacker travel insurance providers don’t have a 24-7 emergency line.
And, very important, make sure it is easy to claim – All the companies I listed before, including World Nomads, IATI Insurance, and True Traveller are very professional, which means that, when you need to make a claim, they have a fast response.
Comparing different backpacker travel insurance
Let’s pretend that we are traveling to India for 1 month.
I am 30-years old and a Spanish citizen.
The best travel insurance for backpackers – World Nomads
The quoted price is 113€ for the Standard and 124€ for the Explorer.
Medical expenses – They give you 3,500,000€ for the Standard Plan and Unlimited for the Explorer.
Evacuation – They give you 350,000€.
Country selection – You can select as many single countries as you want and there is also a Worldwide option.
Adventure activities – They cover a wide range of adventure activities, including trekking up to 6,000 meters with the Standard plan, something quite useful for India, especially if you go are planning to go to the northern areas.
Electronics – After selecting your policy, you can also secure your electronics for 10€ each, but it only allows you to secure 500€ items, which is quite useless because valuable electronics cost much more.
- Travelers who want the best medical coverage
- Travelers who are planning to do some trekking and other adventure activities, as their most basic plan already covers for up to 6,000 meters. Here you can check the full list
- Long-term travelers who go to many different countries, as the coverage of WN will be good for any sort of destination.
Not good if:
- You are price sensitive (it is the most expensive)
- If you are traveling to European cities and places which, let’s say, are not very wild, World Nomads may be too much for you. I mean, if you go to Paris, you don’t really need a policy that covers you for trekking in high altitude mountains.
- It doesn’t cover Iran, Sudan, Irak, Syria, etc. (many readers of this blog travel there)
The cheapest travel insurance for backpackers – IATI Insurance
The quoted price from IATI Insurance is 76€, 72€ with my 5% discount.
If you add adventure activities, the quote goes up to 137€.
Medical Expenses – They cover you for up to 30,000€ with the most basic plan. Higher plans cover more but much less than WN, with similar prices.
Evacuation – It covers 100% of the total cost.
Country selection – You can select ”Worldwide” but only one single country at a time.
Adventure activities – The basic plan covers trekking but only below 2,000 meters. If you are traveling to Nepal, you will be at 2,000 meters almost the moment you step out of the plane. The higher plans only cover for 4,000 meters and it is even more expensive than WN.
Electronics – There is not a specific electronic policy but they are included in the theft option and IATI will pay you up to 1,500€ of their value.
- Budget travelers, as it has the cheapest quote (+ you have an additional 5% discount).
- Travelers who don’t plan to do any adventurous activity, like a European city trip and stuff like that.
- It covers Iran, Sudan and many countries which World Nomads doesn’t.
- Any citizen from the world can buy it, including Americans and Canadians.
Not good if:
- Coverage is not as good as World Nomads
- Cheap plans offer limited options when it comes to adventure. If you add the trekking option, the final quote is not so far away from World Nomads.
Remember that, if you book it through my link, you will get a 5% discount.
The cheapest travel insurance for backpackers (only for Europeans) – True Traveller
The first price we get is 82€ for the basic plan, 114€ for the most premium plan.
However, this quote doesn’t include adventurous sports.
If we add adventurous sports, it goes up to 118€ and 155€
Medical Expenses – It is really good. It covers for up to 10,000,000GBP.
Evacuation – In True Traveller, they say that evacuation costs (which include helicopter transportation) are included in the Medical Expenses.
Country selection – You can’t select more than a single country but there is a Worldwide option and Worldwide excluding Canada & USA, which is cheaper.
Adventure activities – It covers trekking for up to 4,500m but you need to pay extra.
Electronics – True Traveller is the only backpacking travel insurance that can fully cover your electronic gadgets but each device would cost around an extra 60€.
- Awesome medical coverage at the lowest price.
- Extremely flexible, as all the elements are optional.
- If you just care about medical, you can get a super cheap quote with great coverage
- When it comes to adventure activities, it is not as good as WN but you can still get a good quote that covers for trekking.
- It covers electronics
Not good if:
- It doesn’t really cover for many things such as baggage loss, robbery, flight cancellation, etc. You need to add it on top and all these things are already covered by IATI and World Nomads in their basic plans.
- IATI Insurance will always be cheaper
- Only European citizens can buy it.