Nobody wants to think about theft or the idea of losing your valuables, but it is a reality and one of the most common reasons why travellers call TravelAid for support while away.
WHAT SHOULD I LOOK FOR WHEN BUYING GAP YEAR TRAVEL INSURANCE?
The first and most important part of any travel insurance is medical cover. Look at the cover offered for emergency medical expenses which should include ambulance transportation, hospital stays, treatment and drugs. Check that you are covered for any pre-existing conditions as not declaring them when purchasing your insurance can invalidate the whole policy.
Medical cover should also include repatriation home if you’re unable to continue travelling due to ill health as the cost of this can potentially be hundreds of thousands of pounds.
The second area to consider is the cover for lost, stolen or damaged possessions. If you are left without your wallet, what does the insurance policy cover in real terms. Can you get emergency cash quickly and easily? Will they cover the cost of replacing a lost passport?
The third area of cover to look into is cancellation costs. If something happens that prevents you from travelling (maybe an illness or bereavement; or a pandemic causing localised lockdowns; or perhaps the FCDO changing their travel advice relating to your destination) are you covered? How much excess will you have to pay and what are the exclusions?
Once you’ve established that you’re happy with these three areas of cover, you need to check that the policy will cover all the activities or sports you plan to take part in. For example, scuba diving may need to be a specified extra and extreme sports such as bungee jumping, winter sports, trekking at higher altitudes or parachute jumps may need additional cover levels. Most travel insurance does not cover driving motor vehicles so watch out for this if you are planning on hiring a car, moped etc.
Finally, don’t forget to check that you are covered for all the countries you are planning on visiting and for the right amount of time.
Once you know that the policy will cover you for the activities and destinations of your choice, you should check the finer details. This includes checking the maximum claim amount – if you have a maximum claim amount for a single item of £500 but your phone is worth £750, what are you going to do?
Many travel insurance policies end as soon as you return to the UK, but gap year travellers may wish to return briefly before heading on to their next destination. If this is the case, make sure that your travel insurance continues when you head back out on your travels.
Watch out for the maximum number of overseas days per year as most gap years will exceed these. The TravelAid team have been involved in supporting some very serious incidents where an annual policy (with a 28-day travel cap) has refused to pay out for a serious injury that took place a few weeks after this, leaving the traveller with a bill into hundreds of thousands of pounds for medical repatriation by air to a specialist hospital.
It’s also a good idea to check that your travel insurance policy covers you for things that happen whilst you are working or volunteering if you are planning on doing either of these. It’s common for travel insurance policies to not include cover for accidents that happen whilst doing manual work or medical work, even if they do offer cover for other typical gap year work such as conservation or charity work.
Alcohol and drugs – many travel insurance policies have exclusions relating to losses that have been caused whilst the insured person is under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Just something else to bear in mind….
For full information and guidance, we recommend visiting the government guidance here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/foreign-travel-insurance
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