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Gap year travel insurance

Maybe you've put a pause on your career to see the world. Or maybe you've just completed your studies and you're ready for a break. Whatever the reason for going on a gap year adventure abroad, we're sure the last thing you want on your mind is insurance.

But, finding the right level of cover for your backpacking trip could take just 2 minutes of your time. And if you're ready, you can start comparing quotes now. If you want to learn more before you do that, read on. We've covered everything you need to know about gap year travel insurance.

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What is gap year travel insurance?

Gap year travel insurance, also known as backpacker or long-stay travel insurance, can cover you for a trip lasting up to 18 months.

Unlike other travel insurance policies, gap year insurance could offer you financial cover for the entirety of your adventure. So, whether you're planning an extended stay in one country or want to explore multiple places during your trip, this type of insurance is worth considering.

Why do I need gap year travel insurance?

Gap year travel insurance is worth considering when you book your trip, because it could help you financially if things go wrong.

Picture this: you're trekking through a rainforest and suddenly you get a nasty bug bite. With travel insurance, you could be covered for medical treatment and evacuation if needed.

Alternatively, imagine you're walking through a bustling street market and suddenly your bag gets stolen. Or, you make it to the airport, only to discover that your flight has been cancelled due to extreme weather.

There's plenty of things that can go wrong while abroad. But, with travel insurance for your gap year, your policy could help cover the costs if the unexpected happens. Phew!

Do I need gap year travel insurance if I have an EHIC or GHIC?

It's key to remember that the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) and Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) aren't replacements for travel insurance.

Both provide state healthcare at the price citizens pay in certain European countries. But, without insurance, you could be left with extra costs to pay. For example, if you need to come home for medical treatment, it could cost thousands of pounds without the appropriate policy in place. Travel insurance could help cover some of these costs.

What does gap year travel insurance cover?

Exactly what's covered by gap year insurance will vary between insurers and policies. It'll also depend on your personal circumstances. But, gap year policies typically offer slightly different cover to standard travel insurance. Here's what could be covered or excluded:

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What's covered:

  • Emergency medical treatment, if you get ill or injured while abroad.
  • Cancellation and curtailment, if you need to cancel or cut the trip short for an unexpected reason.
  • Repatriation, if you need to return to the UK for medical treatment. 
  • Baggage cover, if your luggage gets accidentally lost, damaged, or stolen.
  • Returning home during a trip, if you want to come back to the UK before resuming your gap year travels. For example, to visit your family for Christmas.
  • Stop-overs, if you have a stopover in another country on your way to your final destination, your insurance can still cover you during the stopover. For example, if you stop in Vietnam on your way to Thailand, you'll be covered by your insurance in Vietnam.
  • Working abroad. Many gap year policies cover for working abroad during your travels, such as voluntary work. But, certain manual labour may not be covered by a standard policy, so read the policy wording to be sure.
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What's typically excluded:

  • Alcohol or drugs, if illness, injury, or death occurs due to being under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
  • Malicious or illegal behaviour, if something happens as a result of malicious or illegal behaviour on your part, like breaking the law.
  • Undeclared pre-existing medical conditions, if you need treatment for a medical condition you didn't disclose to the provider.
  • Gadget cover, if you want cover for your electronics, you may need to get an add-on.
  • Travelling against government advice. For example, if you travel somewhere the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) advises against, you won't be covered.
  • Extreme sports and activities. These kinds of activities are generally associated with higher risk of injury. So, they're not normally covered by standard travel insurance.
  • Known events. These are events that occur before you buy travel insurance that could affect your trip.

How much does gap year travel insurance cost?

You could get gap year travel insurance from £113.93*. But the price depends on the type of trip you're planning to go on, as well as your personal circumstances.

Being away from home for an extended period of time can raise the risk of needing to make a claim. The cost of medical treatment can also be more expensive in different countries.

What affects the price of gap year travel insurance?

To help get you the best gap year travel insurance quote, there's a few things your insurer could take into account. These could affect the price of your policy, and include things like:

  • The countries you're visiting: Your insurance provider will take into account the countries you'll be visiting when calculating a price. Some countries, like the USA, are associated with higher costs, so insurance for these destinations is typically more expensive.
  • How long you'll be travelling for: The longer you're away, the greater your chances are for illness or injury. In turn, this could increase the policy's price.
  • Pre-existing medical conditions: This raises the chance of you needing medical treatment while abroad. This can often mean a higher policy cost.
  • Any additional cover you need: If you plan to do adventure activities, winter sports or want to do any volunteer work during your trip, it'll usually cost more.
  • Your age: Most travel insurance providers usually charge those over a particular age more due to an increased risk of illness or injury. Some might also have upper age limits, meaning your choice of insurers is smaller.

*The cheapest policy for a European backpacker trip based on 1 adult aged 30, with no previous medical conditions travelling for 1 year. Based on Confused.com data, correct as of June 2024.

Can I get gap year travel insurance with a pre-existing medical condition?

Yes, it's possible to get gap year insurance with a pre-existing medical condition. Yippee!

But you'll need to make sure that you declare your pre-existing medical condition so your provider is aware. That way, they'll be able to give you the right cover. In some instances, you may be required to take out a specialist policy for an additional cost.

If you can't find suitable cover, the Money and Pensions Service (MaPS) has put together a directory of insurers willing to cover customers with medical conditions including respiratory conditions, cancer and heart conditions. You can also phone them on 0800 183 7777 for free, impartial advice.

What our travel insurance expert says

"Amid the excitement of going on a gap year adventure, it's easy to forget about the importance of travel insurance.

But with the appropriate policy in place, you could be covered financially if things go wrong. For example, if you need emergency medical treatment, or if your travel tour was cancelled unexpectedly."

Alvaro Iturmendi - Confused.com travel insurance expert
Travel insurance expert Confused.com logo

How do I compare gap year travel insurance quotes?

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Choose the right type of insurance

Head to our quote page and let us know that you need backpacking insurance. Once you've done that, you'll need to specify whether you'll be travelling solo, in a couple, as a group or with family.

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Tell us a bit about your trip

Next, tell us more about your trip. This includes where you're travelling to, when you plan to go, and any optional extras you might need. You'll also need to let us know about any pre-existing medical conditions you have.

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Compare quotes from up to 471 providers

Once you've provided us with the information we need, we'll take it from there. You'll see a list of insurers, and all you'll need to do is choose the policy that best suits your needs. Sorted!

1Correct as of July 2024

Can I do adventure activities or winter sports with gap year travel insurance?

Adventure activities

Your policy may offer cover for a variety of sports and adventure activities. This is because gap year insurance often includes cover for certain high-risk activities that standard travel insurance doesn't.

But, to ensure that you'll get the right cover for your year abroad, it's a good idea to give the policy a good read before choosing it.

That way, you'll know whether you may need to take out optional add-ons, like activity cover.

Winter sports

Winter sports aren't usually covered by standard travel insurance. But this doesn't mean that you need to pass-up an opportunity to hit the slopes!

If you want to ski or snowboard during your gap year abroad,  you might need to get an optional add-on, like ski insurance.

This depends on your provider, so read the terms and conditions to see which you may need.

Why use Confused.com for your gap year travel insurance?

  • You'll get UK-based customer support

    We offer customer support from our team in Cardiff. If you need any help during the quote process, we'll be there for you. Just visit our contact page to get in touch.

  • We're regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA)

    All the travel insurance companies that we work with are regulated by the FCA, too. This means that we follow strict guidelines to make sure that you get the best policy for your personal needs, and you're treated with fairness.

  • Your privacy and security are important to us

    We have a strong security and privacy policy set up, and we promise to look after your personal details. In other words? We've got your back.

  • We're 100% independent

    We're not owned by any insurance companies, so the prices you see are the most affordable based on the information you've provided.

Frequently asked questions

Do you have any tips for anyone taking a gap year?

  • Budget and save: save up in advance, and create a budget to help manage your finances for the duration of your trip. Keeping a budgeting app on your phone could be worth considering.
  • Keep your CV updated: if you plan to work while you're travelling, it's a good idea to keep your CV updated. That way, it'll help make the job application process smoother.
  • Check if you need to get a visa: some countries require British travellers to have a visa to enter, so make sure you research if you'll need to get any. There are some countries that allow you to get a visa on arrival at the airport. But, it's generally recommended to begin the application process 2-3 months in advance.
  • Ask your GP if you need vaccinations: depending on where you're planning to travel, you might need to get vaccinations before you go. Check with your GP ahead of time, as some vaccinations need to be given 6 to 8 weeks before departure.
  • Consider a prepaid travel money card: prepaid travel cards are great way to spend while abroad. Many banks can charge transaction fees for using credit or debit cards out of the country. But, a prepaid travel card can allow you to pay in local currencies without a costly fee.

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