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Volunteer travel insurance

Volunteer travel insurance can provide the specialist cover you need when volunteering abroad. If you're ready, you can start comparing quotes now. Or, just keep reading to learn more about volunteer travel insurance.

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Why do I need volunteer travel insurance?

It's important to consider volunteer travel insurance if you plan to do any volunteer work as part of your travels.

Whether you're teaching English or helping out at an animal sanctuary, volunteering can take you into new and sometimes unpredictable situations.

That's where volunteer travel insurance comes in handy. It's designed to give you the right protection for the unique challenges you might face while making a difference abroad.

If you're considering volunteer travel insurance, it's worth buying it as early as possible. It could serve as a safety net if you've run into unexpected problems before going on your trip, such as flight cancellations.

Does it cover volunteering with animals?

Yes, volunteer travel insurance can cover volunteering with animals.

Standard volunteer policies usually cover domestic animals and some animals in sanctuaries. But if you'll be near wild or 'big game' animals, like elephants, you might need a policy for specialist volunteers.

Let your insurance provider know about your plans when you're taking out a policy. That way, you'll make sure you're getting the right cover.

Does it cover volunteer work that involves manual labour?

Yes, volunteer travel insurance can cover you for manual work.

Most policies include cover for certain types of physical work. For example, assisting with community development projects. But sometimes you might need a specialised policy or an extra add-on, depending on the kind of work you'll be doing.

Your cover could also depend on sticking to the safety guidelines outlined in your policy, like using the proper tools for the job.

What's the difference between volunteer travel insurance and standard travel insurance?

Volunteer insurance generally offers the same basic cover as standard travel insurance does. This includes emergency medical expenses, cancellation of your trip, and lost, damaged, or stolen luggage.

Volunteering can carry more risks than a regular holiday. So, most standard travel insurance policies may not be able to provide the level of cover you need.

This is where volunteer travel insurance comes in. Phew!

It can cover you for:

  • Basic activities and sports, like swimming
  • Different countries you might need to visit
  • Extended travel periods
  • Work or activities that you might be required to do as part of your volunteering responsibilities
  • Staying in isolated or non-touristy areas

What's covered by volunteer travel insurance?

Volunteer travel insurance usually includes the following:

  • Volunteering with animals: A volunteer travel insurance policy typically covers work with most animals. But if you’re going to be volunteering with wild animals, you might need to get a specialist policy. Read the policy terms and conditions before buying to make sure you're covered.
  • Volunteer work including manual labour: Volunteer insurance often covers manual labour. But if an insurer deems the work to be 'high-risk', it might not be covered in a standard policy. If this is the case, you may need to take out additional cover.
  • Cancellations, delays, and curtailment: This applies if airlines or hotels cancel your flights or accommodation. Or if you need to cancel your trip or come home early for an unexpected reason.
  • Medical and repatriation costs: If you needed medical treatment while traveling, it is covered. Or, if you needed to travel back to the UK for treatment, that is covered too.

What's not typically covered by volunteer travel insurance?

Volunteer travel insurance typically excludes the following:

  • Adventure cover: You’ll likely need to take out extra cover if you plan to do extreme sports and activities.
  • Incidents that occur under the influence: You won’t be able to claim for illness, injury, or death while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
  • Illegal or malicious acts: If you partake in illegal or malicious behaviour, such as breaking the law, you won’t be able to make a claim.
  • Travelling against government advice: If the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) advises against travel to a certain region or area, you may not be able to make a claim if something goes wrong. To avoid this, check the current FCDO travel advice before you travel.
  • Undeclared medical conditions: If you don’t declare a pre-existing medical condition and you need treatment while abroad, your insurer won’t cover the cost.
  • Not going because you’ve changed your mind: If you don’t go on your volunteering trip because you’ve decided you no longer want to go.

What our travel insurance expert says

“Volunteering can be rewarding. But things like flight cancellations or medical emergencies can happen unexpectedly. That’s why having travel insurance is important. It helps cover you when things go wrong, so you can enjoy your trip with peace of mind.

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

Can I extend my travel insurance if I want to volunteer longer than I planned?

Yes, it’s possible.

Get in touch with your insurance provider if you decide that you want to volunteer for longer. Some insurers may allow you to extend your policy. But, you'll need to contact them before it expires.

If you're unsure whether you’ll need to extend your insurance, consider taking out cover for longer than you currently need. That way, you’ll have an additional length of time covered if you need to take it. Sorted!

Will my volunteer organisation have employers' liability insurance?

This all depends on the volunteer organisation you've selected.

An employer's liability insurance can cover you if you accidentally injure someone or their property. It only applies while you’re working for a company or organisation.

Here in the UK it's a legal requirement, but this isn't always the case elsewhere. The best thing to do is to find out what cover your volunteer organisation provides.

If you discover they don’t offer employers’ liability cover, there's no need to worry. It just means that you may need to take out your own policy.

Can I get volunteer travel insurance if I have a pre-existing medical condition?

Yes, you can get volunteer travel insurance if you have a pre-existing health condition. But you’ll need to make sure that you declare them during your quote process.

Not all providers may be willing to offer you travel cover if you've got a pre-existing condition. Those that do offer cover, might only do so at a higher price.

It’s important to declare any pre-existing conditions you have. If you don’t make your provider aware, you’ll run the risk of invalidating your cover. This means that if you need treatment for it while you’re abroad, your insurer may not pay the expenses.

If you have a serious medical condition, you may need more tailored cover. MoneyHelper has a directory of providers who may be able to help.

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