Don't think you are the exception to the rule. Backpackers need travel insurance too; but the coverage needed may be very different from a traditional cruiser or resort traveler. For instance, you may be more concerned about coverage for personal belongings or identity theft.
Some backpackers may think that their nomadic tendencies would make travel insurance impossible for their trip – but think again. Not only is it possible, but it’s extremely important. Travel insurance can address many of your travel concerns and allow you to stay worry-free throughout your trip.
What if your trip is delayed or interrupted?
A comprehensive travel insurance plan will include coverage for both travel delay and trip interruption. If you have planned your backpacking trip down to the minute detail, travel delay coverage may be a good friend of yours. Whether you are taking a flight, a train or a bus to your next destination, a travel delay due to a covered reason may be reimbursable by filing a claim. Typically, this will include payments made for accommodations or food if the delay meets the minimum requirement listed in the plan.
If you must end your trip early due to an emergency at home, a travel insurance plan (all comprehensive plans and some travel medical plans) will provide a level of coverage to help in the event you must interrupt your trip - for a covered reason, of course. While every plan is different, in most cases you can expect reimbursement for your unused pre-paid, non-refundable trip cost and, possibly, any extra fees to change your return trip home.
What if your belongings are stolen?
As a rule, if you are backpacking through a country (or several), you are carrying all of your belongings with you. This could mean you’re hopping from hostel to hostel or a new hotel in each city. Either way, you are taking a risk that your personal belongings may be stolen.
With a comprehensive travel insurance plan, you would be covering the loss of your baggage and personal items. Most plans provide a level of coverage for lost or stolen baggage. If you are particularly concerned about specific items, you can look for a plan that offers optional, additional coverage for those items.
You may also be concerned about the consequences if your credit card or ID is stolen while you are traveling. Travelers are often times prime targets for pick-pockets and thieves; the right travel insurance plan can offer assistance services that help in the event your personal information is stolen.
This is unique in that it doesn't involve any kind of reimbursement. It's a service that helps you monitor and resolve issues that may arise due to identy theft. Reimbursement of any funds you've lost would be handled through the appropriate banks or financial institutions once the assistance company registers your identity theft claim.
What if you need medical care while traveling?
Unforunately, your nomadic ways are openning yourself up to certain risks - like germs at hostels, injuries from adventure activities or spending a lot of time on your feet.
Although you may have a primary health insurance plan back home, it may not cover you fully while you are traveling abroad. For this reason, you may want to consider a travel insurance plan that also includes travel medical coverage and emergency evacuation. Travel medical insurance will help to close the gaps in your primary health insurance, thus helping to reimburse you for covered medical bills accrued abroad.
Emergency medical evacuation coverage will help to ensure you are being cared for by the best medical facility for your condition in your area. Some comprehensive plans and travel medical plans include a “hospital of choice” benefit, which will allow you to choose which hospital you would like to be transferred to if necessary. Of course, being transferred to another facility is not usually your decision, but instead that of the travel insurance company and your attending physician.
Lastly, many travel insurance plans include Accidental Death & Dismemberment coverage. Although it can be extremely difficult to think about needing coverage if you should die or become maimed, sometimes you must. Accidental Death benefits are paid out to your beneficiary for the pre-determined amount on the plan - much like traditional life insurance. Dismemberment coverage would allow you to place a claim for compensation based on the loss of limb or other covered dismembering event.
What else are you forgetting?
There is a lot to remember when you are traveling. Travel insurance can help to fill these holes when it comes to your safety. For instance, if you are planning on taking part in adventure sport activities while traveling, you definitely want to look into a travel insurance plan that includes a hazardous sports rider. This could make the difference in whether you are covered for any potiential medical care because of this activity.
Also, if you are renting a car while abroad, you may want to consider a comprehensive travel insurance plan that has the option for rental car collision coverage. While not all car rental companies will honor this coverage, many will. Be sure to talk to your rental car company prior to purchasing the additional coverage.