Once the domain of students, the gap year has become popular with people of all ages and backgrounds.
There's a lot to think about when you head abroad for an extended adventure. Making sure you have the right travel insurance for your gap year before you go can put your mind at ease.
Why do I need gap year insurance?
Travel insurance is essential for any trip, but particularly when you're away for a long time.
We recommend buying your gap year travel insurance as soon as you make your first booking for travel, accommodation or an excursion. This way, you'll be covered financially if you have to cancel your trip.
What should gap year travel insurance cover?
Each insurance provider will have their own breakdown of exactly what's covered, but as a general rule of thumb, you should check you're insured for:
- Emergency medical expenses. These can include ambulance transport, stays in hospital, treatment and drugs
- Repatriation home if you're too unwell to continue your journey. This also covers you in the instance of death, where your body or ashes need to be flown home
- Lost, damaged and stolen possessions, including gadgets
- Cancellation costs if something happens so you can't travel, or if you need to cut your trip short
- All the activities and sports you plan to enjoy, in case you get injured
- All the countries you wish to visit, even if you're just passing through
What's different about gap year travel insurance?
Most standard travel insurance policies cater for short holidays, and provide insurance for up to 30 days or so. When you're away for a year or more, you need a policy that covers you for the entire length of your trip.
Gap year travel insurance covers you for at least a year and sometimes up to 18 months depending on the type of policy you have.
Some policies allow you to travel back to the UK for short stays, such as a visit back at Christmas. A standard travel insurance policy will usually end when you return to the UK, even if it's just for a visit. LV= travel insurance provides cover for single trips up to 366 days or 90 days if you're over 65, but will end as soon as you return to the UK.
You should also look out for policies that provide cover for all the activities you want to do. Perhaps you'll want to have a go at snowboarding or scuba diving, so check with your insurer if there are any restrictions or requirements. As some sports are more risky than others, you may only be covered if you're with a qualified instructor, stay within a certain area or depth or you may need to include additional cover on your policy, like winter sports.
What to double check before you buy gap year travel insurance
Insurance companies often put a maximum amount on the claim you can make for any one item. So if you have a phone worth £500 but the maximum claim for each item is £300, you could be out of pocket.
Also double check the cancellation insurance for your trip covers everything you plan to do, including pre-booked activities. Again, there may be a maximum amount you can claim for.
It's essential you tell the insurance company about any medical conditions you have. If you don't and you need to make a claim, the insurance company may not cover your medical costs if the claim is related in any way to a pre-existing condition.
Working and volunteering
Many travel insurance policies won't cover you for accidents that happen while you're doing manual work, either paid or unpaid, so check with your insurer before you start using that chainsaw or commence any voluntary jobs. LV= cover conservation and charity work as long as they don't involve any manual or any form of medical work (even at a medical care facility).
War and conflict
If the Foreign and Commonwealth Office has said not to travel to a country or region then you won't be insured as standard if you choose to go there. Check with your insurance company.
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