Travel insurance is essential for any trip abroad. Although it’s unlikely that anything will go wrong, it’s important to be covered as a serious accident or illness could end up costing you a fortune. For the past five years we’ve been using True Traveller insurance which is the best backpacker insurance we’ve found.
True Traveller insurance is only available for UK and EU residents, so if you’re from somewhere else we recommend World Nomads instead—more details on that below.
Here’s why we think True Traveller is the best long term travel insurance.
True Traveller was originally an adventure travel company—their policies are designed by travellers for travellers and it shows. They offer a flexibility that other insurance companies don’t and show a real understanding of the needs of backpackers and long-term travellers. With True Traveller you can:
- Buy travel insurance when you are already travelling – This is very rare as most insurance companies require you to be in your home country at the time of purchase. It’s ideal if you forget to buy insurance or your policy expires and you need to renew.
- Travel with a one-way ticket – Unlike most insurance companies, True Traveller covers you if you don’t know when you’ll be returning home (as we never do) and don’t have a return ticket.
- Get cover for a range of adventure activities – Whether you’ll be horse riding, scuba diving, snowboarding, trekking, volunteering, or working on a gap year, True Traveller covers you. You can choose which of their three activity packs is right for you—the Traveller Pack covers 91 activities and is included as standard.
- Choose the cover you really need – This can dramatically reduce the cost of your policy (see below).
If you are heading off on a long trip, you can buy a backpacker insurance policy for up to 18 months (and extend it if needed).
Although True Traveller insurance is ideal for long-term travellers, it’s great for short trips too. You can purchase cover for a single trip or potentially save money with an Annual Multi Trip policy which is valid for unlimited trips throughout the year, for up to 30 days (True Value) or 70 days (Traveller).
True Traveller insurance is the best value travel insurance we’ve found. This is because they allow you to tailor the policy to suit you. You can choose the most basic medical insurance or add extras like baggage, electronics, cancellation, extreme adventure activities, and winter sports cover. This keeps costs down as you only buy what you really need.
Getting a True Traveller Quote
True Traveller offers three policies: True Value (the cheapest, for backpackers and travellers under 40), Traveller (their most popular policy), and Traveller Plus (with enhanced medical and cancellation cover). They can not insure people who are over 65 years old.
It’s very easy to get a quote on the homepage of the True Traveller website. Below is the quote I got—£300.12 for a one year True Value worldwide policy (including the US).
If you exclude the US and Canada, you will save a considerable amount—£50 on this quote. On trips over six months, you can spend 14 days in the US without paying extra.
You can see the different levels of coverage above. Traveller and Traveller Plus offer higher levels of coverage and smaller excesses (the amount you pay of any claim). We usually choose the basic True Value policy as our main concern is medical expenses and repatriation and £2.5 million cover is plenty.
I recommend paying slightly more—about £40 a year on my quote—to reduce the excess to £0. We have not done this before, but in the past year we both went to the doctors and ended up spending over £100 each so this would have saved us money.
You can then choose to add an Activity Pack, but for us the Traveller Pack that is included is enough. It covers activities that we sometimes do like horse riding, motorcycling (under 125cc), kayaking, cycling, white water rafting, sailing, surfing, and lots more. You can also add winter sports cover.
For the True Value policy baggage isn’t automatically included but you can add it. We don’t bother as it only includes valuables up to £200 total (£100 per item) and our non-electronic items aren’t worth much.
You can also choose to add electronics separately, but the value limit of £450 per item (or £750 with Traveller Plus) is not enough for our laptops and camera. Unfortunately, we haven’t found a good option for long-term worldwide electronics insurance, so our items are uninsured and we make sure we have enough savings to replace them.
If you decide to travel for longer, you can easily extend your True Traveller policy (before the expiry date) and get a 10% discount. Even if you let your policy expire while abroad you can purchase a new one by ticking the “already travelling” box.
Easy Claims Process
The real test of any insurance is how easy it is to make a claim. Last year I had to make my first claim with True Traveller and was pleased to discover that the process was simple and quick.
To make a claim you have to download the claim form from their website and return it within 60 days of the incident. Make sure you keep any receipts and doctor or police reports.
I had to visit the doctor in Bali on two occasions about ongoing stomach problems and they did various tests to find out what was wrong and prescribed antibiotics. The total cost wasn’t a huge amount over my £125 excess, but it was worth putting in a claim anyway. As I said above, in future I will pay a little extra to reduce the excess to zero.
The claims form was a little intimidating at first, but it was straightforward once I started and it didn’t take long to fill out. As I was still travelling I was able to send the form by email along with scanned copies of the doctor’s report and receipt and my certificate of insurance. Scanning was easy with the Notes app on our iPhone or you could just take a photo.
Claims are supposed to take up to 10 working days but two days later I received an email saying my claim had been processed and a day later the money was in my bank account.
I was impressed by how easy and quick making a claim was. I was also pleased that they hadn’t quibbled over the fact that the doctor had got my date of birth wrong on my report. My claim was a small one, so much larger claims may be more difficult, but True Traveller has excellent reviews on Trust Pilot and I feel confident continuing to use them.
World Nomads: The Best Alternative to True Traveller for Non-EU Citizens
If you are not from Europe, the best alternative to True Traveller we have found is World Nomads. We used them on our year-long round the world trip in 2008 and the only reason that we no longer do is that they are more expensive than True Traveller.
The trip that I used as an example above would cost £425 with World Nomads for their cheapest Standard plan, £125 more expensive than True Traveller. You also can’t reduce the excess (£100 for medical expenses). That said, World Nomads coverage is more extensive, so if you need the extras (higher medical coverage etc.), they are a good option and it’s always worth getting a quote.
World Nomads has many of the same benefits as True Traveller. You can purchase a policy while travelling, you don’t need a return ticket, they cover adventurous activities, and you can make claims online. We have many friends who use them and they get excellent reviews and are considered by many to be the best travel insurance for backpackers.
Get a True Traveller Insurance Quote
If you are from Europe I highly recommend True Traveller insurance. Their website is really easy to use and you can play around with the different options to find the most affordable cover that meets your needs.
Which backpacker travel insurance do you recommend? Have you made any claims with True Traveller or World Nomads? We’d love to hear about your experiences—leave a comment below.