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Pre-existing medical conditions

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Heading off on a gap year abroad can be an incredibly exciting time in your life, but as well as picking the countries you're planning to visit, and the activities you want to try, you also need to spend a little time ensuring you've got the right cover in place just in case anything should go wrong.

As a backpacker, you're likely to be away for an extended period of time, so you need to check your travel insurance policy covers you for the full duration of your trip.

While most standard travel policies restrict the length of the trip to just 30 days, many insurers now cater for the “adventurous traveller” market, offering dedicated student travel insurance or backpacker/gap year cover. So-called “long trip” travel insurance policies will usually offer you continuous comprehensive cover for breaks from three months up to a year - and some will cover you for even longer.

As a backpacker, be aware that relying on the annual family travel insurance policy may not be sufficient, as this may not provide adequate cover for the activities you want to engage in, or the destinations you want to visit.

Equally, don't make the mistake of thinking the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) will cover the costs of you getting home if you fall ill - or that the UK government will pick up the bill if something goes wrong. Using a comparison site , you can see how the various dedicated backpacker insurance policies on offer stack up, as costs and deals will vary considerably.

And remember, that while cheap cover may seem appealing, you must check the policy offers the right level of cover for your needs.

As a general rule, you should consider the following levels of cover as a minimum:

  • £2m for medical expenses
  • £1m personal liability
  • £3,000 cancellation - or enough to cover the total cost of your holiday
  • £1,500 baggage
  • £250 for cash
  • Policy excesses under £100
  • Cover for scheduled airline failure and end supplier failure if you are not travelling on an ATOL backed package holiday
  • Delay cover (e.g. £20/hour for first 12 hours).

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