The main benefit of any holiday insurance policy is the peace of mind that comes with knowing you are protected against a variety of situations beyond your control...
Heading off on a gap year? You could soon be surfing in Australia, dancing at full moon parties in Thailand and swinging through the jungle in South America.
Alternatively, you could find yourself working for a charity abroad, doing an internship to get experience in your chosen field, or joining the crew of a sailing ship. Whatever floats your gap year boat, the world is out there waiting for you to explore!
And whatever you choose to do, you’re likely to be away longer than 31 days. That’s why gap year insurance, which will cover you for 12 months in a variety of places around the world rather than limiting you to 31 days of travel like most standard policies, is the perfect travel partner.
Many policies are tailored to the needs of gap year travellers, with inbuilt protection for popular experiences such as working abroad, volunteering and adventure activities.
What’s more, most comprehensive policies will give you access to a 24-hour manned telephone line that could be a massive help should things go wrong.
Just be sure to choose the right gap year policy for your needs.
Follow our advice on what to look out for when comparing policies and find the right one for your needs...
It is really important to do some planning before you set off on a gap year – both to make the most of your time and to ensure your insurance will provide the necessary protection.
Some insurers, for example, won't allow you to take a trip back home to the UK for the duration of the policy. So, if there are any weddings coming up, or you are thinking of a quick jaunt back for Christmas, you might need to look for a different policy.
Check too how many days you can stay in the UK without invalidating your cover if trips home are allowed.
And if there is an activity on your wish list, make sure your cover includes it. Gap year policies will generally cover you for a certain number of adventure sports. But certain sports, such as scuba diving, are not always covered as standard. If you find this is the case then speak to your insurance company and see if you can add it on for an extra charge.
Finally, if you want to get a taste of working abroad, check that this is allowed under your policy terms. Paid and unpaid work is often covered, typically for up to 12 months. But always double check that the specific job you are doing is included, especially if it involves manual labour.
When comparing policies it is vital to read the details of the policy before buying...
All insurance policies are different. That’s why it is essential to always read the small print to find out exactly what you are covered for. There are different levels of insurance, but here at TravelSupermarket, we recommend you check that your cover includes at least:
Remember too that while gap year insurance usually covers you for around 12 months, there will be a limit on the length of time you can spend in each separate country. So make sure your policy fits your individual plans, as even one extra day in a location could see an abrupt end to your fun if something went wrong.
Follow our guidance to avoid invalidating your policy while you travel...
If you have a pre-existing medical condition – even a minor one – it is vital you tell your insurer about it. Not doing so could invalidate your cover if you were to become ill and require treatment, even if the treatment required is for a seemingly unrelated illness. Insurance companies can request access to your medical files, so make sure you are honest from the start. If in doubt, ring your insurer for advice.
If you think there is the possibility that you may get hooked on travelling and extend your trip while you are away, make sure you get a policy with a longer duration of cover, or one that allows you to delay your return. Otherwise, your protection will run out while you are still away.
Keep an eye out for clauses around alcohol and drugs, how you store and care for your personal possessions, documents and money, and any activities that may be excluded from your policy.
Finally, if you are travelling to more exotic countries, always ensure you abide by Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) guidance for the countries you are visiting. Ignoring this advice can also render your policy invalid.
Things to consider when looking for the right policy for you...
You're probably trying to save money where you can so you have more to spend globetrotting. But gap year travel insurance really isn't something you should scrimp on.
Simply going for the cheapest policy may result in you having only a minimum level of cover. Often, it also means having to pay a high excess – the amount you must pay towards any claim – which could even prevent you continuing with a claim.
More mature travellers should also check that their gap year insurance covers people in their age group. Many policies impose an upper age limit – usually around 35.
Finally, make sure your policy actually covers the countries you are planning on visiting. Places experiencing war or political unrest are not usually covered, so always check with your insurer if you change your plans.