in the hammock at Casa Elemento

Long term travel insurance 2018 update

Finding backpackers insurance has been the most difficult travel planning task so far. I left Andrew the task of researching and buying our long term travel insurance while he was on autumn school holidays and I was at work.  He found a great deal, a £253 year-long policy! That’s one more task crossed off the list, or so I thought…

Us wearing a coffee and cacao mask after our tour at Finca La Candelaria, Minca, Colombia

2018 travel insurance update

Since writing this initial article in 2013, we’ve used a number of long term travel insurance providers including Globelink, Explorer, Admiral and OUL Direct. If you’re looking for Globelink International reviews, we used the company for 15 months and had no problems with them, the customer service was very good and the price fair (£576 for two people). Luckily, we never had to make a claim so we can’t comment on the process.

We also bought additional travel insurance from World Nomads when trekking to Everest Base Camp. This cost £175 for two people for 15 days of hiking at altitude. Fortunately, we’ve never had to claim on our travel insurance yet, but we still make sure to check the small print carefully. Check out how we select travel insurance below.

Our currently policy for travelling in South America for 230 days is from Explorer Travel Insurance. It gives us £5 million medical cover including repatriation costs, £750 baggage cover, £125 passport cover and £1m personal liability cover. The total cost is £190 for two people. We also still use Photoguard for extra cover for our electronics, this now costs about £80 per year. In addition, we have a £10 per month insurance policy with PC World to cover Amy’s Macbook too.

Us feeling much better on the way down from Everest Base Camp

We got extra insurance for trekking in Nepal

Always read the small print

Flash back to 2013: It was only when I sat down to write this post that I actually started reading the small print of our contract. It said: ‘This policy is not valid for one way trips’. Considering that we don’t have return tickets to the UK, that means ours wouldn’t be covered. To make matters worse, by the time I discovered this it was already long past the cooling-off period during which we could get a full refund, so we stood to lose £253 of our hard-earned travel savings. Fortunately, after much scolding from me about not bothering to read the small print, Andrew managed to get a hold of the company. After some begging, he miraculously wrangled a full refund. Lucky for him is all I can say.

What to look for in the best long term travel insurance

So, back to square one and hours of searching online, comparing policies, calling companies and slowly loosing our minds. Here’s the thing about backpacking travel insurance:

  • Most policies don’t allow you to make claims when you’re actually travelling, you have to wait until you return home to do that.
  • Even so called long term travel insurance policies require that you have a return ticket home booked, or you at least need to be able to prove that you intend to return to your home country (with a letter of employment, for example).
  • Most policies don’t cover many of your valuables. Typically, insurance policies offer around £1,500 baggage cover, with a single item value limit of around £150 and a total valuable limit of around £200.

So, what’s the best backpacker travel insurance for us?

In the end we only found two companies which would allow us to make claims while abroad and to travel without intending to return home at the end of the policy. Here are the details based on 12 months’ cover:

 World Nomads  Globelink International
Countries coveredWorldwideWorldwide
Medical cover (excess)£3,000,000 (£100)£5,000,000 (£40)
Baggage cover (excess)£1,250 (£75)£1,000 (£40)
Single item limit£100£150
Valuables limit£400£150
Policy cost per person£462.39
Policy cost for a couple£923£441 

*Figures are sourced from the respective companies

Although we’ve heard rave reviews about World Nomads, which is the only real nomad travel insurance company out there, we decided not to go with them. While we don’t expect to get extremely cheap backpacker travel insurance, we think that they’re just too expensive, especially considering their policy wouldn’t even cover our electronics.

Globelink International Travel Insurance, on the other hand, isn’t as well known but costs less than half the price of World Nomads. In fact, the Globelink excess is also much cheaper and they actually offer more medical cover. The only problem we can foresee is that they can only cover us for a total time period of 18 months. After that  we’ll be classed as permanent travellers and will need private travel insurance. World Nomads, in comparison, allow you to continue extending your policy.

In the end, we chose to go for 15 months’ cover (the most you can get online) with Globelink. We’ll extend this to 18 when we’re on the road. So, the total cost of our travel insurance, for two people for 15 months is £576.

* We’ve been told that Globelink no longer allow one-way trips on their policies, so maybe World Nomads is the way to go now.

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Travel insurance for our electronics

All sorted now? Not quite. We still needed additional insurance to cover our travel laptop, camera, phones and Kindles while we’re travelling. We took out additional gadget insurance to cover our electronics for 12 months with PhotoGuard, this cost us £48.

*The information in this article is based on our own personal research. Please do your own before you take out any travel insurance. Please also bear in mind that we are from England, therefore we don’t have private medical insurance because we’re covered by the National Health Service. Let us know in the comments below what long term travel insurance you use. 

  • Patti
    Posted at 21:58h, 18 December Reply

    Thanks for posting this, lots of good info. I’m tucking it away for future extended travel plans. For our trip to Paris we just purchased trip insurance, that will cover us while in Paris. But, it’s just for this one trip so will definitely need more for later travels.

    • Amy
      Posted at 22:02h, 18 December Reply

      Hi Patti, longer term travel insurance is really tricky to find and expensive to buy – I’m glad that I can check this task off my travel planning list; just have to find the gadget insurance now *sigh*.

  • Shane
    Posted at 18:58h, 19 December Reply

    I’ll be taking a look at Globelink otherwise this is one of those tasks that might go in the ‘oh, that wasn’t important anyway’ folder if we don’t get something arranged soon.

    • Amy
      Posted at 09:41h, 20 December Reply

      Hi Shane, Globelink are pretty cheap and helpful. Actually yesterday we got another insurance recommendation from the guys at Never Ending Voyage – they use a company called True Traveller Insurance. They seem like another pretty good option – I’ll have to update this article to reflect that.

  • Steph (@ 20 Years Hence)
    Posted at 08:59h, 23 December Reply

    Ugh, searching for LT travel insurance is the absolute worst, especially because it’s the thing you hope you’ll pay for and then never have to use! It was doubly bad for us as Tony & I have different citizenship, which meant we had to do double the research. In the end, we also opted to forego World Nomads, because although they are the popular, well-publicized choice, we too found they were far pricier than other companies we dug up with a little digging. Sounds like you guys are definitely on the right track (though we never could find a decent policy to cover our electronics, etc.,) & I am glad to read that you are getting insurance rather than just crossing your fingers and hoping nothing bad happens!

    • Amy
      Posted at 12:02h, 23 December Reply

      Hi Steph, I’m far too paranoid to go away without insurance and far too stingy to pay World Nomads steep prices! We are still really struggling to find electronics cover too; are just relying on cover from your main insurance policies then?

      • Steph (@ 20 Years Hence)
        Posted at 03:59h, 26 December Reply

        Our electronics are the one thing we just don’t have any coverage for, save for whatever minimal (and insufficient) policies we had! We couldn’t find anything that would cover theft/loss in any substantial way, so we have just had to be vigilant about our belongings and that has been working out. It’s not ideal, but we couldn’t find any better solution.

        • Amy
          Posted at 14:40h, 26 December Reply

          Ah I see, we are still searching for ours – Photoguard insurance is a possibility, we’re hoping that being vigilant will go along way to keeping our stuff safe too.

  • Gem
    Posted at 18:21h, 21 January Reply

    Thanks for a great review of things. I was worried about my IPad and found with True Traveller I could add it on and get it insured for up to £450! Awesome! Couldn’t find this anywhere else, so thanks for posting this!

    • Andrew
      Posted at 19:42h, 21 January Reply

      Hi Gem, glad you found it useful – happy travels!

  • Vikki
    Posted at 20:53h, 10 June Reply

    I’m having the exact same problem! Been trawling the internet without joy apart from world nomads which is so expensive! Gonna check out globelink international now. Thanks for the info!

    • Amy
      Posted at 12:19h, 11 June Reply

      Hey Vikki, definitely check out Globelink, just don’t forget that they probably won’t cover all your electronics so get some extra insurance for those.

  • Steph
    Posted at 17:48h, 19 August Reply

    Amazing, I’ve been doing rounds of Internet for months trying to find something with this exact problem! Why is it so hard to find, it’s not exactly unprecedented that people will want to travel long term with their gadgets…or am I missing something? Going to look up how much to cover camera with photo guard now, hopefully ipad, kindle, iPod will be covered by other stuff. Even more, hopefully I don’t need to use it. Photo guard only does cameras, right?

    • Andrew
      Posted at 14:14h, 20 August Reply

      Glad you’ve found it useful Steph! I think there is some small print in the photo guard contract that says that you laptop must be used in some way to store/edit/upload the photos you take. Best check the small print first. It may include iPhones and iPads if you’re using them for lots of pictures. The staff were helpful when we called with any questions. We haven’t had to think about our insurance so far, let’s hope we don’t have to at all!

  • Rita
    Posted at 15:32h, 26 October Reply

    great post here guys! im leaving travelling in a few weeks and still struggling with finding a decent gardet insurer (for my camera, laptop, kindle and phone). just a quick question about electronics insurance. does photoguard cover laptops, phones, cameras and kindles? isn’t it just cameras? also it seems that minimum cost for a year if travelling worldwide is £86 and if just UK its £48. your advice would be appreciated.

    • Andrew
      Posted at 15:57h, 26 October Reply

      We only use Photoguard for our camera and laptop, you can insure your laptop with their policies if it is used for storing, editing or doing anything else to your photos. It mentions it in their FAQ’s. Our equipment value is £620 (camera and laptop) and they quoted us at the time £48 including worldwide cover. The policy wording is quite specific so have a good read through before you buy anything. Our travel insurance had/has the option of adding individual items onto the insurance, perhaps that could cover your phone and kindle? Again, it’s always best to read the terms and conditions before you buy anything, you may spot something that we missed!

  • Nomadic Boys
    Posted at 12:30h, 04 April Reply

    Thanks for the advice guys. We are trying to get this sorted now (and need to to get our Russian Visa).

    The best we could find was Insure and Go who for around £400 offer no excess, cover trekking over Everest heights (5.5m), scuba to 50m and have cover for valuables (phone, laptop and camera) – up to £2k overall claim, £1k per item.

    Cheaper ones like Alpha Insurance and the Globelink don’t have the Valuables (phone, camera, laptop) cover. Finding a gadget add who will cover long periods of time abroad is hard! Our only problem with Photoguard is they do not cover phones!

    Did you play around with Insure and Go out of interest as we’re still getting my head around the fine print?

    • Amy
      Posted at 12:44h, 04 April Reply

      Hi guys, I know shopping for long-term travel insurance is such a pain! We have used Insure and Go for a short trip to Kenya a few years ago but we didn’t consider them for long-term insurance for some reason; it sounds like a good policy though. Do you have an open-ended travel ticket? If so, did you check whether Insure and Go require you to have a return ticket to make a claim? This was the main problem with many of the policies we checked out. Since our phones are old and we only use them for music we didn’t bother covering them; all our other gadgets were covered through a combination of Globelink and Photoguard.

  • Dan
    Posted at 11:38h, 31 August Reply

    Hi there,

    Do you still recommend the same back pack insurers or do you now use different companies? We are looking for 12-15 months cover, Australia, Vietnam etc. with possibly one or two return trips to the UK.

    • Amy
      Posted at 16:33h, 31 August Reply

      Hi Dan, no, we tend to use different insurers now including Explorer, Admiral and now OUL, whichever is best for our trip. For your trip, because you’re doing return trips to the UK, you may need separate travel insurance policies for each time you leave as some insurers consider returning to the UK the end of your policy, so check the small print. I think the best policy to be honest is with World Nomads, as they do year-long multi-trip policies and specialise in offering insurance for long-term travellers. We used them for our recent trek in Nepal, they have a great reputation:

  • Sean O
    Posted at 17:00h, 08 April Reply

    Hi there, it seems that Globelink no longer cover one way trips.

    Here’s a line from their policy defining the word “Trip”:

    “Trip means any holiday, business or pleasure trip or journey made by you within the area of travel shown in the schedule which begins and ends in your home area or place of business during the period of insurance, but excluding one way trips or journey other than travellers from South Africa, Australia and New Zealand – returning home after living in the United Kingdom.”

    • Andrew Wyatt
      Posted at 21:58h, 10 April Reply

      Thanks for this Sean, looks like we were lucky back in 2013. We’ve made a note of this on the blog post.

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