If youíre going to head off to far-flung places itís inevitable Ė youíre going to need backpacking insurance. Like any insurance, itís unlikely youíll actually use it; but it provides peace of mind for the duration of your backpacking trip Ė and is there if you get in a fix far from home.

Most backpacker insurance policies cover all your basic needs: health insurance, possessions coverage, personal liability and trip cancellation. Some, such as World Nomads, include extra coverage for outdoor activities in the basic price.

The important thing to note is that backpacking insurance policies can vary greatly in both coverage and cost. The cheapest is not necessarily the worst - it could match your needs well. The secret is to choose a policy (sadly, that means at least reading summaries of coverage, and even wordy insurance documents) that fits your travels best.

Below I have provided a short review of three of the most popular backpacker insurance policies, categorised by the type of traveller they might be most suited to. This should give you a starting point in your search.

Best General Backpacking Policy

World Nomads (Worldwide)
The market leader in backpacking policies, World Nomads offer a comprehensive all-round package, including basic possessions coverage, health and emergency cover, and personal liability insurance. What sets them apart, though, is the extra they provide, with many typical backpacker activities included in the basic policy. They also allow you to separately insure items of value (up to £450, or $900) for a small extra premium - good for those travelling with camcorders, an SLR or a cheap laptop. Without such extra cover, the maximum payout for a lost or damaged item for most backpacking policies is a paltry £150 ($300). World Nomads are certainly not the cheapest around, but they are my insurer of choice; I've used them four times now, having made three successful claims in the process without a single hitch.

Best For Travellers With Laptops

JS Insurance (UK citizens only)
Not a big name brand like World Nomads, but what sets JS Insurance apart from the others is its laptop insurance policy. If youíve decided to set off with a spanking new laptop, you can insure it for its full value with JS Insurance for a premium that works out at around 10% of its cost. Speaking as someone who managed to break a laptop screen by having an overpacked backpack, it comes recommended for those travelling with a laptop.

Best For Travellers On A Shoestring

24 7 Travel Insurance (UK citizens only)
I would advise against choosing a backpacker insurance policy solely on cost, but for those for looking for something cheap, you might want to start your search with 24/7 Travel Insurance. They seem to undercut most other popular backpacker policies by some margin, and even have a comparison page dedicated to how much cheaper they are than the rest. Another cheapie but goodie is InsureandGo; from the chart on the 24/7 website, they are very competitive, so it's worth getting a quote with them too. Be sure and use this insure and go promotional code as that might even drive the cost of your quote below that of 247. However, one final reminder: all policies are not created equally. Comparing cost is not sufficient to find the "best value" policy. You should also compare levels of cover - that means reading the smallprint, sadly - and see which policies suit you. Once you have a shortlist, then you can choose the cheapest from it :)

Last Updated: September 2009
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