Travel plans can change. You can fall in love with a person or a place, you can find the dream job in the dream location or you can simply decide that living out of a backpack is something you want to do for that little bit longer.
The ability to make such spontaneous decisions is a key reason why we all love to travel. However, deciding to extend your time overseas can lead to complications with one of the more dull, yet vital elements, to life on the road - your travel insurance. Why?
- Most insurers do not allow you to renew an expiring policy whilst you're still travelling.
- Most require you to be physically in the UK (or your home country) to purchase a new travel policy.
- Few insurers allow you to purchase a policy once you've started your trip which means, if you've forgotten to buy it and have already left, your options are severely limited.
Read on to find out how we found an affordable solution to keep ourselves insured when we were already travelling.
insurance when your adventure's already started
Before we started this two year trip through Latin America, we were only able to secure a non-renewable 18 month travel insurance policy; anything longer simply wasn't available. This meant that, further down the road, we knew we would have to find a company who would insure us whilst we were out of the UK.
Given the reasons listed above, we knew that would be difficult. We were also dreading that any policy we could purchase was going was going to take a big chunk out of our already dwindling travel fund.
However, we're big proponents of the philosophy that those who can't afford travel insurance can't afford to travel, and continuing exploring Latin America without any protection was not something we were ever going to do. For any aspiring digital nomad or long-term traveller anywhere in the world, we would recommend subscribing to the exact same philosophy.
the two main options
Andrew spent a morning researching our options. Across travel forums, two recommendations for people in our position kept on popping up: World Nomads and True Traveller.
We were already aware of World Nomads because they're well respected and publicised in and amongst the travel community. But we were also well aware that insuring with them costs more than alternatives; this was the main factor for not buying a policy with them before we left on our two-year trip. Striking the right balance between coverage and cost is a key consideration for everyone and, whilst the coverage offered by World Nomads is comprehensive for backpackers and travellers, it unfortunately costs more than we were willing to pay or consider good value.
So, we investigated True Traveller, a UK based company. They would also allow us to buy a policy whilst out of the UK, when we were already travelling and didn't have a return ticket, so it was catered to long term travellers in our situation . In contrast to World Nomads, we were happy that we didn't have to select each individual country we may visit (our plans are never that set), but rather just select the region of travel (i.e. Worldwide excluding US & Canada).
Secondly, the policy was incredibly good value, around 30% cheaper than what World Nomads offered us. We were both surprised that insuring ourselves for the last 6 months of the trip would cost under £140 each; we had been expecting to pay at least £200 for a half-decent policy.
They also offered flexibility in the type of coverage we could purchase. We selected the basic 'True Value' policy which gave us appropriate levels of coverage for the low frequency, high severity risks we are most concerned about, namely Medical Expenses and Repatriation (£3 million limit) and Personal Liability (£2 million limit). You are able to purchase additional elements of cover (such as baggage, electrical items or high risk activities) on top of the basic policy to make it more relevant to your trip and your risks, with a clear breakdown of the additional cost of each element of cover given so you can create a bespoke policy within your budget.
After comparing the two policy wordings and varying limits on offer from both companies, and factoring in price, we opted to insure with True Traveller. It was a huge relief to find a company which would provide us good, affordable insurance coverage whilst we were already travelling - the rest of our trip could continue safe in the knowledge that we had some protection behind us.
If you're in the same situation as us - or are already on your trip but didn't purchase travel insurance before you left - we'd recommend starting with a quote from True Traveller (click here to visit their website.)
further reading on travel + insurance
Confused about travel insurance? Don't know the difference between an excess and a limit? We've written a guide on how to avoid mistakes or misunderstandings when purchasing a travel insurance policy - read it here.
An experience on the rail tracks of the Sacred Valley in Peru left us relieved we were insured and vaccinated - find out exactly why you should be too here.
Want to know how to prevent and deal with some of the most common medical problems on the road? Start off with our guide to creating your own first aid kit.
We'd recommend checking out True Traveller for affordable travel coverage for short or long-term backpacker trips, and particularly if you are looking to buy insurance or renew after you've already left the UK - but remember to always read the policy wording and cover details prior to purchase to ensure the policy is suitable for you and your own adventure.
Please note that we receive a small commission for policies purchased through our link to True Traveller. We purchased our policy with them prior to any commercial relationship and this is why we are recommending them to other travellers. Thankfully, we haven't had to claim on this policy but will update you on the experience and outcome if and when this occurs.