Last winter, I spent six months traveling around Southeast Asia. Before leaving, I daydreamed about golden temples, elephants, and all the pad thai I could eat. But I also worried about dengue fever, motorbike accidents, and stolen suitcases.
I knew what I needed to do. Before I left, I had to get travel insurance.
If you’re going on a long-term trip, travel insurance is a must. It covers medical costs, lost belongings, and emergency evacuation. For adventure travelers, there are even backpacker travel insurance plans that cover injuries from sports, like zip-lining in the jungles of Thailand.
If you want peace of mind during your travels, check out these top picks for cheap travel insurance.
Best cheap travel insurance for backpackers
1. Seven Corners
Seven Corners is popular with backpackers and adventure travelers because of its low prices. It has cheap travel insurance plans for outdoor enthusiasts, extreme sports adventurers, and even bikers.
Seven Corners offers a variety of coverage options. The Liaison International, Liaison Continent, and Liaison Majestic plans cover trips outside of the U.S.
To get a sense of rates, I got a quote for a single traveler heading to Thailand for a month. The plans cost only $27 to $35. The cheapest option covered up to $50,000 in medical coverage with a $250 deductible. Similarly, the Majestic plan covered up to $60,000 with the same deductible.
2. World Nomads
For my trip to Southeast Asia, I purchased a cheap travel insurance plan through World Nomads. The company has a streamlined, easy-to-use website where you can compare your options. You can sign up any time before or during your trip.
World Nomads insures you in case of an accident or sickness for up to $100,000, and it reimburses lost or stolen belongings up to $1,000 or $3,000. Plus, there’s an emergency assistance line with a multi-lingual team available 24/7.
Adventurers love World Nomads, since it covers over 150 activities. The Standard plan includes lots of activities, including the “running of the bulls.” If you prefer more daring sports, such as ice climbing and hot air ballooning, opt for the Explorer plan.
For a traveler spending a month in Thailand, the standard backpacker travel insurance plan cost $125 (the Explorer plan cost $181). Though World Nomads has higher prices than Seven Corners, many of its coverage options are more extensive.
3. Allianz Global Assistance
Allianz covers medical costs up to $10,000, $25,000, or $50,000, depending on the policy. You can buy a short-term budget travel insurance plan or get an annual one if you’re moving out of the country.
Allianz also has a useful mobile app that helps you locate nearby English-speaking emergency services. It offers the standard coverage options, with the exception of passport coverage. If you lose your passport, you’re on your own.
How do Allianz rates compare? For a month in Thailand, you’d pay somewhere around $91 for the Basic plan, $109 for the Classic plan, and $147 for the Classic with Trip+ plan.
RoamRight plans include trip cancellation and medical and evacuation coverage. There are three plan levels: Essential, Preferred, and Elite.
While backpackers like RoamRight for its low costs, adventure travelers won’t find a ton of coverage. Only the Elite plan covers sports injuries up to $1,000 for an additional $25.
For a month long trip to Thailand, you’d pay about $79 for the Essential plan, $95 for the Preferred plan, and $143 for the Elite plan.
5. Travel Guard
Travel Guard offers some of the most customizable travel insurance plans. It’s easy to build a policy that matches your specific needs. For instance, you can prioritize medical coverage, trip cancellation, emergency evacuation, or car rentals. Most plans cover trips up to $100,000.
For a month in Thailand, you’d pay about $74 for the Basic plan, $83 for the Silver plan, $102 for the Gold plan, and $149 for the Platinum plan.
6. Travelex Travel Insurance
Travelex offers two plan levels: Select and Max. These plans cover 150 percent of your trip in some instances — that means you’ll actually get money back if something goes wrong and you have to return home early.
This company is pricier than some of the others, but its coverage is extensive. If you’re an adventure traveler, you can purchase the Adventurer Plus Pak.
Because the plans only cover up to 180 days, Travelex isn’t the best option for long-term trips. Another downside is that the website is a bit clunky. You need to fill in a lot of personal details before you can get an initial quote.
I looked up a 25-year-old from Massachusetts for my hypothetical month-long trip to Thailand. The Select plan cost $144, and the Max plan cost $224.
Do you need backpacker travel insurance?
Ideally, you’ll never have to use your budget travel insurance. Your trip will be accident-free, and you won’t need to exercise any of the coverage options. If the worst does happen, though, you’ll appreciate the protection of a travel insurance plan.
I’d recommend getting travel insurance if you’re traveling for a month or longer. If you have specific medical needs, then insurance is also useful. Before purchasing, check to see if your regular insurance plan covers anything while you’re abroad.
Some credit cards also offer protection — the Chase Sapphire Preferred card, for instance, covers car rentals and trip delays.
No one wants to get into a situation where they have to use their travel insurance. If an emergency does come up, though, your insurance will save you from massive costs.
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