Gap year insurance

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When young people are planning their Gap year travels, insurance is often the last thing on their minds. They would much rather spend their time researching their routes and save their money for a bungee jump. Ironically, although they may be the fittest and healthiest group of travellers, they often partake in high-risk activity or venture so far off the beaten track that should disaster strike, their families will be faced with a gargantuan bill for medical costs and repatriation. There is no safety net such as the NHS abroad, and many countries charge huge amounts for medical care. The US is the most expensive destination, with an intensive care bed costing £2000 a day and an air ambulance £15,000.

71% of travellers do not consider travel insurance to be an essential and estimates of those Gap year students who do not bother to purchase it, vary between 1 in 3 and 1 in 5. Those who do have insurance frequently fail to read the small print and find when making a claim, that the cover was not appropriate for their needs. For instance an annual multi-trip policy will not normally suffice since it rarely covers trips of longer than 30 days duration. Even if your Gap "year" is not 12 months you should still be able to find a policy to suit you. American Express will cover you for 3, 6, 9, 12, 15, or 18 months either worldwide or excluding North America.

Many policies specifically exclude high-risk activities or charge extra and the policy's definition of high-risk should be carefully investigated. Often it is not only activities such as sky-diving, scuba-diving, bungee jumping and white-water rafting that are excluded but more sedate pastimes such as horse riding.

Make sure that you know exactly how to contact your insurers from abroad and ascertain whether there is an emergency helpline with English-speaking doctors. Don't leave it until you are on a stretcher to find out! As well as leaving a copy of your insurance documents with your family or a reliable friend back in the UK, e-mail yourself the details too so that they can be easily accessed.

There are plenty of online comparison sites so do your homework and don't just opt for the cheapest. For a little extra you can find a policy, such as that with ACE travel, that will pay for search and rescue services should you be trekking off the beaten track.

Apart from the medical issues, make sure that you have sufficient cover for valuable items. Many backpackers carry expensive cameras, iPods and other electrical equipment which are vulnerable to theft, not only when you are out and about but also if you are in shared dorm accommodation in hostels. If you intend working abroad, check that you are covered. Also, if you leave a placement early to travel, check that your insurance is still valid.

With a little foresight you can ensure that your trip of a lifetime is not going to be ruined through lack of insurance.


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#1 It is nice to see the Gap Year Travel blog... get it and enjoy...
Posted by kevinkerson on 29/11/2010 at 21:19
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