What is Gap Year Insurance and Do You Need It?

What is Gap Year Insurance and Do You Need It?

If you're heading away on your gap year, you might be a little overwhelmed by the number of insurance options available. Gap year travel insurance is a little different from your regular travel insurance coverage you've had in the past for shorter trips, as it’s meant to cover extended stays away from home.

What does gap year insurance cover?

The cover provided varies according to the cost of your policy. Basic, low-cost policies will offer necessary cover for emergency medical costs, and low-level cover for your personal valuables, but typically won't cover more expensive costs, such as if you lose your passport or miss a flight. Some gap year travel insurance may cover a wide range of sports and dangerous activities as a standard and will almost always cover a limited number of paid or voluntary jobs.

What isn’t covered by gap year insurance?

Policies vary in what they will cover, and we recommend you read the fine print before investing in a policy. For example, you might pay more for any sports or activities not covered as standard e.g. skydiving or mountain climbing. If your work plan isn't covered by the basic package, then you might need to find a specialist policy that covers a wider variety of jobs so if you’re are injured at work, your medical bills are covered (including a trip back home if necessary).

Most gap year travel insurance plans offer very little cover for your personal valuables (you might find that your mobile isn't covered at all). Make sure your most valuable possessions are, in fact, covered. If not, you can usually get bolt-on gadget cover from a separate supplier.

Is there a limit to the time I can be covered?

Policies vary in this regard. If you think you might extend your gap year for any reason, make sure your insurance provider offers the chance to extend your policy at a later date. Trust-worthy insurance providers will offer coverage for the full time you’re away and allow you to renegotiate contracts should you want to extend the duration of your coverage.

Can I take out gap year insurance if I’ve already left home?

Yes, there are numerous travel insurance companies will facilitate this - however it is not the norm. Typically, travel insurance suppliers require you to purchase a plan before you leave for legal reasons. If you choose to secure cover with suppliers who provide insurance for travellers already overseas, you will usually find that your policy will be more expensive. You may also find that there is a delay between the time that you take the policy out, and for cover to start as many insurance providers are wary of people taking out insurance policies to retroactively cover their losses.

Am I permitted any return trips under a gap year insurance policy?

Gap year insurance policies often one or more return trips for a limited period of time. The policy will be suspended whilst you're back home and will resume when you are away once again. You need to be sure not overstay the maximum amount of time that you can remain at home, as your policy might expire if you exceed this.

Can I be covered for a pre-existing medical condition?

This really depends on a number of things, including the severity of the condition, medication and other factors. You may need to be screened before your insurance is approved. Medical screening can be done over the phone. You will then be notified whether you can be covered without additional cost. If your chosen insurance provider refuses to cover your condition, you’ll need to find a specialist who is willing to assume the risk. The most essential element of travel insurance is getting cover for emergency situations and return trips back home.

Is there an age limit on who can take out an insurance policy?

There is generally an upper age-limit on gap year insurance. Policies are generally aimed at younger people, who are less likely to suffer debilitating health conditions are travel with expensive personal belongings. That’s not to say you can get covered in your thirties, but you may need to convince potential insurance providers that covering you is worth the risk.

‘Travel is not without risk. The risk needs to be kept to a minimum acceptable level without eliminating the sense of fulfilment for individuals’