Gap years are super popular, with almost a quarter of a million 18-24-year-olds choosing to take one in 2023. They can be a great way to spend the year before going to university, taking a year break during your degree (also known as a sandwich degree) or taking it after graduation as a last stab at freedom before resigning yourself to work. In fact, 28, 477 students on average defer uni to take a gap year every year. Although there are endless possibilities of what you could do during a gap year, one of the most common activities by far is travelling. It’s a liberating and enriching experience being able to visit different cultures and parts of the world, and many students also like to work or volunteer too. But to fully make the most of your gap year abroad, it’s worth thinking about gap year travel insurance. Find out more about what gap year travel insurance is, and whether you really need it or not.

What is gap year travel insurance?

what is travel insurance for a gap year?

Gap year travel insurance is a special type of insurance policy designed to provide comprehensive coverage for anyone taking a break from their usual life, normally by doing travelling, volunteering or studying abroad. This type of insurance is a little bit different to standard travel insurance as it’s aimed to cover longer trips than typical holidays, as well as different activities that you might do as part of a gap year.

Why do I need gap year travel insurance?

Why do I need gap year travel insurance?

Gap year travel insurance can cover inconveniences like your baggage being lost, valuables such as phones or laptops being stolen and trip delay, cancellation or disruption. This means that if you are unlucky enough to experience something like this during your travels you have one less thing to stress about knowing that your gap year travel insurance will sort out these issues.

Now one of the most important things that gap year travel insurance can cover are medical needs or emergencies. For example, imagine you’re hiking to Machu Picchu, having the time of your life and suddenly you hit the deck- fully unconscious- which is a little concerning to you and you’d like to get checked over by a professional your gap year travel insurance could cover the cost of the appointment so if you can carry on with your adventures with the green light from a doctor. Some policies also offer additional features like 24-hour emergency assistance, which can be invaluable in unfamiliar countries.

Now it is worth noting that if you are more of a daredevil and want to partake in more extreme physical activities like bungee jumping in Thailand (impressive), this might be covered by all gap year travel insurances. So, if you are uncomfortable doing something like this without being insured you may have to do a little digging to find one that covers the activities that you want to do. There are gap year travel insurance policies that do cover activities like adventure sports, so make sure you search for these.

Pros and cons of getting gap year travel insurance

pros and cons of gap year travel insurance

Deciding whether you need gap year travel insurance involves weighing the pros and cons based on your specific travel plans and personal circumstances. Obviously, in an ideal world, you would have travel insurance every time you travel (but who does that still?). According to recent stats, 77% of Brits have had standard travel insurance at least once in the past, but just under half of those buy it regularly. And while 18-24-year-olds are typically the most cautious and buy it as an annual package rather than one-off, they’re still the age group least likely to buy it at all. However, it’s also important to note that travel insurance claims are up by a huge amount (148%), suggesting that people need it.

So if you’re still on the fence, here’s a few of the reasons why you getting gap year travel insurance is important, and some of the reasons why you might not want it. Hopefully it can help you make an informed decision.

Pros of gap year travel insurance

  • It provides more comprehensive coverage

Gap year travel insurance offers extensive coverage that can include medical emergencies, trip cancellations, lost baggage, and personal liability. This is particularly important for long-term travel where the likelihood of encountering such issues is higher.

  • Peace of mind

Knowing you’re covered for a wide range of potential problems can provide significant peace of mind, allowing you to fully enjoy your travels without constant worry about what could go wrong.

  • Flexibility and adaptability

These policies are designed to be flexible, covering a wide range of activities and potential changes in your travel plans, which is ideal for the often unpredictable nature of gap year travelling.

  • Emergency assistance

Many policies offer 24/7 emergency assistance, which can be really important in a foreign country, especially if you face language barriers or are unfamiliar with local healthcare systems.

Cons of gap year travel insurance

  • Cost

Gap year travel insurance can be more expensive than standard travel insurance because it covers a lot more and for a lot longer. This is often what puts people off, but it’s important to remember the potential costs if something goes wrong (e.g. medical bills, lost luggage, cancelled flights etc.).

  • Complexity of policies

Understanding the details of what is and isn’t covered can be a bit tricky. Some activities, like extreme sports, might not be covered, or may require additional premiums. Make sure you know what you’re signing up for before you pay.

  • Not always necessary

If your gap year involves less risky activities or staying in countries with low-cost healthcare, the benefits of a comprehensive insurance policy might not justify the cost.

  • Overlapping coverage

You might already have some coverage through your health insurance, credit card, or a shorter-term travel insurance policy, making some aspects of gap year insurance redundant. Make sure to check your documents or contact your bank or insurers to check.

Where to find travel insurance for a gap year?

travel insurance online

Now you’ve read some of the main reasons why it’s so important to have gap year travel insurance you’re probably wondering where you can get it. Lucky for you there are a few suggestions of insurance providers and comparison sites here to get you started on securing the best gap year travel insurance. Depending on where you would like to travel and what you would like to do, not every policy will cover everything; you just have to choose the one that’s the right for you and your journey. If you’re a student, make sure you also compare student travel insurance rates with gap year insurance too.

  1. Go compare
  2. Compare the Market
  3. Post Office Money Economy Backpackers
  4. Explorer Insurance Backpacker Plus
  5. Cover For You (by AXA)

Now for the fun part – start planning what you’re actually gonna do! Here’s some of our top gap year ideas for inspiration. We’ve also got great advice on how to pack for a gap year and the pros of cons of taking a gap year while at uni.