Why Insuring for a Gap Year is a little different…
Visiting far away places on a shoestring is a popular way to fill a year before going to uni, but it also can include shorter trips of just a few weeks and is not just for the young. Many older people take gap years before starting their careers as well as mid career. The trip itself can be structured with every destination planned or an ad hoc journey with no real idea of the next place to go until the last minute. Working or volunteering may be a part of the plans.
All these factors have an impact in the type of travel insurance that is taken. If volunteering is not mentioned when taking out cover and teaching in Botswana for a few weeks is the reason for the trip, the the insurance company can void the whole policy.
What you MUST tell the insurer!
- WHERE YOU ARE GOING
This is not as obvious as it first looks. While a lot of gap year trips are planned and have an itinerary, many do not. It may be that backpacking around Cambodia lost its magic earlier than expected and an impulse excursion to Thailand suddenly happens. Fortunately, for insurance purposes, the world is divided into regions. Typically this works out as UK, Europe and worldwide (including and excluding North America). When telling the insurer where you are going, you must be as precise as possible, but if you are not sure of the exact countries you must make sure you get the region correct.
- HOW LONG ARE YOU GOING FOR
You will probably have a fixed time planned, but it is always worthwhile adding a few days for insurance purposes. This then takes into account any last minute changes of plans or unexpected delays. Trying to extend cover once it has run out is extremely difficult. Almost all insurers will only commence cover before your trip. Once you are out of the UK, setting up travel insurance is nigh on impossible.
- WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO ON THE TRIP
Working, volunteering, extreme (and not so extreme) sports are all examples of things that you must tell your insurer. Not telling them can, and probably will, invalidate the whole policy. On a darker note, be aware that like any insurance policy, cover will be withdrawn for any insured event if you can be shown to be under the influence of alcohol, non prescribed drugs or have broken any of the local laws.
- ANY MEDICAL PROBLEMS
In addition to fully disclosing any existing medical issues, you must have any recommended jabs for the country or region you are visiting. If you don’t, you run the risk of the insurer not paying out if you contract a disease you could have been inoculated against. Always talk to you GP about injections well before your trip.
In a previous post, I did a “Top Ten Tips” These are worth a visit, but here are a few more practical tips for gap years:
- Talk to a broker or insurer that specialises in this type of cover.
- Read all the small print. Pay particular attention to the exclusions, excesses, medical cover limits and property cover limits.
- Check if cameras and phones etc.. are already covered worldwide by your existing home insurance.
- Write down (and leave behind!) the serial numbers of all gadgets. Back up any information on them before you leave.
- Give the insurer authority to speak with someone other than you. If you are unable to talk to them for any reason, it makes life so much easier.
- Photograph the insurance documents so they can be easily accessed on your phone. It’s a good idea to take a small, cheap phone as a spare. in case yours is lost, damaged or stolen.
- Leave a copy of the insurance documents at home with someone.
- Write down your most important contact numbers.