Gap year travel or student travel insurance - here's what you need to know
Taking a Gap Year (or Gap Yaaaaar) has long been the butt of jokes.
Even so, thousands of students still take them, either before going on to higher education, or as soon as they graduate from college or university.
While heading off for a year of travel and adventure is an exciting and potentially life-changing experience, it’s also important to consider the practicalities.
Having adequate insurance falls into this category.
While it can seem like an extra cost at a time when money may well be very tight, the consequences of being uninsured could be disastrous, especially if your plans involve some challenging destinations and activities.
How to get the right travel insurance for your gap year
We have highlighted some of the key terms you need to look out for in any travel insurance policy in bold.
The key things to check are that the policy covers you for the duration of your trip, rather than a multi-trip policy.
A multi-trip policy will cover you if you are planning a series of trips from home over the year, but are not away continuously.
In fact, most multi-trip policies will set limits on the length of time you travel in one go, and perhaps on the number of days you’re allowed to travel during the term of the policy.
And a gap year policy may well not allow a return to the UK at all during the period covered.
Top Tip: It’s important, also, to check that the policy covers you within all the countries you intend to visit. For example, any Foreign and Commonwealth Office travel warnings about a country are likely to mean it’s excluded from cover.
Similarly, if you are planning to work while away, as many people do, then you need to be sure what you plan to do isn’t excluded.
Check any policy you’re considering offers some kind of immediate assistance.
If you suffer a serious problem or loss, you don’t want to find that you can only claim when you get home.
Good polices will offer a facility like a 24-hour helpline.
As always, the devil may well be in the detail, so reading terms and conditions is vital.
And, if you’re not up to speed on insurance policies because you’ve never encountered one before, then taking advice from someone who has may be a good idea.
Look out for minimum ages and age limits – most policies are designed for people over 18, but often can accommodate anyone 16+. Most, though, do have an age limit, often 35.
Make sure you comply with FCO or health bodies’ advice on inoculations, for the countries you’re visiting, and remember that, to be valid, some prophylactics will need to be started well in advance of travel.
Don’t forget that, while you might be insured for loss, you will need to show you took reasonable care of your possessions to make a successful claim.
If you do need to claim, make sure you know the protocol you need to observe – like showing evidence of a police report. Take photographs, if relevant. It’s also a good idea to take photographs of your valuables before you travel – that way you can prove you had them in the first place.
And if you have trouble with your insurance company, post your complaint on A Spokesman Said.
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There's more information in our guide 'travel insurance - what you need to know'.