Travel insurance for other specialist needs (backpackers, gay travellers, gap year students)

Whether you are young or old, fit or unwell, there are various special needs for travel insurance, related to the travel activity itself.

Adventure sports

An increasing number of people are going on adventure holidays. This can range from mountain hiking to elephant safaris, rainforest canopy walking to bungee jumping, white river rafting to deep sea diving. If the trip holds extra risk, or insurers think it could, then a standard policy is rarely adequate. Insurers vary wildly in what they regard as hazardous. You will need extra or special cover.

Some insurers are very open and have long lists of what they insure, what they can insure on request, and what they will never insure. Most rely on vague exclusions on ‘hazardous activities’, which will only be interpreted when you try to claim. The interpretation at claims time may depend on many factors over which you have no control. If you are doing anything other than a standard trip then check to see if it can or is covered.

Backpacking / Gap Year

This is a long trip up to or even over a year. These are no longer limited to the young. A standard annual travel policy will not be suitable as travel insurance for backpackers; these policies normally only cover you for trips of up to a month. You will need a dedicated "backpacker" or "gap year" travel policy that will offer cover for six, nine or 12 months of continuous travel.

Outdoor activities are one of the key areas for backpackers to plan for when buying insurance. Common pitfalls include policies that allow you to ride mopeds up to 50cc, but you end up hiring something with a bigger engine; and deciding to join in hazardous activities such as skydiving, egged on by new friends made abroad, without being covered for them. If you are engaged in physical labour during a gap-year project, such as building a school, check you are covered in case of injury - some policies exclude manual work.

Gay travellers

Some insurers are still very prejudiced. They fear that gay people have a higher risk of catching AIDS on holiday. Many insurers will treat same sex couples in exactly the same way as mixed sex couples, but still many refuse to offer joint cover at the same price. For gay travellers, there are a number of specialists who will provide holiday cover for little or no extra premium. Specialists, will also treat same sex partners as couples for insurance purposes, allowing them to get a better deal for joint travel policies.


For many golfers, the opportunity to play golf when on holiday is too good to miss. The really dedicated even go on golfing holidays.

Many travel policies will have limits and exclusions which limit the cover offered on golf equipment. Some policies have options to include extra cover. Specialist travel insurance for golf holidays may be worth considering, for when your energetic shot damages an expensive car, or you have to buy drinks after a hole in one!

Skiing / Winter Sports

Winter sports cover is usually an optional extra on standard travel insurance policies, rather than being automatically included. If you ski a lot it may be worth buying an annual policy rather than several short ones, but check how many days' winter sports cover it offers - it's usually 17 to 21 days per year, though specialist policies do not set limits.

You should be covered for piste rescue - by helicopter if necessary - and repatriation, all the activities you plan (such as skating or snowmobiling), and if you want to ski off-piste, check you are covered as some policies forbid this unless you are with a guide. Rescue and treatment are very expensive so make sure you are covered.


If travelling overseas to get wed, special wedding insurance may be needed to cover those gifts and all the risks of cancellation or postponement.

Work trips

For people going overseas on business, there is a huge variety of business trip covers available. The overwhelming majority of these only cover trips, meetings and the like. Few will cover manual or technical work. The responsibility usually rests with the employer, but those on contract or self-employed are best advised to contact an insurance broker.



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