So you’ve been travelling for a while or are between working holiday visas. You’ve just realised your travel insurance expires soon. No problem, right? Unfortunately, yes.
The problem: travel insurance expiring while still travelling
One of the requirements for 99% of travel insurance is that the policy starts while you are still in your home country i.e. before you have started travelling. If you’re ‘already abroad’ then the policy is already void by the time you buy it. And yes, chances are you will be caught out even if you buy one of these policies ignoring this clause. So, what to do?
Not having valid travel insurance is not a great idea. For one thing, having valid travel insurance is a requirement of most working holiday programs such as Canada’s IEC. While you may have government healthcare coverage (or think you don’t need it), having insurance remains a condition of gaining your new work permit. Government healthcare schemes (such as provincial medical programs in Canada) do not cover repatriation of your body back to your home country. Obviously, this situation is the worst case scenario but it is why the conditions are what they are.
Solution number one: ask for an extension
First, double check with your current insurance company to see whether they are willing to extend your policy. The majority of backpacker/working holiday insurance companies will not usually extend your original policy beyond 12 or 24 months total coverage. Many companies will also not let you take out another policy while already abroad. Having a return ticket home is often required.
In fact, a fair amount will require you to be resident again in your home country for a certain period of time (say, 6 months) before you can be covered again. Of course, you could buy the policy thinking that ‘they won’t check’ but it is really worth taking the risk?
Solution number two – find a new provider
It can sometimes be difficult to work out whether an insurance company requires the purchaser to be living in their home country to buy the policy. It will, however, be somewhere within the terms and conditions.
Often it is easier to contact the company directly and ask, rather than wading through legal documentation. Consider emailing rather than calling, as then you will have a written statement confirming the response. The quality of the response may also help you make an easier decision.
I would also ask whether the policy can be extended (just in case!) and whether any visits to your home country are allowed without voiding the insurance, just to cover all of your bases. Remember that if you’re working abroad, this is not covered unless specifically stated.
Examples of ‘already abroad’ travel insurance
I found True Traveller insurance after an extensive search at the end of my first year of a working holiday in Canada. I never had to claim with True Traveller, but found the price for the coverage was reasonable. True Traveller covers a number of outdoor sports and activities (the more risk, the higher the premium). They also offer two Winter Sports choices, for the duration of cover OR a cheaper 14 day option for occasional skiing. Working holidays are also covered.
I extended my policy with True Traveller after a year’s coverage in December 2013. An extension discount was given to me. They were always exceptionally fast at responding to questions concerning my policy with them.
Travel insurance from WorldNomads is available to people from over 150 countries. You can buy, extend and claim online, even after you’ve left home. It’s designed for adventurous travellers with cover for overseas medical, evacuation, baggage and a range of adventure sports and activities.
Let me know if you’ve found any other ‘already abroad’ insurance companies worth knowing about!