World Nomads Review – Insurance for Backpackers

backpacker insured

Today, we’re going to take a look at World Nomads, one of the relatively few companies that specialise in providing insurance for backpackers and independent travellers. In this World Nomads review, we’ll assess what is and isn’t covered and whether they are a good choice for anyone planning a backpacking trip.

World Nomads Insurance Review

Who are they?

World Nomads

World Nomads are travel insurance providers but with a few significant differences to your regular insurance company. They consist of a global team of travellers who have been providing insurance for independent travellers since 2002. They are recommended by many of the big players in the budget travel and backpacking industry such as Lonely Planet, Hostelworld and Interrail.

In addition to providing some of the most flexible and comprehensive travel insurance packages around, they also run a program called Footprints which promotes responsible travel and works with reputable charities and NGOs. You have an option to make a micro-donation when you purchase insurance. World Nomads also offer a scholarship program for aspiring travel photographers, filmmakers and writers.

World Nomads Travel Insurance – Get a Quick Quote for your Trip in less than a minute

There are many different variables that will impact the cost of your travel insurance package such as your age, where you are from, where you are going and for how long. The easiest way to get an idea of how much it will cost is to fill out the short form on their website (find via the link above).

Put a rough estimate of your destinations & dates if you’re not totally sure yet. You will then get two different quotes for the standard and explorer packages which are explained in more detail below.

World Nomads Standard vs Explorer – What is covered?

There are subtle differences between exactly what World Nomads cover and for how much depending on where you are from but broadly speaking it is similar the world over. For the purposes of this section we will use the cover for British backpackers as an example.

World Nomads have two levels of coverage named Standard and Explorer. The latter is slightly more extensive and therefore more expensive, although the Standard policy still covers a lot of things that other regular travel or holiday insurance providers do not.

Here are some of the most important things you will be covered for if you purchase travel insurance via World Nomads:

Overseas medical expenses£5,000£10,000
Emergency dental treatment£300£500
Cancellation – for up to 9 Insured Events£3,000£5,000
Travel delay (more than 12 hours) – additional travel and accommodationNot covered£1,000
Missed connectionNot covered£1,000
Stolen/Lost Baggage and personal items£1,000£2,000
Stolen/Lost MoneyNot covered£500
Stolen/Lost Passport or Travel Documents£300£600
Accidental death, loss of limb, loss of sight£10,000£25,000
Third party compensation and legal expenses£2,000,000£2,000,000
Coronavirus related travel costs – for up to 8 Insured EventsNot covered£1,250

Most of this relates to things that hopefully you will never ever need to worry about. However it’s always useful to know exactly what is covered in case something goes wrong and the smallprint can be important too in those situations. There is a longer explanation of the coverage and specific terms here.

In many cases there is also a small excess – the amount each insured person would have to pay in the event of a claim. For example the excess for emergency dental treatment is £100.

What isn’t covered?

As you can see above, there are some things that are covered with the Explorer package but not the Standard package. There are also a number of things which are excluded from both packages and situations where you will not be covered. These include:

  • Medical expenses incurred within your own country.
  • Treatment for any pre-existing medical condition.
  • Travelling against medical advice.
  • Travelling to or remaining in a country or region that is subject to a government warning (e.g. advising against all but essential travel).
  • Failing to take the recommended preventative measures for a specific region, as outlined by the World Health Organization. For example not taking malaria tablets in certain areas or not having the suggested vaccinations.
  • Unlawful criminal or malicious acts carried out by you.
  • Failure to take reasonable care or acting under the influence of alcohol or drugs (the kind your doctor won’t prescribe).
  • Errors or mistakes in any booking arrangements.

There may be isolated circumstances where some exemptions can be negotiated into the terms of your package as they are quite flexible in some respects but you would need to contact World Nomads directly and ask about that.

World Nomads FAQ’s

Does World Nomads travel insurance cover Covid?

Both the Standard and Explorer plans offer cover for medical assistance if you get sick with Covid overseas. This falls within the “Overseas medical expenses” section and Covid isn’t treated differently from any other new disease or illness you might catch abroad. The Explorer plan also provides some additional support when it comes to cancellation, trip interruption expenses and in some cases quarantine costs, although this will depend on the exact circumstances. You can read more about World Nomads’ Covid cover here.

What about adventure sports & other activities?

Cape Town surfer
Surfing in Cape Town via Andrew Beard, CC BY 2.0

World Nomads classify adventure sports and activities on four different levels (1-4). Level 1 sports are automatically included in both the Standard and Explorer Plans. These include regular sports but also some more adventurous ones such as bungee-jumping and kite surfing that are popular with travellers in some regions such as Australia or New Zealand. However some such as skydiving, motor biking, mountaineering and skiing are classed as higher risk and require additional upgrades to your package. You can see the levels of each sport in this document (scroll down to Section 8!).

Can I purchase World Nomads travel insurance if I’m already abroad?

Yes! You don’t need to be in your home country to purchase World Nomads travel insurance and can do it even after your trip has started, although it’s highly advisable to do it before you go. You should also note, there is a 3 day wait before your cover kicks in if you order it abroad.

Who can use World Nomads?

You don’t have to be a 20-something backpacker to use World Nomads. They also provide cover for independent travellers, families and digital nomads of all ages, although there are age limits of 70 on some packages.

They cover residents of over 140 countries at the time of writing. Therefore, the chances are you will be able to get insurance through World Nomads (if you are provided with a quote after using the form above, you are eligible!). However they have temporarily paused sales to residents of EEA (European Economic Area) countries so most European residents cannot currently apply.

Where can you travel?

Plane journey

Essentially World Nomads offer global travel insurance, however that has been a bit more complicated in recent years with regular Covid-19 travel bans cropping up around the world and far more government warnings and in cases outright travel bans than normal. Hopefully those situations are mostly behind us but it’s worth noting that you will not be covered for travelling to anywhere that goes against your government’s advice such as a war zone or area with extreme political instability.

Can I cancel my World Nomads policy?

It is possible to amend or cancel your World Nomads travel insurance policy. Within the first 14 days of purchasing it, you can cancel for a free refund, as long as you haven’t started your trip. There may also be some circumstances where you can cancel after that initial 14 day period, for example if you have to cancel your trip due to Covid-19 restrictions or other government “do not travel” warnings. If you have started travelling, it may still be possible to get a refund for any unused portion of your insurance policy, but you will need to contact World Nomads directly to organise this.

Can you extend World Nomads travel insurance?

It is possible to extend your World Nomads travel insurance policy if you decide you want to keep travelling after your intended end date.

How long is the coverage for?

366 days is the maximum, meaning you can opt for World Nomads annual travel insurance if you are planning on travelling for a whole year. However it is really flexible and you can also use World Nomads for very short trips of less than a week and the price will adjust accordingly. You simply enter the start and end date of your trip when you make the booking.

Conclusion – Is World Nomads a good option for backpackers?

Overall World Nomads is a really good option for backpackers and independent travellers planning active trips looking for extensive cover. The main advantage on regular travel insurance companies is that the coverage is greater and more tailored to the risks associated with a long backpacking or independent travel trip. You can even select what kinds of activities you might do, to get a personalised policy. Some insurance companies will not touch some of the slightly riskier adventure sports for example.

World Nomads is certainly a legit company with 20+ years of experience when it comes to providing travel insurance for backpackers. Their staff will have handled just about everything that can go wrong on a backpacking trip so you should hopefully find them helpful and relatable in the event of problems. Again, that’s not necessarily the case with other travel insurance providers who are more geared towards family holidays and package deals.

What’s the catch? Well the price of World Nomads insurance does tend to be higher than a lot of other companies. Their policy terms are also quite long and hard to fully digest if you don’t have much experience of this kind of thing and as with most travel insurance packages, there may be a few grey areas where it’s unclear exactly whether you can or can’t claim.

Overall, it will be something of a personal judgement call as to what kind of trip you are planning and it all comes down to managing risk. If you are an inexperienced traveller, looking for an active trip or going to a region that is not considered the safest such as South America, or you are just generally worried about the possibility of things going wrong, purchasing World Nomads insurance might just be worth considering. If you’re confident that your trip will fall into a lower risk category, a cheaper option might be worth looking into.

Please note – The prices and terms mentioned in this World Nomads insurance review are accurate as of August 2022 for UK travellers but could change in the future. There may be differences for people from other countries. This post includes affiliate links.

World Nomads Review – Insurance for Backpackers

One thought on “World Nomads Review – Insurance for Backpackers

    Conditions that are “similar”, but unrelated to, a condition that was subject to a previous claim ARE NOT COVERED.  Here is an example, in World Nomads’ own words:

    “If you were to develop a new stomach condition not related to the previous stomach issue but a similar condition you would not be covered due to it would be considered pre-existing unless it was due to an injury or something totally unrelated.” 
    I would be happy to share their emails to me for posting on this site. 

    This is a shocking and appalling loophole, especially for a policy that is marketed towards long term travellers, who are likely to get separate but “similar conditions” – such as stomach issues, the most common travelers’ ailment.  This company is unethical and anyone who promotes it without mentioning this loophole is irresponsible (they likely didn’t know, as this provision is not explicitly stated in the policy). World Nomads will not provide any further details on how they define a “similar condition” (affecting the same part of the body?  Having the same symptoms?  Being a virus or bacteria?), so if you make a claim after getting sick or injured once, you may not have coverage if you get sick or injured again (you have to file a claim to find out).  I have confirmed this loophole multiple times, so I know it wasn’t just one agent giving incorrect information.  It seems fraudulent that they have this policy but do not state it in their policy documents (all the policy document says is that you only get one follow up visit per emergency, it says nothing about coverage being based on previous emergency claims).

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