Taking a gap year leads to exciting times ahead, some people like to plan and research everything before they go.
When researching all of this, travel insurance will be very low on your list but could be one of the most important things you need to get right for your trip. Why you ask? With insurance companies notorious for trying to get out of paying you what you believe is covered you will be surprised that many things will not actually be covered in a basic policy.
Want to work when you are away, then most companies do not cover for this and if they do it is usually just for office work and everything else will not be covered. Although this is not always the case some will allow manual work but you will be servilely limited on what you can do and it usually always has to be at ground level. A common exclusion when working is personal liability, so if you were to in an extreme case to lose a limb or to die then you will receive no money from the insurance company.
I find that where most people can have most problems is with adventure sports. A lot of companies say that they cover over 50 sports as standard; whilst this is true have a good read as you will soon find that what you want to do might not be covered. A lot of backpackers like to learn how to scuba dive on their trip and this is usually covered with most travel insurance, but if you are thinking about bungee jumping or tubing in Vang Vieng, Laos you might need to upgrade your sports cover.
All travel insurance policies have exclusions that they do not have to pay out on if you are intoxicated or on drugs so be careful when claiming, going back to tubing in Laos you will most likely be drunk and be doing dangerous activities with rope swings into the river.
All travel insurance companies have a Key Facts document which lists all exclusions and their terms and conditions. This document is very important and you must make sure you read this before you purchase your backpacking insurance. You could be in for a surprise with what you see; some companies state that if you travel to Australia you have to register with medi-care when you arrive otherwise you will not be covered for your medical expenses. This is only in the small print of the policy document so most people will not see this and will be in for a big bill and shock when you are told that you are not covered and have to cover the cost yourself.
I hope this document helps you in your preparation for your trip and your purchase of your backpacker travel insurance. Remember cheapest is not always the best when you are travelling the work by yourself in countries where the health care system might not be up to western standards.