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115,119 volunteers since 2007

Volunteer Travel Insurance

IVHQ Volunteer Travel Insurance with World Nomads

Most of the time your volunteer trip abroad will go smoothly, but sometimes luck just isn’t on your side and things go wrong. That’s why travel insurance is compulsory for all IVHQ volunteers.

We’ve supported over 115,000 volunteers abroad and we know how important it is to get your travel insurance right. The vast majority of IVHQ volunteers take out travel insurance specifically for their volunteer abroad program. We’ve partnered with World Nomads for many years because they offer travel insurance for volunteers who hail from more than 130 countries around the world.

It is especially important that your travel insurance includes cover for COVID-19, just in case you become infected at home before you travel or while volunteering abroad, or you’re forced to change your plans due to local COVID-19 restrictions. World Nomads does not have an endemic or pandemic exclusion for policies purchased by US residents, which means that you may make claims arising from COVID-19 for the benefits specified in your policy. For UK residents, all World Nomads policies include emergency medical assistance, hospitalisation and repatriation cover if you get sick with COVID-19 while abroad.

If you already have travel insurance cover through your health insurance or another provider, please check it includes everything you need for your volunteer experience. We insist that all volunteers have the right level of cover, and World Nomads’ policies include many of the types of activities IVHQ volunteers participate in either automatically or with an upgrade, depending on what you’ll be doing. 

You can obtain a free no-obligation quote by filling in your details below, or scroll down to learn more about the right kind of insurance to purchase for your trip.

Travel insurance: What you need to know

What do I need to be covered for?

You need to be covered in case of:

  • Medical emergencies while traveling
  • Lost or damaged luggage
  • Travel disruptions, such as flight cancellations
  • Stolen passport and other important travel documents
  • Other unforeseen events

If any of these events happen to you it can really tarnish your time abroad. Having the right insurance helps to limit the impact and helps you get on with your adventure. Just ask anyone who’s ever had a mishap abroad - good travel insurance can be a life saver.

The golden rule of insurance is everything depends on your own circumstances. Travel insurance isn’t made to cover everything and all travel insurance plans will have limits, conditions and exclusions. Reading the fine print isn’t everyone’s idea of fun, but it is important you know your own policy.

At IVHQ, we’ve partnered World Nomads because of the cover they offer. Depending on the plan and any upgrades you choose, you may be covered for things such as emergency medical treatment and repatriation, trip cancellations for specific events or if your gear is stolen. Check out their options to see exactly what is and isn’t available.

What’s the difference between my health insurance and travel insurance?

Will your existing health insurance policy cover you if you need medical treatment overseas? We hear this question a lot and the answer is most likely no because most health insurance plans stop as soon as you leave your home country. This is the main difference between health insurance and travel insurance, and this is why we insist you have adequate travel insurance.

The best way to be sure is to check over your current health policy. If you’re in any doubt, contact your insurance provider and ask them. For more information about the difference between travel insurance and health insurance, this guide from World Nomads travel insurance is useful.

As always, make sure you seek a policy that is right for your personal circumstances and travel plans.

Travel insurance for volunteer travelers

World Nomads offers a range of plans which may be suitable for volunteering abroad. Each World Nomads plan is different depending on your country of residence and the options you choose. Many of their policies offer the flexibility to buy a policy while traveling or extend cover online if you’re traveling before or after a volunteer trip. Their policies have been designed specifically for people travelling abroad (or domestically if you’re from the US) but the policy that suits you will depend on a range of factors including your medical history, volunteer destination, project type and more.

Best of all, every IVHQ volunteer who chooses to take an insurance policy with World Nomads has free access to their exclusive Worldwide 24-hour Emergency Assistance Team. This service can be used for immediate advice and support in the event of a medical emergency or major incident.

Learn more about the different travel insurance options from World Nomads here.

Will I be covered for COVID-19?

With COVID-19 infections still active throughout the world, we recommend purchasing travel insurance that includes cover for COVID-19 alongside other essential cover for normal volunteer abroad activities.

Unlike many other companies, World Nomads, does not exclude claims related to endemics or pandemics for policies purchased by U.S. residents. This means that you may make claims arising from COVID-19 for the benefits outlined in your policy. These benefits include emergency medical and trip interruption coverage for you personally or a travel companion who contracts the COVID-19 or goes under quarantine when traveling. If you unexpectedly catch COVID-19 at home before you leave for your trip, you may also be eligible for trip cancellation coverage, which represents compensation for any pre-paid non-refundable travel expenses such as flights, hotels, and excursions. Click here to review exactly what is covered by World Nomads’ policies in relation to Covid-19.

For UK residents, all World Nomads policies include emergency medical assistance, hospitalization and repatriation cover if you get sick with COVID-19 while abroad. Upgrade to an Explorer plan and you’ll also have cover for some COVID-19 related events, including cancelation, trip interruption expenses, and some quarantine costs. In addition, there’s cover for healthcare workers, residential care workers and law enforcement officers who have their pre-arranged leave canceled by their employer due to COVID-19.

You can obtain a travel insurance quote from World Nomads for your volunteer abroad trip by clicking here.

Coverage for non-U.S. residents varies and can be checked by clicking here.

How do I get travel insurance?

  1. To start, get a travel insurance quote from World Nomads here.
  2. Once you’ve put in all your information, you’ll see the plans you’re eligible for.
  3. Read through the plans and select the one that’s right for you.
  4. Add any optional cover (where available), particularly if you want cover for certain activities or valuable items.
  5. Don’t just choose the cheapest one. If you end up really needing cover for something, you don’t want to be ineligible because you were trying to save a couple of dollars.

Please note, World Nomads may not provide travel insurance for those volunteers over the age of 64. It also doesn’t offer travel insurance for people living in some parts of the world. If that’s you, click here to look at other travel insurance options.

Travel insurance do’s and dont’s

Do ask questions. If you’re weighing up which insurance policy is best for you and you’re not sure about something, ask. It’s important you’re as informed as possible before you opt for a certain policy. Insurers are happy to answer your questions and it can save a whole lot of problems later on.

Don’t be a penny-pincher. A small difference in the price of two policies can be a big difference in what’s actually being offered. If you’re sure you can get away with a cheaper policy then that’s great. But don’t just go for it because it’ll save you money - find out exactly why that policy is cheaper. It could be because it doesn’t cover something you’re planning on doing while you’re away.

Do think before you act. Many travel insurance policies won’t cover you if you were doing something you shouldn’t have been. This includes if you were drunk or using illicit drugs or breaking the law. It also includes simple things like just changing your mind. This isn’t an exhaustive list, so it’s always best to read the exclusions in the policy to find out what it won’t cover.

Do keep your receipts. Sometimes you’ll need to pay up front for something that will be covered by insurance. However if your claim is accepted, your insurance may reimburse you for these costs. In these instances, you must provide receipts and independent proof of what’s happened to you (like police and/or medical reports) in order to be covered. You might be pleasantly surprised by what you can get reimbursed, so it pays to hold onto all your receipts when something happens. It’s much better to carry around a piece of paper you didn’t need than to miss out on money you’re entitled to because you forgot to get the paperwork.

Do make sure the work or activities you’ll do on your volunteer program will be covered. Some activities are not automatically included in your travel insurance. Especially for volunteers doing work that involves diving, surfing or working with animals. Have your project description with you as you’re filling out your insurance application so you know exactly what you’ll be doing and you can be sure you’re covered at all times. You can always get in touch with IVHQ or contact your Program Manager for any project-related questions. For example, World Nomads insurance has limits on the depths and kinds of dives it will cover divers for. If you’re planning a dive beyond those limits, you don’t have the relevant certification or you go cave diving, you may not be covered. It depends on your country of residence and the plan options you choose - if in doubt, just ask World Nomads.

Don’t expect to be rescued if you get it wrong. If you have an accident and travel insurance doesn’t cover you then IVHQ can’t take any responsibility. This is the case even if you take travel insurance with our insurance partner. You are the sole person responsible for making sure your insurance is comprehensive enough to cover all your travel activities and personal needs.

Do read your policy. It’s very important you know exactly what’s covered and what’s not. The last thing you want to have happen is to get in a scooter crash only to find out you’re not insured to ride scooters. It’s not enough just to hope you don’t crash - reading your policy fully is the only way to know exactly what you’re getting. You should do this before you sign up to any policy. It’s also a good idea to read it again before you travel so it’s fresh in your mind. If you’re not sure if the activities you want to do are covered, you can contact World Nomads and ask before you purchase your travel insurance.

How to get started

Pick a destination + project and apply for free
Meet your personal volunteer travel expert
Pay the Registration Fee to secure your place and upgrade your MyIVHQ account
Get ready to volunteer abroad, we’ll support you every step of the way!