Choosing the best travel insurance for a road trip

Our tips for finding insurance for a road-trip in a van, 4×4, motorcycle or bicycle

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Hello! We’re Olivia & Victor, authors of the OunTravela guides.

Over the years, our passion for adventure has led us to create original travel guides sold in over 70 countries worldwide. Our mission is to spread a travel philosophy based on adventure, freedom, improvisation and exploration. Our guides inspire travellers to explore the world’s forgotten paths, encountering wilderness and civilization.

We hope you find this article, based on our own experience, useful.

Enjoy your reading!

If you’re like us, Victor and Olivia, true fans of exploration and adventure, this article is a must-have. Whatever the vehicle you’re travelling with (van, 4×4, motorcycle or bike), we strongly recommend that you take out travel insurance before setting off on your road-trip. In this article, we explain why and give you our tips for choosing the best travel insurance for a road-trip!

Why take out road-trip insurance?

Let’s be honest, 9 times out of 10 you won’t need insurance! But, deep down, we all know that no one is – ever – safe from an accident or health problem when traveling.

Whether your road-trip takes place in a wealthy country where healthcare costs a fortune, or deep in the savannah far from any medical infrastructure, you’ll never regret taking out insurance if anything happens to you. On the other hand, if you’re not insured, you could well regret it for the rest of your life…

Let us tell you what happened to our friend Maxence in 2019. That year we set off on a 5-month 4×4 & motorcycle expedition across Kyrgyzstan to publish our travel guide EXPLORE KIRGHIZISTAN.

While we were in a remote, uninhabited area a few kilometers from the Chinese border, Maxence was hit in the leg by a horse’s hoof. A silly and unexpected incident: he passed behind a spooked horse and the shot went off in the wrong place. This incident resulted in an open tibia-peroneal fracture, which had to be operated on within 12 hours due to the high risk of infection. After successfully transporting our friend to the region’s largest hospital, we realized that he couldn’t be treated here. The insurance company (MACIF) paid for our friend’s repatriation to Turkey, where he underwent surgery. A second operation was then carried out in France. Total costs abroad: 20,000 euros. Without his insurance, not only would Maxence have had to pay all these costs himself, but he would not have benefited from the assistance and support of his insurance company, which organized the repatriation.

Emergency repatriation after tibia fracture, the best insurance for a road-trip
medical repatriation flight, compulsory travel insurance
fractured tibia while travelling, finding the best insurance for your road-trip

The main travel insurance benefits

Before choosing your insurance, it’s important to understand the coverage offered by travel insurers. We’ve tried to keep things as simple as possible, but hang on! Here are the 3 essential guarantees for any travel insurance policy:

  • Coverage for medical and hospitalization expenses abroadIn the event of an accident or illness contracted during a stay abroad, the insurer will pay the expenses incurred by the insured.
  • Third-party liability abroad, i.e. compensation for bodily injury or material damage you may cause to others in the event of an accident. Please note that with travel insurance, this cover does not apply if you drive a motorized vehicle.
  • Assistance abroad: coverage of emergency repatriation or the cost of extending your stay if repatriation is impossible, presence of a family member at your bedside in the event of hospitalization, etc.

For each of these coverages, deductibles and indemnity ceilings may vary. Other guarantees are also very useful:

  • Cancellation/delay insurance (hotel reservations, flight tickets or any other means of transport)
  • Theft or loss of baggage and electronic equipment
  • Disability/death cover (repatriation of body in the event of death, coffin or urn expenses, etc.)
  • Legal coverage

What insurance is right for a road-trip by car, van, 4×4 or motorcycle?

If you are travelling with your own vehicle

If you’re traveling with your own vehicle, you’ll need both personal and vehicle insurance.

Vehicle insurance covers your civil liability (i.e. coverage for damage caused to others, whether person or property), as well as theft and damage to your vehicle (without an identified liable third party). The latter often comes with a deductible.

When you travel abroad ,you should check the validity of your vehicle insurance in that country. To do this, simply check the list of countries on your green card (generally Europe and a few countries like Switzerland, Norway or Iceland, for example). If your vehicle’s insurance no longer covers you in the country you’re visiting, you’ll need to take out third-party liability, theft and damage insurance in that country. In some cases, you can take out this insurance directly when you enter the country at the border post. You should also be aware that in some countries, such as Central Asia, motorists are rarely insured themselves.

As far as your personal insurance is concerned, make sure you’re covered for driving a motorized vehicle (for treatment, hospitalization and emergency repatriation).

“Please note that it is essential to check that driving a motorized vehicle is covered by your travel insurance policy, especially motorcycling. Travel insurance policies rarely cover motorcycle travelers, especially those over 125cc.”

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Emergency repatriation after tibia fracture, the best insurance for a road-trip
rent 4x4 delica
4x4 horseback motorcycle in Kyrgyzstan meet nomadic population

If you rent a vehicle abroad

If you’re renting a vehicle abroad, you’ll need to take out personal insurance, and check that the rental contract includes third-party liability insurance.

Vehicle insurance is normally included in the rental contract. This insurance covers your civil liability (i.e. coverage for damage caused to another person or property), as well as theft and damage to the vehicle (without an identified third party). Please note that this coverage often comes with a very high deductible.

As far as your personal insurance is concerned, make sure you’re covered if you drive a motorized vehicle for treatment, hospitalization abroad and emergency repatriation. This is especially important if you’re renting a two-wheeler. Travel insurance rarely covers motorcycle travelers, especially those over 125cc. On the other hand, some travel insurances may cover the rental company’s deductible in the event of an accident.

“Warning: if you rent a car, motorcycle, van or scooter abroad, the civil liability coverage provided by your travel insurance won’t help you in the event of an accident with the vehicle. You must therefore take out insurance with the vehicle rental agency (normally included in the rental contract).”

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What insurance do I need for a bike trip?

Fortunately, accidents are rare! But as a cyclist, you are particularly vulnerable on the roads. Even if you’re not at fault, there’s no guarantee that the person opposite will be able to pay your hospital bills if need be. Without imagining the worst, you may also unintentionally collide with someone and be asked to reimburse the cost of the state-of-the-art phone they were holding in their hand and which fell to the ground…

Unlike drivers of motorized vehicles, you shouldn’t have any trouble finding something to suit your needs. That’s right, the vast majority of travel insurance policies cover bicycle travellers, particularly in the event of an accident involving the bike. However, you’ll need to pay close attention to the conditions: wearing a helmet, complying with local traffic regulations, etc. Before you leave, contact your insurer to check that you are covered for treatment, hospitalization abroad, civil liability and repatriation. Check that your liability insurance covers cycling accidents.

What’s more, if you’re more of a mountain biker or downhill biker, the guarantees may change. In this case, there are options adapted to more extreme and high-altitude conditions.

To make your choice, go to our comparison below.

Travel insurance with VISA or MASTERCARD

If you want to take advantage of the travel insurance offered by your bank card, you should know that only certain cards offer attractive coverage: Visa Premier, Visa Infinite, Mastercard Gold and Mastercard Platinium. Here are the advantages and disadvantages of the insurance offered by these bank cards:

Avantages- Une assistance rapatriement et l’indemnisation des frais médicaux et d’hospitalisation à l’étranger
- La garantie responsabilité civile à l’étranger
- Annulation voyage en cas de décès d’un proche, de licenciement ou de préjudice grave à votre domicile.
- Votre conjoint (marié ou pacsé) et les enfants à charge de moins de 25 ans sont couverts également.
- La perte ou le vol des bagages
- Assurance du véhicule de location, en cas de vol, dommages (accident responsable ou non) et vandalisme
- Assurance décès-invalidité
Inconvénients- Couverture limitée aux 90 premiers jours du voyage
- Franchise élevée et plafonds de garantie insuffisants dans les pays où les soins de santé sont chers (EU, Japon, Australie, Canada, Nouvelle-Zélande).
- Remboursement uniquement sur les achats payés avec carte bancaire

“This can be an interesting offer if you’re only going to stay for less than 3 months in a country where medical costs aren’t exorbitant, and if you want to rent a car on the spot! In the event of a serious incident, don’t forget that you’ll have to pay a deductible and that the coverage limits are much lower than those of specialized travel insurance.”

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The best travel insurances for a road-trip of more than 3 months

As you can imagine, there are many different types of insurance available for travellers. We can’t present them all here, so we’ve selected the offers and coverages that best meet the needs of a traveler going on a long trip abroad by van, 4×4, bike or motorcycle.

trouver la meilleure assurance voyage en France pour nu road-trip 4x4 van moto ou vélo
Cap Aventure
logo gobyava assurance voyage
Plan AVAnture
AVI la meilleure assurance voyage pour un road-trip moto 4x4 velo
Marco Polo
logo world nomads assurance voyage
Plan Explorer
Prix (par mois)
pour un adulte de moins de 35 ans hors USA/CANADA
48 à 54 € (tarif dégressif selon la durée du séjour)
47 €29 € en Europe et 47 € dans le monde entier.

> 100 €
Frais médicaux à l’étranger hors USA et Canada200 000 €300 000 €300 000 €illimité
Rapatriement vers le domicilefrais réelsfrais réelsfrais réels350 000 €
Responsabilité civile (dommages corporels)4 500 000 €
4 500 000 €750 000 €1 750 000 €

Responsabilité civile (dommages matériels)450 000 €450 000 €450 000 €1 750 000 €
Assistance juridique

Conduite d’un véhicule motorisé (hors deux-roues)
Conduite de véhicules à moteur 2 roues < 125 cm3
Conduite de véhicules à moteur 2 roues > 125 cm3
Voyage à vélo, VTT✅ avec option sports et loisirs+ pour le VTT
Couverture de la franchise du loueur en cas de sinistre sur un véhicule de location✅ jusqu'à 1500 €
Vol, perte ou dommages des appareils électroniquesoui sauf dans les transports et à l'exception des drones et téléphones portablesoption AVA TECH+ pour vol et dommages des appareils électroniques à partir de 15 € par mois (ordinateur, app photo, tablette, etc., tel portable).oui jusqu'à 300 € en toutoui jusqu'à 500 € par objet

Our choice of travel insurance for a road-trip in Central Asia

find the best travel insurance in France for your road-trip 4x4 van motorcycle or bicycle

There’s no question about it: among French insurers, Chapka is the one that best meets our needs, with the Cap Aventure offer adapted to long stays and outdoor activities (trekking, diving to 40m or even surfing!!). Our only regret: riding a > 125 cc motorcycle is not covered by insurance. However, to our knowledge, no French insurance company offers this coverage.

We have chosen to work in partnership with Chapka Assurance for the publication of our next EXPLORE guide. So we’ll be covered by Cap Aventure for our entire expedition across Central Asia from May to October 2021!

We’d like to thank them in advance for their responsiveness, but – let’s be honest – we hope we won’t need to get back to you, as that would mean we’d run into trouble 😉

We recommend you take a look at their website, which is very clear. Don’t hesitate to ask them any questions you may have, to make sure you find the offer that best suits your needs!

Our tips for anticipating a travel mishap

Here are a few tips to help you anticipate travel mishaps:

    • Before you leave on your road trip, take stock on your insurance. Contact your insurer to explain your trip (itinerary, mode of transport, activities, length of stay, etc.) and make sure you’re properly covered.
    • Always make copies (paper and digital) of your important documents: passport, driver’s license, vehicle insurance, personal insurance, etc. NB: if you’re travelling in a group, keep a digital copy of your travelling companions’ documents.
    • Keep emergency contact numbers in a safe place (on your phone and in your wallet).
    • Apply for a European Health Insurance Card (or check it’s up to date) if you’re traveling in Europe.
    • Register on the Ariane website before you travel abroad, so that your embassy can be notified of your presence in the country.
    • Keep in close contact with the support team in the event of an incident and follow instructions. Avoid anticipating decisions (plane tickets, repatriation, etc.), as it is more difficult to get reimbursed afterwards.
    • If you are held liable, or if you are mugged or robbed : take photos of the accident, keep contact details for witnesses, make a statement to the police and note down anything that could help you defend yourself if necessary.
    • If you need treatment abroad, always ask for an invoice, a prescription and, if possible, a note from the doctor explaining the treatment carried out.
    • Consider using a satellite phone if you’re traveling in remote areas.

    See other practical information

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    “Si tu as des questions, n’hésite pas à laisser un commentaire en bas de cet article ou à rejoindre notre groupe de discussion sur facebook dédié au road-trip et au voyage overland. Tu pourras y partager ton expérience et découvrir les aventures d’autres voyageurs.

    NB : Cet article contient des liens d’affiliations. Cela signifie que si tu passes par ces liens pour souscrire à une assurance, tu peux soutenir notre jeune maison d’édition. Le prix est inchangé pour toi, mais nous prenons une petite commission.

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    comparison of the best insurances for a road-trip by motorcycle, 4x4, van or bike
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