Travellers are insured to pat a tiger but not to read a book!

Thanks to Sallie Grayson from People and Places for this guest post – has some very valid points that I’m sure people haven’t thought of.

Travellers are insured to pat a tiger but not to read a book!

One in five UK travellers is uninsured, according to a recent ABTA survey ( I don’t have the figures for American travellers – but I suspect that there are some similarities? Anyone out there able to enlighten us?)

This figure is even worse for travellers who volunteer whist they are abroad.

Many volunteers are unaware that the vast majority of travel insurance policies provides no cover for their time “at work” – even when that work is unpaid and may be as simple as reading stories to children! Worse still many volunteer placement organisations seem to be unaware!

Many people don’t know the right questions to ask to verify that they are in fact insured.

Here are some suggestions

1.      Am I insured to work – if so what work?

2.      Am I insured to do building work

3.      What work would negate my cover.

4.      Which are the specific clauses in my policy that refer to the cover provided (or not) whilst I am working

We hope to encourage companies that are selling insurance to volunteers to take responsibility for the quality of the cover they are providing and to be transparent about what is and is not covered. Volunteers need to know that they may well be insured for bungee-jumping but not for tripping over on the sports field when they are playing soccer with the kids.

Organisations offering volunteer travel as part of their trips have a responsibility to at least draw this danger to customers’ attention and better yet, ensure that any insurer they do recommend offers adequate cover. We can be pretty certain that the projects themselves will not be insured.

And a final big warning to those organisations that offer volunteer placements on building projects – to my knowledge no insurer covers work above 2 metres or involving the use of power tools!!!!

Sallie Grayson

On  Wednesday November 10th, WTM World Responsible Tourism Day, People and Places launched and now this insurance is available to all volunteers – whether they travel with people and places or another provider.

Other good insurance partners include: and

One thought on “Travellers are insured to pat a tiger but not to read a book!

  1. Excellent information. All international volunteers need to investigate and be thoroughly aware of the extent of coverage their insurance policies provide. I am currently on a three-month international consulting assignment and had just assumed I was covered. Fortunately I am. Thank you for the wake-up call.

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