Last Updated on 12/05/2023 by Edy Ragnoli
Are you a digital nomad or long-term traveller? You need proper coverage against the incidents that may occur during your stay abroad. Failure on having travel insurance can cost you a steep amount of money making your life as a nomad a nightmare or even putting an end to your travel dreams.
So, should you buy travel insurance during your long-term digital nomad adventure? My answer is yes, you should get one, but keeping in mind these recommendations when choosing the right coverage plan.
There are many insurance companies on the market and the choice can be sometimes hard. Today I'd like to make your life easier by comparing two of them. They're the best alternatives for digital nomads. Keep reading if you'd like to know which one to buy and why.
Why a Long-Term Travel Insurance Is Important
Let's assume you live in Spain. As a Spanish citizen you may be covered in your Country and within the EU for any health issues. But what if you move to Japan, Indonesia or the US, for several months or years, to visit the whole country and enjoy the activities the Islands, States and nature have to offer?
In case you get injured or sick, you'll need first aid and/or long-term health treatment. But Spain and Europe won't help you. On the contrary, you'll end up receiving thousands of dollars in bills that you may not be able to pay at all (if they even admit you to the hospital in the first place).
The Health Insurance
Good international health insurance covers all the costs you incur locally for a prolonged period and gives you peace of mind. Your journey abroad won't turn into a nightmare. You can relax and enjoy your long-term travel in full. But remember that some health insurance will just move you to another place where you are entitled to long-term care.
So, when you search for the best health insurance, verify if you are covered for long-term treatment at your “nomad local home” and both emergency and routine healthcare (check-ups, coverage for chronic and pre-existing conditions, etc.). Good health insurance will also allow you to choose the doctor and facility to receive the treatment in any place within the region they cover.
The Travel Insurance
When we talk about travel insurance, we tend to include everything involving our trip, but we should distinguish it from health insurance. So let's clear things up to avoid any confusion.
Travel insurance gives coverage for a limited duration and includes emergency medical treatment and things like cancellations, loss of personal belongings, or transportation delay. Therefore, it's meant for short-term travellers abroad and holidaymakers to protect against travel-related issues. Long-term medical treatment will be then provided once you return home.
This differentiates travel insurance from long-term health insurance. Despite that, as a digital nomad, you may need some kind of travel coverage. But for those who prefer a low-budget approach, you should read the following suggestions.
Sometimes your credit cards and transportation company may offer a kind of coverage for travel issues. Even your long-term health insurance may include it.
On the contrary, travel insurance may have some exclusion (for example, flight delays below three/four hours). But, according to statistics, the average delay per flight in Europe in November 2019 was 8.5 minutes on departure and 7.3 minutes on arrival.
This means that buying separate travel insurance may be useless. Do the math and evaluate if any loss of your personal belongings (and gears) can be rare and/or easily covered by the money you save.
The Emergency Evacuation (or medical transportation)
Now, imagine you are a successful digital nomad (perhaps a specialised adventure travel blogger or just a passionate of extreme sports in the wild). What if you have an accident and there are no hospitals in the area or the medical facilities can’t provide the proper treatment?
You need an ‘exit plan’. Emergency evacuation insurance will take care of that and cover the expenses (sometimes huge) for transportation to the nearer equipped medical centre.
But emergency evacuation insurance covers just transportation. You still need health coverage for any treatment at the hospital. So, verify whether your health insurance also includes any kind of medical transportation. You may not even need one if you plan to stay just in big cities in developed countries.
So when should you look for medical transportation insurance? I suggest you purchase it if you’re going to stay in underdeveloped countries, or love hiking or other extreme activities in remote areas. In these cases, a policy limit of at least $100,000 should be enough (just ask yourself how remote and underdeveloped these areas are).
Essentially, my money-saving tip, for a long-term traveller and digital nomad like you, is to avoid plans with unnecessary coverage (for things that may happen rarely or wouldn’t ruin you financially).
If you believe something is unlikely to happen – or there's just a little chance of it – (for ex., gear loss or damage), with money saved along the years, you'll be able to purchase new equipment when you need it.
Just do the math and calculate how much you can save (maybe by putting your money in private investment or a personal savings account). You'll understand eventually what’s more convenient for you.
World Nomads vs SafetyWing
World Nomads is pretty old insurance. When the company appeared on the market (it was founded in 2002), its product offered an innovative way to get travel coverage for nomads. It allowed purchasing insurance while travelling and also included extreme sports cover.
Since then, several alternatives appeared. World Nomads can count on its brand identity and popularity, but I think the price is quite high for what the company offers, especially compared to other modern solutions.
There's something you must consider about World Nomads. It uses different insurance providers. It means different terms and prices depending on your country of residence. And if you are thinking of extending your period, you should know the extension is pretty expensive.
In the competitive market of long-term travel insurance, I do prefer SafetyWing, a startup company, but backed by Tokio Marine (the first insurance company in Japan since 1879 and one of the most important in the world). SafetyWing is popular for providing a subscription-like insurance plan that you can cancel at any time (like Amazon Prime or Netflix). The price is fixed and competitive. It renews monthly and varies just based on your age.
SafetyWing offers cool benefits that we'll see later. But what makes it different – and better – are its products: not just medical and travel coverage, but also global health insurance for both remote workers, nomads, and remote companies.
Company's ultimate goal is to offer disability and pension plans too together with other new products in the future until it creates a complete social safety net all around the world.
Comparison Table – Who Wins the Battle?
I made this comparison based on the main features and benefits and considering a 34-years-old traveller. For World Nomads, I checked the terms and prices for a UK resident and converted GBP values to USD.
|Price Worldwide||$73/4 weeks||$172/4 weeks|
|Price Worldwide (excl. the US)||$40/4 weeks||$149/4 weeks|
|Different price by country||No||Yes|
|Maximum limit||$250.000||Up to $12M (overseas medical expenses)|
|Subscription||Yes (it auto-renews until you cancel)||No|
|Return home coverage||30 days every 90 days paid||Once|
|Trip interruption||Up to $5.000||$1.900 (only Explorer Plan)|
|Travel delay||Yes||Only Explorer Plan|
|Natural Disaster (relocation)||$500||$1.200 (only Explorer Plan)|
|Personal liability||Up to $25.000||Up to $2.5M|
|Personal accident||Up to $50.000 (included scooter/moped)||Up to $32.000|
|Political evacuation||Yes||Only Explorer Plan|
|Lost Baggage||Up to $3.000/period; $500/item; Up to $6.000/lifetime||Up to $2.500; $320/item|
|Young children included||1/adult or 2/family||No|
|Covid-19 coverage||Yes (on new policies or upgrades)||No|
|Emergency Dental||Up to $1.000||Up to $647|
|Physiotherapy||Up to $50 per day||Up to $647|
|Health insurance||Yes (remote workers, digital nomads, remote companies)||No|
Why Buy SafetyWing Travel/Health Insurance
The comparison between SafetyWing and World Nomads can help you get an idea of the pros and cons of both insurance policies. But why exactly should you choose SafetyWing? Here are the best features and benefits that will get you to say yes to its offer.
Subscription plan. Travelling should be easy. Living as a long-term digital nomad should be a happy relaxing experience without boundaries. Well, SafetyWing's Nomad Insurance can save your day. It renews automatically every 28 days. Price is low and you can cancel anytime. Can we consider SafetyWing the Netflix of insurance? Automatic renewal is not the only way, though. You can also choose specific travel dates (with up-front payment and a minimum of 5 days).
Affordable price. Pricing depends just on age and whether travel to the US is included or not. For instance, if you are 34 years old, you can travel all around the world for 4 weeks with a complete coverage paying just $73.
Zero deductible in many claims. SafetyWing deductible is $250, but some claims don’t require it at all. Here’s a comprehensive list: urgent care, emergency dental, emergency medical evacuation, hospital indemnity, bedside visits, crisis response, emergency reunion, the return of minor children, pet return, political evacuation, lost/stolen passport/Visa, travel delay, loss of checked luggage, replacement accommodations for a natural disaster, personal liability, trip interruption, repatriation of remains, local burial or cremation, accidental death and dismemberment, common carrier accidental death.
Coverage for your home country. For every 90 days of insurance paid, you can come back home and relax knowing you have medical coverage for 30 days. Assuming you keep paying for 364 days, you can visit your home country up to 4 times in a year without losing your coverage.
Same cheap daily price regardless of the length. You have no surprise. Whether you choose specific travel dates (5 days minimum) or a standard 4-week auto-renewal plan, the price per day is always the same: $1.43.
Children included. Sometimes a digital nomad is a solo traveller, but what if you have companionship? SafetyWing helps you by including your kids in the insurance. If the age is between 14 days and 10 years, you can include 1 young child per adult and up to 2 children per family. The cost? Zero: it has no additional costs.
Purchasing while abroad. Have you already started your travel? Don't worry, you can buy an insurance plan at any time. How many companies allow that?
Covid-19 included. Since 1st August 2020, SafetyWing Nomad Insurance covers Coronavirus disease. The coverage applies on new policies purchased (or upgrades) and treats Covid-19 as any other illness unless it was contracted before the start date. Testing for the virus is covered too as long as it's requested by a physician because medically necessary.
Global health insurance for remote workers. This is ideal for long-term travellers and workers who don't need travel coverage but would like complete health insurance for local treatments everywhere in the world (175+ countries) and full refund. It gives you coverage for hospitalization, drugs, cancer, surgeries, ambulance, parent and child overnight accommodation, medical evacuation, MRI, PET and CT scans, rehabilitation, extreme activities). You can even use the plan for a Schengen Visa.
Global health insurance for remote companies. It offers coverage for each team member (international and independent remote workers) with scalable price, a handy and flexible online dashboard, and no exclusions for pandemics.
Note: both health insurance plans offer $1.000.000 annual maximum, direct billing for in-patient serious emergency, and premium “add-ons”. Add-ons are additional benefits and include dental care, outpatient, 0% deductible. Companies can also request maternity, vaccines and screenings coverage. And if you get married or have a baby after the starting date, you can add your family to the plan as well. A company can choose whether its employees can add dependants or not.
Everybody has his personal needs when travelling or working abroad. When it comes to nomad life, I prefer an all-in-one long-term travel and health insurance that can offer complete coverage at an affordable price but without giving up on the important things. What’s your preference and experience?