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Travel insurance for digital nomads is an absolute necessity, and the same applies with long-term travellers. We should be more specific here… travel health insurance is the most important cover to get if you are planning long-term travel out of your own country for more than a few weeks.
Selecting digital nomad insurance can often be a case of going with the first result that pops up on Google in a blind panic, but if you’re going away for a long period then shopping around can get you some great deals, so it’s worth doing some research. Now not everybody has time for that, so I’ve done it all for you.
What is travel health insurance and why do you need it?
If you’re looking to travel for longer than 30 days in 1 or more foreign countries, you definitely need travel health insurance.
Especially if you’re going to be doing any kind of adventure sports like climbing, off-roading or scuba diving. Also if you have any expensive electronic equipment like cameras or laptops.
Even if you are covered in your home country for health insurance you still need to be covered in case of an emergency abroad. A good policy will cover things like:
- Costs of any medical treatment/surgeries abroad and costs related to illnesses or injuries
- Emergency evacuation (e.g ambulance/helicopter or if the hospital you’re in can’t treat you)
- Some of the best ones also include insurance of lost possessions and cover for any delays/trip interruptions (like SafetyWing)
Some definitions which are useful when looking at digital nomad insurance policies:
- Emergency medical expenses – This is the max amount a provider will stump up for your medical care. Anything above this comes out of your pocket
- Excess – The amount you are personally responsible for if you make a claim
- Personal liability – This is the legal expenses incurred by accident or claims made against you
Some details to have ready when you’re looking for an insurance quote:
- Length of time you’ll be travelling for (it’s good to have a rough plan especially on how many times you intend on returning home as this can affect price)
- What you are planning on doing whilst abroad – plans with extreme sports like rock climbing, scuba diving, snowboarding and other additions can be more expensive
- Do you have any pre-existing medical conditions
- Are you working whilst travelling
There are plenty of companies that offer travel health insurance and it can be difficult to know which is the best to go for. I’ve assessed 5 of the most popular travel health insurance companies for long-term travellers, and here is my analysis:
SafetyWing are one of the newest companies out there. They are one of the most affordable and flexible on the market. Their aim is to build a country independent safety net for travellers and digital nomads and they are already offering a package that is superior in many ways to some of the more established companies.
- Signing up works like a subscription, you can have a start date then cancel when needed – great if you haven’t got a set travel plan
- Lowest cost of any on the market
- No cap to the trip
- Monthly auto-renewal so no more forgetting to renew and being slapped with an extension fee
- Private healthcare is covered which is different to a lot of other providers
- You are covered even in your home country for 30 days within every 90-day period (or for 15 days if your home country is the US)
- Administered by Tokyo Marine one of the largest insurers globally
- Offers worldwide coverage and can be purchased whilst already travelling
- Supports direct billing
- 24/7 support
- Young children can be included on a parent’s policy at no extra cost (1 per adult up to 2 per family)
- Can be slightly expensive if the US is included in your travel plans
- If you don’t actively renew the policy will lapse after 364 days
Pricing for a 35-year-old nomad who’s already travelling:
|Worldwide ex US||Worldwide|
World Nomads ★★★★
World Nomads are a stalwart of the travel health insurance scene, having been around since 2002. They are a company with a lot of experience in the sector and offer some great packages.
World Nomads comes in at a lot more expensive than pretty much anyone else; but you do get a lot of coverage for this (which isn’t necessarily a good thing if you don’t need that much).
They are probably the best-known company to digital nomads and long-term travelers so let’s have a look at what’s included:
- Cover for any missed, delayed or cancelled flights
- If any of your checked luggage is damaged or stolen you are covered for up to $2000 per item (includes cameras, smart phones, laptops etc)
- Their coverage is worldwide
- If you’re a US citizen, you are covered in the United States
- Coverage for any injuries and illnesses due to extreme sports (if you’re using the Explorer policy), any hospital stays, medicine, dental emergencies and evacuation
- They can bill directly to the hospital if needed
- Open to all nationalities
- Any pre-existing conditions you had 6 months before taking out the policy aren’t covered, including treatment for cancers and routine checkups.
- You have to select an end date for travel, which can be tricky if you don’t have a set plan
- You can only return to your home country once, which can be difficult if you are planning on visiting friends/family
- As different insurers are used depending on where you are from, their prices can vary drastically
Base price of a Standard/Explorer plan for a 35-year-old traveler from the UK (prices converted from GBP at the time of writing):
|Worldwide ex US||Worldwide|
IMG are an established company that focuses on the health side of the travel insurance market. Not as traveller-friendly as a few of the other companies listed here, what they do offer is comprehensive cover.
They are one of the more affordable travel health insurances on the market, but they do come with a few drawbacks because of that. If you’re just after a standard health-only insurance, then this is the one for you. For digital nomad insurance or long term travel insurance they may not be as focused as SafetyWing and World Nomads.
- Flexible pricing, so can lessen your premiums
- A lot cheaper to renew than other companies like World Nomads
- Established company
- Not many packages to choose from
- As it’s a health-only policy it doesn’t cover you for any lost luggage, travel interruptions, delays etc., which others like SafetyWing do cover (and are cheaper)
- If you are home for longer than 14 days (or even 1 if you’re from the US), your insurance is void
- If you are a US citizen and your plan includes travel in the US, then cover is not available
Pricing for a 35-year-old single traveller (travel health only, $500,000 limit, $250 deductible):
|Worldwide ex US||Worldwide|
True Traveller ★★★★
True Traveller have been around since 2010 and pride themselves on being created by travellers for travellers. Their offering comes from the experience of the founders and their team who know long term travel well and know the importance of long term travel insurance.
Probably the most popular provider in the UK, they offer some of the most affordable plans out there (prices do go up when adding extras).
- Can do direct billing
- You can go home as many times as you want
- Easy to claim
- Covers both health and travel (so delays, lost luggage etc.)
- Only available to UK/EU citizens
- Expensive if you’re looking to extend the policy
- Only covers public medical treatment, not private
Base price* for a 35-year-old nomad who is already traveling (prices converted from GBP at the time of writing):
|Worldwide ex US & Canada||Worldwide|
Allianz are a global company with a huge offering across sectors. They give you the reassurance of a recognised name brand if you’re unsure whether to go with a smaller company However, this does come with some drawbacks.
One of the most expensive options out there, they are a reputable company so worth having a look at, but aren’t available everywhere. Furthermore, they don’t focus specifically on digital nomad insurance or long term travel insurance so the cover they provide will likely be broader and less focused on your needs.
- Simple set of packages
- Global reputable company
- Coverage for pre-existing conditions
- Expensive compared to other companies like SafetyWing
- Need to have purchased before starting the trip, which can be a pain for most nomads
Prices of digital nomad travel health insurance can vary widely depending on your country, so it’s worth doing some research to see if this is suitable.
When looking for an insurance policy, it’s definitely worth going through a few providers before choosing. Some other good tips to keep in mind are:
- Always keep a copy of the insurance documents, ideally one paper and one electronic. This is useful as the emergency contact details will be on there so even if you are unable to provide them the first responders will still have access.
- Have digital copies of all travel, financial and visa documents
- Make copies of any costs incurred through delayed flights/lost luggage (a scan of the receipt will be fine). Also keep the receipts of any items you plan on taking travelling with you (i.e laptop, camera, phone, sports equipment etc.), so you’ll have proof of purchase if you do have to claim.
There are some pretty good options out there for long-term travel (or digital nomad) insurance. However, I have found that the ones who focus solely on this market often offer the most bespoke packages that are more suited to the typical issues you might need insurance for on a very long, multi-country trip.
That’s why I’ve found SafetyWing and TrueTraveller to be the best options with World Nomads in at a close third. However, every situation is different and you should do your research to see how each provider applies to you individually.
Digital nomads who are well-versed in SEO and digital marketing may even be able to offer their skills to companies in exchange for a free month or trial. With flexible insurance options, this might be worth exploring to get a feel for the digital nomad health insurance that is right for you.