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travel insurance guide

You´ve booked your flights and accommodation. You´ve got a swanky new backpack and you are ready to go. Wait. Hang on.

Have you got travel insurance?

No, I don´t think I need it because I am going to be a digital nomad. I´m not backpacking.

Actually, I am only going to countries which have a cheap cost of living so if I do need to go to the hospital, it won´t be very expensive anyway…right?


WRONG!

Whether you are an expat, a backpacker or a digital nomad – traveling without insurance is a very bad idea.

So why do so many travel without travel insurance?

Let´s be honest, travel insurance is a boring topic. It is usually the last thing we want to think about when trip planning. We want to get excited about our adventure, not think about what could go wrong.

The main reason people don´t get travel insurance is because they just don´t know where to start.
Researching the different policies is exhausting and nothing short of a headache!

In a recent post, I looked at some of the challenges digital nomads face, and finding travel insurance is another obstacle which is causing problems for digital nomads.

The problem is, being a digital nomad is still a relatively new concept and most insurance companies just aren´t able to supply coverage which suits the needs of digital nomads.

travel insurance


Most travel insurance companies require you to have a start and end date and to know in advance which countries you will be visiting.

Speaking from my own digital nomad experience, finding travel insurance for myself was a NIGHTMARE!

The good news is, I have done the hard work for you.

But, why do digital nomads need travel insurance?

Firstly, the clue is in the name. Most digital nomads rely on their laptop or computer for work. All digital nomads have at least one expensive device!

A digital nomad probably also travels with a smartphone and maybe other gadgets such as a tablet, smart watch, camera and so on.

Secondly, maybe the only thing more valuable than your laptop – your health!

Insuring your health is the ultimate reason to get travel insurance. You really do not want to find yourself in a foreign hospital with a huge medical bill.

You might be under the impression that just because you´re traveling to a cheap country, medical bills wouldn´t be so expensive.

Think again. Just a few hours in hospital for basic treatment, can set
you back hundreds of dollars in even the poorest countries of the world.

Why is insurance specifically tailored to digital nomads important?


People have different needs.
The benefit of insurance which has been specifically designed for digital nomads is probably going to be more suited for you, if:

  • You have expensive gadgets which you would like to insure
  • You don´t know when your ´trip´ will end
  • You have already left you home country and want to start your insurance policy.
  • You have expensive gadgets which you would like to insure
  • You don´t know when your ´trip´ will end
  • You have already left you home country and want to start your insurance policy.

What should I be looking for in an insurance policy?


It is not always easy to know what we need and our needs can differ to those of another. You might need to draw up a list of what you consider vital in a policy.
You´ll likely need the following:

  • Emergency care
  • Routine medical check-ups
  • Emergency travel situations – cancelled or delayed flights or stolen luggage,

Medical Insurance VS. Comprehensive Travel Insurance

Firstly, the difference is not complicated. Medical insurance will cover you for health-related expenses whereas Comprehensive Travel Insurance will also cover you for things like, flight cancellations, lost or stolen luggage, or having to travel home unexpectedly for a funeral.


It is usually only a few more dollars per day to get fully comprehensive insurance, therefore, it is well worth having.


Having full comprehensive travel insurance will give you complete peace of mind.

Don´t be put off!

One of the reasons why people are put off becoming digital nomads is the fear of not having a safety net.

What happens if something goes wrong? Will I be able to get medical help if I need it?

Having the right kind of travel insurance is essential. There are so many different insurance companies out there, but finding the one to suit you can be a challenge.

This is why I have done the searching for you.

I have found the best travel and medical insurance for digital nomads or long-term travellers which is available for US and non-US citizens.

SafetyWing


SafetyWing, a Norwegian company aiming to create a safety net for digital nomads. They actually designed the world´s first digital nomad insurance and pride themselves on being digital nomads themselves.

Therefore, the insurance policy has been designed to meet lifestyle needs of a digital nomad.


While still a relatively new company, SafetyWing was found in 2017, the policy is administrated by Tokio Marine, one of the biggest insurance companies in the world.


Unlike most insurance companies, SafetyWing insurance works like a subscription (like Netflix or Spotify).

Meaning you can stop or start the insurance, anytime!


SafetyWing will give you worldwide coverage, but not just that – they will also cover you while you´re in your home country. Neat, huh?


The company recognize that digital nomads often fall between the cracks and struggle to find insurance which covers their needs.

travel insurance


Co-founder Hans Kjellby said:

“In SafetyWing we are on a mission to build a global safety net tailored for remote workers, freelancers and digital nomads. We decided to start with a Travel Medical product because there were no other tailored solutions for our group of people on the market at our price range. In the future we will keep adding products so that we in the end have built a complete safety net for this group of
people.”


What does SafetyWing include in their policy?

  • Medical Cover – you are covered for all urgent care including dental treatment and physical therapy. You will not be covered for high-risksports activity, pre-exisiting disease or injury or cancer treatment.
  • Travel Cover – lost checked luggage up to a value of $3,000 per certificate period, natural disaster (having to find a new place to stay), political evacuation, emergency medical evacuation, personal liability, and accidental death.
travel insurance
  • Note: gadget cover is not included nor are routine medical check-ups. Please check the policy for more details about what is included.

How much does it cost?


Prices start at $1.32 per day and coverage can be bought for a maximum of 364 days.
Note: $30 add on for US (since healthcare in the US is more expensive)

Pros

  • Flexibility – pay as you go and stop anytime, and start the insurance even after your trip has started
  • Affordability – much cheaper than other insurance companies
  • 30-day home country coverage every 3 months so you´re covered when you go back home for visits!
  • Created by digital nomads for digital nomads
  • Available for everyone
  • The product is simple – easy to understand, no nonsense.
  • Claiming is easy – sign in to the online claim portal and download the claim form.

Cons

  • Even though it is designed for digital nomads, it doesn´t cover any gadgets. However, if you don´t have any very expensive devices, you really don´t actually need gadget cover.
  • Routine medical check ups are not included – if this is something important to you, you might need to find an alternative company.

Overall, I have shared with you the policy which I believe to be the current best on the market for long term travelers and digital nomads.

After reviewing in great details, it should come as no surprise to you when I tell you this is my go-to insurance company.


Why SafetyWing stands out from the rest?

Like SafetyWing itself, the answer is clear and simple. SafetyWing is affordable and flexible.

There is no other company on the market that can beat what SafetyWing offers.

In fact, Safetywing is ultimately the cheapest option available right now, and comes in at a third of the cost of its leading competitor.

travel insurance

Finally, I do not believe in recommending companies which I do not use myself. I am not trying to sell you a product but simply trying to save your time and money.

Many bloggers will write about other insurance companies purely for the fact these companies offer very attractive affiliate rewards. This does not help the reader find what they need, and can just lead to more confusion!


DISCLAIMER: This article does contain affiliate links – if you sign up, Nominal Nomads earns a small fee but it costs you nothing extra and its anonymous.

Nominal Nomad

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28 thoughts on “Travel insurance – Finding the right one in 2019”

  1. I never really gave much thought to the concept of insurance having always worked for a company that supplied me with insurance (for a price) but it must be difficult as a digital nomad to navigate the insurance waters. Especially having to insure your expensive items. Very helpful article.

  2. Good coverage of travel insurance needs. I don’t travel much myself, but this company is certainly one I would look into. Thanks for the well thought out post.

  3. Great info here! I’ve never purchased travel insurance on any trips that I’ve taken but now will definitely be reconsidering that. You bring up some really valid points here and provide a lot of great options. Thanks for sharing!

  4. My sister-in-law booked a beach trip without travel insurance. Her mom got really sick and she was unable to go on the trip. She wasn’t able to recover any of the money she had paid because she didn’t get the travel insurance that was offered. Now, We always get travel insurance. You never know when you’ll get sick!

    1. Oh no, that really sucks 🙁 we always think these things will never happen to us, but we can never be certain of that!!

  5. Usually my only problem with travel insurance is the cost. I usually weigh weather or not the trip warrants it. If it’s a trip in the US and I know where I’m going and it’s not a bad weather season, then I’ll go without it. But if I’m going to a place I’m not used to or somewhere far away from home, I’ll get it. In your situation, though, I could see where it would be unwise to go without it ever.

    1. Thanks for your comment. Aren’t you worried about what you would do if you got sick? Especially in the USA where it is very expensive. Just a thought! Maybe safetywing could also be a nice option for you, especially as you can start the insurance when you’ve already left home!

  6. I generally rely on my credit card’s insurance perks and my medical insurance to back me up in the event of travel issues/injuries and have never once bought travel insurance, especially for backpacking trips. I will save this and study it further and rethink how I do things.

    1. It sounds like safetywing could be a good option for you if you’re backpacking. I really love the company because it’s so simple compared to other insurance companies. Safe travels!!

  7. I have recently heard of a incidence where someone from India had to hospitalized while travelling in Rome. She ended up in ICU and on life support for months. Very fortunately she had travelling insurance. Thank you for sharing such a useful and informative post for all travelers, specially for Digital Nomads.

  8. I know of a woman that arrived in Thailand last Fall and while there had a stroke and went into a coma on Nov 1st 2018. She doesnt have any insurance so her family had to fundraise to pay for her care…medical bills over $100k to date. She still in a coma and unable to get repatriated because of lack of insurance. I never thought insurance would be so important! It is actually a must.

    1. Oh my goodness, that is truly awful and really does highlight how important it is to have insurance, we always think it could never happen to us. I hope she recovers.

we would love to hear your thoughts about this!

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