So if you’re planning on wandering (or already are), it’s a good idea to take a look around the internet and search for a travel nomad insurance plan that works for you.
Most digital nomad insurance is complicated, requires too much research, too much sifting through too many options and categories and potentials.
SafetyWing streamlines the whole process and makes for a headache-free (or at least headache-reduced) search for digital nomad insurance, or travel insurance for independent travelers looking to get lost and/or found in this big, beautiful world we’re part of.
Discloser: This is a genuine guide. We’re not trying to talk you into buying insurance, yet we think it is an important topic that you should keep in mind if you’re traveling or planning on it. Please check first if you are already covered by your insurance back home. If you need additional coverage, then this is the perfect guide for you.
We also decided to team up with SafetyWing and World Nomads. Meaning, when you purchase your nomad insurance through their links, we will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.
So if you are wondering, what is travel insurance, and do I need it? Let’s dive right into it. There are many things you need to know before you go and get nomad insurance.
What is travel insurance?
And what type of insurance is good for you?
Before I get into SafetyWing, it will be useful to take a look at some different types of travel insurance offers out there. Some travel insurance should really be called “holiday insurance“.
They normally cover short vacations no more than three months, and some require quoting expenses or showing proof of round-trip airline tickets.
Other plans cover only medical emergencies but not travel related expenses like travel delays or lost baggage.
Yet again, other plans only cover travel related expenses and not medical emergencies. It’s important to be discerning about your options.
Here’s a list of some options you may see while searching:
Travel Medical Insurance
Only covers medical emergencies, not travel related expenses.
Only covers travel expenses like trip interruption, long flight delays and lost baggage.
International Health Insurance
Some companies like IMG Global offer this option for people living/working internationally for over a year. However, they are usually more expensive than SafetyWing or World Nomads.
If you’re planning on staying in one place for a while, and end up getting a residency permit, you may have the option (or be required) to purchase health insurance from a provider in the country where you’re staying.
This usually involves the extra effort of applying for residency, and is only worth it if you’re staying in a country for over three months.
Depending on the country, the insurance can be quite cheap.
In Turkey, for example, a foreigner’s health insurance can cost as little as 200 lira (35 bucks) for a WHOLE YEAR.
The cool thing about companies like SafetyWing and World Nomad (and TrueTraveller if you live in the EU and UK) is that you can bundle all these options into one sleek, sexy and affordable plan.
Yes, I used the word ‘sexy’ in an article about insurance, although I don’t advise typing ‘sexy insurance’ into your web browser.
6 Things you should know before you buy
Let’s look for a second at some things to take into consideration while you’re searching for a travel insurance package that fits your needs.
Am I already covered?
What is a Deductible?
Scope of Coverage
Where are you going?
How long will you be travelling?
What will you you Be doing and who are you doing it with?
1. Am I already covered?
Before you start looking for travel insurance, check with your insurance provider in your home country for international travel!
If you’re from the US, then you’re probably not. But if you’re from Europe or the UK, you might be covered while traveling around Europe.
It’s definitely worth checking.
Don’t waste time and energy looking for your keys while they’ve been in your pocket the whole time.
On that note, many home insurances only cover a certain amount of time in foreign countries. Best would be to call them up and ask them about your specific case. Let them know how long you plan to travel and where. Ask as well what you need to do in case something happens.
Check out also your private medical insurance plan – if you have it – back home.
Many medical insurances that people have in their country cover some days abroad (might not cover all the countries, or have limits in days or amounts). As each medical plans have different conditions, make sure you check yours – if you have any.
2. What is a Deductible?
Always an important aspect of any insurance, though sometimes mysterious and not understood properly.
A basic description of a deductible (also known as excess) could be useful for your travel insurance search.
Basically, if something bad happens, a deductible is the amount of money you pay up front before the insurance company pays out your claim.
Usually, the higher your deductible, the lower the cost of your monthly premium.
Example? Here you go.
Let’s say you cut your hand and need to go to the hospital for treatment that costs $1,000.
If your deductible is $200, you’ll pay that up front and the insurance will pony up the remaining $800.
If your deductible is $1,000 in this same scenario, then… well, do the math.
Keep in mind: deductibles are basically a risk/reward gamble.
How much am I willing to pay now? vs. How much am I willing to pay if something bad happens?
3. Scope of Coverage
Ask yourself: “What is covered with a travel insurance and what isn’t?”
As I’ve already mentioned, there are a few different coverage options that span different amounts of time and cover different terrible potential situations.
So, it’s important to pay attention to details to see what you may need vs. what is covered in the plan.
If you’re looking for a plan that handles more than just emergency situations.
Your best bet is to check out International health insurance plans, which can also be used as primary health insurance, and cover things like routine check-ups and preventative care.
Neither SafetyWing nor World Nomad provide these.
Note: SafetyWing is working on expanding their coverage to include this in the future (more on that later). We are currently looking into that, for getting insurance for the whole team.
4. Where Are You Going?
There are a couple things to take into consideration when it comes to how travel insurance works in different countries.
First of all, the cost of your insurance can vary depending on where you’ll be traveling to.
And while the differences in cost among different companies may be marginal, it’s something worth being aware of during your search.
Good to know: many companies don’t offer coverage in countries like Cuba, North Korea and Iran, so pay attention to that as well.
Update: Worldnomads does not cover China now (4th of Aug 20). A user of our website was comparing prices, and it would not let him add China. So he went with safety wing.
Per Worldnomad website when trying to enter the country; Sorry, we’re currently unable to provide cover for China.
Another thing to be aware of is the remoteness of your destination.
If you are somewhere out in the bush in Mozambique and something bad happens, you may need medical evacuation by air or ground to the nearest hospital, which can get expensive.
Certain plans have varying degrees of medical coverage, so if you know you’ll be going somewhere really out there, definitely keep this in mind.
5. How Long Will You Be Travelling?
If your answer is ‘indefinitely’, then definitely check out SafetyWing and World Nomads.
They offer the most flexible and easily renewable plans for digital nomads and independent, long-term travelers.
In fact, SafetyWing is the perfect nomad insurance for travelling longer than 1 year. By default the insurance won’t even give you an end date. This insurance is built for long-term travellers.
Check the options!
You can create recurring payments, like a subscription. So useful and simple! Just make sure you end your subscription when you are no longer travelling.
Other companies like IMG Global, True Traveller and others offer long-term packages as well.
I’ll talk about those two companies towards the end of the article. After all, this is a complete guide.
6. What Will You Be Doing and Who Are You Doing it With?
Do you plan on doing activities like scuba diving, mountain biking, hiking at elevation, parasailing and the like?
Will you be travelling with expensive electronic equipment?
Do you have kids or a spouse?
These things may affect the cost of your insurance premium.
Why buy travel insurance from SafetyWing?
Is SafetyWing a great digital nomad insurance? Well, they have a lot of pros.
Here are 3 main ones:
Backed by the insurance giant Tokio Marine.
Hassle-free application process.
Super affordable pricing.
SafetyWing is a newcomer to the insurance world.
Launched in 2017, the SafetyWing founders are from Norway but the company wasn’t started in Norway; they are nomads and created the start-up directly in San Francisco. This is where they’re now based as expats.
Their aim is to provide good, affordable healthcare specifically for digital nomads and long-term travelers.
Since it is backed by the insurance giant Tokio Marine, there is no dealing with multiple insurance companies depending on your nationality/location.
This makes for a very streamlined, easy-to-use website and application process.
Furthermore, this eliminates a lot of the headache of comparing plans and worrying about whether or not you’ll be covered here or there.
That is one of the most attractive aspects SafetyWing. It’s like the iOS of travel insurance.
Good to know: They’re also working on expanding into primary care health insurance.
Which would be an awesome addition to the digital nomad insurance world, and give world travelers an excellent option for both emergency medical care and primary/preventative care.
Meaning you could go get a check-up and be covered.
Why do I want to emphasize the first glance? Remember there is also a yearly $250 deductible. Depending on your medical needs, SafetyWing can be more expensive than Worldnomads.
Let’s have a look at one simple travel insurance example with different hospital bills:
You need to go to the hospital in Bali and the hospital bill is $10
SafetyWing: $37 monthly plan + $10 hospital bill (due to the $250 deductible).
WorldNomads: $120 standard plan.
No insurance: 10$.
You need to go to the hospital in Bali and this time the hospital bill is $300
SafetyWing: $37 monthly plan + $250 hospital bill (due to the $250 deductible).
WorldNomads: $120 standard plan.
No Insurance: $300.
Well, you can see with this simple example that insurance is about how much you are willing to pay for your peace of mind status. You will never know in advance if you will use the insurance or not and how much the hospital bill will be. Of course, you can do some research to check the hospital prices. If you are traveling to many countries or non stop, this research can take lot of time and you won’t be 100% certain of the information you find in the online world as it changes continuously.
This example is obviously very very simplified. Just imagine you have a serious issue and the costs climbs to $10.000. In this case, it is not even a question anymore if it travel insurance is worth it. This really depends on your destination, preexisting conditions and your own wallet.
Detailed breakdown of SafetyWing pricing:
If you want to include travel to the United States, and you’re not a US citizen, prices nearly double from the $37.
Even still, the price of coverage if you want to include travel to the United States is still significantly cheaper than most other companies.
What’s included in SafetyWing?
Let’s look at some of what SafetyWing has to offer:
easy and understandable website.
$250,000 maximum limit.
covered everywhere outside your home country except for Cuba, Iran and North Korea.
autopay – your insurance will be charged automatically every month.
you can get insurance for a travel companion or child.
if you’re already abroad, you can still buy insurance at no extra cost.
emergency dental care.
emergency medical evacuation up to $100,000.
trip Interruption up to $5,000 (I’ll get into the specifics of this one later in Not To-Do’s)
direct billing to hospitals listed on their network.
covered in your home country (read details below!)
Home Country: With SafetyWing you are covered in your home country for 30 days within every 90-day period (or for 15 days within every 90 days if you’re from the US).
Direct billing: As for direct billing, this means that you won’t have to pay out of pocket for medical treatment and then get reimbursed later. (Note: remember the $250 deductible).
This network does have some limitations, however. (I’ll explain in the next section)
A wide range of sports activities are covered. Some popular ones include:
Camping under 4,500 meters
Hot air ballooning as a passenger
Moped biking (if you have an international license and this is valid in the country you are riding)
SCUBA diving (if either you are PADI/NAUI certified, or with a certified instructor no more than 10 meters below the surface)
For an exhaustive list, see their website SafetyWing.
Good to know: Some of the less expensive problems that arise feature no deductible.
For example, if you lose your passport, you’re covered up to $100 with no deductible, or if your checked baggage is lost, you’re covered up to $6,000 lifetime with no deductible.
This may be not so great if you’re carrying expensive camera equipment.
Things That Could Be Better – the Cons
I’m splitting hairs here, because on the whole SafetyWing seems nearly too good to be true, with a combination of affordability, ease of use, and necessary coverage.
But let’s look at some potential problems that you might encounter with a plan from SafetyWing.
limited coverage options
out of network Hospitals
doesn’t cover pre-existing conditions (no insurance will cover them)
some extreme sports and activities aren’t covered
While many sports and activities are covered under SafetyWing, some of them aren’t. These include:
Hiking at elevations of 4,500 meters or higher
Tractors (whatever that means)
And last but not nearly least: Running with the bulls in Spain.
Please, please, please, don’t tell me that the thought, ‘Hey, maybe Running with the bulls in Spain is covered in my travel insurance plan’ has ever run through your mind.
Although it’s come up enough to make it onto the list of sports activities excluded in SafetyWing’s coverage.
How do you make a claim?
If something bad happens to you while traveling, it’s really important that you save all the documents, physicians reports hospital statements and any other medical bills that you accrue during the process.
Without these, you may have trouble making a valid claim, and this is true for pretty much any insurance company covering pretty much anything.
That said, like a lot of other companies, you can file your claim with Safety Wing either online or through the post.
For example, if you’re applying for a Schengen visa to any EU country, you must provide proof of travel insurance with at least $50,000 in emergency medical benefits (which most travel insurance plans cover).
It’s important you check this out before traveling as well, just so you’re aware.
SafetyWing offers easy access to your proof of insurance letter by logging in with your policy ID on Tokio Marine’s Client Zone. You will be able to download the visa letter in a PDF format in just seconds.
I’m sure this option is available through any travel insurance policy you go with, but I’m in a SafetyWing state-of-mind in this case. “Just sing in your area and get it, save a PDF, send it to whom it may concern…”.
Summing SafetyWings Up
All things considered: SafetyWing is a really a game-changer when it comes to travel nomad insurance.
It is affordable, covers most everything other travel insurance plans cover, and is simple and easy to use and understand.
There’s no dealing with different insurance companies within your coverage — something that, as an American myself, is a huge weight off of shoulders heavy with years of experience with private healthcare marketplaces and fluctuating premiums/deductibles/stipulations within coverage.
On the other hand, its simplicity doesn’t allow for much wiggle-room if you have specific needs, time restraints, or preferences, which some other plans may allow for by providing multiple coverage options.
Question for you: Have you ever made a claim with Safetwing or World Nomads?
We would love to hear from you! Please leave a comment below and share your experience in details – both bad and good! this way you help more and more travellers!
Here’s a list of things you think you may be covered for, but actually aren’t.
These are based on a careful reading of the fine print in SafetyWing’s Description of Coverage, but they would probably apply to most other travel insurance plans.
Always best to check the fine print
Don’t purchase your plan and then immediately go get medical treatment.
Any company will look at this as though you’re trying to scam them, which you probably are if you’re trying to do it.
We specifically asked this question: Can you buy insurance and go instantly to the doctor? NO! They even consider this a real scam. That being said, obviously there is cases you buy a policy and something happens 2 days later. The doctor will have the final say in this in the report he/she files.
Don’t think that just because you missed a connecting flight due to a delay, you’ll be covered by travel delay insurance.
The delay must be at least 12 hours. If this does happen though, SafetyWing will cover you for up to $100 a day to cover hotel costs.
Don’t get drunk and crash your motorbike into a muddy ditch, badly cracking both rear view mirrors and both of your legs.
You won’t be covered if your BAC (blood alcohol content) is above the legal limit of the country you’re in.
Don’t go back to your home country and get a physical or any voluntary testing/procedures thinking that you’ll be covered.
You won’t be.
The only way you’re covered when you go home (and you’re only covered up to 30 days out of a 90 day policy) is if it’s an ‘incidental emergency’, meaning accidental, unplanned, whoops, damn-I-should’ve…splat!
Don’t get any vaccinations thinking you’ll be covered.
You won’t be covered.
Depending on where you’re going and what vaccinations you may need, check other insurance plans to see what the possibilities are.
If you have a home insurance plan, check out the vaccination options with them as well.
You can usually find safe, affordable vaccination centers if you look in the right places. Preferably not down any dark alleys.
Don’t go snorkeling without a life-jacket and then nearly drown and need life support
And then expect to be covered if you’ve signed a waiver with a tour company stating that they’re not responsible for anything that happens if you don’t wear a life jacket (including shark attacks).
Don’t go get your teeth whitened by a dentist in Thailand, thinking that this will be covered.
It won’t be.
Only emergency dental coverage is provided due to severe, agonizing pain from an acute source. Like if you smash your mouth into Thailand and need immediate reconstructive surgery.
Don’t expect to be covered for treatment for an STD
No matter how hard you try!
Don’t see a billboard ad for hair transplants as you’re driving down some highway and think ‘hmmm, maybe it won’t be that expensive because of my travel insurance?’
It will be. You won’t be covered, in more ways than one.
Don’t go to a dermatologist so you can finally get that annoying birthmark that looks like Italy removed from your inner thigh.
That’ll cost you full price, as it is not covered.
How Does SafetyWing Compare to World Nomads?
This is one of the most asked questions: World Nomads or SafetyWing?
The Pros of World Nomads
World Nomads is definitely a reliable, well established company with great coverage options and an easy-to-use website. Again, we used them for our recent trips.
What’s cool about them is that they offer two types of plans
So you can weigh your options and choose the one that’s right for you. They also offer more coverage for extreme sports
So if you plan on doing things like:
high altitude hiking
scuba diving at depths more than 10 meters
Go with the Explorer plan and be fully covered if something bad happens.
Note: These activities are not covered by SafetyWing.
For a full list of World Nomads sports and activities coverage, see their website.
Good to know: World Nomads also has a trip cancellation policy in both its Standard and Explorer plans.
Note: SafetyWing does not offer trip cancellation. It only offers trip interruption.
Have a look on this calculator to see prices from World Nomads.
So, World Nomads is a bit better than SafetyWing when it comes to:
More coverage options
Collision insurance for rental cars – only offered in the Explorer plan
When stacked up against SafetyWing, there are three main areas where World Nomads falls short:
World Nomads is significantly more expensive than SafetyWing
For me, a 32 year-old American male, World Nomads’ Standard plan will run me about $118/4 weeks.
Compare that to SafetyWing’s $37/4 weeks, and it’s easy to see which one to go with.
Again, bear in mind the $250 deductible of Safetywing and decide which option you wanna go with.
Since World Nomads works with many different insurance companies all over the world, prices and coverages available can vary depending on what country you’re from and where you’re traveling to.
Note: SafetyWing works only with Tokio Marine, so you know what you’re getting from the jump.
3. Extending Coverage:
It’s more difficult to extend your coverage with World Nomads if it expires.
Note: SafetyWing can automatically renew your plan each month for up to one year, whereupon they’ll contact you to see if you want to keep extending.
What happens if you forgot to cancel your travel insurance with SafetyWing?
Contact them immediately.
They charge you 3 days before the extension is effective, so if your extension has not become effective yet you will get a full refund. If your extension is effective, they will keep 25$ as a cancellation fee and will refund you the rest.
That being said, you can CHOOSE if you want your insurance to be renewed automatically or limited.
We have chosen a limited insurance for 3 months in total. We have received this email on the day our insurance expired.
We’re writing to let you know that as of today, your travel insurance has expired. If you are still traveling, you can purchase a new policy with your updated travel dates on safetywing.com.
Thank you for being part of the SafetyWing community, and for your support in building a global safety net for digital nomads, entrepreneurs and remote workers. If you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to reach out to support[…]safetywing.com at any time.
The SafetyWing Team
Comparison of the coverages offered by SafetyWing and World Nomads:
Note: the World Nomads prices are based on a 23 year-old US Citizen, per our review of World Nomads here.
SafetyWing and World Nomads both cover political evacuations and Natural disaster
This limit is not subject to a deductible
This is basically car rental coverage, something that could be very useful to some people.
Here is a complete table and overview of the different between World Nomads Insurance and Safetywing.
Okay, now we are sad since we have to disappoint you. The discounts we had are no longer valid and have expired (we removed them from here).
At this very moment we do not have any valid promo codes for World Nomads or SafetyWing. We are currently working on getting some extra discounts for our readers.
We will be announcing our discounts always in our #newsletter. Simply subscribe and we will send you the discounts right to your inbox.
Good to know: We also send special discounts only through our newsletter.
Which travel insurance covers COVID-19?
As of August 1st 2020, Safetywing now covers Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19)! Coverage works the same as any other illness as long as it was not contracted before your coverage start date, and does not fall under any other policy exclusion or limitation.
Because of this policy upgrade, the base price is increasing from $37 to $40 for 4 weeks of coverage.
If you don’t currently have an active policy, you can purchase a new policy and COVID-19 coverage will be automatically a part of your new plan.
Testing for COVID-19 will only be covered if deemed medically necessary by a physician. The antibody test is not covered, as it is not medically necessary.
We wrote this article by doing extensive research along with our own personal experience with some of the insurances we’ve used. Now, we would love your experiences and feedback.
We know no company is perfect and there can be situations where we as customers are not happy about the outcome for one reason or another. Therefore, please leave your review of World Nomads or Safetywings below.
Share your thoughts, opinions and first-hand experiences right here in the comment section.
Travel well, friends.
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