They say that you don’t really need travel insurance until you do. Unfortunately, I discovered the truth behind this maxim the hard way after losing my backpack and everything I owned, at a bus station in Barcelona back in 2015.
Fast forward to 2020, I’m still living on the road and now making a living from a laptop. Even though every year there are more and more location-independent workers and travelers, it seems that we’re still a relatively uncovered demographic when it comes to insurance for the inevitable travel calamities.
However, after doing a bit of research and speaking to other full-time travelers, I’ve found two digital nomad travel insurance companies that seem to rule the roost.
I'm Olly, a full-time traveler for the past 5 years. I visit every destination I write about & handpick all recommendations.
What I Look For in Digital Nomad Travel Insurance
Since I’m not an insurance specialist and I don’t know your personal insurance requirements, it’s a difficult task for me to offer you a comprehensive list of must-haves for you.
Regardless, what I can detail is exactly what I look for in an insurance policy. Clearly, all digital nomads’ lifestyles differ. As a frugal backpacker, photographer and writer my needs might cover the bases of at least a select few of you.
Priority No. 1: Travel Medical Coverage
Undoubtedly, you’d get this same answer from most when it comes to insurance priorities. A digital nomad lifestyle means that a regular health insurance policy won’t cover us when we’re abroad.
You’ve most likely already heard some horror-stories of motorbike crashes and other injuries that left a traveler with more sore than just a headache and some scraped up knees. Emergency medical bills and hospital costs can quickly climb into the 10s if not 100s of thousands without adequate cover.
Touch wood, but to date, I’ve never had to claim any medical or hospital costs. A quick fine-needle biopsy and a few stitches in the Philippines and in Indonesia ended up being so cheap that it wasn’t worth the claim. That’s not to say that I won’t be glad to have travel insurance the day I may need it.
Priority No. 2: Baggage Cover
This one might differ for most. In the old days, I used to only lug around a cheap DSLR and a bag full of dirty clothes. Still, even then, when both the pack and the wallet was lighter, I still valued baggage cover.
Even though my possessions weren’t expensive, it was still great to have the funds to buy new underwear and a jacket on the other side of that Barcelona – Bern bus.
Since most digital nomads sought out this lifestyle due to a similar low-budget love-story with travel, I’m sure we all share those same sentiments. Having cover for the few possessions we own is great peace of mind. I’m sure you also consider baggage cover for your expensive laptop, cameras and other belongings as well.
Priority No. 3: Travel Cover
I’ve categorized “travel cover” as general cover for flight cancelations, trip changes, and any emergency change of plans.
For me, this isn’t as important as the other two categories above, but a requirement nonetheless. I say this because I mostly make plans on the fly, and tend to book flights and accommodation last-minute.
However, in the event that I have to fly home to Australia in an emergency or cancel a planned trip, I’d like to know that my digital nomad travel insurance has me covered. A lost passport is also an expensive replacement, which means travel documents is usually also covered under this category.
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I’ve Heard of World Nomads but What’s SafetyWing?
Most digital nomads have heard about World Nomads, but what is SafetyWing?
SafetyWing is a new competitor on the block offering travel medical insurance especially for location dependent workers and long-term travelers.
Although they’ve only been around for about a year, they’re backed by Tokio Marine, which is one of the biggest insurance providers in the world. Reliability is important, and having this backing is bullet-proof in my eyes.
What does SafetyWing Offer?
As mentioned, SafetyWing offers Travel Medical Insurance. What this means is that you’ll get coverage for being in an accident, falling sick outside your home country or need medical assistance for:
- hospital rooms and nursing services
- intensive care
- urgent care
- physical therapy
- emergency dental
On top of this, you’ll also get travel cover for:
- trip interruption
- travel delay
- lost checked luggage
- limited natural disaster coverage
- political evacuation
- emergency medical evacuation
- personal liability
- accidental death and dismemberment (AD&D)
You can find the full list of up-to-date coverage options here.
Benefits of SafetyWing
I got interested in SafetyWing basically because of the great value. Their refreshing and unique ongoing payment plans are also more akin to regular health cover options rather than traditional travel insurance up-front payments.
Instead of paying yearly or renewing your policy every quarter, SafetyWing has coverage starting from $37/4 weeks or $1.32 per day. This is much cheaper than most travel insurance policies and up to a third cheaper than World Nomads.
Here are some more perks of purchasing SafetyWing:
- Available in 180 countries
- Start and cancel your policy at any time
- 24/7 support
- No cap for trip duration
- MUCH lower cost
Who is SafetyWing Best for?
SafetyWing is clearly a great option for digital nomads and other long-term travelers who want cheap and high-value travel medical insurance with an easy 4-week payment plan.
All About World Nomads Travel Insurance
For a while now, World Nomads have been the main player in the game of long-term travel insurance, especially for adventure travelers like myself.
For comprehensive information regarding World Nomads, you can find it in this article.
What do World Nomads offer?
World Nomads covers travelers and digital nomads from 130 countries, with separate coverage options depending on your country of residence. For a full list of detailed offerings, check out their list.
Common coverage across the board includes:
- Medical and hospital cover
- Cover for adventure activities like skiing, snowboarding, whitewater rafting
- travel delay and cancellation costs
- personal liability
- theft or damage to personal items
- death or disablement
Benefits of World Nomads
World Nomads is a very popular insurance option for long-term travelers or adventure travelers. Although they are priceier than the alternatives, some might prefer them because of the following benefits.
- Proven track record of reliability
- Coverage specifically of adventure activities,
- Great customer service and 24/7 support
- Strong and reliable underwriters
Disclaimer text: World Nomads provides travel insurance for travelers in over 100 countries. As an affiliate, we receive a fee when you get a quote from World Nomads using this link. We do not represent World Nomads. This is information only and not a recommendation to buy travel insurance.
Who is World Nomads Best For?
World Nomads is a strong option for adventure travelers who want cover for more adventure activities like skiing, snowboarding, climbing etc.
They’ve also got a proven track record for having easy claims and quality customer service. Although they are more expensive, some may prefer to pay more for the additional electronics coverage on their insurance plans.
Now, let me touch on some of the issues I have with both policies.
One caveat that I have to mention with SafetyWings is that they don’t currently have coverage for lost or stolen electronics and equipment. As I mentioned earlier, I consider this a vital component for me. However, I was told that the team at SafetyWing is working diligently to make this happen very soon, so watch this space. One alternative work-around is to get separate equipment insurance with another provider to stay covered.
For World Nomads, their policies are quite comprehensive, but they are much more expensive than SafetyWing. I know plenty of travelers who would be stoked with SafetyWing’s offerings without having to pay a big premium for electronics cover.
Furthermore, if you’re a resident of one of the countries that World Nomads doesn’t cover, then don’t stress, you’ll still probably be covered under SafetyWing’s policy.