Right everyone…it’s that time. We are going to talk about nomad travel insurance.
Here at WiFi Tribe, we are aware that the world of travel and health insurance is an absolute minefield and we get a tonne of questions on it. This is largely because it’s difficult to take a ‘one size fits all’ approach when everything depends on the country you are travelling to as well as the country you are from. With that in mind, what we’re going to do is break down the basics so, at the very least, you can figure out whether you need nomad travel insurance, health insurance or both.
What is the difference between Travel Insurance and Health Insurance?
The first piece of confusion before we step out the front door, is figuring out the difference between travel insurance and health insurance. It seems like a silly question, but they do deliver different things and cover differing circumstances. Knowing which is which will help prevent you getting caught out when you’re abroad.
Travel insurance is commonly used to insure you for unforeseen circumstances whilst you are travelling. It typically covers for trip cancellation or delay, loss of luggage and/or valuable items and travel documents, and it covers you for emergency medical treatment, or the cost of repatriation to your home country to receive any medical treatment you need.
- Travel insurance combines insurance for your belongings as well as your health, which is great for us digital nomads who are abroad with a lot of equipment.
- A lot of the time, you probably won’t need to pay any extra for it if you have a credit card that offers travel insurance as a perk or you have a bank account with added benefits.
- Prices vary as much as the terms and conditions of each policy, so check before you buy that you are covered for what you need, but on the whole you may be able to get a good price if you shop around.
- Some policies include trip cancellation cover, but there are plenty of exclusions though as to why this might not apply to individual circumstances, so again, assume nothing and check the fine print!
- Travel insurance policies are quite inflexible; you can get travel insurance annually BUT there is nearly always a limit on how many days you can stay out of the country (generally it’s up to 3 months at once and then you’d need to come back and travel again). As digital nomads, there are a good number of us that change our travel plans frequently i.e. we don’t go home when we should. This could be problematic.
- Medical cover typically only stretches as far as emergency medical treatment.
- There is normally a maximum amount covered per item (i.e. $500, so if your laptop is stolen you may not receive the full amount – make sure to check the policy conditions).
International Health Insurance
International Travel Health Insurance is used to cover you for health related needs you may have whilst travelling abroad. It is designed to allow you to access the treatment you need in the countries you specify upon purchasing the policy. It covers both emergency health needs and minor health issues.
- Depending on the policy, international health insurance may cover pre-existing conditions, which means if you have ongoing health challenges you can still continue to travel and get treatment.
- You can have treatment in the country of your choosing which means if you run into problems, you won’t have to come back to your hometown if you don’t want to. Travel insurance cover will almost always look for a way to repatriate you.
- You may be able to get cover for things like compassionate visits, maternity cover/newborn baby cover and ongoing treatment for serious health conditions like cancer. Again this depends on the policy.
- International health insurance typically doesn’t place any time restrictions around how long you can be out of your home country for. This means that if you decide to change your travel plans and stay somewhere for a little bit longer or go somewhere you didn’t plan for, your health will still be covered.
- International travel health insurance can be expensive.
- Health insurance does what it says on the tin and covers your health, so it’s not going to help you if your equipment gets stolen or your luggage is lost.
Top Tips from Our Community
- Always give priority to your health! If you miss a flight or break your laptop, you can replace it or do without it. You’ll maybe spend a couple grand to replace your laptop. If your health ends up in trouble, medical expenses can very quickly spiral out of control and you do NOT want to be in a place where you cannot afford the treatment that will save your life or get you home.
- If you’re travelling for longer than a travel insurance will cover you for, maybe consider getting health insurance and combining with a worldwide contents insurance. It’s difficult to find a good one but not impossible. Alternatively you could see if you can tie your contents insurance in with a home insurance somewhere.
- Always check the fine print so you know what you’re covered for; this is true of both health and travel insurances.
- There are comparison websites available that are country specific.
It is really important to have health insurance while traveling abroad. In fact, on our WiFi Tribe Chapters, we strongly encourage travel health insurance.
Many members of WiFi Tribe use SafetyWing (note: this is an affiliate link) for their travel medical insurance. They have fully-equipped insurance made for remote workers and nomads who spend as much time abroad as they please. They offer full coverage in your home country, and have no exclusions for pandemics.