5 BEST Digital Nomad Health Insurance Plans for Long-Term Travel (2020)

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Shopping for the best digital nomad insurance sucks.

Studying mountains of fine print, comparing apples-to-oranges with different rules and limits, determining if you want need covered is actually covered, reading endless reviews to see which companies will try to weasel out of paying …

I’m stressed just thinking about it!

When it comes to travel insurance, digital nomads and perpetual travelers are unique creatures. We have different needs than your typical “2-week vacation” travelers.

  • Maybe you don’t have an end date
  • Maybe you don’t have a “home country”
  • Maybe you carry expensive equipment you want covered
  • Maybe you want to be covered for more than just emergencies
  • Maybe you regularly return to home base and don’t want to buy new plans each time you leave

Choosing the right long term travel insurance for you can be overwhelming and time-consuming—especially when you’re busy out doing digital nomad stuff!

So to make your life easier, I’ve done the hard work for you and narrowed down your five best options (and who each is best for).

Now, this post isn’t just me regurgitating what you can find yourself on different digital nomad travel insurance websites…it’s based on PERSONAL EXPERIENCE.

I’ve been working as a digital nomad and traveling the world for the past 5 years. Out of these five long-term travel insurance plans, I have used three of them extensively. Not only that, but I’ve ACTUALLY MADE CLAIMS (including some very expensive claims) with each of these companies, and I know first-hand what they’re like to deal with. 

Because in the end, it doesn’t matter how awesome a travel insurance company looks on paper. If they’re a nightmare to work with (or worse, they leave you hanging when you’re depending on them), getting coverage is pointless.

Coronavirus Update: COVID-19 threw a wrench in the whole travel insurance game. Every company on this list covers coronavirus to some extend. But make sure you read the fine print because with all the uncertainty going on, terms and conditions change often.

Quick Summary: Best Long-Term Insurance for Digital Nomads

For those of you who in a hurry to get back to your travel jobs, here are the top picks for each type of nomad:
▶ Best value overall: Safetywing
▶ Best for adventure + electronics coverage: World Nomads
▶ Best for U.S. expats visiting the U.S.: IMG Global
▶ Best for those who visit home frequently (EEA residents only): True Traveller
▶ Best for comprehensive medical coverage: Integra Global

Before we dive into the details of each one, there one question I want to put to rest once and for all.

Is Long-Term Travel Insurance Really Even Necessary?

You might consider yourself a pretty safe person. You probably don’t plan on getting altitude sickness or being stung by a scorpion or accidentally squirting hand sanitizer in your eye while traveling and chemically burning your cornea (you can’t make this stuff up).

Nobody does.

I could try to drill it in your head that those types of things are called “accidents” for a reason. Or that no matter how careful you are, things happen that are completely outside of your control. Or that one unexpected incident could ruin you financially…

But instead of yapping your ear off with logical arguments on why you need long-term travel insurance, let me just list out some of the crazy situations I have somehow managed to get myself into while traveling (and the money I saved thanks to my travel insurance):

Guess what, guys?

None of these were planned.

Digital nomad insurance will put your mind at ease knowing you won’t go into lifelong debt tomorrow if the unexpected happens. Trust me. It’s worth it. Moving on.

10 Questions to ask when comparing long term travel insurance

Here are some important things to look for when comparing your different options:

#1.) What activities are covered? If you’re planning on doing any specific activities (renting a motorbike, climbing a mountain, scuba diving, etc.), make sure they are covered.

#2.) What are the coverage limits? Are they high enough to cover a big accident? The whole point of insurance is to cover you for the big things that would cause you financial disaster.

#3.) What is the deductible? Some plans allow you to choose this, others don’t. You’ll want to know how much you will have to pay out-of-pocket before your benefits kick in.

#4.) How often does the deductible reset? Some deductibles reset every year, others reset each time you extend or buy a new plan, and some even reset with every single claim. The longer it takes for the deductible to reset, the better.

#5.) How is billing handled? Is it easy to set up direct billing? What is the reimbursement process like? For this one, you’ll want to look at unbiased third-party reviews.

#6.) Where are you covered? Are you covered at any hospital, or do you have to use certain ones? Are some countries excluded? This is very important to know.  

#7.) What happens when you extend? With some companies, extending can be expensive. Others make it super easy. If you don’t have a set end date, it’ll be helpful to have a flexible plan.

#8.) What is the process for extending? Some companies will extend automatically for you (which is super helpful), others require you to apply for an extension a certain amount of time in advance. The easier it is to extend, the better.

#9.) What are the rules about visiting home? Some companies are strict and will terminate your plan if you return to your home country before the end of your term. Others allow you to return home under certain circumstances, but they won’t cover you. One plan on this list gives you an allowance for days you can return home AND be covered (saving a lot of hassle).

#10.) What countries are you covered in? If you’re an expat, choosing your home country (or “country of residence”) can be confusing. If you’re not 100% sure what to choose, call to confirm. I failed to do this once and ended up traveling through the U.S. thinking I had coverage, but I did not.

Top 5 best digital nomad health insurance plans for long-term travel

Let me preface this list by saying that everyone’s situation is unique, and there is no one-size-fits-all answer to what is the best digital nomad insurance. 

That said, here are five of the best insurance plans for digital nomads, and more importantly, what type of traveler they are best for.

Safetywing – Best insurance for digital nomads on a budget

Safetywing is a pretty obvious pick for most digital nomads (read on to see the exceptions). It is what I personally use whenever I am outside the U.S.

They are somewhat new to the travel insurance game, and at $40/month, they are by far the cheapest digital nomad health insurance on the list. 

Don’t let the price fool you, though. Safetywing has got your back!

To date, they have paid over $15,000 in hospital bills for me, including one surgery in Thailand, one surgery in Cambodia, two nights in (surprisingly luxurious) hospital rooms, and a few other random incidents.

Most of the time, they were able to work directly with the hospital and pre-approve the charges (so I didn’t have to submit all the claims paperwork and wait for reimbursement). This mostly depends on the hospital you visit though.

I will say that, while they have paid for all of my claims, sometimes I had to get after them a bit to speed up the process (i.e. call a bunch of times and ask what the hold up was).

But that’s a small inconvenience when you factor in how cheap they are.

And the cherry on top?

They now cover COVID-19.

Safetying also offers a more comprehensive health insurance plan called Remote Health Insurance, which is more expensive, but has added perks that may be worth it to you.

Cool things:

  • Cheapest policy offering the most bang for your buck (by far)
  • Even though Safetying is a new-ish company, coverage is underwritten by Tokio Marino—a huge well-established company
  • Automatically extends your plan each month until you cancel (so you don’t have to try to estimate how long you’ll be gone in advance)
  • Deductible is per policy period (364 days max), not per claim. As long as you keep renewing, you’ll only have to meet that $250 deductible once per year.
  • Home country coverage (for every 90 days, you’re covered 30 days within your home country—or 15 days if your home country is the U.S.)
  • Can set up direct billing if you use their network (or go to a hospital with a good international department)
  • COVID-19 is covered

Uncool things:

  • Does not cover theft of electronics. Lost luggage reimbursement maxed at $500/item
  • Country of residence may be confusing for some people (like me) and may cause problems if you choose wrong
  • Sometimes claims processing gets held up, so you’ll have to check back regularly (and possibly send some reminder emails) to keep the train moving
  • Fewer adventure activities covered than some other plans on this list ([check here] make sure what you need is covered!)
  • Missed flights are not covered

Pricing:

Nomad insurance (excluding U.S.): $40 per 4 weeks
Nomad insurance (including U.S.): $73 per 4 weeks
Remote health insurance: $153 per month

*Pricing increases for those over 39 years old.

How to sign up:

It’s super easy and takes just a couple minutes. Here’s the form to get started:

World Nomads – Best digital nomad insurance for adventurers

World Nomads was the travel insurance I used for my first 2 years on the road. They served me well, and I have zero complaints. The only reason I switched is because Safetywing insurance came out guns ablazin’ as a super cheap alternative.

I made a few claims with World Nomads, including wound care after an accident riding scooters in Thailand, and that time when my left arm randomly swelled up like a purple balloon.

The claims process was straightforward. Fill the paperwork, scan and send in the receipts, etc. I was reimbursed the correct amount and did not have to do any coaxing. 

Despite it being more expensive than Safetywing, World Nomads may be worth it for people who want their digital nomad laptops and expensive electronics covered from theft. For digital nomads, this can provide an extra layer of peace of mind. 

That said, if you don’t have any incidents of theft (which I haven’t for the past 5 years, knock on wood), that extra peace of mind can get expensive. 

World Nomads also might be the best fit for your needs if you are planning to do a lot of adventure activities. They even have a specific “Explorer Plan” (that costs more, of course) which covers a wide range of extreme sports.

Might be worth considering if you’re the type who likes to skydive, rock climb, scuba, and do other high-risk activities—especially in countries where safety is lax.

One thing to be careful with is that coverage differs depending on what you set as your home country. So, rather than looking at blog posts to compare coverage (which may be using a different home country), make sure to go through the process yourself.

(*This includes World Nomad’s coverage related to COVID-19. When you select your country, you’ll see information regarding COVID-19—Read this carefully!)

It’s also worth noting that World Nomads has a seductive affiliate program. This means you’re going to see a lot of posts online recommending World Nomads (including this one) because they receive a nice commission if you sign up.

Take these recommendations with a grain of salt!

While World Nomads is a great company (and they are the best choice for some people), most digital nomads are better off with cheaper plans like Safetywing.

Cool things:

  • Covers many adventure activities (with their Explorer Plan)
  • Covers loss and theft of expensive equipment
  • Well-known company trusted by travelers worldwide
  • You may return to your home country without voiding your policy (but you are not covered while at home)

Uncool things:

  • Much more expensive than Safetywing
  • You have to estimate how long your trip will be. If you underestimate, it’s expensive to extend.
  • They’re starting to slowly remove some of the adventure activities that were once covered.

Pricing:

Depends on your home country, age, trip length, and type of plan (Standard or Explorer). For an instant quote, see the form below.

How to sign up:

Fill in your home country, destinations, age, and trip length. Choose a plan and payment method, and viola! You’re covered. Here’s the form to get your instant quote.

IMG Travel Health Insurance – Best digital nomad insurance for US citizens traveling in the US

Things get a bit tricky for U.S. citizens who don’t reside in the U.S., but want to visit or travel within their country.

As I mentioned earlier, many travel insurance plans do not cover you in your country of citizenship (or only give you a limited number of days)—even if you purchase a special U.S. coverage waiver.

So, what options do you have?

Well, one option you have is to buy regular health insurance. But first, that’s stupidly expensive. And second, it can get tricky if you don’t have a permanent address. 

A better option is to buy a travel insurance plan designed for U.S. expats visiting the U.S.—like the Patriot Plus America plan.

This is the plan I’m currently using while my wife and I do the whole #vanlife thing around all the National Parks (side note: watch our crazy videos here!).

I’ve been to the doctor twice (thanks to that evil hand sanitizer bottle), and my plan has already paid for itself. The best part is, I’ve never had to make any claims or wait for reimbursements. I just chose a doctor from their list (they have a huge network), went to my appointment, and never had to pull out my wallet. Score!

IMG also has some popular options for people traveling outside the US (or non-U.S. citizens traveling to the U.S.).

It’s important to note that these are health-only plans. They do not cover travel-related expenses like missed flights, canceled trips, lost luggage, etc.

Unlike World Nomad’s and Safetywing, IMG has more flexibility when building your plan. So you can increase or decrease your coverage based on your needs.

Cool things:

  • One deductible per 12 months
  • Flexible plans
  • Well-known company
  • Extending your policy is easy (and not as expensive as World Nomads or True Traveller)
  • Option for U.S. expats to get coverage in the U.S.
  • Covers COVID-19 (in countries with less than a Level 3 Travel Warning)

Uncool things:

  • Travel-related expenses not covered
  • Extending your policy resets your pre-existing conditions
  • If you have an overseas plan, your coverage will be canceled if you visit home for over 14 days in most countries (immediately in the U.S.) or if you return home for medical reasons.

Pricing:

Since you can build your plan based on your needs, pricing varies. But since it covers medical expenses only, it is much cheaper than plans like World Nomads that cover travel and equipment expenses.

How to sign up:

Fill out your info on the IMG Global website to get an instant quote.

True Traveller – Best long-term travel insurance for EEA residents with a home base

True Traveller is a popular long-term travel insurance choice available to EEA residents only. 

As I am not an EEA resident, I don’t have much experience with this insurance. But from what I’ve gleaned from their website and review sites, here’s the lowdown.

They offer a bunch of different plans designed for all different types of travelers (backpackers, gap year travel, multi-trip, one-way, already traveling, etc.)

Compared to Safetywing or World Nomads, you have to spend more time upfront researching which plan is right for you. But in the end, you’ll have something more tailored to your needs (so you’re not paying for things you don’t care about).

Where True Traveller really shines is that they allow unlimited visits home. For digital nomads who visit family frequently or have a home base they regularly return to, this is something most other plans do not offer. To be clear, you won’t be covered in your home country, but your plan won’t be canceled. That means that:

  1. You don’t have to buy a bunch of expensive short term plans
  2. Your pre-existing conditions won’t reset every time you want to visit home

This is worth looking into if you’re eligible.

Cool things:

  • Several plans to better suit your unique needs
  • Unlimited home visits
  • Save money by pre-paying for a year (or more)
  • Covers COVID-19 (but only in countries on this list)

Uncool things:

  • Private medical treatment is only offered if public treatment is unavailable
  • EEA residents only
  • Expensive to extend if you underestimate the length of your trip
  • Basic plan is cheap, but add-ons are expensive
  • Will only consider direct billing for bills over £500.

Pricing:

As you’ll see when filling out a quote, the base plans are pretty economical. But if you start adding on extras, the price increases substantially. For this reason, it makes the most sense for those who don’t plan on doing any crazy adventure activities.

How to sign up:

Fill in your details on the True Traveller website for an instant quote. Then choose any applicable upgrades to see how it affects the price.

Integra Global – Best comprehensive medical insurance for digital nomads

Similar to IMG Global, Integra Global is a health-only plan that doesn’t cover travel-related expenses.

Unlike IMG Global (and the rest of the travel insurance providers on this list), Integra offers comprehensive medical insurance. That means it’s for more than just emergency care. You can also use it for:

  • Routine health exams
  • Chronic conditions
  • Dental care
  • Mental care
  • Etc.

It’s basically like your “normal” health insurance policy you had before becoming a digital nomad and traveling the world….except now you’re covered abroad.

This is a great option for digital nomads or expats who have made this their permanent lifestyle.

The emergency-only coverage you get with normal travel insurance policies is great for a while. And since it’s cheaper, you may want to stretch it out as long as possible (like I am). But sooner or later you’re going to want to be able to go for a regular check-up, get a chronic condition treated, or finally get those chompers cleaned.

That’s where Integra comes in.

Side note: Integra is a great option, but it’s not your only option.

If you’re an expat who spends most of your time in the same country, you could see if it’s possible to get a local health insurance plan in that country. Depending on the country, you may be surprised how cheap they are. 

If you spend all your time in cheap countries and are relatively healthy, you could just stick with the cheapest emergency-only plan possible (like Safetywing), and if you want to see a doctor for a non-emergency, simply pay out-of-pocket. If you don’t need many routine visits, this could be your most affordable option.

Cool things:

  • You choose your yearly deductible. After it’s met, you’re covered 100%. Super straightforward.
  • Can pay extra to have pre-existing conditions covered.
  • Offer much higher payout limits than normal travel insurance

Uncool things:

  • Trip-related expenses are not covered, so you’d either have to assume that risk (some credit cards offer travel protection, so that could mitigate some risk).
  • Policies are sold for a minimum of one year. No short trips allowed.
  • No direct billing, so you must pay out-of-pocket (but reimbursement time is only 7-10 days, much shorter than other travel insurance companies)

Pricing:

Since this is a more comprehensive medical plan than the rest of this list, it’s slightly more expensive. However, it’s certainly less than what you’d pay in the U.S. for health insurance!

How to sign up:

Fill out your info on this page for an instant quote.

Travel insurance tips that’ll save you time and headaches

Here are some tips I’ve learned (sometimes the hard way) through my experience working with different travel insurance companies:

  • Scan receipts and medical histories on your phone (right when you get them!), and make notes on them what they were for.
  • Save your insurance ID card, passport, visas, and any other important documents in MULTIPLE places (email yourself, Google Drive, Evernote, a special “Documents” photo album on your phone, printed hard copy, etc.)
  • Save your travel insurance’s emergency contact number to your phone contacts.
  • If you’re in doubt whether a certain activity is covered, call them and ask (while recording the conversation—just in case).
  • Take a photo of your suitcase and everything packed in it. You can use this as proof (and to remind yourself what you had) when submitting a claim for reimbursement.
  • Try to get things pre-approved if possible (to avoid lengthy reimbursement processes).
  • Always have multiple payment options with you (credit cards, debit cards, hidden emergency cash, etc.).
  • Save important medical info and emergency contacts in your phone as ICE (In Case of Emergency). Keeping a note in your wallet with this info is also wise.
  • Always tell someone where you’re going and ask them to check in with you later (if you don’t, you could disappear or be in critical condition and nobody would know about it).

Frequently Asked Questions

Do digital nomads need insurance?

I mean, you don’t NEED insurance unless your visa requires it. But it would be highly irresponsible to travel as a digital nomad without some sort of long term travel insurance or other coverage. You are asking for trouble (speaking from an unfortunate amount of experience).

What kind of insurance do digital nomads need?

I recommend covering yourself against anything that would send you into financial ruin. This would be emergency medical insurance at minimum. Digital nomads who want more peace of mind can also opt for insurance that covers travel expenses and lost or stolen belongings.

What is the best insurance for digital nomads?

The best insurance for digital nomads depends on your priorities and circumstances. If you want the best value outside your home country, Safetywing is the way to go. If you want your laptop and equipment covered, check out World Nomads. If you want medical coverage only, look at IMG Global or Integra Global.

Can I buy travel insurance if I’m already traveling?

You should really buy travel insurance before you leave home. That said, most companies on this list allow you to purchase coverage even if you are already traveling. The sooner you get covered, the better.

Does travel insurance cover lost luggage?

Most travel insurance plans cover lost luggage, although some plans (like IMG Global and Integra Global) only cover medical expenses. If you lose your luggage, the reimbursement process is much easier if you have a photo of everything that was packed in your bags.

Will travel insurance cover me in my home country?

Some companies like Safetywing cover you for a set amount of days in your home country in case you need to visit. Most travel insurance companies will not cover you in your home country (and may even terminate your policy if you come home).

What do I use for my home country when buying travel insurance if I am a nomad with no “home”?

Depending on your situation, this can get confusing. Your best bet is to call the company directly and ask. If not, you may risk not being covered if you choose incorrectly (like I did).

What’s the difference between travel insurance and health insurance?

Travel insurance usually covers you for travel-related expenses (lost luggage, trip delays, emergency evacuation, etc.) and medical emergencies. Unlike comprehensive health insurance plans, travel insurance does NOT cover routine check-ups, chronic conditions, and in many cases, pre-existing conditions and dental care.

passport picture with travel picture with text overlay digital nomad guide to long term travel insurance

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