How Essential Is Travel and Health Insurance for A Digital Nomad

by David Tompkins

Insurance for Digital Nomad

Digital Nomads and Global Health Insurance

If living out of a backpack and working at the time of your choice is your kind of thing, you are well on your way to becoming a digital nomad. Yes, you’ll be a part of the group of tech-savvy ‘wanderers’ who literally live their life on the road, and are referred to as digital nomads. Working remotely may sound like a dream to many of us, but is it really?

Digital nomads out on the global road will vouch for the fact that such a life is not all dreamy as is portrayed on social media. Faced with a lot of challenges while on the road, digital nomads try and ignore them as much as possible so that they can carry on living the life they have chosen. But the biggest problem that most of these long-term travelers face is that of procuring the right kind of health and travel insurance.

Why Insurance for A Digital Nomad?

Constantly moving from one country to another and exploring new lands may sound very exciting, but going remote brings with it problems such as broken equipment, baggage loss, canceled flights, and illnesses, among other worries. If you don’t want to begin your travels with such issues, opt for a sound travel and health insurance coverage that doesn’t ruin your holiday. No, it is not just another expense. It is essential for every traveler!

Most long-term travelers think that it is enough to just buy travel insurance before jet-setting off to another country or territory. But travel insurance is not the same as health insurance for a digital nomad. So how exactly are the two different from each other? Read on to find out.

Health Insurance

Travel Insurance vs. Health Insurance

Each type has its own pros and cons and also a specific purpose to be purchased by a nomadic traveler.

Travel Insurance: Think short term trips under a year. Issues like trip cancellations, lost baggage, emergency healthcare, adventure and sports coverage, delayed flights, accommodation problems, and natural calamities, including emergency evacuation, come under travel insurance. The health portion of travel insurance coverage does not cover all illnesses & pre-existing conditions may not be covered.

Since travel insurance is valid for the short-term only, it is also very cheap as compared to other insurance coverage as it doesn;t cover you back home – where one assumes you still maintain your policy. Note that travel insurance only covers emergencies outside your country of residence – so you are not covered back home and no cover for checkups, chronic conditions, ongoing treatment etc…

International Health Insurance

International Health Insurance: An insurance for a digital nomad that covers long term life abroad for both hospital and out-patient care – covering illnesses and medical emergencies is one that digital nomads should opt for. You can never predict what may happen while you’re on the road. You could get ill or injured while traveling. At such a time, having access to proper healthcare, while traveling across continents or countries, is important.

Getting medical care in unknown places can be a challenging and costly affair. And that is why purchasing the right health insurance becomes crucial for digital nomads. A global health plan can also cover you back in your home country, regionally and globally. Some plans will exclude the USA.

The proper insurance for a digital nomad cover ensures that you will remain protected and safe during your travels. It also gives you confidence in knowing that if caught in a medical emergency, you will be taken care of professionally.

Should I get local health insurance?

Generally No, but there are always exceptions. You may be required to be on a local plan and it may be free or very inexpensive. You have to check the local regulations and make your decision. Also, local plans may not be very good and almost certainly won’t cover you back home or outside your new country. Your local plan may not cover private treatment or hospitals – a big concern if you are living in a developing country with inferior medical care.

The local plan may also have long waiting lists. Again, there are lots of reasons to buy a global health plan if you are an expat or digital nomad. Expat Financial offers a wide range of global health plans for digital nomads.

A Word of Caution

Travelers are also advised not to fall in the trap of plans that advertise as travel health insurance — the so-called ‘best-of-both-worlds’ insurance policy. This is not a comprehensive insurance cover and is merely an upgrade on the travel insurance policy that only provides an extra layer of health protection.

When looking for a health insurance plan, ensure that you always compare several different insurance plans before zeroing in on one. It is unwise to choose anything that is thrown at you without weighing all possible choices. Also, make sure you read the fine print and know what you are covered for and not covered for.

What to Keep in Mind While Buying Insurance

There are some travelers who travel the world either solo or with their families, and then there are others who choose to live abroad as global citizens. Both categories of people need to take care of their travel and health insurance for the duration of their stay in a foreign country. The cover they opt for will depend on several factors, such as:

Premiums: The amount of money that is paid on a monthly or yearly basis to the insurance company to buy a cover is known as a premium. Before purchasing any policy, this is one of the first things that needs to be considered. But policy should not be judged by its premium alone. Read the fine print thoroughly and then make your decision.

International Coverage: Opt for a cover that takes international travel into account. Getting help outside state lines or even country lines can become challenging at a time of loss or trouble. The situation can become worse if you’re accompanied by your family.

Digital Nomad

Some more points to consider when looking for a global health insurance for a digital nomad are as follows:

  • Compare several plans available in the market
  • Move ahead. Look beyond the premium – what sort of increases can you expect
  • Will the policy cover you for life if you live abroad forever?
  • Will the new policy cover my pre-existing medical conditions?
  • Will the expat health plan cover treatment in the USA?
  • Keep in mind the renewal date

By keeping these tips in mind, digital nomads can zero in on a policy that suits their needs and budget.

Travel insurance covers are easy to get online. Most of them cover journey disruption, lost possessions, or natural disasters. But for these travel insurance policies, there is hardly any health cover included. They contain only benefits relating to medical emergencies.

A general cover should include medical emergencies and repatriation, cancellation cover, and loss of baggage and personal property.

No, Insurance is Not an Unnecessary Expense

Every digital nomad should buy an appropriate travel and health insurance to cover for themselves before taking off to their dream country. Your short-haul travel insurer will not be of much help here. That’s because the policies offered by them are not suitable for the digital nomad lifestyle. So make sure you read all the details carefully before signing on the dotted line. 

Health insurance for a digital nomad that are popular with expats are GeoBlue, Cigna, and IMG. All these cater to digital nomads, even while they are on the go.

Just knowing that your insurance company will take care of your baggage and belongings if they get stolen, that you won’t have to bear the financial burden of a canceled flight, or have to afford the medical expenses if illness strikes, make long-term travelers feel at peace and travel worry-free. So, go ahead – become a global citizen – live the digital nomad life, but with a global medical safety net.

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