Just this year I got travel health insurance for the first time in my five years of being a nomad. Oops, probably should have done that sooner. That being said, it was not the cheapest thing in the world, and I haven’t had any troubles yet. My mom basically forced me to do it, saying that I was in such a dangerous country (that would be the United States).
But there are so freakin’ many plans out there. I personally use World Nomads, but what does everyone else use? There are single trip plans, but that wouldn’t work for my nomad lifestyle. I was going to need a multi trip plan (or for me, really, it’s a permanent trip plan).
Plus, plans are going to vary considerably depending on what medical care you get in your home country, whether you have a pre existing condition, or so many other factors. What type of coverage you have will affect what your insurance protects you against. Is it just illness or injury? Is trip cancellation included? How are their assistance services? What all do they provide coverage for? Are there restrictions on the type of medical facility you can visit? God, it gives me a headache thinking about it all.
Some people have medical insurance that covers them overseas, while others definitely do not (I certainly don’t). The insurance provider you choose is going to change a ton of things, and exactly what you’re covered for. It’s important to do proper research. Some plans offer way more than others, though price may not be an indicator of this.
So I wondered what other bloggers are doing. Or, are they using a travel health insurance plan at all? If so, what kind? And if not, why not? So I thought I’d throw it out to them…
What travel health insurance do you use? …if any.
Imglobal Travel Insurance
Before we took off on our adventure, we both held steady jobs with very good benefits. That’s usually the biggest draw of a workplace if you don’t particularly like the job description. The benefits alone can keep you safe, secure, and dedicated to a job. Our joint health care was well worth having. So when we decided to leave our jobs we were skeptical (to say the least) about how we were going to protect ourselves against injury and illness.
We searched for a couple of weeks for travel health insurance and finally arrived at Imglobal. They offer a year long plan for folks traveling abroad. We’re Americans, but they insure other nationalities as well. We found their plan to be inexpensive, comprehensive, and well-regarded. We paid just under $1,000 USD for a plan to cover both of us for 1 year. Then we have to re-insure with them or elsewhere. They cover us up to a million dollars and provide assistance for illness, dismemberment, death, repatriation, lost luggage, missed flights, and bevy of other incidents.
We haven’t had to use our insurance yet, and we hope we won’t have to. But we’re happy with the sense of security it provides us. We’re safe people, generally, but this just provides an extra security blanket for those instances we hope we never encounter.
By Scott and Hailey – International Hot Dish
Bharti Smart Traveller Insurance
Driving tuk-tuks through Sri Lanka Hill Country, swimming through caves in the Andaman Sea, hiking in the Himalayas, dune bashing in the desert of Qatar. This is the type of travel we do with our boys, aged 2 and 4. Travelling with children of such a young age means that travel health insurance is a must, particularly with our dare-devil 2 year old!
However, we are UK expats living in India. This means that we are unable to get your usual ‘Western’ travel insurance. Instead we use an India company – Bharti Smart Traveller Insurance. We are yet to claim from them (touch wood!), but for the ‘Asia excluding Japan’ cover it is good value. It covers medical insurance (including expatriation) up to US$50,000 (with an excess of US$50) for our family of four.
By Jenny – TraveLynn Family
I personally would never travel without a proper travel health insurance. In Germany, the type of insurance depends on the lengths of your trip and there are two options. You can get an insurance for just 17€ for one year if you do short holidays. You can travel as much as you want, but every trip can’t be longer than 56 days, then you need to return to Germany before you can leave again in order to be covered.
If you’re planning to go for a longer journey, there’s another option where you pay for every day of your trip. It’s still cheap, at approximately 1€ for a day. Luckily, I never had any big health issues during my travels. However, during my time in Mexico I had to get a tooth fixed at the dentist. This cost me 150€. I had to pay up front, but as soon as I returned back home, I sent in all documents to HanseMerkur and got every cent back in a few days!
By Patrick – German Backpacker
AIG Travel Guard and Allianz Global Assistance
I have a rare lung disease. When my husband and I decided to travel for 13 months, finding travel health insurance was a top priority. We wanted coverage for emergency situations and medical evacuation in addition to the typical stuff. Many companies do not offer coverage for pre-existing conditions at all. Some that did were as expensive as our regular health insurance! After much research, we found two that met our needs: AIG Travel Guard and Allianz Global Assistance.
Here are two important things to know if you have a pre-existing condition and need a travel medical insurance plan:
- Do your research early – ideally before making any trip payments. The plans we found provide pre-existing condition coverage only if you purchase it a short time after making the initial trip deposit (14-21 days).
- Keep track of all non-refundable expenses. We were required to insure all of them. We were mainly concerned about having medical coverage while away, but we didn’t want to risk a claim denial. So we updated the coverage amount a couple times before we left.
Luckily, we never used the insurance for anything related to my disease. But when it comes to travel, it’s always best to be prepared for the unexpected!
By Sarah – Travel Breathe Repeat
Insure and Go
We always use Insure and Go travel insurance for our big trips. They cover long periods of 12-18 months, which are renewable, and allow you to add things like cover for extreme sports (scuba diving, skiing trekking at high altitudes, etc.)
We cannot stress the importance of having travel health insurance. We’ve always seen travellers getting stung with high medical bills from an emergency hospital visit they’ve needed, thankfully covered by their insurance. In our case, Stefan had his bag stolen at a café in Bogota in Colombia. Thankfully, there was nothing important in the bag other than old clothes and cash – albeit $200 worth of Colombian Pesos.
We were able get the CCTV footage of it, take it to the local police station to make a report, and were then able to bundle this off to the insurance company on our return to the UK and they covered the stolen cash. As long as you can prove the bank account withdrawal, they will accept such a claim – in our case, online bank statements were fine.
By Stefan and Sebastian – Nomadic Boys
As well as a travel insurance policy to protect me, I also take out a specialist gadget insurance policy to protect my laptop and smartphone, along with other gadgets like a DSLR camera, tablet, and noise-cancelling headphones that I typically travel with.
Most travel health insurance policies have coverage for valuable items like laptops, but the policy usually isn’t as good as one you might get from a specialist like BackMeUp (UK). The biggest difference: travel health insurance plans usually only cover gadgets up to the first few hundred dollars in value. Some only offer a few hundred dollars of coverage for all of the items combined. If you’re a digital nomad or remote worker, chances are most travel health insurance policies aren’t going to be suitable for your needs.
Admittedly, I don’t do this everywhere I go. I probably should, but I mainly only take out a policy when I’m travelling in countries with a high risk of crime or where replacing something like a phone would me painfully expensive in comparison to what I’d pay back home.
By James – Worldwide Shopping Guide
Divers Alert Network Insurance
My husband and I travel all over the world for diving and to have proper insurance that can cover an underwater accident is very important. We both have standard DAN (Divers Alert Network) insurance.The good thing about it that if you need evacuation for both diving and non-diving accidents it’ll cover it. As we do a lot of hiking as well sometimes in remote areas it’s good to have this evacuation plan.
The price is 35US$ per year per person or you can get a family insurance plan for 55US$. You can extend your insurance to DAN travel insurance program that covers standard travel insurance situations e.g. medical expenses, travel and baggage coverage.
Luckily for us we used the insurance only once in Kuala Lumpur, after diving off the Indonesian island of Pulau Weh. My husband didn’t feel well after our flight and thought it could be something to do with decompression sickness. There is a Hyperbaric chamber in KL and he went there first for a consultation. The next couple of days he received treatment in the chamber. It would’ve cost us a lot of money if we hadn’t had the insurance.
By Alya and Campbell – Stingy Nomads
British Airways American Express Card
I purchase everything with an AMEX card, and when I travel and AMEX gives me full travel insurance for free. I use the free British Airways AMEX card that doesn’t require me to pay an annual fee. I’ve had a number of canceled flights in the past, when I used my AMEX to purchase a new plane ticket, a hotel for a night or food and drinks at the airport. AMEX reimbursed me for all these surprise expenses after submitting the receipts. My card covers me to up to £150 in case of a cancelled flight. It also covers me for lost or delayed luggage or illness and many other incidents that I luckily never had to claim for. AMEX also gives me free car rental insurance, when I rent a car. I believe having this card is a must for every traveler.
By Barbara – Jet Settera
We have always travelled with travel health insurance – we think it’s one of the most important things to have when travelling. Medical costs in particular can be mind-boggling when travelling, especially for serious situations (or when travelling in the US!), so having peace of mind on that front is really important to us.
We’ve tried a number of different providers, and currently we have our insurance through a bank account in the UK. The account is with the Nationwide Bank and is called the Nationwide Flexplus. It costs us £156 a year, and it comes with a number of benefits – one of which is worldwide travel insurance for all family members at the same address, which covers my wife and I. It also includes mobile phone cover for loss, theft, damage or breakdown and car breakdown cover in the UK and Europe.
The account also pays 3% interest on up to £2500 a year, which works out to £74 a year. So that makes the net cost of account more like £84 a year.
We used the travel health insurance on a recent trip to the US where my wife wasn’t feeling well and we had to visit a doctor. After ringing the free number they set us up with a nearby walk-in clinic where a doctor saw us within half an hour of our phone call. We were very impressed by the service, and are definitely happy to recommend this cover to UK residents.
By Laurence – Finding the Universe
Travel health insurance is a must for our yearly family holidays to Bali. For the last 5 years for our holiday we have used Travel Insurance Direct as they provided great value policies for us Australians traveling to Bali. They have a good reputation on paying out even in regards to Volcanic activity in Indonesia that has previously seen the Bali airport close. For our recent family trip however we had to change insurance companies.
In 2016 I suffered a rare stroke at the age of 34. I recovered extremely well with no disability but TID were unable to provide me cover for stroke. I researched and approached Cover-More about covering me fully. After a medical questionnaire over the phone they were able to provide me with cover. My premium has now doubled compared to pre-stroke but I’m willing to bear the cost for peace of mind.
By Kate – Rolling Along with Kids
A Lack of Travel Health Insurance
I know I should be using travel health insurance but I’ve let it lapse.
I was paying over $100 a month and I’ve now been traveling non-stop for nearly four years. That would be more than $5000 that I would have paid.
Fortunately, the one time that I’ve had to visit the hospital during this entire trip, it only set me back $27 USD.
My (terrible) argument for letting it lapse is that I mostly travel in developing countries where healthcare is affordable.
Even if I broke an arm or something major it’s likely to cost me less than the more than $5k I would have paid to maintain my policy.
Even as I write this I realize it’s not a strong argument. Maybe/hopefully this will motivate me to renew my policy so I won’t serve as a cautionary tale as I do think everyone should travel with insurance!
By Nathan – Foodie Flashpacker
Probably one of the most foolish things I ever did in order to save money as I traveled was going to countries outside of the EU. I hold an European Union passport. Therefore, I have health needs covered within the EU. I did this without getting a proper travel health insurance in advance.
Soon I learned that this was not only shortsighted, but also could put my life in danger. I fell really sick after eating a meat brochette (probably not refrigerated enough) in Morocco.
Never again, ever since that trip around 10 years back, I always travel insured. Lately, I am using MONDO. They are not only affordable, but also understand other needs. These are things like ensuring my photography toys are insured too. Highly recommended!
By Inma – A World to Travel
Travel Health Insurance by Credit Card Company
We are a family of 4 (two teenagers aged 16 and 13) travelling around the world. We got many quotes from various travel insurance companies and they all came in around $2100 NZD for a year. After further delving, we found that our New Zealand platinum credit card, issued to us by ASB Bank, offered free travel insurance for 120 days with many, if not more of the benefits offered by those specialist companies. After the free period expires we will extend it by another 120 days paying $846 NZD. We can keep extending every 4 months. This works out to be nearly $500 NZD a year cheaper than other policies.
By Liz – It’s a Drama
Pick-pocketed Without Travel Insurance
Travel insurance was once a priority for me, when I was young and jetting off to far away places my parents would always berate me about getting insurance. “Anything could happen!” they’d say. As I’ve become older it’s something that has started to slip my mind, and I really wish it didn’t.
I realised the importance of travel insurance this year when I was pick-pocketed on a train in Germany. They took my passport and everything, just a week before I was meant to fly back to New Zealand. I definitely gained a few forehead wrinkles and many tears were shed that week.
The thing was, that getting travel health insurance didn’t even cross my mind! I usually always choose the cheapest option, because in my head I weigh up the likelihood of something happening against my need for money in a more immediate sense. I think it’s most important to ensure that medical costs are covered, because there’s definitely a chance that you’ll hurt yourself at some point, thefts and cancellations are important to cover as well, as they’re more commonplace. After my latest experience, I’ll definitely be thinking more carefully about purchasing travel insurance in the future.
By Sara – Just a Pack
By Lavina – Continent Hop
We both always used travel health insurance when travelling solo in the past, as a couple and, most recently as a family. We have seen fellow travelers fall into difficulties while travelling without insurance. In one case putting their lives in danger when a day or two of simple health care would have made them much better. On the rare occasions when things have gone wrong, we’ve been covered.
In both cases we have always had to declare pre-existing medical conditions on our policies, which usually adds a small cost, usually in the form of an upgrade in policy type from the standard one on offer. We have both had asthma since childhood. Even though it’s very much a controlled condition we have to declare it. If we don’t, there’s a chance the policy could be void if we need to make a claim.
One of us also has pernicious anemia, which is a deficiency in vitamin B12. Again, it’s a controlled condition, and you just need to be able to answer a couple of questions about your blood count. Ultimately it means you’re covered and you have peace of mind.
By David – Delve into Europe
I always use travel health insurance. For the last few years, I have been on EuropAssistance annual plan, which comes down to a little over €1 per day. It came in handy the time I injured myself during a hike in Jordan. The wound was so bad and so deep that it needed to be properly medicated. I called the company and they immediately set up an appointment for me, in Jerusalem where I was traveling the following day. Once there, all I had to do was wait for my turn to be visited. I didn’t have to pay. The insurance sorted out everything. I went to the pharmacy with my prescription medication (I was put on antibiotics), kept the receipt and claimed the expenses via the online form once back home. It was super easy and quick!
By Claudia – My Adventures Across the World
Have a different recommendation for travel health insurance? Or do you want to tell us why you don’t even bother? Hit me up in the comments!