Digital Nomad Insurance Protects Your Health, Finances and Possessions
One of the biggest challenges digital nomads confront is how to manage their health care. Most insurance plans cater to travelers or expats, but nomad travelers don’t fit easily into either category. So, what kind of insurance should a digital nomad get? And do you need insurance at all?
Don’t Subscribe to the “Roll the Dice” Plan
Let’s settle the last question first. A wise nomad traveler has an insurance plan available to help them when they get sick or things go sideways.
Many of the most popular remote living destinations require ill or injured people to show proof that they can pay before a hospital agrees to treat them. If you’ve had a compound leg fracture or are suffering from meningitis, the last thing you want to do is wrestle with your bank account’s international ATM limits to get the cash to pay the bill in advance. The right digital nomad insurance plan will be the proof you need to show you can pay. It can also protect you when you encounter issues like flight cancellation, lost baggage, or stolen items.
You can get digital nomad insurance even if you are planning to travel back to your home country for short stints while you are a nomad traveler. There are two major different types of medical insurance for remote living - one of them will be the right one for you.
Travel Medical Insurance vs. International Health Insurance
There are two types of insurance that nomad travelers can get. The best plan for you will depend on your individual needs and your nomadic lifestyle.
Travel medical insurance is designed to take care of urgent medical needs. If you sprain your ankle in Sicily or get strep throat in Sydney, digital nomad insurance will cover your visit to a local medical facility. If it’s more severe – say you’re run over by a motorbike in Rio de Janeiro or have a heart attack in Hanoi – your travel medical policy will stabilize you and transport you home for recovery. But for some people engaged in remote living, going “home” is not an option so this may not be a good fit.
Travel insurance will cover you even in cases of a minor health issue such as a cold. If you need an elective procedure, you’ll need insurance with more coverage. It’s important to note that “elective” doesn’t mean “not important.” It means “can be scheduled in advance.” So if you have kidney stones, a hernia or need to have pins removed from a broken leg, for example, you will need insurance that has a broader scope than travel insurance.
Some travel insurers have direct billing networks, so you won’t see a bill. When the provider you’re seeing is not part of an insurer’s direct billing network, you will pay for your care, and insurance will reimburse you for eligible expenses.
Great travel medical policies also have benefits such as natural disaster evacuation, coverage for lost baggage, and more. Most plans will cover you for up to 12 months. Because coverage is more limited in the medical benefits offered, it’s more affordable than international medical insurance.
Recommended Travel Insurance for Digital Nomads
Best for Premium Coverage
- For U.S. citizens up to age 95
- Coverage for COVID and pre-existing conditions
- 24/7/365 service and assistance
Best for Coverage on a Budget
- Comprehensive medical coverage with benefits up to $5,000,000.
- COVID-19 coverage that extends up to your medical maximum.
- Emergency Medical Evacuation protection up to $500,000.
International health insurance, also called international medical insurance or global medical insurance, covers your urgent medical issues as well as your everyday needs. They are annually renewable plans that offer more comprehensive medical benefits but fewer travel insurance benefits like cover for lost luggage.
If you want standard medical checkups like routine physicals, Pap smears and mammograms while you are on the road, international health insurance will cover you. If you need elective surgery such as a biopsy, meniscus surgery for your knee, or a tonsillectomy, that’s where international health insurance comes in. Many plans also cover travel vaccinations, surgery and medical transportation such as ambulances and medevac flights. You can also get coverage for your child to receive regular medical care.
If there is a medical prescription you rely on, many plans will cover the cost, as well as the cost of the doctor’s visit to get it prescribed in your new location. Some plans also offer dental and vision benefits. And many plans have networks that will direct bill your care to the insurance company, so you never have to see a bill. Generally speaking, you need to be out of your country for three months or longer to get an international health insurance plan.
Recommended International Health Insurance for Digital Nomads
Best for U.S. Citizens
- Premium Benefits, Coverage and Service
- Define your deductible and prescription benefits
- For Foreigners in the US or US citizens abroad
Best for International Citizens
- The flexibility to tailor a plan to suit your individual needs
- Access to Cigna Global’s trusted network of hospitals and doctors
- The convenience and confidence of 24/7/365 customer service
Which One is Right for Me?
The matrix below gives several scenarios that should help you sort out which kind of digital nomad insurance you need. You can also get a free quote and our staff will find the best plan for your needs.
Travel Medical Insurance
International Health Insurance
|I will be out of my home country for anywhere from a week to a year.||I will be out of my home country for anywhere from 90 days to indefinitely.|
|I don’t plan to get any regular medical care while I’m overseas.||I want to make sure to keep up with my preventive medical care while abroad.|
|If I am in a bad accident, I want to be sent to my home country to recover.||If I am in a bad accident, I want to have the option to stay where I am while I recover.|
|I don’t have any prescriptions I will need to refill.||I have several prescriptions that I take regularly and will need to refill.|
|I want coverage for medical emergencies and illnesses and travel insurance benefits like coverage for lost or stolen items||I want comprehensive medical benefits available throughout the world.|
|I want a policy that I only pay for during the specific dates I am abroad, which I have provided in advance. If those dates change, I will remember to notify the insurance company so my insurance doesn’t lapse while I’m overseas.||I want a policy that covers me throughout the year, so I have the flexibility to dip back into my home country or leave on my own schedule without having to update my insurance company.|
|I don’t care about being able to renew my coverage. When I hit the limit of the timespan an insurer will cover me, I’ll just switch companies.||I want to be able to renew my coverage every year so I can stick with the same provider. I also want to maintain my coverage so I don’t wind up with any pre-existing conditions.|
For the Adventurous: Extreme Sports Travel Medical Insurance
There are many exciting things to do when you’re on the road. You might want to try cave diving at Cenote Angelita in Mexico, parasailing in South Africa, swimming with sharks in Indonesia or zorbing in New Zealand. But if you read the fine print on your travel insurance plan, you’ll learn that most of these activities aren’t covered. If you plan to participate in these exciting activities, you’ll want adventure sports travel insurance such as the SafeTreker plan from Trawick International.
For “Grey Nomads”: Insurance for Seniors
If you are a nomad who is over 65, there are special considerations when it comes to your international health insurance and travel medical insurance. See our detailed pages on international health insurance for retirees abroad and the best travel insurance for seniors.
World Nomads Travel Insurance Plans
The World Nomads Standard Plan covers a list of over 100 activities. The World Nomad Explorer Plan covers even more adventures you may choose to go on and also offers higher insurance limits than the Standard Plan. Both plans include coverage for trip cancellation, emergency medical care and transport, lost gear and technology and more.
- Coverage for 200+ adventure activities
- Generous benefits for lost and stolen bags and gear
- 24/7 emergency assistance
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.
Stay Safe on Your Nomadic Journey
The digital nomad lifestyle is incredibly rewarding. But your experience can be disrupted or destroyed by an accident, an illness, or lost or stolen gear. Protect yourself with the right digital nomad insurance for your specific remote living style, and explore knowing that you’re protected no matter what bumps you encounter on the way.
Also Read: Health Insurance Plans for Working Abroad