How to Choose the Best Travel Insurance for Travelers & Digital Nomads in 2021 (Top Tips & Insurer Companies)

by Travel & Adventure2 comments

One of the most common mistakes that travelers make is when they skip buying travel insurance because they think it’s an unnecessary expense that will chip away from their travel budget — but that is NOT true! (Best Travel Insurance)

Your vacation will definitely not be cheap anymore if you happen to incur additional costs due to flight interruptions, delays, lost baggage, sudden injuries, or accidents among many others. After all, traveling abroad is unpredictable and there are far too many things that could potentially happen which you have to protect yourself from.

If you ask me, the way you should look at travel insurance is that it’s a small cost you have to pay that’s relative to the total costs of your trip that you can protect!

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

At this point, I’m sure there are a lot of questions forming inside your mind such as: “where can I buy one?” or “which is the best insurer that has the best coverage?”

Well, don’t fret because I will be answering those queries and more in this post, so that YOU can avail the best plan possible!

Do you want to jump to the section that discusses the best travel insurance companies? If so, click here.

Top photo by: Shutterstock

What is a Travel Insurance

Travel insurance is a type of plan that protects you from unforeseen risks and losses that can occur while you are traveling internationally or domestically. The aforementioned risks and losses can range from minor (e.g. damaged luggage) to major situations (e.g. medical evacuation).

Take note of the word ‘unforeseen’ which refers to things that you could not have predicted to happen — or just basically, things that are not within your control.
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So in some way, you can think of travel insurance as the ultimate emergency coverage for your trip that will save you lots of money if, let’s say, “sh*t happens”.

That being said, a lot of travel insurance providers have different plans with different coverage, so it’s always important to read the fine print in order to see if their policy fits your travel needs and itinerary.

• • •

Do You Need Travel Insurance?

Do you Need Insurance? (People Traveling)

Photo by: Shutterstock

There was a period in my life in which I traveled without travel insurance.

Looking back, I consider myself immensely lucky that I didn’t encounter any drastic accident or injury during those trips… otherwise, I would have spent hundreds — if not thousands — of dollars on medical bills alone! (Just the thought of it sends chills down my spine!)

There was actually a time that my laptop got stolen… and had I bought a travel insurance, I would have recovered the cost of that gadget!

Surely, I do NOT want to push my luck anymore; so ever since then, I made it a point to purchase travel insurance for my travels around the world.

Besides, we buy insurance for our car and our home, so why not buy insurance as a part of our travel planning too? We’re not invincible, nor are we perpetually lucky, that’s why…

YES, everyone should buy travel insurance. It enables anyone to travel with confidence and peace of mind!

In fact, a smart traveler ALWAYS has travel insurance!

You can be the healthiest or the most cautious person on the planet, but nothing can prepare you for unfortunate events that can put a big dent in your bank account or even endanger your life! You could be involved in a car crash, break your leg from an activity, contract malaria or some other deadly virus, have all your stuff stolen, and so many others… the list can go on and on, and you need to be prepared for any of these.

Apart from family and friends, I’ve met a lot of travelers who have shared with me how having the best travel insurance helped them a lot!

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Example Stories

Medical Evacuations

Photo by: Shutterstock

  • PERSONAL STORY
    I once had a painful ear infection while I was on the last leg of my road trip in New Zealand. After I had it checked at a hospital, they advised me to postpone my flight back home until the infection clears up (this was to prevent any additional pressure on my eardrum while it’s healing). My travel insurance company covered not only my hotel stay but also my rescheduled flight ticket!
    .
  • OTHER PEOPLE’S STORIES
    • Stolen items: A friend of mine got robbed while traveling in Puerto Rico and her travel insurance provider reimbursed the cost of the stolen items.
    • Death: I once met someone on a tour who told me that when her father died, she had to cancel her honeymoon trip. She was afraid at first because all of their hotels and airfare flights were prepaid and non-refundable; however, her travel insurance company reimbursed all of that back to her!
    • Missed flights: My aunt’s daughter got sick during their trip in Germany so she had to stay back. They both missed their flights back home, but travel insurance paid both the medical bills and the airfare that could have cost them $7,000!
    • Adverse weather: A family relative was once stranded in Bali due to a horrible storm and his travel insurance covered his accommodations and meals for the whole time that he was stuck there.
    • Accidents: I know of a woman who had a bus accident in Tanzania that left most of the people dead, save for her and some others. She had a broken shoulder and her travel insurance company paid for her hospital stay, treatment, lost items, and flight back home (for as soon as she was okay to travel).
    • Evacuations: A friend once broke their back during a trip to the Amazon, and if he didn’t have travel insurance, he would have paid about $100,000 or more for the hospital and medical evacuation fees (he had to be airlifted out of the forest after all)!
  • Did you know? Some countries like Japan would refuse to admit you to a hospital if you do not have travel insurance!

Are there countries where travel insurance is mandatory to enter?

Yes, there are! Read my post to see the complete list of countries that require travel insurance.

• • •

Best Travel Insurance Companies

Best Travel Insurance: SafetyWing (Also Best for Long-Term Travel)

SafetyWing was established when three Norwegian friends wanted to design insurance products that are catered for frequent travelers. To date, they are one of the top best travel insurance companies and all of their policies are offered through their partner, Tokio Marine HCC-MIS Group (one of the largest insurance companies in the world), and then underwritten at Llyod’s.

PROS

  • Offers different product policies that can be bought monthly or yearly
  • Prices of plans are more affordable compared to other insurers
  • Flexible: available to purchase before or after trip departure
  • A great option for location-independent digital nomads, online freelancers, and remote workers/companies.
  • Covers individuals who are up to 69 years old
  • Covers pandemics (COVID-19) and acts of war
  • Covers children and visits to your home country
  • Claims can be filed online

CONS

  • Offers a basic coverage
  • Limited coverage for personal belongings
  • Limited coverage for adventure activities
  • Does not cover trip cancellations (only trip interruptions)
  • The deductible is at $250 (but it’s per policy; so if you have multiple event claims, it can rather turn to be economical)

– – –

Alternative: World Nomads (Best for SHORT-TERM TRAVEL & ADVENTURE JUNKIES)

World Nomads Travel Insurance

You’ve probably heard of World Nomads; after all, it is an established company in 2002 that has since been recommended by a lot of travel companies and personalities. In fact, I have mostly purchased my travel insurance from them in the past years — until a few years back when their policy for Philippine citizens or Filipinos has changed (they passed things over to their partner: AXA).

After I also discovered SafetyWing, I realized that World Nomads was a lot more expensive especially if I want insurance for longer travel sprees. BUT of course, I do admit that World Nomads’ coverage is FAR more comprehensive than SafetyWing especially when it comes to activities and lost electronics (but if my trip doesn’t involve such things, I always just go for SafetyWing).

PROS

  • Offers different product policies (standard and premium plans)
  • Flexible: available to purchase before or after trip departure
  • Covers individuals who are up to 70 years old
  • Covers COVID-19 but only offered for USA and Canadian residents
  • Covers a lot of adventure activities
  • Covers car rentals (except for the standard plan)
  • Claims can be filed online
  • The deductible is at $100 (but it’s per event; so if you have multiple event claims, it can rather turn to be expensive)
  • Has a long-standing reputation

CONS

  • Costlier than SafetyWing
  • Claims are paid by check
  • Does not cover travel to North Korea, Cuba, and Iran

– – –

SafetyWing vs World Nomads (Coverage Comparison Table)

SafetyWing*World Nomads**
Emergency Accidents & Sickness
Emergency Dental Treatment
Emergency Evacuation
Accidental Death & Dismemberment
Emergency Transportation
Repatriation of Remains
Pre-Existing Medical ConditionsXX
Prescribed Physiotherapy
Counseling ServicesX
Routine Check-UpsXX
Out-of-Pocket Expenses in HospitalX
Cancer TreatmentXX
COVID/[1]
Pandemics, Acts of War, etc.X
Trip CancellationX
Trip Interruption or Curtailment
Trip ResumptionX
Trip Delay
Missed ConnectionX
Loss, Theft, and Damage of Baggage & Personal Effects
Loss, Theft, and Damage of Gear/ElectronicsX
Loss or Theft of MoneyX
Baggage DelayX
Natural Catastrophe
HijackX
Adventure Sports & Activities/[2]
Rental Car DamageX
Replacement of Rental Car KeysX
Personal Liability
Family Coverage[3]
CountriesWorldwideWorldwide[4]
USA Included?Yes, at added costYes, at added cost
Home Country Covered?30 Days[5]No
Insurees AllowedWorldwideWorldwide
Age Limit6970
Deductibles$250/Policy$100/Event[6]
Maximum Limit$250,000Unlimited
PriceStarts at $40/MonthStarts at $110/Month
Per Day Option Available?YesYes
» CHECK RATE «» CHECK RATE «

*Nomad Insurance & Remote Health (read the fine print to differentiate their coverage)
**Standard & Explorer (read the fine print to differentiate their coverage)
[1]Except for the USA and Canadian residents
[2]Covers a LIMITED number of sports activities only (not covering adventurous ones)
[3]1 young child per adult or up to 2 per family, with ages between 14 days and 10 years old
[4]Everywhere but North Korea, Cuba, and Iran
[5]In every 90-day period or 15 days in every 90 days if your home country is the USA
[6]Excess deducted per event claimed (except for emergency evacuation and repatriation expenses)

– – –

Other Insurers

  • Your Current Insurance: If you hold a health insurance or even a home insurance, it is possible that they provide coverage for international travel — but take note that it might be drastically limited, that’s why you should call them up to verify any rules or exclusions. (It’s highly unlikely, however, that their travel insurance plan will fulfill requirements for things like the required insurance value to enter the Schengen Area).
    .
  • Your Credit Card: A lot of credit cards include very basic travel insurance for their customers (they usually only apply insurance to bookings made with the card), which is unlike the more comprehensive coverage of standalone policies like those from SafetyWing and World Nomads. However, it doesn’t hurt to verify the extent of their coverage because it can function as a supplemental extra policy during your travels!

• • •

Coverage for COVID-19

Travel Insurers with COVID Coverage

Years ago, travelers paid little to no attention to the possibility of a pandemic whenever they look through the fine print of their insurance policies — but because of the events that happened in 2020, it has since become a huge concern and a lot of travel insurance providers have adapted to include it in their plans.

If you’re concerned with the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), thankfully, SafetyWing has you covered!

– – –

SafetyWing COVID-19 Coverage

As of August 2020, SafetyWing’s Nomad Insurance and Remote Health plans cover COVID-19.

  • As long as you did NOT contract COVID before your policy plan’s start date and that it does not fall under any other policy exclusion/limitation, ALL of SafetyWing’s plans will offer a full refund for in-patient hospital charges as a standard.
    • Covers treatment in an isolation ward if this is deemed necessary by your doctor
    • If you need to be hospitalized in a government facility or other public hospital that is FREE of charge, you will be entitled to a hospital cash benefit of USD $3,750 or higher (assuming a hospital stay of 30 days)
  • COVID-19 tests are covered if deemed medically necessary by a physician. (The antibody test is NOT covered since it is deemed not medically necessary).
  • Faster turnaround times for treatment pre-authorization and claims processing. (The claim submission period is extended from 6 to 9 months for members diagnosed with COVID-19.)

– – –

World Nomads COVID-19 Coverage

As a general rule, World Nomads does NOT cover pandemics, so COVID-19 cover is technically not included in their plans. They currently have a Coronavirus FAQ page and you will see there that most nationalities in Asia, Australia, Europe, and the UK are not eligible — however, World Nomads’ Travel Protection plan for USA and Canadian residents seem to cover COVID-19 sickness under a limited policy.

You can read all about it here.

• • •

What to Look For in a Travel Insurance Plan

Best Characteristics of an Insurance Plan

Photo by: Shutterstock

A lot of travel insurance companies aim to provide the best coverage possible for their customers; but as a business, they also have limitations and their policies will have certain requirements or restrictions. This is why I highly recommend that you ALWAYS read the fine print to know what you’re actually covered for.

Some plans could be a better fit for your travel style, while others don’t — therefore, try to choose wisely! As a start, here are the standard characteristics of the best travel insurance plan that you can have!

  • Extensive coverage. Apart from the obvious fact that your plan should cover the whole of the destination(s) you are going to, you should also ensure that it has medical coverage that will encompass emergency care for sudden illness/injury (including accidental death and dismemberment for treatment both in public and private hospitals), emergency evacuation/repatriation (for at least $100,000), and emergency transportation.
    • A good sign that you are signing up for a great insurance company is when they cover most countries in the world.
    • They should also have…
      • Coverage for any damaged, lost, or stolen possessions (e.g. baggage, documents, jewelry).
      • Coverage for cancellations on flights, hotels, and other transport bookings due to sudden emergencies, illness, or death in the family.
      • Coverage for natural disasters or political emergencies in your destination country to help you come back home earlier than your departure date.
      • Coverage if in case any of the travel companies you booked with goes bankrupt.
    • Take note and confirm if emergency evacuation includes taking you back home, or if it will just send you to the nearest medical facility in your destination.
      .
  • Extra coverage. If you want the best of the best, you should go for a provider that offers additional or optional perks.
    • Most travel insurance companies don’t cover damaged, lost, or stolen tech gadgets, but there are those like World Nomads who do.
    • Pandemics or epidemics are also not often covered, but if you want one who does, SafetyWing is a great option.
    • Do you do a lot of high-risk adventure or extreme sports/activities? World Nomads can help you with that; but if you go for other insurance companies, they might charge extra for these types of activities.
      .
  • High limit. Good travel insurance should always offer a high coverage limit, especially on medical expenses. As a standard, an insurer should provide up to $100,000 cover for medical care. World Nomads is great, for instance, because they offer NO limits on most of their policies.
    • Traveling to the Schengen Area? No worries! All of the insurance companies listed above meet the required medical coverage of Schengen Countries which is at least 30,000 EUR (or equivalent to about $36,500~).
      .
  • Low deductible. A deductible is basically the amount that you are going to pay, and the rest of the balance will be the responsibility of the insurer.
    • Let’s say you got a medical treatment that costs $1,000 and the insurance company has a deductible of $200 — you’ll have to pay the latter but the insurer will pay the remaining $800.
    • Take note if the deductible is per policy (so you don’t have to pay for every event) or if it’s per event.
      .
  • Flexible renewal. It’s always best if your insurance can be extended or renewed while you’re traveling. Thankfully, the companies I mentioned above allow you to do this, unlike other insurers who often need you to be back in your home country to be able to do a renewal (some might even need additional documents, etc.).
    .
  • Fast claim process and 24/7 assistance. You do NOT want to be with an insurance company that asks you to “wait” when you’re already in a dire situation. It also helps a lot if they have 24/7 customer service that can be swiftly reached online. Don’t hold back on checking reviews online to see if doing claims with a specific insurance company can be done swiftly and with no hassles at all.

• • •

What’s Not Covered?

Though most travel insurance companies have comprehensive coverage and policies, it does NOT mean that they will cover every incident especially if it was due to your carelessness.

Some of the typical examples of events that most travel insurance companies don’t cover are…

  • Cancer treatments
  • Contracted STDs
  • Pandemics or epidemics (but if you want one who does, SafetyWing is a great option)
  • Any expenses related to a pre-existing medical condition (though some insurers can include it at an additional cost)
  • Non-emergency treatments or surgeries (e.g. routine physical examinations, eyeglasses, hearing aids, etc.)
  • Dental treatment unless it’s a result of an injury or accident
  • Pregnancy and childbirth except for complications of pregnancy or if hospitalized
  • Mental or emotional disorders (unless hospitalized)
  • Accidents due to carelessness (e.g. not wearing a helmet, not having a license)
  • Accidents due to alcohol, drugs, intoxicants, self-inflicted injury, or crime participation
  • Accidents due to high-risk activities or sports (unless you pay for extra coverage or if you buy from World Nomads)
  • Lost or stolen cash, bank currency notes, cheques, or negotiable instruments
  • Items that were left misplaced, forgotten, or unsupervised; unless you can provide evidence of forced entry
  • War, invasion, or acts of foreign enemies (though some policies can still cover travel-related costs if there are terrorist acts)
  • PLEASE read your insurance policy carefully to know the exact list of exclusions!

• • •

FAQ

Is there any way to get a cheaper rate on my travel insurance plan?

Apart from checking if the insurer is holding any promo packages, it is also possible to get a cheaper rate if you specifically pinpoint the region or country(ies) you’re traveling to. In fact, a plan is often cheaper when the USA is excluded. Otherwise, if you are a frequent traveler, check if the travel insurance company offers multi-trip or annual plans (SafetyWing is a great option for this).

When should I buy my travel insurance?

You should buy your travel insurance right after you book anything (e.g. plane tickets, hotel bookings, etc.), which means that preferably, you should purchase insurance on the same day.

What if I forgot to buy travel insurance and I’m already abroad?

Don’t worry! Insurers like SafetyWing and World Nomads allow purchase of their policy plans even if you have already departed on your flight. To learn more about this, read here.

I’m a senior, is there travel insurance that can cover me?

Most insurers do not cover people over 65 years old; or if they do, they will charge a whole lot more (unlike other insurance companies that are more focused for providing plans to seniors).

What insurer should I get if I want my expensive camera gear to be insured?

You should check with World Nomads because they provide coverage for these kinds of items. Once you purchase a policy from them, I suggest that you take photos of your camera gear with a date stamp. Do also save copies of their purchase receipt and serial numbers (look for the original receipts too!).

How soon should I file a claim?

You should file a claim with your insurance provider for as soon as possible!

How can I make a claim?

You should get in touch with your insurer as well as any relevant authorities as soon as possible. Gather all the evidence that you will need to support your claim (photographs, documents, etc.). Additionally, you should prepare your policy documents beforehand as well as take note of your policy number

I lost my baggage, what should I do?

First, ask your airline because they usually have policies that cover lost baggage. If they don’t have that, turn to your travel insurance company instead. After confirming the loss of your baggage with the airline desk, tell them that you are making a travel insurance claim and ask for a report number as well as any other relevant documents about this loss. Next, gather all the proof that shows your ownership of those lost items (receipts, photos, etc.). Don’t forget to keep your travel tags and flight tickets as evidence too. If you ever buy items to replace those items that you’ve lost, save the receipts too. (As always, check the fine print with your insurer to see what they will cover or not).

My belongings have been stolen, what should I do?

Inform representative of the venue you’re in (e.g. hotel, tour provider, or any local authority), file a police report, and then immediately call your insurer about this theft (you should do this within 24 hours). To help hasten the claim process, it helps if you have date-stamped photos of these items before you left for your trip as well as receipts to prove ownership.

I went through medical treatment, what should I do to be reimbursed?

In the first place, it is imperative that you contact your insurer first because they can either recommend a facility or advise you what hospitals they do not cover. Meanwhile, to be properly and swiftly reimbursed by your travel insurance company, aside from notifying them ASAP, you should keep all the hospital receipts as well as your credit card statements so that you can claim these costs back afterward. Apart from the original copies, make sure that you keep photocopies of these receipts too.

• • •

Best Insurer

Overall

I hope this detailed guide helped you determine what the best travel insurance policy is for your upcoming trip.

Let me know how it goes!

• • •

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About Me

Solo Female Travel Blogger: Aileen Adalid

Hey there! I am Aileen Adalid.
At 21, I quit my corporate job in the Philippines to pursue my dreams. Today, I am a successful digital nomad (online entrepreneur, travel writer, & vlogger) living a sustainable travel lifestyle.

My mission? To show you how it is absolutely possible to create a life of travel no matter the odds — and I will help you achieve that through my detailed travel hacks, guides, resources, tips, and MORE!

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CURRENTLY BASED IN: The Philippines

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2 Comments

  1. Trav

    Super article, Thank You so much for providing this information. I’ll be travelling and now i know the pro’s of having a travel insurance :) Thank You educating travellers like me ;)

    Reply
    • Aileen Adalid

      Glad to be of help! :D

      Reply

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