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Best Travel Insurance For Travelers & Digital Nomads

Travel Insurance Tips

Guide to Buying Travel Insurance

Travel Insurance Guide

Buying travel insurance can be a very confusing part of planning your international travel adventure. Is it worth the expense? Which companies offer the best coverage?

What Is Travel Insurance?

The term travel insurance is commonly used to describe a few different types of insurance. It can sometimes be pretty confusing for new travelers.

You should know what kinds of coverage a travel insurance policy includes, because it may not include everything you think it does.

Travel Health Insurance is coverage for accidents, injuries, and hospital visits while you are away from home.

Medical Evacuation Insurance is coverage for transporting you to a major hospital for treatment.

Trip Cancelation Insurance is coverage for unexpected interruptions in your travel plans.

Baggage/Property Insurance is coverage for theft or damage to your gear while traveling.

Travel Insurance Guide

This is why you need travel insurance!

Do You Need Travel Insurance?

This is the million-dollar question — and ultimately a personal decision. I’ve met plenty of people who travel without travel insurance and I’ve contemplated doing the same.

But after over 6 years of constant travel, hearing horror stories from other travelers, and getting into a few dangerous predicaments myself — if someone asks for my opinion on the subject I answer with:

YES. Everyone should carry some kind of health/property insurance when traveling.

Why? Because shit happens. Whether you think it will or not. Despite your best-laid plans and preventative measures. Sure, if you sprain your ankle, it might not be a big deal.

But what if your appendix bursts? Or your bus crashes? Or you contract a deadly disease? Or require medical evacuation after breaking your leg?

These things definitely happen to travelers from time to time, and could cost you tens (or hundreds) of thousands of dollars. Without insurance, you’re screwed!

My recommendation is based on listening to countless first-hand tales of disaster from other travelers, as well as my own personal experiences.

Sick in Mexico

Catching Dengue Fever in Mexico

Real-Life Examples

I met a woman in Costa Rica who fell off a ladder, shattering the bone in her arm. She did not have health insurance, received horrible treatment at the local hospital, and was basically held hostage until she was able to pay the HUGE medical bill.

Another friend lost everything he owned when his locked guesthouse in Ecuador was broken into. Without personal property insurance, he would’ve needed to spend thousands replacing stolen computer & camera gear.

Another friend contracted a flesh-eating parasite while trekking through the jungles of Peru. He required months worth of treatment from specialized doctors, and a flight back to the United States.

Yet another friend had his 5-star resort hotel room ransacked in Mexico.

These are all people I know personally.

Travel Insurance Tips

Man Using My Stolen Laptop

My Own Close Calls…

I once crashed a wooden sled while flying down a volcano, receiving lacerations all over my head. Luckily I didn’t break anything… but a girl with our group wasn’t so lucky, and tore a ligament in her ankle that required surgery.

On a trip to Panama my laptop computer was stolen literally right out from under my feet. I’d let my travel insurance lapse, and was no longer covered for the theft… Luckily I got some payback!

I’ve also contracted Dengue Fever in Mexico, which required blood tests & doctor’s visits. In more serious cases patients are hospitalized for weeks, and require blood transfusions. That stuff isn’t cheap.

My point here is you never know. Not having travel insurance when you really need it sucks big time. And you won’t understand just HOW MUCH it sucks until it happens to you.

What Kind Of Insurance?

That really depends on a lot of different factors. You’ll have to ask yourself a few questions. Are you a short-term traveler going away for a few days/weeks? Or are you a long-term traveler leaving for 6 months or more?

Do you carry tons of expensive photo/computer gear, or not?

Will your regular health insurance cover you overseas? Does it include medical evacuation? Do you have pre-existing conditions?

Are you the type of person who books hotels/flights/activities in advance? Or do you just wing it and pay for services as you use them?

Short-Term Travel Insurance

World Nomads

World Nomads specializes in short-term travel coverage, including theft, and are very popular among travelers. I used them for years before I decided to get long-term expat type insurance instead.

Buying insurance with World Nomads for your next vacation is quick & easy. You can even purchase a plan with little advanced notice. You can extend coverage online from anywhere too.

Health Coverage Worldwide: Yes.
Coverage At Home: No.
Medical Evacuation: Yes.
Trip Cancelation: Yes.
Theft/Damage Insurance: Yes. ($500 per-item limit)


Long-Term Travel Insurance

Because I’m a digital nomad and travel with thousands of dollars of camera equipment for work, I have a more long-term travel insurance mindset. I use an expat dedicated health insurance policy, combined with a gear policy for professional photographers.

This mix is more expensive than a World Nomads Policy, but works best for my long-term travel lifestyle.

TCP Photographer Insurance

TCP Insurance has been around for 40 years and has a dedicated department for professional photographers. General liability and equipment insurance begins at $500 a year with quarterly payments available. They can cover tens of thousands of dollars in photography gear, including laptops, drones, and general business liability should you injure someone else while working on location.


IMG Global

This plan specializes in long-term worldwide medical coverage, but does not cover theft or trip cancelation. Coverage inside the United States is included, but to qualify you must spend at least 6 months of the year living abroad. You can choose a deductible from $250-$10,000.

Health Coverage Worldwide: Yes.
Coverage at Home: Yes.
Medical Evacuation: Yes.
Trip Cancelation: No.
Theft/Damage Insurance: No.
Example Quote: Global Gold (1 year policy) = $74/month with $1000 deductible

NOTE: I’ve never needed to file a claim with any of these companies yet.

More Insurance Options

HTH Worldwide

Full international medical insurance, including the United States. No limits as to how long you are in the US. Deductible waived for regular doctor checkups. Excellent insurance, but pricey. Sherry from OttsWorld.com is a happy customer.

Health Coverage Worldwide: Yes.
Coverage at Home: Yes.
Medical Evacuation: Yes.
Trip Cancelation: No.
Theft/Damage Insurance: No.
Example Quote: Global Citizen (1 year policy) = $269/month with $1000 deductible


Your Current Insurance

Already have regular health insurance in your home country? Check to see if they provide coverage internationally. If they do, you might not need anything else.

Homeowners/Renters Insurance

Your homeowners or renters insurance may cover your belongings when you’re traveling in foreign countries too. Call them up to verify the details.

Credit Card Insurance

Many credit card companies often include some basic travel and theft insurance for their customers. Call them up to get details on what’s covered (or not).

Making A Claim

Insurance companies are notorious for trying to avoid paying out claims. Making a claim might take some work on your part, depending on the situation. Here are a few tips for getting paid:

  • If you’re having issues filing a claim, always work your way up the corporate ladder. Talk to a supervisor. Then talk to the supervisor’s supervisor. Make your claim issues public using Social Media if needed.
  • Record conversations. At the beginning of every phone call, tell the other party you’re recording the conversation to ensure no mis-understandings later. You can easily do this with Skype and a program like Pamela for PC or Ecamm Call Recorder for Mac.
  • When filing a police report of any kind, keep the story simple. The longer and more in-depth the report, the easier it is for insurance companies to find a loophole they can use to deny your claim! You better believe they will try…

Travel Insurance Tips

  • Read the fine print first! Know what you’re covered for. For example, some policies don’t cover extreme sports or theft of unattended items.
  • Take photos of all your gear with a date stamp.
  • Save PDF copies of all gear purchase & hospital receipts. Keep originals too.
  • Write down serial numbers, policy numbers, and insurance contact information.
  • Store this information online in a secure, easy to access place. I use Evernote. Another good option is Dropbox or Google Drive.
  • File a police report immediately after any theft or accident.

Happy Traveling!

No one likes to think about theft or injury when they’re on vacation, but the threat is real, and without good travel insurance, an unexpected incident could ruin the rest of your year. Never travel without it! ★

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Packing Guide

Check out my travel gear guide to help you start packing for your trip. Pick up a travel backpack, camera gear, and other useful travel accessories.

Book Your Flight

Book cheap flights on Skyscanner, my favorite airline search engine to find deals. Also read my tips for how I find the cheapest flights.

Rent A Car

Discover Cars is a great site for comparing car prices to find the best deal. They search both local & international rental companies.

Book Accommodation

Booking.com is my favorite hotel search engine. Or rent local apartments on Airbnb ($35 discount!). Read my post for tips on booking cheap hotels.

Protect Your Trip

Don’t forget travel insurance! I’m a big fan of World Nomads for short-term trips. Protect yourself from possible injury & theft abroad. Read more about why you should always carry travel insurance.
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READ MORE TRAVEL SAFETY TIPS

I hope you enjoyed my guide on travel insurance. Hopefully you found it useful. Here are a few more wanderlust-inducing articles that I recommend you read next:

Have any questions about travel insurance? Have you ever had something bad happen? Drop me a message in the comments below!

Jerry Go

Saturday 12th of October 2019

Ive asked so many people who travel abroad about travel insurance and most of them dont buy insurance ... but youve convinced me ... NOMAD insurance for me ... thanx!!!

Divya Reddy Margam

Monday 27th of August 2018

Thanks for sharing the essential tips. I prefer to spend more on insurance rather than traveling. Almost every type of medical urgency is covered depending upon the plan you are buying. I use to buy that completely secures me and my family.

Ale Werner

Friday 25th of May 2018

I've travel for a lot of time and always have my insurance with me. Got to sleep in a hospital in Thailand, a kidney stone in Australia and lots of other experiences that had broken me if I haven't had one! Really nice content!

Muo idirs

Tuesday 27th of February 2018

I totally recommended to buy travel insurance , but the important key is to choose the most suitable insurance plan for you that suit you , to avoid overspending on buying the plan , and to do that you need to read and be aware about the plans that available in your area and what is cover , you can use an online tool for that like qompanion.my which is helps you to check all the plans that available and let you compare between them to choose the suitable one for you

JP

Friday 25th of May 2018

Hello. I am currently in Spain on vacation. I'm from Canada. I have travel insurance from Canada, but it expired 2 days ago. I just extended my stay here for 3 more weeks, and realized that my previous insurance expired. I called the insurance company and they confirmed that I cannot renew or extend insurance since it already expired. What are my options to get coverage for the remainder of my stay? Your help is much appreciated! Have a great day.

Lynn

Tuesday 7th of November 2017

I've been using World Nomads for the past 3 years while I've been a full-time nomad. They seemed great, until recently when I had to file a claim, and then they were awful. Not in a mean way, but in a take-way-too-long-to-respond way, and they kept asking for more documents every time I produced what they wanted. First it was the standard police report and purchase receipt (it was for my phone which was stolen when I was mugged in Mexico in broad daylight in a small village). Then passport, proof of flight from the US, and they even asked for proof I'd purchased their policy! Wouldn't they know that since they had issued it to me? I was able to dig it up on my laptop in my bank statements. They wanted my drivers license (which was stolen in my purse) as they said my passport wasn't proof of my address, yet they had my address on the policy. They wanted me to get the police report translated from Spanish to English and wanted me to snail mail all of this rather than do it on line, which I did decline to do - snail mail is worthless in Mexico and DHL or FedEx cost too much, especially since they kept asking for more. Finally, after over a month of this stressful situation (I was already stressed having been knocked to the ground and robbed), a friend told me about Elliot Advocates which for free will advocate for you with travel related issues if they choose to take on your complaint. Finally, I got paid a small amount for my phone, thanks to their intervention. I paid World Nomads $3150 over those 3 years, and they were not there for me when I needed them. I'm just glad it wasn't a major medical claim! Now I need to find another, better insurance carrier, if there is one. I'll look into the others you've written about. Any other recommendations?

Todd @visit50

Saturday 16th of December 2017

Thanks for sharing! Eeek!

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