If you’re a digital nomad or a long-term traveler, you already understand the importance of international health insurance when living overseas. You know that because unforeseen circumstances can loom over you any day, anywhere. And this can cost you an arm and a leg. Honestly, you would never want this in a million years.
Traveling or working remotely without health insurance is possibly the worst thing you can do as a digital nomad. Even a doctor’s visit in a foreign country can be expensive. Imagine being sick in a foreign land and not being able to decide what to do! Not being able to pay upfront! Wouldn’t that be a nightmare? Therefore it is a good idea to invest in an international health insurance plan.
Choosing the right health insurance can be a daunting task for many digital nomads, long-term travelers, and expats. Before you buy international health insurance, you need to fully understand health insurance, including the difference between health insurance and travel insurance. In this article, we will go through all the details about insurance for digital nomads.
What’s the Difference between Health Insurance and Travel Insurance?
If you’re a digital nomad or ex-pat, the confusion between health and travel insurance can cost you a fortune. Although health and travel insurance are for those who spend time abroad, they serve specific purposes. Not knowing the difference may invite unexpected financial predicaments. If you are relocating from your home country, you should understand the difference between the two insurance policies.
To clear the cloud of confusion, you’ll need to understand this simple thing; you need to buy travel insurance if you are traveling for a short business trip or holiday and want coverage for protection against trip-related issues; buy international health insurance if you are planning to live or work overseas for a prolonged period of time and want coverage for emergency medical treatments and routine healthcare. Please remember that some travel insurance covers basic health coverage but not a comprehensive plan.
Why do I need international health insurance as a digital nomad?
Let’s look at a few reasons why you need international health insurance.
- An insurance policy is mandatory to get a resident or digital nomad visa
Most countries have this requirement that anyone applying for a digital nomad visa must present proof of health insurance along with other documents. It is mandatory for digital nomads to buy international health insurance to get a resident, work, or even student visa.
- An international health insurance policy protects your health & well-being
When you’re living overseas, you may face unforeseen and unfortunate health issues. Health insurance will safeguard your health and well-being as it covers medical and critical treatments and entails benefits for your well-being as well.
- Gives you access to better quality medical care
There is no doubt that international health insurance lets you enjoy better quality medical care all around the world. You can rest assured that no matter what happens to you, you can avail high-quality healthcare facility.
- International health insurance can provide you with a medical evacuation
One of the best reasons you should have international health insurance is that the insurance provides you with a medical evacuation if you need one. The insurance covers the cost of transferring you to the nearest adequate treatment center.
- Connects you with healthcare experts
You may not have easy access to high-quality medical services in a foreign country. Most health insurance offers a 24/7 helpline and quick access to doctors and healthcare experts who will help you provide the right information, treatment option, and services.
- Saves you money
Health insurance can save you from costly medical expenses. Even for the simplest medical services, you may have to pay a hefty amount. But with your insurance plan, you can avoid the out-of-pocket medical cost.
What to look out for when choosing your travel insurance providers
Now that you know why you should buy health insurance, it is equally important to know what to consider before buying one. Below are some key factors to consider when buying travel and health insurance.
1. Inclusions and exclusions of the plan
The health insurance will have some inclusions and exclusions. Inclusions refer to services, procedures, and coverages, while exclusions are the services and procedures not covered by the insurance plan. You need to make sure that the services you prefer and want are included in the policy.
2. Worldwide Coverage
Most insurance companies cover all countries except for a handful of countries where health service comes at an exorbitant price.
Countries like the USA, and Hongkong has the world’s most expensive healthcare system. This means that the most flexible plans will exclude these countries.
3. Home Country Coverage
Home Country Coverage, also called Incidental Home Country Coverage,provides emergency medical treatment for incidental trips to your home country. The most health insurance coverage covers your home country, typically for up to 6 months per year.
4. Travel Benefits
Health insurance generally does not include travel benefits like lost luggage and trip cancellation. That said, you can add some travel benefits for an extra cost. It’s a cherry on top if your health insurance offers travel benefits.
5. Pre-existing and Chronic Conditions
A medical condition you have before purchasing a health insurance plan is considered a pre-existing condition. Conditions like diabetes and cancer can be considered some pre-existing health and chronic conditions. There is also the option to get coverage for a pre-existing condition, so you should consider it before buying health insurance.
6. Reputation of Insurer
There’s no point in buying international health insurance if the insurance company is not reliable, especially with claim settlement. A reputed insurance company obviously pays their claims in a timely fashion and has good reviews. Oftentimes insurance companies deny the claim of the insured, which is a BIG-NO!
One of the most important things to consider before buying health insurance is the price you will be paying. Many factors contribute to the cost of health insurance plans. Depending on your age, country of residence, deductible, and type of plan, you can evaluate the insurance price that best fits your budget.
8. Co-Payment Clause
The term “Co-Payment Clause” can be confusing at times. Co-payment, in simple words, is the amount the policyholder needs to pay and the insurance company will pay the rest. It is therefore vital to check if there is a co-payment clause applicable.
9. Claim Process
Understanding the claim process is as important as paying the insurance on a monthly basis. You should check the claim process and do some research and even read reviews on claim settlement.
10. Maternity Benefits
Some insurance plans do not entail maternity benefits. With the cost of maternity care already hitting the roof, you as a policyholder can choose to buy the additional coverage for maternity benefits. So, make sure that your plan includes maternity benefits with the newborn baby’s medical expenses.
Best Digital Nomad Insurance for Health
Now that you know the nitty-gritty of digital nomad health Insurance, here is a showdown of 7 main international health insurance companies for you.
SafetyWing is a Norwegian Insurance company designed by digital nomads for digital nomads. It is a popular choice among digital nomads for health insurance and features two preliminary plans: Nomad Insurance and Remote Health Insurance; nomad insurance is a global travel medical insurance especially for nomads, while remote health is fully-equipped health insurance for remote workers and entrepreneurs. These two products are designed by a fully remote team of nomads.
SafetyWing covers digital nomads and remote workers worldwide while they are outside of their home country and features automatic monthly payments. This means your insurance plan gets extended each month until you cancel it. This insurance offers affordable and quality digital nomad insurance in over 175 countries, with the exception of 4 countries: North Korea, Cuba, Iran, and Syria.
SafetyWing insurance covers unforeseen illness or injury, emergency medical evacuation, travel delays, and baggage loss. You might be wondering what it does not include. Well, to answer that, it excludes cancer treatment, routine health exams, pre-existing conditions, and mental disorders. The pricing for nomad insurance starts at $42 per 4 weeks (excluding travel in the USA) and $76 per 4 weeks; this includes travel in the USA. Please be informed the pricing differs in the age range.
|Insurance Type||Age Range||Price|
|Nomad Insurance (excluding travel in the USA)||10-39 age group||$42 per 4 weeks|
|Nomad Insurance (including travel in the USA)||10-39 age group||$77 per 4 weeks|
|Nomad Insurance (excluding travel in the USA)||40-49 age group||$68.04 per 4 weeks|
|Nomad Insurance (excluding travel in the USA)||40-49 age group||$126.56 per 4 weeks|
|Nomad Insurance (including travel in the USA)||40-49 age group||$208.04 per 4 weeks|
|Nomad Insurance (excluding travel in the USA)||60-64 age group||$144.76 per 4 weeks|
|Nomad Insurance (including travel in the USA)||60-64 age group||$284.20 per 4 weeks|
Note: The price is taken at the time of writing this article and may vary from what you may find on the website.
Some benefits of SafetyWing Insurance:
- Offers bespoke plans as per the need of digital nomads.
- It is among the cheapest insurance for digital nomads.
- Offers quality insurance in over 175 countries.
- Insurance automatically extends every 28 days until you cancel it.
- Includes two children under the age of 10 per one adult with no extra charge.
- Offers 24-hour customer service, 7 days a week.
The downsides of SafetyWing Insurance:
- The quotes don’t include all fees; to see the final price, you’ll need to log in.
- No coverage for pre-existing chronic conditions and cancer treatment.
- The plans that cover the United States, Singapore, and Hong Kong are much more expensive.
- The insurance fee is expensive for older people; the older you are, the more expensive the insurance plan.
- Some high-risk activities are not covered.
World Nomads is highly lauded and recommended travel insurance by top magazines like Lonely Planet and National Geographic. International nomads claim it to be the best insurance for Adventurous Travelers. “Travel smarter and safer” is the motto of World Nomads, which has been providing world-class insurance for independent travelers and intrepid families since its inception in 2000.
World Nomads offers two primary policies for digital nomads: Standard and Explorer. Both policies cover 24/7 emergency assistance, protection for medical and travel expenses, travel delay and cancellations, medical emergencies, and coverage for your belonging. The only difference is Explorer plan comes with a few more perks and is more expensive. Basically, the Explorer plan has some benefits that the Standard plan lacks. However, you must know that the plan varies depending on your country.
The Standard Plan is comparatively affordable and comes with limited benefits. World Nomads do not offer rates on their site; you’ll have to input certain information to get quotes. Price varies depending on the demographics and country of residence of the insured. We put a sample travel details to get quotes. For a 29-years old American traveling to Bermuda for a month, the Standard Plan for a month costs $113.33 and $198.66 for Explorer Plan.
The benefits of World Nomads Insurance:
- Offers the provision of extending the insurance while on the trip.
- Covers a wide range of adventure activities, at least 200 adventure activities.
- Insured can claim the insurance online while on the road.
- Offers 24/7 Emergency Assistance
- Affordable plan in comparison to other insurance companies.
Some downsides of World Nomads Insurance:
- No coverage for pre-existing chronic conditions.
- No policies for the annual travel insurance coverage
- It doesn’t cover people over 69 years old.
- Extreme and risky sports are not covered.
- The online system is sometimes confusing.
- They have limited coverage for expensive trips.
Below is a representative table for the price for Standard and Explorer plans. We put sample travel details to get quotes.
|Traveling to||Country of Residence||Start Date||End Date||Age||Standard Plan Price||Explorer Plan Price|
|Turkey||Australia||August 10, 2022||September 10, 2022||29||$250.50||$323.50|
|Barbados||Australia||August 10, 2022||September 10, 2022||40||$229||$317|
|Italy||United States||August 10, 2022||September 10, 2022||29||$122.97||$215.57|
Integra Global Health Insurance
Integra Global Health Insurance is an international health insurance plan offering comprehensive health insurance. Ideally, Integra insurance is great for digital nomads abroad. Integra Global offers bespoke travel plans based on the individual’s requirements rather than offering predefined plans.
Integra Global has three primary health insurance plans for expat, remoter, and global nomad: Core (InCare-Life,) Comprehensive (yourLife), and Premium (PremierLife). While the core plan is for an individual, both the comprehensive and premium plans are for an individual and family.
All three plans come with features like life-aware support, emergency evacuation, repatriation, 24/7 emergency assistance, life cover, yourHealth app, security and natural disaster (SAND) services, and more. InCare is entry-level police with no out-patient coverage.
YourLife encompasses all the benefits of InCare with additional benefits like routine check-ups, mental health appointments, and prescription costs. And PremierLife is the most advanced plan and obviously costly with all the benefits of the YourLife plan.
Integra Global does not offer quotation rates on its website. You will have to input essential details manually to get prices for all 3 plans. Arguably the plans are slightly expensive but considering the fact that it is a more comprehensive medical plan with outstanding benefits, the price should be of least concern. If you are looking for trip-related coverage, you should buy Travelex insurance policy.
Some benefits of Integra Global Health Insurance:
- Covers a higher amount of medical expenses per year.
- Expatriate Assistance Program.
- Security and Natural Disaster Assistance.
- Accessibility to any licensed hospital or doctor.
- Offers 100% coverage after the deductible is paid for the year.
- Option for the treatment of pre-existing conditions.
Some drawbacks of Integra Global Health Insurance:
- Only annual coverage is available. No insurance for short trips.
- You’ll need to purchase separate travel insurance in case you need one.
- There is no direct billing and you may have to wait for 10 days for reimbursement.
These prices are indicative only and varies depending on several factors. This table only serves to give the basic idea of the price for different plans.
|Age||Country of Residence||Insurance Start Date||Core Plan||Comprehensive Plan||Premium Plan|
|29||Australia||August 05, 2022||$372.90||$585.83||$805.54|
|50||United Kingdom||August 05, 2022||$1114.04||$1726.63||$2480.67|
|35||Turkey||August 05, 2022||$464.75||$727.04||$1014.58|
IMG Global Insurance
IMG Global, established in 1990, is a leading insurance company in the world, offering a wide range of insurance policies for travelers, students, and any other individuals or groups traveling and living away from home.
Their full-service approach to cater international medical insurance policies is top-notch and preferred by millions of travelers and digital nomads alike. IMG Global has devised a comprehensive range of major medical, life, dental, and disability products.
IMG Global has been serving digital nomads and travelers for more than 30 years now. They also have programs for active adventurers residing in far-flung regions of the world. Most plan level comes with inpatient coverage, and depending upon your plan level, it may include outpatient and health and wellness visit in there. The insurance comes with customizable plans, multiple levels of coverage, multiple deductible options, optional add-ons, and multiple payment modes.
Two of the notable features of IMG insurance are the accessibility to doctors across the globe and the largest deductible range. The plans can be renewed annually and if you pay quarterly or semi-annually, you will enjoy some discount as well.
To get the right plan, you’ll need to fill out the quote form. Currently, they have 3 popular international health insurance plans: Global Medical Insurance, Global Mission Medical Insurance, and Global Crew Medical Insurance.
Some benefits of IMG Global Insurance:
- the insurance policies come at an affordable price
- accessibility to more than 17,000 doctors and clinics around the world
- the simple and easy application process
- no additional fee for cancellation and interruption
- there are insurance plans for individuals, families, and groups
- they offer flexible payment methods
- option to choose own health care provider
Some drawbacks of IMG Global Insurance:
- no policies for people above 75 years old
- you’ll have to wait for reimbursement
- With 5 plans to choose from, it can be confusing to some people.
- Basic plans do not provide maternity care and the expensive plan covers maternity care after 10 months.
Let’s look at the list below that shows the price for a GLOBAL MEDICAL INSURANCE 1-year plan for an insured who is 29 years old and residing in the US.
The Plan details are:
Insured Age: 29
Country of Residence: United States
Length of Coverage: 12 months
Area of Coverage: Worldwide Coverage
Payment Frequency: Monthly
Note: The price varies depending on the travelers’ detail and deductible option. The plan also includes coverage options like sports riders and terrorism riders at extra charge.
Founded in 1981, Cigna is a leading International health insurance company, providing tailor-made and personalized insurance policies for individuals and families. With more than 180 million customer relationships in over 30 countries, Cigna offers a wide range of insurance plans and products with a comprehensive go-to resource to all its members. They also offer dental insurance, Medicare plans, vision insurance, and other supplemental insurance plans.
Cigna Insurance is ideal for seniors over 65 and affluent families seeking unlimited coverage. Additionally, the insurance plans are best for ex-pats and Singaporeans working abroad. The plan also entails additional coverage for diabetes and asthma if deemed necessary. For customer convenience and flexibility, Cigna has 24/7 customer support ready all year round.
Insured have 3 options to choose from: the Silver plan, the Gold plan, and the Platinum plan. The prices are usually costlier than the market average which can deter budget travelers and nomads abroad. While the Cigna plans may not be budget-friendly for some clients, they can definitely be a great deal for clients who are willing to pay extra to find comprehensive coverage with no annual limits. According to Affordablehealthinsurance, the price for the plan can range from 357 to $640 per month and depending on where you live.
Note: We couldn’t get the price for the plan as the form requires a personal phone number and we don’t have it for foreign countries. However, you can fill in your personal data and check the plans that best suit your needs.
Some benefits of Cigna Health Insurance:
- have flexible deductible and payment options
- have 24-hour customer service for 365 days
- accessibility to a large national network of quality providers
- competitive premiums for seniors over 65 age
- free maternity care coverage in the Gold plan
- Offers routine healthcare benefits
- specific plans for medical conditions like diabetes, asthma, and more
- earn up to $275 by redeeming earned points through the reward system
Some drawbacks of Cigna Health Insurance:
- plans are more costly than average market plans
- additional charge for emergency repatriation
- Complaints about claims denials and customer service problems.
GeoBlue, an innovative health insurance company since 1997, has long been helping expatriates and their families grab high-quality insurance with extended coverage for an affordable cost. If you’re looking for high-quality insurance, customizable with class A service, GeoBlue is there for you. You can buy insurance plans online and through travel agents and insurance agents.
GeoBlue travel insurance specializes in two coverage plans: medical; for people residing abroad for a long period, and travel medical insurance; for short or long-term trips. They cater to ex-pats, international travelers, business travelers, maritime workers, teachers, and students doing overseas work. GeoBlue members can enjoy 24/7 support, prompt access to trusted doctors and healthcare experts, and cashless appointments.
GeoBlue sells international medical insurance plans under two categories: General Plan and Specialty Plan. Basically, you can plan for Single Trip Travel Medical Plans and Multi-Trip Travel Medical Plans. Below are the GeoBlue Travel Medical and International Health Insurance Plans for you:
- Single Trip Travel Medical Plans: Voyager Essential and Voyager Choice
- Multi-Trip Travel Medical Plans: Trekker Essential and Trekker Choice
- Single Trip Group Travel Medical Plans: Voyager Essential Group, and Voyager Choice Group
- Expatriate Worldwide Medical Plans: Xplorer Essential and Xplorer Premier
- Expatriate Crew International Health Plan: Navigator for Crew
- Expatriate Missionary and Volunteer International Health Plan: Navigator for Missionary
We couldn’t retrieve quotes for all GeoBlue plans. However, we have quotes for single trips and Multiple-Trip. You will need to enter 5 digit US zip code, your age, and travel dates to get the quotes.
|US Zip Code||Travel Date||Travel Date||Age||Quote|
|30707||August 12, 2022||September 12, 2022||29||Voyager Choice Quote: $51.20($50,000.00 Coverage, $0.00 Deductible)|
Quote for Multiple-Trip:
5 digit US Zip Code: 30707
|Trekker Choice||Trekker Essential|
Some Benefits of GeoBlue Health Insurance:
- offer 24/7 customer service
- have unlimited medical service and assistance
- no deductible fees for standard services or cancellations
- Offer coverage for non-emergency medical expenses.
- Travel medical coverage of up to $1 million per person.
- Accessibility to a network of doctors in 180 countries.
Some drawbacks of GeoBlue Health Insurance:
- no coverage for individuals who live in some states like New York
- no coverage for trip cancellations
- limited trip interruption benefits
Allianz Global Assistance
The Allianz Care – International Health Insurances is an award-winning company offering some of the world’s coveted health insurance for digital nomads and ex-pats. Allianz Global Assistance is owned by Allianz SE, the world’s largest insurance company. Travelers and nomads can find a large array of comprehensive travel insurance plans with many benefits including trip-related coverage like trip cancellation, baggage loss, and medical expenses.
Allianz Global Assistance has categorized its plan into 3 different categories: Single Trip Plans, Multi-Trip Plans, and a Rental Car plan. Most travelers reckon a Single-trip plan as the best for their travel. A distinct feature of Allianz is the special plan for rental car collision coverage.
Allianz’s international health insurance plans are devised for international ex-pat professionals, students and families living and working in abroad. You can also discover international health insurance for your company for those working or traveling for less than a year; there is short-term private health insurance for you to avail of.
Some benefits of Allianz Global Assistance Insurance:
- discounts available for families
- offers up to $1 million in emergency evacuation coverage
- includes epidemic medical coverage
- coverage for pre-existing medical conditions
- 24/7 customer service
- availability of coverage on all continents
- availability of cancellation coverage
Some drawbacks of Allianz Global Assistance Insurance:
- costlier than its competitor
- need to buy before you leave for the trip to have the coverage
- bad customer service
- low medical limits of $50,000 compared to $100,000 plans
- Lacks Cancel for Any Reason (CFAR) coverage.
To get the quote, you’ll need to input details like policy start date, birth date, email, and telephone number. They will show you 3 healthcare plans. You can also choose various add-ons available. You can select from various deductibles to reduce the quoted premium.
We ran a quote for international health insurance for a 29-year-old traveler, to Turkey, with a policy starting on August 26, 2022, and the price is:
|Care Core Plan||Care Plus Core Plan||Care Pro Core Plan|
|$153 per month||$162 per month||$230 per month|
Some Useful Tips on Saving Money on Insurance as a Digital Nomad
Here are some useful tips to save a few bucks on your health insurance:
- Purchase insurance only for the country you will be traveling to.
- Buy pre-existing and chronic condition coverage only if you need it the most.
- While choosing deductible options, set a higher deductible.
- Try to find health insurance plan discounts and avail them.
- Exclude coverage in the USA; it can save you some money.
- Pay your premium annually to save 5% to 10% per year.
- Exclude out-patient modules in countries where ongoing medical care is inexpensive.