The 2021 Guide to Health Insurance for Digital Nomads

The 2021 Guide to Health Insurance for Digital Nomads

When you’re out exploring the world and enjoying life as a digital nomad, it’s never any fun to dwell on what might happen while you’re away. But the reality is, sometimes we fall sick or get injured when we least expect it, which is why it’s so important to invest in a health insurance plan that can act as your safety net should anything go wrong. With proper medical coverage, you’ll be able to breathe easier knowing someone has your back in a bad situation, and instead focus on having the best travel experience possible. 

We’ve created this guide to health insurance for digital nomads in 2021, so you can quickly compare policies and get back to planning for your next trip!

Why you should consider health insurance while you travel

Reduce out-of-pocket costs

When you’re covered by health insurance, you won’t be responsible for extreme out-of-pocket costs in the event you need help from a hospital or health clinic. Even if you don’t visit the doctor on a regular basis, unfortunately, there’s still the possibility for an emergency to arise. If you suddenly become sick or injured during your travels, you’ll definitely wish you’d signed up for a health insurance plan to offset your medical bills and help get you back on your feet.

Enjoy the benefits of preventative care

Not only is health insurance crucial in case of an emergency, but it’s great for taking advantage of preventative care, too. A lot of plans cover preventative care like physical exams, wellness checks, and your yearly flu shot. By taking these self-care measures on your own, you can avoid a number of common health issues, or catch problems early on before they have a chance to become more serious.

Overall peace of mind

If you’re young and healthy, you might not think health insurance is something you need to worry about — but it’s hard to put a price on the peace of mind it brings. By purchasing insurance, you’ll have confidence you can afford necessary medical treatments should anything bad happen to you. While we all hope nothing like this occurs, knowing you’re covered is an invaluable relief, and can help you embrace your digital nomad lifestyle more fully.

7 best health insurance plans for digital nomads

1. Safety Wing

As one of the newest insurance companies, Safety Wing was started by Norwegian travelers and entrepreneurs back in 2017. Their team has spent the last few years creating modern insurance policies to suit the lifestyle of fellow no-frills nomads. Safety Wing’s plans provide primary medical coverage to freelancers and long-term travelers (regardless of where they’re situated), which can be super helpful for those who no longer pay for health insurance in their home country. 

Pros:

  • Safety Wing is a subsidiary of Tokio Marine, one of the largest insurance companies in the world. They’re always available, offering 24/7 support when you’re in need.
  • Besides medical coverage, you’ll be covered for non-medical evacuations, interruption or cancellation of your trip, and baggage claims for lost items.
  • You don’t need permanent residency in any country to qualify for insurance.
  • Available in 180 countries, and can be purchased while you’re already traveling.
  • Covers almost every travel destination, and there’s no cap on the duration of your trip.
  • You can implement monthly recurring billing, rather than paying everything upfront.
  • You can choose private doctors and hospitals.

Cons:

  • While Safety Wing offers home country coverage for up to 30 days, U.S. citizens do have access to this benefit, and must pay extra while traveling at home.
  • Adventure activities have pretty limited coverage. For example, high-elevation climbing, scuba diving, and ice hockey are not covered in any plan.
  • Packages are a little pricier for individuals who are 40 years and up.
  • Total coverage maxes out at $250,000 USD.

Pricing estimate:

If you’re age 39 or under, you can pay as little as $40 for four weeks of travel. That includes a $250 deductible, $250,000 max limit, and is equivalent to about $120 USD for three months away. Prices increase for anyone over 40, or if you need additional coverage to travel within the United States.

2. World Nomads

 

Plans from World Nomads have been designed by digital nomads, for digital nomads, which means they offer practical, applicable coverage for people who work remotely while they travel. Their specialist insurance has been promoted by the likes of National Geographic, International Volunteer HQ, and Lonely Planet (and it has our stamp of approval, as well). Plus, you can build either a short-term or long-term policy, depending on your upcoming itinerary. 

Pros:

  • World Nomads is the go-to company for many major travel providers.
  • Covers emergency medical expenses, and has a 24/7 emergency line. 
  • They offer Explorer coverage, tailored toward adventurous travelers.
  • Claims can be filed online, and are generally handled quickly. 
  • Great coverage for the price, and strong customer reviews.

Cons:

  • Because World Nomads works with a number of local insurance providers, the costs and coverage can really vary (depending on your area).
  • You need health insurance in your home country in order to qualify for their plans.
  • You’re allowed just one trip back home with their policies.

Pricing estimate:

A basic plan for three months of coverage averages around $300 USD. This includes $100,000 in medical expense coverage, emergency and non-medical evacuation, participation in over 200 adventure sports, trip cancellation, and $1,000 of coverage for baggage and personal effects.

Their Explorer plan — which includes more adventure sports, higher dollar amounts on other coverages, and a collision damage waiver — is closer to $500 USD for the same three months. 

3. Integra Global

 

Integra Global offers international healthcare for expats and nomads alike. While they don’t provide travel benefits (like trip cancellation or lost luggage claims), they do have comprehensive medical insurance that goes beyond emergency care. In addition, Integra Global covers routine health checks, chronic conditions, dental care, and even mental health services. Nomad insurance *rarely* includes these items, so they definitely set the company apart. 

Pros:

  • There are only two simple plans to choose from: YourLife plan (covering routine health exams, vaccinations, eye care, and prescriptions) and the PremierLife plan (which includes hospital accommodation in a private room, dental care, and other extras).
  • Once your deductible is paid for the year, you’ll have total coverage. Yearly deductibles can range from $1,000 to $5,000 USD, depending on what you’d like covered.
  • They work with any licensed physician or hospital, so you can go where you like.
  • Plans are available to provide treatment for pre-existing conditions.
  • Coverage extends to mental health appointments and preventative care.
  • There’s 24/7 emergency medical assistance and an evacuation hotline.

Cons:

  • You have to purchase an Integra Global policy for a year (or more).
  • Since there’s no direct billing, you have to front the money to the medical provider, and then wait seven to ten days to be reimbursed.
  • You’ll still need to purchase separate travel insurance for your trip (if you want to be covered on anything other than medical needs).

Pricing estimate:

For health insurance from Integra Global, a nomad with no pre-existing conditions (who foregos the dental plan) can expect to pay somewhere between $2,500 and $3,000 USD for the year. Those numbers reflect a $1,000 deductible, but prices will inevitably increase if you choose to add dental coverage. 

4. Allianz Care

 

Allianz is a reputable, well-known company who’s been in the business a long time and continues to extend quality health insurance packages. Their Allianz Care plans offer an array of options for professionals who live and work abroad, to hopefully suit your unique medical needs or concerns. If you’re looking for a healthcare provider with broad coverage and a recognizable name, Allianz could be a great fit for you.

Pros:

  • Their One Trip Premier plan offers up to $50,000 for emergency medical services, up to $1 million for emergency evacuations, $2,000 in baggage loss or damage claims, $1,600 for travel delays, and has coverage available for pre-existing conditions.
  • Covers a private hospital room, in-patient care, outpatient treatment, and oncology.
  • You can use their app to submit claims, find hospitals, and manage your account.
  • If you’re planning to make multiple visits back home, their AllTrips Executive plan can cover you year round to accommodate this travel.

Cons:

  • Packages are fixed in their offerings (but there’s a big selection of plans to choose from).
  • You have to purchase coverage before you leave for your trip.
  • The One Trip Premier plan is limited to 180 days.
  • Dental plans can be added, but at an extra cost.
  • Their plans can be more expensive than others we’ve recommended.

Pricing estimate:

The One Trip Premier plan will cost ~$500 USD for about six months (180 days) of travel, but will likely increase in price if you extend your stay or your plan benefits. 

5. Seven Corners

The medical plans from Seven Corners remain some of the best in the industry. As an insurance innovator since 1993, Seven Corners was actually the first company to protect patients from the high costs of care due to complications from treatment received overseas. Their site is well-organized and easy to understand, so you can quickly find plans to meet your specific needs — and read up on client testimonials or fun travel stories while you’re at it. 

Pros:

  • Now offering plans specially designed for COVID-19 coverage. 
  • Seven Corners will arrange and pay for emergency medical transportation, plus evacuation to the nearest medical facility that can provide adequate treatment.
  • Flexibility with length of travel and your choice of deductible.
  • Access to their international network of medical providers.
  • Optional coverage for hazardous sports like hang gliding, skiing, and motorcycle riding.

Cons:

  • Pre-existing conditions are not covered through Seven Corners.
  • Claims can take a long time to be resolved or reimbursed.
  • You have to visit a clinic or physician within their approved network.

Estimate on pricing:

According to their website, plans can go for as little as $3/day (just under $100/month). Of course, if you add COVID coverage or sports-related benefits, you’re bound to move up on their pricing scale.

6. IMG Global

International Medical Group (IMG) has a great Global Medical Insurance plan for anyone living outside their home country for a year or more. For nomads who want straightforward medical insurance without all the bells and whistles, IMG has a package called ‘Medical Insurance for Expatriates & Global Citizens.’ The cost to renew your IMG policy is much cheaper than with other insurers, and their customer service is known for being wonderful, as well. 

Pros:

  • There are several levels of coverage, depending on your needs or budget.
  • You can cancel or interrupt your coverage for any reason without paying an extra fee.
  • With IMG, you can receive $500,000 in emergency medical coverage, plus another $1 million in coverage for a medical evacuation.
  • Coverage to ski, bungee jump, scuba dive, or ride in a helicopter is pretty exceptional; if you get lost, they’ll provide $10,000 for a search and rescue team.
  • There’s a cash incentive and a 50% deductible reduction if you get treatment from certain medical facilities outside the United States.

Cons:

  • Since this isn’t primary coverage, you’ll still need insurance in your home country.
  • U.S. citizens are not allowed to return home while the policy is in force, and those from other countries are only allowed to visit for 14 days (otherwise they cancel your policy).
  • They don’t bill your medical provider, so you’ll have to pay and wait to be reimbursed.
  • Basic plans don’t include preventative care or mental health services.
  • You can only purchase coverage for 90 days.

Pricing estimate:

For a 90 day plan (the maximum amount of time IMG offers), those younger than 60 can expect to pay around $400 USD.

7. Cigna Global

Cigna is a huge health service company with a wide range of policies, though their Cigna Global plans are definitely the best option for digital nomads. If you’re going to be working overseas for a year or longer, Cigna Global’s international insurance can keep you covered (and keep you healthy) while you’re away. These plans can be tailored to meet your needs, while also giving you access to a network of hospitals and medical professionals that spans the globe.

Pros:

  • Cigna Global offers three simple choices: Silver, Gold, and Platinum.
  • You can pick and choose the benefits you want, and exclude those you don’t.
  • The basic plan includes hospital accommodation and treatment, surgeons’ and consultation fees, intensive care, diagnostic tests, ambulance services, and more.
  • Provides a support network of 1.65 million hospitals and healthcare professionals.
  • Access to medical support in more than 200 countries and territories.
  • You’re covered for up to 90 days when you go back home to visit.

Cons:

  • You’ll need to visit a hospital on their approved list.
  • Their deductibles may be a bit higher than those of a competitor.

Pricing estimate:

Since Cigna Global’s plans have so many customizations, it can be difficult to estimate pricing, but you can fill out their online form to receive an individual quote.

Common FAQs

What’s the difference between nomad travel insurance vs. health insurance?

Nomad travel insurance applies to things like cancellations or lost luggage, and can be a huge help for anyone who’s gone long-term. With that said, travel insurance is not the same as health insurance, which covers your medical expenses like doctor’s visits, hospital stays, and preventative care. Signing up for health insurance is a great idea for any and all digital nomads, since out-of-pocket costs for those types of services can be pretty high, even abroad.

What are the downsides of not getting health insurance while I travel?

If you choose not to get health insurance while you’re traveling, you’ll miss out on the peace of mind in knowing you’re covered in case of an accident or unforeseen medical issue. What’s more, if you do have to visit a physician or stay overnight in a hospital, you’ll be responsible for the full amount of your medical bills (which is sure to put a dent in your travel budget).

What should I look for when choosing an insurance plan?

When you’re choosing an insurance plan, be sure to check if your pre-existing conditions are covered, if there’s flexibility on the terms/length of coverage, and whether travel back to your home country is included, as well. The specifics of each plan will vary — like deductibles and dental services — but those three factors will help a ton in determining the right plan for you.

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