Living life as a digital nomad seems to be carefree, fun and exciting on the surface. But many of you out there will know that there’s a whole other world of risks and dangers that come along with our unconventional kind of lifestyle.
- An All-Too-Familiar Travel Horror Story
- SafetyWing: A New Contender on the Block?
- What Sets SafetyWing Apart?
- Potential Shortfalls
- Claims Procedure with SafetyWing
- Compare Travel Insurances: SafetyWing vs World Nomads
- What Does All This Mean?
An All-Too-Familiar Travel Horror Story
One of my friends was recently recounting to me a travel horror story that she experienced – one that unfortunately seems all too familiar these days. While solo backpacking through Europe on her summer break, there was an unforeseen train diversion that not only resulted in being late to her destination. It eventually snowballed to missing her connecting train, which led to her missing her flight to Paris, and to top it all off, being unable to reach the hostel she had already booked in advance.All these travel horror stories are just one unforeseen and uncontrollable incident from turning into your reality. My friend had to fork out about €200 to get back on track, which doesn’t really seem a lot but it was almost half of her funds left!
Apart from travel delays, we do hear of medical emergencies, especially when doing high risk activities like rock climbing or hiking. We hear of stolen check in luggage, and we hear of friends falling sick after eating food gone bad, all of which lead to additional costs that derail our original plans and ruins the ‘perfect’ trip.
All this perfectly underscores why having international travel medical insurance is vital. It’s easy to fall into the trap thinking that your next adventure is low-risk and that nothing bad will happen to you. I don’t wish misfortune on you touch wood, but these things invariably happen in some way or another.
Luckily, I stumbled across a new insurance provider that offers a hybrid of medical and travel insurance, which is tailored to the needs of digital nomads’ lifestyles!
SafetyWing: A New Contender on the Block?
I realized one thing while doing research on international travel medical insurance as a full-time travel blogger. Our lifestyles mean that we don’t have a dreary desk job or a fixed income, which leaves us high and dry when qualifying for many insurance products offered by the major insurers.
This leaves us with two main options, World Nomads (which is pretty well known in our circles), and SafetyWing, a new travel medical insurance that could possibly be a good fit for your needs.SafetyWing is an international travel medical insurance that is tailored for the needs of digital nomads, long term travellers, freelancers and digital entrepreneurs who find themselves slipping through the net of traditional travel insurance.
It’s also backed by Tokio Marine, one of the largest international insurers, so there is no need to worry about the reliability of this product.
What Sets SafetyWing Apart?
1. Extremely Affordable
Let’s not kid ourselves – oftentimes pricing is our number one consideration when comparing nomad travel insurance. This is especially so if you’re a student like me who doesn’t really have the money or funds to buy a super high-end, comprehensive travel insurance plan.Well, SafetyWing is arguably one of the most cost-effective options out there. From $37 for 4 weeks medical coverage, there are few alternatives (or none that I know of) that can beat SafetyWing for what is covered at its price point.
The best part is, the 4 weeks doesn’t even need to be in one consecutive period (it can be broken up). This means that you can use it to cover more trips!
You can even find out how much a SafetyWing policy might cost you using this quote calculator that doesn’t require any sign-up.
2. Extent of Coverage and Ease of Purchase
SafetyWing not only offers worldwide coverage, but also home country coverage. This sets it apart because they understand that we still do return back home to recharge and plan out our next trip. SafetyWing covers you back in your home country for up to 30 days every 3 months – there is no other provider that does this!SafetyWing can also be easily purchased in 180 countries, even when you’re already on the move. This makes it so much simpler for travellers like us when we’re constantly trotting off to different corners of the globe.
3. Flexible Coverage
SafetyWing functions like a subscription. You have the flexibility to choose when the coverage starts and cancel at any time! This helps you to maximize the use of the policy as you can align it with when you’re flying off.
Even if your travel plans change at the last minute (we all experience this, don’t we?), SafetyWing can be cancelled at no additional cost if you have yet to commence the policy coverage.
Not sure as to how long you’ll be out on the road chasing after your dreams? There is no set maximum limit of coverage duration. You can also set it up such that payment and renewal is automatic, so you can travel with that peace of mind that you’re covered no matter how long or how spontaneous your plans are.
4. Coverage of Young Children
I know this might not be that important to most of you. But if you’re travelling with your family, especially if you are doing so with young children aged 14 days to 10 years, this will be a deal-breaker for you.SafetyWing offers FREE additional international travel medical insurance coverage of 1 young child, aged 14 days to 10 years, per paying adult in the family. This applies for up to 2 young children in the family. There is no additional cost for covering the kids, so if you’re going on a family holiday, this will be a STEAL with effectively 50% cost savings.
This makes SafetyWing even more cost-effective, considering that it already offers some of the lowest rates in the market!
Here at Bel Around The World, we pride ourselves on giving honest and unbiased reviews. I do admit that SafetyWing does come up short on a few areas. Do take note of them in your consideration as to whether it is the right international travel medical insurance for you!
1. Limited Coverage on Adventure Sports and Check-Ups
Lastly, SafetyWing does not cover routine check ups and preventative care during your travels, which might be important to some of you out there.This is a big consideration for me – I went hiking in Scotland and New Zealand, skiing in Japan, rock climbing in Thailand, diving in the Maldives and canyoneering in Philippines, so it’ll defeat the purpose of a travel insurance if these activities can’t be covered!At the same time, coverage is rather limited for some sports and adventure activities. If you are participating in certain adventure sports without the necessary protective gear, without a trained instructor, or as part of a recreational club, SafetyWing might not cover you – so you might want to check out their site to see if what you’re doing is covered by the product.
2. Coverage Exclusion for Three Countries
Next, SafetyWing offers worldwide coverage, but in reality, it doesn’t cover a two countries. North Korea, Cuba and Iran are not included in the coverage by this product.It shouldn’t really matter much to the majority of us, but if you do find yourself looking to travel to these three places, SafetyWing might not be the product of choice for you.
3. Higher Prices for Travelling Within the United States
Cost-wise, the price for coverage within the United States jumps up by $31 for 4 weeks, to $68. This is due to additional requirements imposed by the Affordable Care Act. Due to the same reason, home country coverage if you reside in the US is only for 15 instead of 30 days every 3 months.
This will lead to increased costs for you – keep in mind that even after all these increases, SafetyWing still offers one of the lowest rates on the market – which might impact your decision!
4. Not Covering Electronic Gear
First up, SafetyWing only covers lost checked luggage, which doesn’t include expensive electronic gears like laptops, cameras, lenses and drones. Many of you out there will be bringing along these items to film and edit your pictures and vlogs as you travel the globe, so do take note that SafetyWing does not cover these expensive items for now.However, we do have news from SafetyWing that they are moving to include these items very soon this year; so do keep posted on that.
Claims Procedure with SafetyWing
Insurance products are often associated with long claim periods, complicated paperwork and obscure jargon, so I’ll try to cut through the fluff and suss out some key points.
After your overseas medical treatment, you will have to sign onto SafetyWing’s online claims portal and fill out a single and simple medical claims form. All you have to do next is to email this form along with scans of your receipts, and wait for the processing to be done.The processing as of now takes about 30 to 45 days, which SafetyWing recognizes as an area to improve on. However, you can track the status of your claim on their Client Zone online portal.
SafetyWing will recognize all claims that originate from hospitals, extended care facilities and outpatient surgery facilities if they are recognized and licensed by their operating country. This also means that there is a chance that your claim might not be valid if you are administered by an unlicensed medical practitioner.
In terms of post trip medical coverage, I understand that it is covered under the policy so long as the physician deems that the particular outpatient treatment or rehabilitation is absolutely necessary for long term recovery.
I won’t bore you with the nitty-gritty of the insurance policy, especially when so many situations and factors come in play in our exciting digital nomad lifestyles. You might want to consult a SafetyWing employee on the technicalities when you do sign up!
Compare Travel Insurances: SafetyWing vs World Nomads
Well, after all this talk, the question really boils down to whether SafetyWing can match up and give competitor nomad insurers a run for their money. What better comparison to make than with World Nomads, one of the oldest and most established digital nomad-friendly international travel insurances which SafetyWing was designed to compete against?
|Criteria||SafetyWing||World Nomads (Standard Plan)|
|Unexpected illness and injuries abroad including expenses for emergency medical evacuations, doctors or even prescription drugs||Yes, up to $250,000 (with $250 deductible per coverage period)||Yes, but only up to $100,000|
|Trip Delays||Up to $100 per day, subject to 2 day maximum (requiring delay of more than 12 hours)||Up to $250 per day, subject to 2 day maximum (requiring delay of more than 6 hours)|
|Trip Cancellation (due to unforeseen and unfortunate circumstances like an accident or death of close relative)||Yes, up to $5,000||Yes, up to $2,500|
|Lost checked baggage||Yes, up to $3,000 (max. $500 per item)||Yes, but only up to $1,000 (max. $500 per item)|
|Emergency dental||Yes, up to $1,000||Yes, but up to $750|
|Coverage within home country||Yes, for 30 days every 3 months (non-US) and 15 days every 3 months (US)||No|
|Personal Liability||Yes, up to $10,000||No|
|Loss of expensive electronic gear like phones, cameras, laptops, and storage devices||No||Yes|
|Covering adventure sports||Most adventure sports are covered (refer to site)||Most adventure sports are covered, depending on which add-on you opt for (refer to site)|
|Routine check-ups, preventative care or incidents resulting from pre-existing conditions||No||No|
|Price Point||From $37 for 4 weeks||$116 for 4 weeks, exclusive of add-ons|
What Does All This Mean?
I do hope that this article provides insight into which nomad travel insurance is the right one for you. It’s painfully clear that most, if not all of us will require some form of international medical and travel insurance, especially digital nomads and frequent travellers who find themselves often uncovered by traditional insurers.SafetyWing is by far the cheapest nomad travel medical insurance option out there. If you’re looking for one that provides the most bang for your buck, or one that covers the kids while you’re out on that family vacation, or if you are seeking a flexible insurance option that covers you while you’re back at home planning out your next adventure, SafetyWing is definitely going to be your best friend.
However, if you do want your expensive camera and electronic gears covered, or if you know that you’re going to be participating in extreme and high-risk adventure sports, you might want to consider other alternatives. Most of us usually won’t fall under this category, so it’s usually not so much of a deal-breaker!All in all, SafetyWing is turning up to be a strong contender amongst the few nomad travel medical insurance products out there targeting digital nomads and frequent travellers. It’s also a relatively new startup, so that means that they are still rolling out new features which will be sure to delight you (such as coverage of expensive electronics that I’m personally very excited about).
Definitely check out their site when planning out your next adventure – remembering that getting a SafetyWing plan will cover you no matter where you are at extremely low prices, so that you can get out there and see the world without worrying about any unfortunate accidents, or a hole burning up in your wallet!
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