(The short answer: yes you can but only with a handful of companies)
When I first started travel blogging I was constantly traveling, often for long periods of time. Sometimes a trip would start out as a month-long journey, then end up being a year. My nomadic life was unpredictable – I would book last minute flights and often have no idea when I was coming home.
When you go abroad people always talk about the importance of travel insurance but the issue was that most travel insurance companies only cover you for trips of a certain length of time, often up to 3 months. They also require you to purchase the policy before you leave, otherwise any claim will be invalid.
After having a scooter accident in Bali (and having no insurance because I forgot about it) I never took the risk of traveling without insurance again.
I purchased backpacker policies that covered me up to a year, but again, those become useless if you end up staying away longer than a year. And again, many of those require you to purchase the policy before you leave and they often don’t allow you to make visits to your home country in between.
If you want to purchase travel travel insurance after departure then I highly recommend using Safetywing, which I purchased when I first came over to the US from the UK. It’s easy to sign up and works on a monthly subscription basis, which I’ll cover in detail here:
About SafetyWing Nomad Insurance
As of August 1st, Nomad Insurance covers Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19)! Coverage works the same as any other illness as long as it was not contracted before your coverage start date, and does not fall under any other policy exclusion or limitation.
Testing for COVID-19 will only be covered if deemed medically necessary by a physician. The antibody test is not covered, as it is not medically necessary.
SafetyWing Nomad Insurance in my opinion is the best insurance for digital nomads and long term travelers. It costs $40 per month for travel excluding the US and $73 for travel including the US. If you’re between the ages of 18 and 39 years old your policy will have a $250 deductible and a $250,000 maximum limit. Although it can be used by anyone, it’s specifically targeted at remote workers and digital nomads.
The best thing about their Nomad Insurance is that you can purchase it after your journey has already started. So if you forgot, you can buy your travel insurance after leaving and you’ll still be covered.
The policy includes travel medical insurance, covering you if you have an accident or fall sick while outside your home country, plus it also covers things like travel delay, lost checked luggage, emergency response, natural disasters and personal liability. Benefits include the following:
As you can see from the table above, you are fully covered for unexpected illness or injury, including eligible expenses for hospital, doctor or prescription drugs. Urgent care visits have a $50 co-pay. You’re covered for up to $50 per day in physicial therapy and chiropractic care and $1,000 for emergency dental.
When it comes to the travel side of things, you’re covered for up to $3,000 in lost checked luggage and up to $500 per individual item. Trip interruptions are covered up to $5,000 and travel delays are covered for up to $100 per day after a 12-hour delay period requiring and unplanned overnight stay. You’re also covered for political evacuation and emergency medical evacuation, plus natural disasters up to a period of five days.
Allows you to pay monthly – One of the issues I found with backpacker insurance policies was that I was required to pay hundreds of dollars in one lump sum. If you don’t have much money, that can seem like a lot all in one go.
Works like a subscription – Your policy will renew every 28 days from the date you start your coverage. Cancel at any time. Subscription coverage runs for 364 days, after which you have to re-purchase new coverage if you’ll continue to be away from your home country. There’s no limit to how many years you can keep re-purchasing.
COVID-19 illness is covered – Coverage works the same as any other illness as long as it was not contracted before your coverage start date, and does not fall under any other policy exclusion or limitation. Testing for COVID-19 will only be covered if deemed medically necessary by a physician.
Home visits are covered – After being abroad for 90 days, you can keep your medical coverage for 30 days in your home country if something happens while there. (15 days if your home country is the U.S.) Not that the visit must be incidental, meaning you can’t travel home purposefully to get medical treatment.
Children can be included – If you’re traveling with your kids, you can add up to two children under the age of ten per family (one per adult) free of charge.
Covered for moped/scooter incidents – I definitely wish I had this coverage when I had my scooter accident in Bali! You’re covered for moped and scooter incidents as long as accident doesn’t fall under any exclusions, such as the exclusions for racing and intoxication.
Included for a wide range of sports – With SafetyWing you’re covered for a huge range of sports including biking, bungee jumping, horse riding, ice skating, tubing and water skiing.
Easy to cancel – If you wish to cancel and your policy extension hasn’t become effective yet you’ll be given a full refund. If it’s already become effective, then you’ll be charged a $25 cancellation fee and be refunded the remainder.
File a claim online – Forget having to wait on the phone – with SafetyWing you can file a claim online. All you need to do is fill out the claims form and upload it along with photos or screenshots of receipts to the claims portal.
Not the cheapest insurance out there – SafetyWing Nomad Insurance costs $40 per month excluding travel in the USA. There are definitely cheaper travel insurance policies out there if you’re going on shorter trips and you don’t need long term insurance.
Geared towards long term travelers – While anyone can use it (you could sign up for just one month and then cancel) it’s really geared towards digital nomads, backpackers and frequent travelers. If you only go on one or two week-long vacations per year, you’d probably be better of with a single-trip insurance policy, which would be much cheaper. This policy is more suited to people who travel a lot or are going away for long periods of time.
Cuba, Iran, and North Korea not included – You are covered for travel anywhere in the world outside of your home country, unless your home country is Iran, North Korea or Cuba (or have Cuba as your citizenship).
Certain medical exclusions – Cancer treatment, routine check-ups and pre-existing conditions are not included.
Some sports excluded – Certain sports such as American football, BASE jumping, boxing, kite surfing, quad biking and whitewater rafting are excluded. Visit their FAQs for more information.
Electronics aren’t covered – Expensive items like cameras and laptops aren’t covered, which is a shame because most people travel with these items.
Trip cancellation isn’t covered – If you have to cancel your trip for any reason then trip cancellation isn’t offered with this policy. You may however have cancellation protection with your credit card company.
Checked baggage is the only thing that’s covered – Your personal belongings aren’t covered if they’re stolen from your hotel, for example.
Age limit – There’s a maximum age limit of 69 years of age.
Want to learn more about SafetyWing? You can learn all about SafetyWing Nomad Insurance here.
Are there other companies that offer travel insurance after departure?
Yes, although there are only a few. I would also recommend World Nomads, which I actually purchased after departure when I was traveling in the USA back in 2012. I haven’t used them in quite a while but they’re consistently recommended amongst travel bloggers and backpackers.
You can purchase your insurance with them while you’re already traveling, although this company requires you to choose a start and end date for your trip and doesn’t work on a monthly auto-renewal basis like SafetyWing.
The maximum trip length it lets me input is 180 days, which is only 6 months, so that’s worth keeping in mind. World Nomads does however cover trip cancellation cover and coverage for electronics, which SafetyWing doesn’t offer. Below you can see they have two plans – the Explorer Plan and the Standard Plan. The Explorer Plan offers baggage protection up to $3,000, which is on par with SafetyWing. They cover between $300,000 and $500,000 for emergency evacuation, which is higher than SafetyWing, but the medical insurance only covers up to $100,000, while SafetyWing has a max limit of $250,000.
World Nomads doesn’t offer coverage for visits in your home country and the pricing isn’t as clear cut as SafetyWing. How much you pay will depend on what country you’re from, what countries you’re traveling to and how long you’re traveling for.
I pulled up a quick quote based on 180 days traveling to Thailand and Italy and I was quoted $498.80 for the Standard Plan and $716.14 for the Explorer plan.
If you average that out it’s $83 or $119 per month respectively, which is definitely more expensive than SafetyWing.
You can definitely get travel insurance after leaving your home country – which one you get will depend on your travel style and needs. SafetyWing is definitely the most affordable and simplest option for long term travelers, although it has some exclusions such as trip cancellation, which World Nomads covers. Compare the two and see which is right for you!
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