It’s probably one of the last things you think about; you’ve planned your big trip, you’re excited to head out on the road, you’ve figured out what to pack, and then you remember – travel insurance.
Usually pricey and a total headache, not to mention inflexible, travel insurance is one of the more un-fun sides to traveling the world.
What if you don’t know where you’re even going after your first destination? What if you don’t even know how long your trip’s going to be? What if you work on the road as a digital nomad?
Standard travel insurance usually isn’t geared towards your kind of travel and can be super confusing. Enter SafetyWing – a new travel medical insurance company geared towards nomads and long-term travelers.
You may have heard about them – that they’re cheap, or flexible, but if you haven’t read an in-depth guide about SafetyWing yet, all that’s about to change. We have explored the pros, the cons, the good, the bad, and the ugly of SafetyWing. And most importantly, whether or not it’s going to be right for you.
UPDATE FOR THE 2020 PANDEMIC
With the new novel virus (I’m just going to call it the “Rona”, travel insurance companies are getting a run for their money. I’ve been super impressed by SafetyWing’s response and their very clear policy on Rona.
Unlike other travel insurance providers – including World Nomads (whom we are also affiliated with) that dance around the subject and don’t give clear answers SafetyWing has assured us bold and clear that you are covered with them.
Their website has a huge section dedicated to Rona and is broken down quite simply into needed evacuation insurance and needed treatment.
In short, if you purchased your policy before March 11th and are in a country that has a CDC Warning Level 3 you are eligible for evacuation coverage back to your home country.
If you need treatment and require hospitalization because of Rona you are covered. Unless the CDC has issued a Warning Level 3 for the location you are in and you arrive there, and purchased your policy after it was issued. Ot the CDC issued a Warning Level 3 for your location while you were already there, and more than 10 days have passed since the warning went into effect.
If you are in a country that happens to receive a CDC travel warning spur of the moment you have 10 days of Rona coverage from that date, after that you are not covered. Read all the details here!
What is SafetyWing?
SafetyWing is insurance for world nomads. Started by three Norwegian friends, this travel insurance company is on a mission to help long-term travelers with all their insurance needs.
The guys are now living in Silicon Valley, California, and have created a sufficiently easy-to-use techie platform – built by people like yourselves (probably) who are reading this frantically googling, “Can I get travel insurance abroad?”
The answer, thanks to SafetyWing, is yes.
They have eliminated that worry about your travel insurance running out while you’re away, which is never a good idea. It’s not something you think about when you first take off for the road, but as time goes, that idea of “what if” begins to form in the back of your head. After a while, you start to wonder how you’d pay to see a doctor if something happened to you.
So with SafetyWing, the travel insurance comes to you; you can be anywhere in the world and sign up to their service. You can even change your details, dates, and renew your policy whenever you feel like it.
What does SafetyWing cover?
That’s a great question. Coverage is the most important thing, really. So what does SafetyWing travel medical insurance cover?
The kind of things you’re going to want to be covered are the big things. We’re talking about things like getting an injury while you’re getting your adventure sports on, being airlifted from some remote location, or even covering the cost of your laptop and other precious gear.
Coverage Included with SafetyWing
- Hospital stays
- Emergency evacuation
- Unexpected injury
- Doctors’ visits
- Up to 30 days of medical coverage in your home country within every 90-day period (or 15 days within every 90 days if your home country is the US). Yes, it even covers you at home.
- Worldwide coverage apart from North Korea, Cuba, and Iran. Travel to the US costs an extra $31 per four weeks.
- Lost checked luggage up to $3000; $500 per item
- Travel delays out of your control (“trip interruption”)
- Emergency dental care
- Crisis response (ransom, not covered in specific high-risk and legal areas)
That’s just for starters. However, it’s also pretty important to know what a travel medical insurance company doesn’t cover. Though SafetyWing is a new company and it’s continually developing what kinds of coverage it may be able to provide you with in the future, at the moment, it’s not everything.
Coverage Not Included with SafetyWing
- Missed flights
- Pre-existing illnesses
- Routine check-ups
- Preventative care
- Limited coverage for adventure sports/regular sports
- Being mugged, for example
The thing that kind of bums us out the most about this is the missed flights and adventure sports. Having to fork out a ton of money for a missed flight, which may or may not be your fault, is never fun. Yes, we’ve been there before.
Who should use SafetyWing travel medical insurance?
Long Term Travelers
Digital nomads and other world travelers who aren’t going to be seeing their home country anytime soon are the ones who will benefit most from SafetyWing.
Maybe you’ve decided to quit the 9-5 world and live your dreams via a laptop in as many countries as possible, or perhaps you’re a free-spirited independent traveler who got struck by the travel bug.
Either way, if you’re on the road pretty much 24/7, being able to renew your travel medical insurance on the go without having to return home is impressive.
Short Term Traveler
It can cover you on trips from five days onwards. If you know your dates, taking out SafetyWing travel medical insurance can specifically cover you for fixed periods. These fixed periods work well if you’re a very well organized short-term backpacker who likes to escape from the “real world” every so often for a few weeks.
If you’re a parent, children are covered free of charge (yes, without any additional cost). The limit is one child per parent, two per family, and the coverage is for children from 14 days old to 10 years old. A feature that can save you a whole load of cash if you’re in this situation.
SafetyWing travel medical insurance is one of the cheapest out there. It’s $37 every four weeks.
People Who SafetyWing Is Not For
Those With a Pre-existing Condition
Though the company is planning to launch full comprehensive healthcare, at the moment, they can’t cover you if something happens to you due to a pre-existing illness. If you’ve got a long-standing health complaint that affects you on the daily, it’s essential to do some in-depth research on your situation and how you can get coverage.
Those Who Love Extreme Sports
SafetyWing travel medical insurance does not cover anything considered a “high-risk sports activity.” Extreme sports like heliskiing, base jumping, paragliding, and mountaineering (above 4,500m) are not covered. If you’re doing something extremely dangerous it’s likely not covered.
That being said SafetyWing covers adventurous individuals when performed under the right conditions. Horse riding, canyoneering, kayaking, bungee jumping, skiing and snowboarding, and scuba diving are all covered.
If you’re an active person who likes to be involved in sports, there may be some activities that are not covered. However, they do cover basic things like running, hiking, or recreational sports that are not high risk.
It’s best that you check under their list of sports and activities to make sure what is included and excluded. That can be found here!
**SafetyWing is introducing an “extreme sports” package coming soon where many more extreme activities are covered.
Those Who Only Need Gear Insurance
If you’re a drone flyer, photographer, a nomad with an expensive laptop – or anyone who values their electronic items – SafetyWing may not be the insurance you need. That’s because mobile phones, laptops, and cameras are not covered. So if you are traveling in the immediate future it may be worth looking at personal property coverage.
**SafetyWing will be launching an electronics and valuables option by the end of the year.
How much does SafetyWing cost?
SafetyWing travel medical insurance is one of the cheapest offerings out there, especially compared to similar companies that offer the same level of coverage.
Their base quote is $37 per four weeks, which is pretty affordable.
But like most insurers, the SafetyWing premium does go up based on your age; the older you are, the more expensive a plan costs.
Also, if you’re from the US or want to travel in the US, you’re going to have to pay double. Thanks to America’s high healthcare costs. Even so, it’s pretty cheap. Here’s an outline of what you’ll have to pay according to your age.
- 18-39 years old: $37 per 4 weeks / US: $68
- 40-49 years old: $60 “ “ / US: $111
- 50-59 years old: $94 “ “ / US: $184
- 60-69 years old: $128 “ “ / US: $251
Apart from the age thing, SafetyWing travel medical insurance doesn’t fluctuate in terms of price. It’s pretty fixed, and that’s what you pay every four weeks, unlike other insurance companies where a whole range of factors may play into consideration.
Why is SafetyWing so cheap?
We tend to think of SafetyWing as the Uber of the insurance world. It’s a new company that’s shaken things up a bit – and why not? It’s insurance that people need, and they’re the ones providing it. They make the prices all possible in a few different ways.
There are no middlemen involved with this company. There’s no platform with selling agents; SafetyWing sells directly to you – the customer.
By only selling an individual policy without any add-ons or extra services, SafetyWing can keep the costs low and the process pretty simple. No confusion at either end.
Doesn’t Cover Big Bills
Currently, a lot of the limits on SafetyWing’s policy aren’t that high. Emergency dental at $1,000, for example. That might be okay for one cracked tooth, but not so good if you have a serious (and super painful) dental emergency. Similarly, the max payout is $250,000. Other companies, for comparison, run into the millions.
**The medical expenses limit by SafetyWings will be raised to 1 million by the end of the year.
SafetyWing vs. World Nomads
While there are companies out there with seemingly limitless payouts for coverage, it wouldn’t be fair to compare these big hitters to the new and low-cost SafetyWing. For a start, it’s a more specific service rather than general travel insurance for your everyday tourist who can afford to pay more in the first place – and who might not need so much flexibility in their trip.
With that in mind, what else is out there for a long-term traveler or digital nomad? Well, the main competitor is World Nomads. You’ve probably heard of them; they’re one of the top providers of insurance for nomads with a load of rave reviews online (and off).
*Key points with World Nomads*
Higher Price Point
World Nomads’ coverage starts at around $120 per month – a much higher starter fee than SafetyWing. And that’s just the beginning before you get to all the add-ons. It’s also dependent on your country of origin, etc. But for this, you get:
World Nomads provides higher payouts, such as coverage for your GoPro, damaged and stolen gear, travel laptop, tablet, digital storage devices – up to $2,000 per item. We know it’s just electronics, but this is important for a lot of people. That’s how many of us make money. Missed flights are covered, too.
There is a lot of support for World Nomads. Everyone from Lonely Planet to a ton of other travel sites and companies recommends World Nomads. We’ve suggested World Nomads to readers for years on this site. On the other hand, SafetyWing is a start-up with a lot of exciting things in its future and I like to see more players in the game.
Lack of Coverage
Like SafetyWing, World Nomads doesn’t cover pre-existing conditions from six months before your trip, routine check-ups, or cancer treatment and preventative care.
Adventure Sports are Covered
World Nomads cover injuries sustained from adventure activities or sports. Note that there are two tiers of policy, however – Standard and Explorer, the latter geared towards adventurous travelers – and more expensive. You will have to pay for those adventure sports. We always pay extra for adventure sports rider add ons because of our lifestyle.
If you’re off to North Korea or Iran, you’re in luck if you use World Nomads. Sure, you’ll have to fork out more, but at least you’ll be covered in the depths of North Korea or Iran’s desert of Dasht-e Kavir. SafteyWing does not offer coverage in those countries. But if you’re not going there, why pay more for something you don’t need?
Is SafetyWing The Ideal Global Travel Insurance?
Even with the competition from World Nomads, SafetyWing – from our point of view – looks like a winner. There’s a lot on offer with this company, and they’re speaking to us as digital nomads and bare bones travelers. They’re trying their best to cover our lifestyle, while others are still falling by the wayside. They’ve found a gap in the market for digital nomads and, at the moment, it’s working.
Highlights of SafetyWing
Extend Coverage Abroad
Yes, we have been those travelers who have outstayed their travel insurance on a trip – we admit it. We had coverage for a year – a full 365 days – but for obvious reasons, we wanted to carry on. Like total idiots, we didn’t buy any more travel insurance and spent the next couple of weeks trying to be extra careful. With online services like SafetyWing, it is much easier to extend insurance coverage.
Value for Money
The payouts might not be huge (yet), but SafetyWing’s policy is super cheap. $37 every four weeks is one of the lowest prices out there, which makes it affordable for any traveler.
Even better is how it works for anyone on a budget. Again, this means digital nomads and long-term travelers. Being away for so long, you get to know how far your dollar goes, so to have something that doesn’t cost a lot when you think about it is a great asset.
What’s more, they’re legit. SafetyWing has partnered up with some big guns: Tokio Marine – a huge giant of the insurance world. And SafetyWing is also underwritten by Lloyds. Even though they’re new and cheap, you know they’re supported by some genuine companies with experience.
Working pretty much like your subscription to Netflix, you pay once every four weeks and can cancel at any time. This model is great for people who don’t know how long they’re going to be away, or when (if ever) they’ll be returning home. Simple.
We’re super excited about the future of SafetyWing. They’ve got some fantastic things on the horizon that will be particularly useful for digital nomads.
They’re hoping to roll out a whole safety net – or “nest” as they call it – for online freelancers and entrepreneurs. It is shaping up to include disability insurance, a pension system (which is terrific), and even maternity leave.
People might shrug at that, but if you choose to continue your life as a nomad, these are the kinds of things that could make a big difference in how easy your life will be. We keep thinking about what a game changer this kind of safety “nest” will be for nomads.
Not only is the SafetyWing website cool and user-friendly, with a straightforward sign-up, log-in, and extension, but there is also one particularly impressive thing we have to tell you about.
Simply log-in to SafetyWing and select “Find Hospital or Doctor” from the menu. Type your location in the search box, and you’ll find a list of the nearest (and best) qualified doctors, clinics, and hospitals. If that isn’t useful, we don’t know what is.
When you arrive, you can open the SafetyWing app and show them your ID number as proof of insurance. Simple!
There’s even a way to chat with live support on the SafetyWing site. You can ask the SafetyWing staff at the other end of your touchscreen for advice and ask them questions about the policy or any other troubles you may be having. It’s not for medical emergencies, obviously, but the service is available 24 hours a day.
Final thoughts on SafetyWing
Well, what a way to shake up the travel medical insurance game. We’re very into the flexibility that SafetyWing offers and the fact that they are targeting digital nomads and remote workers. We especially like that you’re not in a fixed contract with this company. They are a very appealing global travel insurance.
If you’re a long-term traveler with no fixed address and no plans for the near future, using SafetyWing is kind of a no-brainer for you. Especially if you’re on a tight budget but still want to make sure you’re covered, it’s a great idea.
Because they’re new, they may not have all the benefits and big payouts you feel you need. However, SafetyWing offers peace of mind and some genuinely cool stuff in the future for all your remote working and long-term traveling needs, like a digital nomad social service.
The World Pursuit is an affiliate with both World Nomads and SafetyWing. That means if you buy a policy with them from our website, we receive a small commission. It helps us keep our site running every year – so thank you for understanding!
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