Why Travel Insurance Isn't Enough for Digital Nomads

Megan Raftery
18 May, 2021
5 min read
Megan Raftery
18 May, 2021
5 min read


How are you taking care of your health and finance?

There is a saying, “if you can’t afford travel insurance, you can’t afford to travel at all”. Travel insurance plans are usually not too expensive but can save trouble and money should anything happen on the trip. But how does that relate to digital nomads, and does it at all? 

It is tempting to forgo a health insurance plan, especially if you live in a country with low medical costs, and if you generally have good health, you can afford an occasional GP visit. But what happens if you need something more? 

As a self-employed entrepreneur, you need to act as your HR or employee benefits specialist and consider health insurance as an important factor in your life. A serious illness may not only suddenly cut you off your regular income, but the cost of treatment can and will quickly add up. 

Why is travel insurance not enough? 

Travel insurance is built to cover emergency medical situations mainly. On top of that, it also covers flight cancellations, loss of belongings, and in a more comprehensive plan, also the cost of delayed departures. Travel plans are crucial for digital nomads that travel often, there’s no doubt about it, however, if your life in foreign lands extends to years, it’s crucial to take care of your health in the same way you would back home.

On the other hand, international health insurance policy helps cover the expenses for everyday illness and serious health issues. More comprehensive plans can cover rehabilitation, maternity, childbirth, and cancer treatment. These plans are built for expats or international citizens who reside in another country for an extended period. Coverage can extend to your home country, as well. 

Medical Plans for Digital Nomads range from basic to comprehensive

Some people think that international health insurance plans are expensive. In reality, the final cost will depend on many factors, including your plan’s benefits and overall sum insured. However, international plans, besides having obvious medical benefits, act as assistance and helping hand in a foreign land. You can contact the insurance provider for medical emergencies when you are alone in a foreign country, and that type of help sometimes goes beyond any price. 

Basic Medical Plan

Some digital nomads are just happy with paying out of pocket for any minor medical treatments that may come their way; however, for the extra peace of mind, a basic international health policy could protect you from high medical costs associated with major medical costs often including cancer care. That being said, a basic plan every digital nomad should consider is a plan that covers emergency and hospitalization benefits, as these tend to incur the highest medical costs. 

Comprehensive Medical Plan 

Having out-patient benefits, such as GP and other specialist visits and wellness benefits (body check-ups), should be second on the important items in a digital nomad health plan. Wellness checks can help to detect any illness developing in your body, so you can act on it and manage it in advance. This type of medical plan can also cover the cost of prescription drugs and lab tests. 

Life is unpredictable; therefore, having the chance to see a private doctor quickly (as it is with public healthcare almost everywhere in the world - waiting times can be horrendous) and communicating in English can be a lifesaver. These are other advantages coming with private healthcare coverage. This type of medical plan is beneficial should your overseas life turn from a 6-month experiment to a multi-year commitment.

What are some options for digital nomads?

While there are plenty of insurance companies and plans, experts from International Citizens Insurance recommend opting for truly global and established insurers. Cigna has simple, straightforward “Bronze”, “Silver”, and “Gold” plans with a modular design allowing you to add or remove benefits as desired to meet your requirements and your budget. IMG Global Medical is a more affordable option with a catastrophic Bronze Level plan available. Aetna’s plan is a global policy with a focus on people living and working within Europe. GeoBlue Xplorer plan is an excellent option for digital nomads from the US or living in the US.

The cost of an international health insurance plan will range from as low as $500, with limited benefits, to as much as $8,000 for a comprehensive global medical insurance plan per year. Costs, or premiums, are based on a policyholder’s age, medical history, and area of coverage, as well as the deductible and maximum coverage, selected. As you can see, there are plans available that are suited to every budget! Compare medical plans online to see which one suits you most. 

 Get a free quote today!