Being a digital nomad means viewing every aspect of your life in fluid terms. Your home base is always fluctuating and you keep your belongings within minimalist parameters. At the same time, you have to make sure you have the tools to protect yourself and the cherished belongings you choose to carry with you when you’re on the move.
Since being location independent is a unique way of living, you need unique types of insurance to keep up with your unconventional needs. It can be confusing finding the right insurance that will actually cover you and your belongings when you’re on the move, especially for Americans.
Finding reliable (and affordable) health insurance coverage is a major stumbling blocks for many people who are trying to become location independent. Since healthcare can be so confusing even when you live in one place, it’s easy to get discouraged when trying to find location independent coverage. Let us help you; in this article, we’ll explain the three most common types of insurance for digital nomads and help you find what you need to stay protected on the road.
Know the Difference: Categories of Digital Nomad Insurance Plans
To protect your free-spirited lifestyle, you must first understand the primary differences between the kinds of insurance you’ll need including travel insurance and health insurance. In your home country, you generally have traditional health insurance. In the United States, this means you are likely covered by an insurance through your employer, or a policy purchased through the Affordable Care Act (ACA) exchange.
When you travel abroad for a short-term vacation, you traditionally take out travel insurance, which offers protection for your trip costs and belongings in case of cancellation or theft. These plans also provide coverage for any medical expenses or a medical emergency that may occur on your trip.
In short, travel insurance is designed to protect you on short-term jaunts across the world, while health insurance is designed to offer long-term coverage for everything from a common cold to major health events such as severe illnesses or pregnancy, for which you receive treatment in your home country.
As a digital nomad, you don’t necessarily have a home country, making it more challenging to get traditional health insurance. And, since your trips often don’t include specific locations or time frames, it’s hard to secure travel insurance. As the location independent lifestyle becomes more popular, there is a new segment of the industry emerging, known as international health insurance, to fill in these gaps and provide digital nomad insurance for healthcare coverage abroad. International health insurance plans differ from normal health insurance because it typically offers coverage anywhere across the globe, not just in your home country.
Travel Insurance: To Cover Yourself and Your Possessions
Before you set out as a digital nomad, purchasing travel insurance plans is a smart move when it comes to protecting your material possessions. A travel insurance policy will reimburse you when your luggage is delayed or lost and will cover items lost to theft. Most travel insurance providers also offer additional coverage for medical evacuation and emergency assistance in the event of a catastrophic accident. As with most insurance plans, it’s important to read the fine print to know exactly what items are covered.
With the world becoming more and more interconnected, and travel on the rise, it’s easy to find excellent travel insurance plans from the big players, including insurance companies such as Cigna, Allianz and IMG. Plans can differ, so make sure that your plan is tailored to suit your needs. Most travel insurance plans offer additional options, such as protection for expensive equipment including cameras, drones and computers, all of which are often integral to digital nomad’s lives.
Some travel insurance policies include coverage for medical expenses incurred on your trip. Maybe you cut your foot on a sharp piece of coral in Mexico or slip on a patch of ice in northern Europe. These types of events and the medical expenses to treat your injuries would be covered under your travel insurance up to pre-specified limits. However, travel insurance was never designed to be a health insurance replacement for travelers. If you get pregnant abroad or want to visit a doctor for a routine check-up, travel insurance won’t cover the costs. For that, you’ll need a health insurance plan.
Health Insurance Options
Also known as take-your-chances insurance, this option doesn’t actually include an insurance plan. The idea here is that you simply pay for you medical care as you need it and do away with monthly or annual insurance premiums. Many digital nomads headed to low-cost places in Asia such as Thailand often find this to be a good option, since medical visits and routine procedures are relatively affordable. In expensive places such as Australia and North America, this won’t be the best idea, especially in America where trips to the doctor can run into hundreds, or thousands, of dollars.
International Health Insurance
The main conundrum for digital nomads is that health insurance is generally sold on a location-specific basis. Take that home base away and now it’s hard to figure out where you should buy insurance. That’s where international health insurance plans from companies such as World Nomads and IMG Global come in. These plans are designed to offer traditional healthcare coverage for people who are location independent.
While World Nomads travel insurance is often the most popular when doing online research, we’ve found that Integra Global and Cigna Global plans are often our favorites. Another popular option among location independent workers is Allianz Worldwide Care. Check out our breakdown of the best international health insurance for digital nomads to get a more in-depth look at some of these insurance providers and the benefits they offer.
With an international medical insurance plan, you can get medical evaluations and treatment for pre-existing conditions to keep you healthy as you explore the world. Whether you’re heading off to Southeast Asia, Latin America or Australia, your international insurance plan will keep you covered.
Protect Your Lifestyle
You’ve worked so hard to achieve location independence. Protect that investment by getting the right types of insurance for your journey, no matter where you are headed. Armed with an international health care plan, you’ll rest easy knowing that someone is helping you stay healthy and protect your belongings when you’re on the go.
At Location Indie, we know that protecting your digital nomad lifestyle can be confusing and overwhelming. With our 24/7 forum and community of travel enthusiasts, you’re never far away from answers to your most important questions. You can get tips about the best international health insurance plans from people who’ve actually used them and who understand the challenges of living a location independent lifestyle.