We always knew that as full-time travelers, MEDICAL insurance would present us with some headaches, but we didn’t realize exactly HOW treacherous the path would end up being. We've written extensively before about the differences between Health Insurance and Travel Insurance and the various factors one should consider when evaluating your own specific requirements whilst on the road.
SafetyWing now offers global health insurance for remote workers and nomads, Here's our review with the Pros & Cons.
It is worth noting that there is no one right product or match for everyone! Each and every person’s requirements will differ and it is important to evaluate your own risks in order to find the most suitable solution for yourself.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN TRAVEL INSURANCE AND HEALTH INSURANCE?
The first thing you should understand is that "travel insurance" and "health insurance" are two different things. Travel insurance is important to have, but as a long-term traveller or nomad, it might not offer enough coverage on its own. Travel insurance generally only covers medical emergencies and things like trip cancellations and the loss or theft of personal items. It usually also only covers you for a predetermined amount of time. It’s therefore mostly suited for people on short term trips and holidays.
In its most basic form Travel insurance is often provided automatically and at no additional charge by many establishments such as your credit card provider or even a travel agent. It is, however, very often limited to only certain emergency medical treatment for your travel duration and need not actually include any other travel-related risks which you may think are included but you might have to actually purchase a 'top-up' for more comprehensive cover. This form of travel insurance is also more than often limited to a certain maximum trip duration (usually varying from 30 - 90 days) and may only be applicable if your trip is a return trip from and to your home country and the flight tickets have been purchased through the particular provider. Have a look at our post on Health Insurance and Travel Insurance for a breakdown of the major considerations.
Whether you travel full-time or part-time, by now you’ve probably heard of the two most popular nomad travel medical insurance options, World Nomads and SafetyWing.
LONG TERM TRAVEL INSURANCE AND HEALTH INSURANCE
Having longer-term medical insurance is extremely important for those who are planning to live abroad, travel long term or base themselves somewhere as a digital nomad. Finding the right insurance as a nomad isn’t always easy as some of them can be overpriced for what they offer, some won’t cover you if you’re already travelling, and if you have no home base it gets even more complicated.
In our article on TRAVEL INSURANCE for the Long Term Traveller , we wrote about the various options long-term travelers have and it comes down to the following:
Stay insured in your home country and get additional travel insurance.
Only get travel insurance and get check-ups done in a cheap country.
Get a health care plan abroad.
Get an international healthcare plan.
WHAT DO LONG-TERM TRAVELLERS NEED FROM INTERNATIONAL HEALTH CARE?
Apart from some practical aspects, (like the ability to renew or apply for a policy regardless of where you might find yourself in the world!), there are a few unfortunate limitations to consider.
What is the minimum or maximum policy term available?
Is cover in my home country included?
Will you be covered for coronavirus related illness?
SafetyWing recently launched a new product called Remote Health (Nomads). They describe it as "a comprehensive health insurance for traveling nomads and remote workers AND also for people who still stay in one spot as expats or are in their home country". This might just be the product we've been waiting for as a lot of 'ex-pat' type health products still do not provide proper cover for nomads. In comparison with their Nomad Insurance there might be some overlap, but these are two very different products! For the purpose of this article, we will focus on the Remote Health product.
Remote Health goes (way) above and beyond travel medical insurance, which is only intended to cover unexpected medical emergencies and trip-related expenses gone awry. Instead, Remote Health is a full travel health insurance policy that covers both routine medical expenses as well as emergencies.
The SafteyWing Remote Health product is only available as an annual policy (as opposed to a monthly subscription) and renews each year without you having to reapply. You can choose to pay monthly (the plan length is one year, and you commit to 12 payments), but a single annual payment will work out slightly cheaper.
WHAT DOES SAFETYWING REMOTE HEALTH OFFER YOU?
Here’s what the Remote Health Insurance policy covers:
Hospital charges, medical practitioner and specialists' fees
Day-patient and out-patient surgery
Drugs and dressings
In-patient emergency dental treatment
Evacuation and repatriation
Add-ons are available for increased limits on out-patient cover & prescriptions, dental, reducing the deductible to $0, and coverage in U.S./Hong Kong/Singapore.
The SafetyWing Remote Health Member Handbook is available here. You should take some time to carefully look through this document as it sets out your rights as well as the providers obligations.
WHAT 'ADD-ONS' ARE AVAILABLE FOR SAFETYWING REMOTE HEALTH?
These are additional benefits you can select (at an additional cost) to your plan beyond the standard medical coverage.
Dental - $1.5K USD in dental coverage for when you need to see a dentist for routine care such as check-ups, fillings etc. or more complex care like repairing or receiving new crowns, dentures, or inlays.
Outpatient (i.e. non-hospital visits) - Outpatient care is when you need medical services outside of being admitted to the hospital (for example: family doctor, physiotherapy etc.). 10% co-pay, so for a $150 appointment you get reimbursed $135.
0% outpatient and 0% deductible - Your deductible determines how much you must pay out of pocket before receiving reimbursement for claims within one year. Default is $250 USD.
PROS of SafetyWing Remote Health:
No exclusion for the coronavirus pandemic.
Qualifies as proof of health insurance for visa applications.
Well suited to expats, digital nomads or remote workers looking for a complete health plan outside of their home country.
CONS of SafetyWing Remote Health:
Cover for pre-existing conditions may only be covered if you are approved by the underwriters after your disclosure of your medical history. However, this is fairly standard industry practice.
The U.S.A., Canada or Singapore cannot be your country of residence and these countries residents or citizens are not eligible for cover. However, you can go on short trips of up to 30 days there or with an additional add-on you can travel there for up to 6 months.
In some countries only foreign citizens are eligible for cover if you are resident in that country. In other words, you must have citizenship elsewhere for cover.
You will find the complete list of FAQ's for SafetyWing Remote Health here.
We do not make any recommendations for you, each and every person’s situation is different and needs to be evaluated as such. This is merely a discussion about certain aspects to take into consideration in order for you to arrive at the best solution for yourself. We are not paid to endorse any insurance over another and do not represent World Nomads or SafetyWing. However, we are an affiliate partner for both World Nomads and SafetyWing and we might receive a small fee when you get a quote or sign up for one of their products. This article is not a recommendation to buy travel insurance and we are in no way partial to your choice. You should always consider your individual needs and risk profile - what will work for you may not work for everyone and we do not endorse or recommend any specific provider or product over any other.