Health and Travel Insurance for Digital Nomads

Most readers of this site fall into the category of:

  • American
  • Young (<40)
  • Healthy

We will be primarily focused on this demographic for our recommendations.

Do I Need Insurance?

In most instances, it’s a smart financial decision. Accidents happen, when they occur do you want the added stress of how am I going to pay for this?

Health vs. Travel Insurance

What’s the difference? Health insurance protects you from your health issues. Travel insurance protects you from your travel issues.

Health insurance pays for your medical expenses. Check-ups, prescriptions, long-term illness, vaccinations, etc. This is what people normally carry in the US.

Travel insurance pays for common issues that arise due to the fact you are out exploring the world. It will help you out if your laptop gets stolen in Brazil, you cut yourself bad on a reef while surfing or an airline decides to lose your bags.

Travel insurance is normally used to supplement health insurance. Some travel insurance providers even require you to have health insurance for their policies to be valid!


What Should My Insurance Cover?

The five big things insurance for digital nomads should cover:

Check-up and routine treatment
You go get a physical every year.

You break out in a rash and want to find out how to handle it.

You break your leg in an ATV accident in Panama.

Search, Rescue & Transport
You get lost on a hike in the Alps. Helicopter must air rescue you out.

Your brand spanking new DSLR gets swiped in Venice.

In my opinion, the only section that is not 100% necessary is the check-up and routine treatment. You can probably pay for this kind of stuff out of pocket. It can be quite cheap in some countries.

The rest should be covered. Without insurance, an issue could leave you financially ruined or in a spot where you are running a GoFundMe to get you out of a foreign hospital.

What Wont My Insurance Cover?

Occasionally preexisting conditions
Diabetes, MS, pregnancy, etc.

Need to be have tests run and receive certificates
Accidents that occur due to the influence of drugs or alcohol

Illegal acts
Yes, driving a moped in a foreign country without a license is illegal!

Extreme sports
Bungee jumping, zip lining, etc.
*Can buy extra coverage for this!*

Your Options

1. Forfeit health insurance in the states. Get an international health plan.

Best for people who:

• Pay for their health insurance themselves
• Are not planning to return to the US during their trip
• Are a long-term traveler

If you are self-employed and thinking about going for the 330 Day Challenge, this is the right choice for you. You can ditch your mega-expensive US insurance plan and convert over to an international health & travel insurance hybrid plan. This will cover you all over the world and will reduce your stress over the perils of true adventuring.

Our recommended companies:

IMG Global

2. Pay for US health insurance. Purchase travel insurance to cover the extra stuff.

Best for people who:

• Have their insurance paid for by their employer
• Are going on short term trips

If your employer is willing to keep paying for your insurance while you are traveling the world then keep it! The travel insurance will cover your backside if you get that work phone stolen or your hot air balloon comes in a little too hot and you break a bone.

This option is also great if you are planning only a month or two at a time. You can keep everything you have in the US, but get an extra bit of coverage in case anything bad happens while you are gone.

Our recommended companies:

World Nomads

  1. Backed by specialist insurers and global assistance partners
  2. Can buy online, even if you’ve already left home
  3. Buy more cover and claim online while travelling
  4. Covers a range of adventure sports and activities


3. Apply for a US based international option.

Best for people who:

• Just want to test the waters of being a digital nomad

You can alter your current coverage for more protection abroad. Beware that American insurance companies are notorious worldwide for finding loopholes and fine print that mean that you are not eligible for a claim reimbursement in the way you thought.

Our recommended companies:


4. Give up your US health insurance. Use only travel insurance.

Best for people who:

• Want to self-insure themselves
• Have made sure their travel insurance does not require health insurance coverage

People tend to do this because they don’t want to pay two premiums. It should be noted that travel insurance is not comprehensive and will not cover you for everything that could happen.

Our recommended companies:

World Nomads

  1. Backed by specialist insurers and global assistance partners
  2. Can buy online, even if you’ve already left home
  3. Buy more cover and claim online while travelling
  4. Covers a range of adventure sports and activities


5. Get health insurance in the country you will be staying in.

Best for people who:

• Speak the local language
• Verified the insurance company is legit
• Plan on staying more than three months This option is really only good for people who are very familiar with where they are going, are planning on staying a while and have verified the legitimacy of the company.

There are lots of scam insurance companies abroad. Some guy on the internet will happily collect your premium, but when he needs to pay up for the claim there will be no response. Good luck from collecting from them.

Also, keep in mind the official language of whatever country you are buying insurance in. If you do not speak, do not buy it, because you do not understand it.

6. Take your chances. No insurance.

Best for people who:

• Want to self-insure (pay for everything out of pocket)

• Have lots of money, but I would couple it with some sort of catastrophic insurance