Last updated on August 15th, 2020
Long term travel is the ultimate dream for many people. However, when you travel for a long period of time, there are some organizational issues you need to think about. One of these issues is insurance. This is not the most fun topic to think about, and we know you prefer to plan the cool activities of your trip, but insurance is very important! There are also many options and every country has different rules about insurance, which makes it even more intimidating. But don’t worry, we’ll help you on your way. In this blog, we discuss travel medical insurance for long term travel: an absolute must for your travels!
Do I Need a Travel Medical Insurance for Long Term Travel?
YES! Even if you are always healthy, and you never have any issues, accidents can happen and the medical costs can increase rapidly! You can be very careful with everything you do but it is not always your fault. Especially when you are traveling, the risks of accidents are higher than back home. Believe us: at home nothing ever happened to us, but since we’ve been traveling we’ve noticed how easy it is to have an accident! Of course you never plan to have one, but think about all the things that can happen: you can trip during a hike and break something, you might get stung by an insect that triggers an allergic reaction (even though you didn’t know that you were allergic), or a dog, monkey, or snake may bite you and you’ll need immediate care.
We don’t want to scare you with all of these things, but it’s good to keep in mind that they are common and real and they might happen to you. And when something happens, you’ll definitely want a travel medical insurance to cover it!
Do note that travel medical insurance is a little different from straightforward travel insurance. The medical side covers you for all your medical issues and accidents, while travel insurance covers you for lost baggage, delayed flights, lost stuff etc. To really travel safely you may need both types – although a good travel medical insurance for long term travel will usually include some elements of travel insurance.
What Is the Difference Between a Local and an International Insurance?
In your home country you probably have a local medical insurance already, and now you might wonder: doesn’t that cover my travels? The answer is: no, most of the time not. Your local medical insurance back home is for all medical issues in your home country and, mostly, it doesn’t cover costs abroad. If you’re only going away for a holiday, you can easily get a normal travel insurance that covers the costs that your local insurance doesn’t cover. But there is usually a limit to these insurances, up to a certain number of weeks a year. When you travel long term this is not an option anymore. Therefore, you need an insurance that does cover your whole traveling period.
An international insurance covers medical issues in almost every part of the world. It is something you really need for long term travel. A common issue though is with visiting your home country. An international insurance often covers you for only a few weeks, so if you want to visit your family and friends for longer you’re not covered anymore. Another issue is that you are usually only covered for immediate care, and not for check-ups. Something to keep in mind. There are simply so many options, and therefore research on which travel medical insurance for long term travel suits your plans best is necessary.
What Does a Good Travel Medical Insurance for Long Term Travel Include?
When you have a health issue that suddenly plays up. For example sickness, allergic reaction, or food poisoning.
When you get hit by a car, fall, etc.
- Search & Rescue
In case you are in a remote area like in the mountains and you have an accident, the insurance should cover the search and rescue team.
When you can’t go to the hospital yourself the insurance should cover ambulance, taxi, or even a helicopter.
- Trip interruption
For example when someone in your family dies you’ll be covered for a flight back home. This is often limited to direct family only, like parents or siblings.
Although check-ups are often not included in travel medical insurance, it is something you need to consider if you live abroad for a long time. However, you’ll pay more for an insurance that covers this, and note that on some occasions it might be cheaper to cover it yourself, especially when you are in a country where medical assistance is relatively cheap.
- Repatriation of remains
This is something you don’t want to think about, but in case you somehow do not survive your travels, it is important that your body be sent back to your family.
What is Often Excluded?
- X-amount deductible
Depending on your insurance, a certain amount is usually deductible. This means that you have to cover that amount yourself. In some cases you can reduce this amount to zero.
- Pre-existing conditions
Almost every travel insurance will not cover sickness or conditions that you already have prior to taking up the insurance.
- Extreme sports
Extreme sports like bungee jumping, sky-diving etc. are often not included. Some insurance companies offer coverage for extreme sports at an additional cost.
- Cancer treatment
This is often not included in your travel medical insurance.
- Visiting the USA
In case you visit the USA, there are additional costs due to the high prices of medical care in the US.
The Best Travel Medical Insurance for Long Term Travel: A Comparison
SafetyWing is an international insurance that has been especially developed for entrepreneurs and remote workers who travel or live abroad. It is the cheapest international insurance for digital nomads (from $37 USD for 4 weeks), and works out as a convenient and affordable option for other travelers too.
The insurance is flexible: you can subscribe to it while already traveling and can pick any start or end date, or even set it up as an ongoing monthly subscription until you cancel at any time. The auto-renewal subscription is a good way to avoid forgetting to renew your insurance and finding out it has expired on you. Another of SafetyWing’s unique features is that it allows you to visit your country of residence for 30 days every 90-day period and covers you there.
This travel medical insurance includes accidents, emergency, search & rescue and transportation. Like all other insurances there are exclusions. Pre-existing conditions are never included. You’ll also need to check the list of extreme sports to see which are covered and under what conditions. It does cover travel delays and lost checked luggage AND natural disasters + personal liability (which is often excluded).
This is one of the most famous travel insurances. Besides basic travel medical insurance you can also cover your travel gear with them. Another good point is that they can cover extreme sports as well, but make sure that you check the policy to see which ones are covered and which are not. You also have other optional packages such as pregnancy care. The downside of this one is that you are only allowed to visit home once during your trip. It is also one of the more expensive insurances you can get.
This is one of the biggest insurance companies. It offers travel insurance for holidays but also has plans for long term travelers. A big plus is that they include regular medical check-ups and pre-existing conditions. This gives it one of the widest coverages, but of course it all comes at a price. Allianz is an expensive travel medical insurance, although you do get a lot in return.
Whatever choice of travel medical insurance you make, always check the full policy. It is often a long and boring read but you need to know what is covered and what is not.
Note: We’ve heard of people using travel credit cards to protect themselves from travel mishaps. While some travel credit cards offer some basic insurance, it’s rare that they provide comprehensive coverage. If you need to quickly travel for a family medical emergency, get stranded due to airline problems, or lose your luggage, you may be covered. However, it is very rare, if not impossible, to find a travel credit card which offers personal medical coverage in any capacity. If you’re looking for travel insurance, it is suggested you look elsewhere for a more comprehensive plan.
Check out all our other travel tips for long term traveling here!
We hope that with this blog we made the jungle that is travel medical insurance for long term travel a bit easier. We know it is pretty boring to organize, but definitely necessary. So if you don’t have a travel medical insurance yet, go get one as soon as possible! In the end, it is your choice which insurance you take, but if you choose one from the above, we promise you that you can’t go wrong.
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