Accidents can happen, so it’s always important to have medical cover when traveling abroad. The last thing you want to do is find yourself injured or sick in a foreign country and lumbered with thousands of $ worth of medical bills.
Travel styles have changed though. Once upon a time people used to take one or two week vacations; now we have a wave of digital nomads who are traveling the world long term. Myself included!
Unfortunately most travel insurance and travel medical insurance policies haven’t caught up with the times and many policies only cover trips for up to 90 days. A lot of them also require you to purchase the cover before you leave your home country.
There is, however, one very exciting company called SafetyWing, which is catering to people who fall through the cracks. SafetyWing offers the world’s first International Travel Medical Insurance developed to meet the needs of entrepreneurs and remote workers travelling or living abroad worldwide.
If you’re planning to head to a country for several months, or perhaps travel around the world long term, you might want to check out my SafetyWing review below:
What is SafetyWing?
SafetyWing offers a travel medical insurance product that covers people from all over the world, while outside their home country. It’s available in 180 countries and includes:
Travel medical – Access a qualified global network of hospitals and doctors for unexpected medical problems and accidents. Includes coverage for: doctors, hospitals, emergency medical evacuation, emergency dental.
Travel – Includes coverage for: travel delay, lost checked luggage, emergency response & natural disasters, personal liability.
Things I love about SafetyWing
It’s flexible – You can choose the start date and since it’s subscription based, it just automatically extends until you choose to cancel (unless you choose to have an end-date). This is great because you can stop and restart at any time.
You can purchase while already travelling – Sometimes you forget to buy insurance before you go abroad. Many companies have terms that say you must buy your insurance in your home country, before you commence your trip, otherwise any claim is invalid. Not with SafetyWing – you can purchase your policy after your trip has already started.
There is no cap on the duration of a travel – If you’re backpacking or traveling the world as a digital nomad, sometimes you don’t even know when you’ll be heading home. It might be one month, it might be two years. Most ordinary travel insurance policies cover for up to 90 days. Even backpacker travel insurance plans usually limit you to one year. With SafetyWing, there’s no cap on the duration of travel, so you can just let it automatically extend for as long as you want!
It’s really easy to cancel the subscription – Some subscription companies make it really difficult to cancel or pause the subscription. They make you delve deep into their website for a telephone number, or you have to send an email. With SafetyWing there’s a simple button in the dashboard that says “Stop insurance” so you can stop your plan. When you stop, your next payment will be cancelled and your last day of coverage will be the last you have currently paid for. You can also undo this action until your final day of coverage.
It’s great value – At only $37 per 4 weeks, you get worldwide travel medical coverage. Travel to the US adds $31 per 4 weeks, so in total it’s $68. Considering how expensive healthcare plans are in the US, this is a great deal. You do NOT want to find yourself sick or injured in the USA without medical coverage.
Visits to home country are covered – For every 90 days, you can use your medical coverage for 30 days in your home country if something happens while there. (You can’t start in your home country, and you get only 15 days if your home country is the US).
It’s easy to order – I found that many travel insurance and travel medical insurance companies require you to fill out excessively long questionnaires on their website. With SafetyWing, it’s really simple to set up. You also don’t have to upload documents to prove your residency when you sign up. Just name your citizenship, your home country and your mailing address (which can be in a different country).
Young children included – I don’t have children but if you’re traveling as a family; 1 young child per adult, up to 2 per family, aged between 14 days and 10 years old, can be included on your insurance without added cost.
Simple user interface – The entire website is really easy to use. Like really easy! I can easily view my receipts, edit my details, update my payment card, add/remove travel in the US, or cancel insurance. There’s no need for lengthy customer service conversations with SafetyWing.
Is it legit?
SafetyWing is a Y-Combinator company and the policy is administered by Tokio Marine which is one of the largest insurance companies in the world. The Policy is underwritten by certain underwriters at Lloyds .Claims are handled by Tokio Marine directly, who offer 24/7 support when a person is in need.
SafetyWing is marketed as a travel medical insurance policy, not a travel insurance policy. There are some exclusions, for example, you aren’t covered for electronics such as phones, laptops and cameras. You can get separate gadget insurance for this though.
It’s also not designed to replace conventional health insurance. While you’re covered for accidents or if you get sick abroad, you’re not covered for pre-existing medical conditions and cancer treatments.
How to make a claim
I’ve yet to make a claim but it looks pretty simple. There are two phone numbers – one for inside the USA and one for outside the USA. To file a claim you need to download the PDF claim form and fill it out. After that, you’ll need to email it to the specified email address along with any photos or screenshots of receipts.
After that, it takes up to 3 business days for a confirmation email that your claim is in processing. Your claim should take less than 45 days to be processed and you can follow the process on Tokio Marine’s Client Zone. If approved, you will receive the reimbursement into your bank account by a wire transfer.
Of course, sometimes medical expenses can be really costly, so reimbursement isn’t really an option. Not everyone has thousands of dollars sitting in a bank account ready to pay for ambulances and urgent care!
If you use a hospital from one of SafetyWing’s networks, some of them can bill the insurance company directly, instead of you paying upfront and waiting for a reimbursement.
If there are no hospitals in the network in your area, you can go to any hospital, pay upfront and get reimbursed if your incident is covered.
Remember to keep all receipts for expenses and bear in mind, you are responsible for the deductible, coinsurance, and any ineligible charges as administered by Tokio Marine HCC – MIS Group.
SafetyWing has started with travel+medical insurance but plans to add comprehensive health insurance before moving on to disability and pension. They say they will keep adding products until they have a complete social safety net – fully functioning across borders.
As someone who travels a lot for long periods of time, I really felt like one of those people who slips through the gaps. None of the other insurance policies really suited my needs when it came to length of coverage.
SafetyWing is a brilliant idea and it’s definitely the go-to long term travel medical insurance plan. You can sign up for SafetyWing here.