Travel insurance when you’re already travelling is a tricky issue for digital nomads. We started out with a one year long term travel insurance policy like many round the world travellers, but unlike them, after a year we carried on travelling.
We discovered that we couldn’t extend our insurance and new policies required us to be living in the UK at the time of purchase. As we were overseas, we didn’t know what to do and went uninsured for months—not a good idea.
Thankfully, we discovered it is possible to get travel insurance whilst already abroad—whether you forgot to buy insurance before departure or you want to travel for more than a year.
While most companies don’t allow you to buy travel insurance after departure, there are a few reliable insurers that do. The best we’ve found are True Traveller (UK and EU residents) and World Nomads (available worldwide).
We now always make sure we’re insured because if anything went wrong it could cost us thousands to be evacuated in a medical emergency.
What to Look For In Your Travel Insurance Policy
- Read the small print before buying a policy or you could be wasting your money if they don’t pay out.
- When you are starting out in your home country you can buy any long term travel insurance policy for the first year. Just check they don’t require you to have a return ticket home.
- When you need to renew make sure you are allowed to buy the policy when already travelling.
- Medical coverage is the most important—make sure it includes emergency evacuation and repatriation.
- Check which activities the policy includes if you are going to be doing things like scuba diving, white water rafting, and horse riding. You often need to pay extra to include high risk activities.
- Most policies charge extra for skiing and snowboarding. You might just want to purchase a winter sports policy for the time you are in the mountains.
- It’s unlikely that it will cover valuables like cameras and laptops (or the limit will be low) so you may need to get extra insurance for these (see below).
- We don’t worry about baggage cover (our clothes and toiletries are hardly valuable) or cancellation cover.
- Choose a worldwide policy if you don’t know where you’ll be travelling to. Otherwise it’ll be cheaper to exclude the US or to focus on one region like Europe.
- Check the excess (the contribution you’ll have to pay towards a claim). The higher the excess the cheaper the policy, but make sure you can afford it.
The Best Travel Insurance When Already Abroad for UK and EU residents.
We have used True Traveller for five years now and it’s the best value, most digital nomad and backpacker friendly policy we’ve found for UK and European residents.
True Traveller allows you to buy travel insurance when already travelling and they don’t require a return ticket, so it’s ideal for digital nomads, long term travellers, or anyone who has forgotten to buy insurance before leaving.
They really understand the needs of long term travellers and you can tailor the policy to suit you, choosing the most basic medical insurance or adding extras like baggage, electronics, cancellation, activities, and winter sports cover. This helps keep costs down as you only buy what you really need.
Their site is user friendly and easy to understand. True Traveller was originally an adventure travel company, not an insurance company. Their policies are designed by travellers for travellers and it shows.
Making a claim with True Traveller was quick and easy. After visiting the doctors in Bali all I had to do was fill in a simple form, take photos of the doctor’s report and receipts, and send it all by email. Just three working days later I received the money in my bank account!
You can read our detailed True Traveller insurance review here including the claims process.
How Much Does a True Traveller Policy Cost?
The most recent policy we purchased was in 2017. We bought a one year True Value worldwide (excluding North America) policy without baggage for £204 each. It was the cheapest policy I found.
Although our current policy excludes the US and Canada (as we’re not planning to visit this year), we would be covered for 14 days there without any additional cost.
We buy the most basic policy to keep costs down and as we’re only interested in the medical coverage (£2,500,000 is covered). We have a £125 excess (deductible) but you can pay slightly more to reduce this to 0.
91 activities are included as standard so we didn’t need to purchase the Adventure or Extreme pack to include high risk activities like scuba diving at lower depths or black water rafting. Check their list to see what activities you are likely to be doing.
The Best Travel Insurance When Already Abroad for the USA, Australia, and Worldwide.
World Nomads is a well respected travel insurance company that we used on our round the world trip in 2007-8. They allow you to get travel insurance while abroad so are popular with many digital nomads and long term travellers we know.
The only reason we no longer use them is that they are more expensive than True Traveller. In 2017 a one year standard worldwide policy costs £420, over double the price we paid. The World Nomads policy is more comprehensive and includes baggage and cancellation, but these aren’t things we really need.
World Nomads covers most nationalities so if you aren’t from the UK or Europe, this is the policy we recommend.
Camera and Laptop Insurance
Most travel insurance policies don’t cover valuables or have a low limit, so we used to have a separate policy with Photoguard that covered our cameras and laptops for accidental damage and theft.
They only cover UK citizens and the cost depends on the value of your items—when we last renewed ours was £263 a year.
In 2017 we stopped using Photoguard as they no longer cover long term travellers, so it’s only a good option for shorter trips. We struggled to find an electronics insurance policy that would cover us for a whole year, so we no longer have insurance for our camera and electronics. We make sure we have savings to cover their replacement if necessary.
Another option we’ve heard of is to get your electronics added to a family member’s home insurance policy.
USA Insurance Options
In addition to World Nomads we also know US citizens who have used these policies:
- IMG Global—Medical insurance if you spend less than six months a year in the US. It also provides cover when you are in the US which most travel insurance policies don’t.
- Clements—An option for covering your electronics.
Whatever you decide, make sure you do buy travel insurance. If the worst happens you’ll want to be covered or it could end up costing you more than you can afford.
Let us know if you’ve heard of other companies that allow you to buy travel insurance whilst already abroad.
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