Can I buy travel insurance after departure? Yes, you can but only with a few insurance companies.
Finding travel insurance when you’re already travelling is challenging. As 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 buy travel insurance when you’re 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.
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.
This post was originally published in June 2014 and was last updated in August 2020 with information about insurance coverage of coronavirus.
- Coronavirus Update
- What to Look For In Your Travel Insurance Policy
- True Traveller
- World Nomads
- Camera and Laptop Insurance
- USA Insurance Options
Will your travel insurance cover coronavirus? Here are the policies of three companies that allow post departure travel insurance (more general details on them are found below).
Note that most travel insurance companies do not cover pandemics so be very careful about purchasing a policy that claims to cover COVID-19 and make sure they are a reputable company.
The best option we’ve found that does cover coronavirus now is SafetyWing. See below for details.
True Traveller will also cover coronavirus is you purchase a policy now for travel to certain countries.
SafetyWing Coronavirus Policy
As of 1 August 2020, SafetyWing nomad insurance does cover coronavirus as long as it was not contracted before your policy start date.
Testing for COVID-19 will only be covered if deemed medically necessary by a physician. The antibody test is not covered, as it is not medically necessary.
Their Remote Health plan also covers coronavirus.
These are both monthly insurance plans designed for long term travellers from anywhere in the world. See below for more details.
True Traveller Coronavirus Policy
If you purchased your policy before 13:00 GMT on 16 March 2020, you are also covered for coronavirus but only for travel to countries on the exempt list.
There is no coronavirus cover for policies purchased between 13:00 GMT on 16 March and 10 July 2020.
You can check the True Traveller coronavirus page for more information.
Note that the insurance will only cover the costs of cancelling a trip if you have a True Traveller Plus policy and the FCO advises against all travel to your destination.
True Traveller is only available for UK and EU residents.
World Nomads Coronavirus Policy
In April 2020, World Nomads temporarily suspended sales on International plans for travellers from all countries except for World Nomads USA and Brazil.
Whether you can currently buy a policy depends on your nationality and if there are any travel bans in place.
If you already have a World Nomads policy, coverage depends on which country you are resident in.
You can check whether you are covered for coronavirus by going to the World Nomads coronavirus FAQ page and choosing your country of residence from the dropdown.
Unfortunately, World Nomads insurance policies will not cover coronavirus for most people, even if you bought your policy before the pandemic started.
The notable exception is World Nomad policies for US residents—this policy does not have a pandemic exclusion and will cover COVID-19.
For example, for the residents of the United Kingdom, World Nomads says:
Unfortunately, for policies purchased after 6:00am UTC/GMT on Thursday, 23 January 2020 for trips to/from China or after 6.00am AEDT 31 January for other destinations there’s no coverage for any travel expenses or cancellations impacted by COVID-19 as the policy is not designed to cover expenses which are directly or indirectly caused by known epidemics under the control of public authorities.
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, but you need to decide if they are important to you.
- 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/deductible (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 Post Departure Travel Insurance for UK and EU residents.
We have used True Traveller insurance for seven years now and it’s the best value, most digital nomad and backpacker friendly policy we’ve found for UK and European residents.
It’s also one of the few insurance companies that is covering coronavirus if you purchase a policy now (for certain destinations–see above). They also refunded the cost of policies for thousands of travellers who had to cancel their trip due to the pandemic.
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?
Currently a one year True Value worldwide (excluding North America) policy without baggage costs £304 per person. It’s the best value insurance I’ve found.
Although this policy excludes the US and Canada, you are covered for 14 days there without any additional cost.
To include the US for the whole year, the policy would cost £362 for a year.
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 Nomads Worldwide.
SafetyWing is the world’s first travel medical insurance developed specifically for nomads, by nomads. They cover people from all over the world while they are outside their home country.
We haven’t tried them ourselves, but they get some excellent reviews.
They are also one of the few insurance providers who are covering coronavirus if you purchase a policy now (see above).
They offer two products:
SafetyWing Nomad Insurance
SafetyWing insurance for nomads can be purchased while travelling and there’s no cap on the duration of travel.
It includes travel medical cover such as doctor and hospital visits and emergency medical evacuation. They also cover travel delay, lost checked luggage, and personal liability.
The standard policy costs a flat rate of US $40 per 4 weeks which is automatically charged every 4 weeks until you cancel. This is for ages 18-39; other ages are available but will cost more. Travel to the US adds an extra $33 per 4 weeks.
There’s a $250 deductible and a $250,000 maximum limit on payouts.
There is limited coverage in your home country. For every 90 days, you can use your medical coverage for 30 days in your home country (15 days in the US) if something happens while you are there.
Children under 10 (up to 2 per family) can be added with no extra charge.
The policy covers many sports and activities, but it’s best to check their website if you are interested in a particular activity.
Unusually, they do cover moped or scooter accidents as long as the accident does not fall under any exclusions, such as the exclusions for racing and intoxication.
Visit the SafetyWing website for more details on the Nomad Insurance.
SafetyWing also offers a global health insurance plan called Remote Health. This is aimed at teams of remote workers, but you can purchase cover for individuals.
It does not exclude pandemics, so it’s a good option if you are looking for a policy that will include coverage of COVID-19 medical expenses.
It also covers cancer treatments which the SafetyWing Nomad Insurance doesn’t.
Note that this is not a travel insurance policy, so there is no coverage for non-health expenses such as baggage, cancellation, etc.
It is significantly more expensive than the Nomad Insurance and you need to commit to a year contract.
Costs depend on the extras you decide to add, but a standard policy for one person aged 18-39 costs $153 a month or $287 including USA, Hong Kong and Singapore.
Visit the Remote Health website for more details.
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. They cover most nationalities.
The main reason we no longer use them is that they are more expensive than True Traveller.
Currently, a one year standard policy costs £509. The World Nomads policy is more comprehensive and includes baggage and cancellation, but these aren’t things we really need.
While I used to recommend World Nomads, as they don’t currently cover COVID-19 (unless you are from the US), I think SafetyWing is a better option, especially for those on trips longer than one month.
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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