Trying to decide what’s the best travel insurance for you? Check out this comparison between World Nomads and SafetyWing travel insurance.
I will edit this post soon to insert the company I’m currently using, IATI. This is a reputable Spanish travel insurance company that has been active for over 100 years and does cover COVID-19 when most other companies don’t.
Heading out on a long backpacking trip? Or maybe just for a short vacation abroad? It doesn’t matter how long you’ll be traveling for. Accidents, unfortunately can happen at all times – and hey, you don’t want to be unprepared in a foreign country! Although I’m a careful traveler, I had a few instances where I needed travel insurance. It’s great to feel optimistic about any travel situation, but it’s even better to be prepared for any occasion.
After trying out quite a few travel insurance companies, I picked the two insurance companies that in my opinion offers the best value for money: SafetyWing and WorldNomads. In this post I’m going to compare them so you can pick the best for you.
But first, let me tell you a few stories from my trips where I was glad to have travel insurance…
Do You Need Travel Insurance? Yes, You Do.
Being insured today is a must for various reasons. Medical procedures abroad can get very expensive very fast, and even if you’re optimistic about your medical situation, there are still other situations to consider.
You might have to cancel a trip days within departure and won’t be able to get a refund. Or maybe there are certain travel delays during your trip that might ruin your trip. Travel insurance takes care of problems like those, and you’ll definitely feel safer the entire step of the way.
A few years ago I was traveling through Vietnam with a friend when a policeman stopped us while we were riding a motorbike in Mui Ne. They wanted a bribe of $200 (a huge amount of money in Vietnam!) because they were saying we were speeding. We spent the longest amount of time arguing – no, we were not speeding – and at some point the group of men realized we were not going to pay and lost their cool. One of them kicked our motorbike with us still on it (the ass**le down here), so that we fell. The situation heated up pretty fast, with all of them shouting at us, until they started to kick us while we were on the ground. It sounds almost unreal but unfortunately it wasn’t.
After that they confiscated the rental motorbike – I learnt later that this is a common tourist scam in Vietnam. We were smart enough the get the f*** out of there as quick as possible and nothing worse than this happened to us. I didn’t need to visit a doctor but oh boy, I was glad to have travel insurance – things could have turned out a lot uglier, and I really risked needing a hospital!
Another time I was glad to have travel insurance was when I got bitten by some type of spider in Koh Phra Thong, an off-the-beaten path island in Thailand. After I came back to the mainland I noticed the wound was getting larger and larger, and i googled what it could be. Never, ever google medical symptoms! Online it said it could be a sign of a blood infection, and to go to a doctor immediately.
I got scared, so I rushed to the closest private clinic where I visited a doctor who also took a blood sample. Luckily it turned out to be an allergic reaction, not a lethal blood infection – thanks Google! It was after hours and it turned out to be an expensive visit… but who cared? Travel insurance covered it for me.
And then there was the time where I got the worst case of food poisoning of my life, and of course it had to be when I was traveling solo through Borneo in Malaysia. It was one of those cases where you’re sitting on the toilet and throwing up in a bucket at the same time – yes, nasty. After 2 days I realized it was not going to go away on its own, and went to a clinic where I was given all kinds of pills and antibiotics – all covered by insurance. Luckily I got better in time for my elephants and orangutans’ safari!
Luckily, none of these instances were very serious ones where I needed medical evacuation or surgery, but I heard stories from people whose life was literally saved by travel insurance. So yes, you do NEED travel insurance.
Things to Consider When Choosing Travel Insurance
Choosing the perfect travel insurance is quite the process – trust me, I know. I compared a ton of policies before choosing. When choosing travel insurance, there are a few things you want to consider.
Coverage is one of the most important aspects of travel insurance. Make sure to know exactly what you’re getting because, in some cases, if you skimp out on something, it might come back to hurt you later.
Things like emergency medical care, both in public and private hospitals, and emergency transportation in case of an accident should always be covered. Technology and gear would be good as well. It’s up to you to choose what you want covered and what not, but make sure to choose wisely.
Most coverages will have a limit. These are usually very high, in the hundreds of thousands range or even millions. However, there are some very cheap insurances out there that only cover a few thousands of dollars in expenses – and this is what you don’t want.
Healthcare abroad can get very expensive, so make sure to know the exact amount of coverage you’re getting. You don’t want to be left untreated just because you neglected to check the coverage limit.
When you buy insurance it can have a deductible or not, which is the cost up to which you’ll be responsible for if something happens to you. Some insurance plans will always cover everything, some others will make you pay till a certain amount.
For example, if you got treatment for $400 and your deductible is $200, you might have to pay the first $200 and the insurance will cover the rest. The deductible stays the same if you need treatment for higher amounts – if you got treatment for $5000 and the deductible is $200, you’ll have to pay for the first $200 and the insurance will cover the remaining $4800.
Some insurance plans have a deductible per incident. Some others have a deductible per policy so you don’t have to pay every time, only until you get to the deductible limit amount and then everything will be covered by the insurance company.
Coverage in Home Country
You should know if your travel insurance is valid also at home. If you’re traveling for a long time, you might want to take a break from your travels and go home to visit the family – this is what I do as a full time traveler, for example. In other cases, you might want to do some local traveling in your home country after your trip abroad is over. Some travel insurance companies offer this feature, some don’t. Make sure to check.
SafetyWing and WorldNomads are very different from each other. Here below you’ll find a full review for each, so you can decide what works better for you.
A Full SafetyWing Insurance Review
SafetyWing is aimed mostly towards travelers that stay abroad for longer periods of time. Let’s see what SafetyWing covers and doesn’t cover, the cost, and what makes it one of the best travel insurance companies.
What’s Covered by SafetyWing
SafetyWing covers any and all unexpected illnesses and hospital costs you may have when abroad. But that’s not all. SafetyWing also covers travel delays, lost luggage, and medical evacuation in case of an emergency.
SafetyWing also offers limited coverage in your home country, so you can expect to have travel medical insurance at home as well for a while.
What’s Not Covered by SafetyWing
SafetyWing doesn’t cover cancer treatment, routine checkups, and pre-existing conditions prior to the insurance policy. However, they do cover the acute onset of pre-existing conditions.
What Makes SafetyWing Stand Out
It’s Extremely Flexible – You have no cap on the duration of your travels as SafetyWing work like a subscription. You have full control over your start and end dates. Think of Netflix or Spotify, but for travel insurance.
This is a huge plus if you travel for longer periods of time. If you’re like me, you probably don’t always know when your trip is ending. With SafetyWing you can just subscribe, pay for the first month, and forget about it. After 28 days, you’ll be deducted from your card the next 4 weeks worth of insurance and like this every month until you cancel. It’s as simple as clicking a button.
Even if you do know when your trip ends, with SafetyWing you won’t have to pay everything upfront, which is a big financial plus.
And if you forget to cancel? No worries. It just happened to me a couple of months ago when I went back to Italy after traveling through Asia. I received the email that my card had been charged, but I contacted SafetyWing explaining that I was back in Italy where medical care is covered by my country, and they refunded me the amount in a couple of days.
Not Just the Subscription Model – However, it’s not compulsory to choose the subscription model. You can also choose the start and end dates of your trip like any other insurance. In fact, if you’re traveling for less than two months it makes sense to buy insurance for specific dates. It’s still going to be a lot cheaper than most insurances out there.
Great Value – It’s significantly more affordable than its biggest competitors, including World Nomads. SafetyWing travel insurance starts at $37 for every 4 weeks.
Worldwide Coverage – The only countries excluded are Cuba, North Korea, and Iran. You don’t need to specify in detail all the countries you’re going to when you buy the insurance, which is great because sometimes you don’t even know where you’ll go! Don’t worry, you’ll be covered everywhere except for those 3 countries.
Home Country Coverage – SafetyWing offers a limited home country coverage, up to 30 days every 90, or 15 days every 90 if you’re from the US.
Family Travel Benefits – 1 young child per adult, up to 2 per family (age between 14 days and 10 years old), can be included on your insurance without added cost. Family of four? You only pay for the two adults. I know, it’s crazy cheap!
➤ CHECK OUT SafetyWing Travel Medical Insurance
Deductible: Currently SafetyWing’s only insurance plan has a 250 usd deductible. This means you have to pay up to $250 a year and then you will be fully covered.
For example, if your treatment costs $500, you’ll be responsible for the first $250 and SafetyWing will cover the rest for the year. If you happen to have a second incident in the year, you won’t have to pay any other deductible.
One good thing is that this deductible doesn’t apply to everything (example emergency dental and most travel related incidents, not medical). You can check the details of the policy on SafetyWing’s website.
I’ve been told that SafetyWing is also looking into adding an option with no deductible that will of course cost a bit more.
Adventure Sports: SafetyWing covers a wide range of sports but many of the most adventurous ones aren’t covered. If you’re an adventure junkie, you better read the fine print before purchasing SafetyWing insurance.
The insurance company, though, is looking into adding an option with a wider adventure sports coverage (that will cost a bit more of course).
No Electronics Coverage: SafetyWing covers up to 500 usd per item when a checked luggage gets lost, but it excludes electronics such as phones, laptops, cameras. Unless you have very expensive equipment this is usually not a problem and if you do, it might be more convenient to get a separate insurance for your electronics rather than buying a higher-coverage travel insurance.
I’ve been told that SafetyWing will soon offer electronics coverage as an add-on for an extra cost, I’ll keep you updated.
Traditional travel insurance companies make you input all the countries you’re going to and your exact age to be able to give you the price. SafetyWing is a lot more simple.
Pricing starts at 37 usd for 4 weeks coverage for everyone 10-39 years old. It only varies if you happen to visit the US, in which case you’ll have to add 31 usd for a total of 68usd.
For everyone 40-49, SafetyWing’s insurance costs 60 usd for 4 weeks for worldwide coverage; if you include the US, it goes up to a total of 111 usd.
There’s two more tiers for people till 69 years of age, but the price gets considerably higher. For these age tiers, SafetyWing is not an attractive option anymore since you can get better coverage for a lower price with the competitors.
To summarize: for Americans, there’s only one variable that affects the price and that’s age. Traveling through the US would be considered home country coverage for Americans, and it’s limited to 15 days every 90.
For residents of the rest of the world SafetyWing is incredibly cheap if you don’t plan to go to the US, and still affordable if you do.
Here’s a more graphic description of SafetyWing’s pricing:
|Age||Price for 28 days |
|Price for 28 days |
coverage including the
US as a destination
|15 days to 9 years old||$ 0.00 *||$ 0.00 *|
|10-39 years old||$ 36.96||$ 67.76|
|40-49 years old||$ 59.92||$ 111.44|
|50-59 years old||$ 94.08||$ 183.68|
|60-69 years old||$ 127.68||$ 250.60|
* Children must be accompanied by an adult on a group policy to activate the $0 price. Maximum of 2 children per group.
If you decide to select specific dates instead of the subscription model, the price is proportional, not more expensive than the subscription model. This means that if you’re 10-39 years old and are traveling for two weeks (14 days), your insurance will cost you as little as 18.48 usd (exactly half of what costs one month on the subscription model)
Traveling for 5 days? SafetyWing will cost 6.60 usd, the price of your Starbucks coffee.
Check out SafetyWing for more details.
SafetyWing: Is It Worth it?
My reply is YES for the following reasons:
- SafetyWing as a company might be new, but its travel medical insurance is provided by Tokio Marine, which is one of the world’s biggest insurance companies. This makes it completely reliable.
- You can buy the insurance even if you’re already traveling, and it will cover you (almost) everywhere for a little over 1 USD a day. That for me is crazy!
- If you travel for a long period of time, the ability to pay every 28 days (and pause or cancel anytime) and not everything in advance is a huge advantage.
SafetyWing is the insurance I’ve been using for the last 8 months. It’s perfect for me since I travel full time and, as I said before, every time I go to any EU country, I just cancel and start again whenever I leave the EU.
But SafetyWing isn’t just for people who travel long or full time. No matter the duration of your travels, if you’re simply looking for a very affordable travel medical insurance that cover most things, SafetyWing is your best option (if you’re not over 50).
World Nomads Travel Insurance Review
World Nomads’ insurance is aimed towards travelers of all walks of life. Let’s see what World Nomads covers and doesn’t cover, the cost, and what makes it one of the best travel insurance companies.
What’s Covered by World Nomads
World Nomads offers more extensive coverage than SafetyWing both for medical and travel related incidents, and higher coverage limits for most things. They also cover adventurous activities like scuba diving and bungee jumping, and any important gear you might have.
World Nomads offers two plans: Standard and Explorer. The Standard plan already covers most activities you’ll be likely to get involved with such as surfing and scuba diving. The Explorer plan is slightly more expensive and covers more adventurous sports. This plan also has higher coverage thresholds .
What’s Not Covered by World Nomads
Any pre-existing conditions are not covered by World Nomads. If you’ve been treated or received medication six months prior to coverage, you won’t be covered by this insurance for that specific illness or medical issue. World Nomads doesn’t cover routine checkups and cancer treatment as well.
Highlights of World Nomads
Good Extreme Sports Coverage – If you’re a fan of extreme sports, rest well, because you’ll be well insured. In fact, World Nomads offers one of the best insurance policies in the world for extreme sports if you choose the Explorer plan.
Stolen Gear Coverage – If you get your belongings robbed, World Nomads will cover you. Electronics are covered in every plan, and if you get the Explorer’s plan, the policy will even cover stolen cash up to 250 usd.
➤ CHECK OUT World Nomads Travel Insurance
World Nomads’ Cons
The Price – The biggest problem with World Nomads in my opinion is how expensive it is. The price for a policy varies a lot based on age, destination and home country; however, it’s fair to say that for young people the cost is around 3 times the price of SafetyWing for the Standard plan, and more than 5 times for the Explorer option.
No Typical Monthly Packages – You pick and choose your dates and have to pay everything upfront when you get the insurance. Not only it’s expensive but also financially smart… for them!
Lack of Home Country Coverage – Unlike SafetyWing, World Nomads doesn’t cover you when you’re in your own country. For the regular tourist this is not a problem, but for people who travel for long periods of time and go back home periodically, it’s always good to also be covered there.
World Nomads’ Pricing
World Nomads’ price varies a lot based on the home country, destination and age. The prices are not as transparent as with SafetyWing, and you have to get a quote to be able to estimate how much your insurance would be.
I run a test and the price of a policy for a 30 year old from California traveling to Thailand for 2 weeks (14 days) is $77.01 for the Standard plan, and $139.28 for the Explorer one. If I add a couple of countries and extend to 28 days, the price is $113.16 and $201.27 USD.
When Francisco, my boyfriend, searches as an Argentinean, somehow prices are lower for the same age and destination. I suggest you to get a quote down here and check what the price will be for your specific case.
CHECK OUT WORLD NOMADS
Conclusion: What’s Better Between World Nomads and SafetyWing?
Travel insurance is definitely important, but there is no universal one that covers every single thing you might want from it. Always consider your options before choosing, and make sure to understand the policy well. Good travel insurance can truly save your life!
In my opinion, SafetyWing is a very good option for people on a budget and long-term travelers, but if you want to be more covered and don’t mind paying 3 to 6 times more, then World Nomads gives full peace of mind.
Friday 4th of November 2022
Hi Steph. Thank you for the information available in this blog. We are a couple traveling around the world for a year. Do you recommend IATI or Safety Wing? Thank you
Thursday 9th of January 2020
Very good post Steph. I am about to start a trip for unlimited period of time and was really concern about that. Reading your blog and the tips made me decide which is the best for me. Thank you again, have a safe trip and hope to see you around.