( safetywing - insurance for the nomad ) travel tips

One of the coolest things I enjoy about my profession is when I get to connect with innovators and disrupters in the startup universe. Enter SafetyWing. Born out of Silicon Valley to answer the call for world travelers and medical insurance, Safety Wing has positioned itself as the the future of travel and medical insurance for frequent travelers and digital nomads alike. I first discovered SafetyWing when I was doing some research for new insurance providers. 

At the time, I was traveling at least 2-3 times a month doing the adventure and business travel thing. I had just finished cliff jumping, shredded my hands on fiber glass rocks, and exhausted from climbing up a cliff. I remember staring out at the crisp blue sea when it dawned on me… it’s time to find an insurance hack. As a lifehacker I wanted to make sure I had my tender ass protected on my own terms. So, I signed up to become a member of SafetyWing and I’ve been a member of the community since last year. 

Before I dig into the nitty gritty of what they provide, I wanted to note how SafetyWing came onto the scene by taking part in the Winter 2018 cohort of Y Combinator. Soon after, SafetyWing raised around $500,000 from investors (NordicVest Angels, the Norwegian Investment Authority and other individual investors). So, if you haven’t heard of them yet… you will. 

So here’s the skinny... as you know the digital nomad subculture is on the rise so SafetyWing came onto the scene at the right time. As a nomad you most likely want insurance that includes:

  • Emergency care, such as unexpected injuries and hospitalization due to illness.

  • Routine check-ups as well as preventive care (which is excluded in travel insurance).

  • Help in case of travel emergencies, stolen belongings, or cancellations (which is excluded in health insurance).

Health insurance is complicated. It involves the medical and insurance systems of hundreds of countries worldwide. Because digital nomads live their lives outside of the box, governments and companies have a hard time deciding how to handle us. There is no one size fits all health insurance for digital nomads. As a digital nomad you currently have the following options for insurance:

  1. Stay insured in your home country and get travel insurance: The easiest option for digital nomads is to keep a home base somewhere, an address you’re registered to. Then you can continue to use your personal health insurance (which often covers your healthcare abroad to a certain extent), and just get a travel insurance to cover you for the travel-aspects of your lifestyle (theft or loss of valuables, missed flights, etc). This is what I did.

  2. Only get travel insurance and get check-ups done in a cheap country: If you no longer have a home base, and/or you think you won’t need health insurance. If you need any regular check-ups or treatment of pre-existing conditions, you have to pay for these out of pocket and get them done in cheaper countries with great health care such as Thailand, Mexico or South Korea.

  3. Get a health care plan abroad: Every country you visit will have a national health care. Expats can choose to get a local health insurance, but it often means you have to be a registered citizen of that country. This, therefore, is only a viable option for expats relocating to a country for a longer time.

  4. Get a global healthcare plan: Digital Nomads that opt for a health care plan outside of their own home country, can get a global health insurance option which allows them to move around more freely and access health care in multiple countries. The prices for these plans are most likely going to be higher than travel insurance since this is actual health insurance like you would have back home.


This is what SafetyWing provides and why I dig them so much:

  • Depending on your age and on your need to get USA coverage, it can be as cheap as $36.96 per month (28 days).

  • Travel delays out of your control, does not include missed flights.

  • Only lost checked luggage is covered, no expensive electronics like laptops, GoPro cameras, iPads, tablets, cameras, lenses, etc. ( coming this year )

  • Worldwide coverage except for North Korea and Iran, only 30 days in the United States.

  • 90 days of minimal health coverage in your home country –unless you’re a US citizen– if the US is your home country you get 15 days of coverage for every 90 days you’re there (a rarity for travel insurance).

  • Health coverage for unexpected injuries and illnesses; hospital stay, prescriptions, doctors, and emergency medical evacuation (extraction), only acute onset of pre existing conditions are included in some cases.

  • Not covered: Pre existing conditions, cancer treatment, routine checkups, preventative care, emergency dental, “adventure activities” and sports injuries.

  • SafetyWing does not qualify for available coverage under the Affordable Care Act, so if that’s your primary reason for signing up, you’ll have to look elsewhere. However, for anyone living and working in the United States but not holding a United States passport (ie. foreign workers from Mexico, Canada or anywhere else), SafetyWing might just be the most affordable healthcare option out there.

For more on SafetyWing, go here. If you have used SafetyWing or checked it out and want to share your thoughts, comment below. I’d love to hear from you.

Godspeed ;)

CJ JohnsonComment