You’ve decided to go long term travelling and you are looking at long term travel insurance. This can be tricky and is something I spent some time on. First of all there is the difference between travel insurance and health insurance.
Types of travel insurance
- Single-Travel travel insurance is something you get for a set period of time. You have health insurance in your home country but it doesn’t cover worldwide travel so you need to expand your insurance. Usually your normal insurance company offers a solution for this. What it covers is smaller immediate healthcare needs (like medical attention when you get food poisoning) but also and more importantly – your trip home. You will then be getting taken care of in your home country.
- Pros: You can take care of everything before you leave and not worry about it again (unless you overstay your pre-set period of time).
- Cons: You both need to know (roughly) how long your travel is and you need to pay up front. It is hard to extend and in general less flexible. Just offers a plane ticket home unless it’s a small illness. Moderately Expensive
- Yearly based travel insurance is running continuously all year through your normal insurance company and covers all travels you go on and you pay even if you don’t leave the country. This type of insurance usually covers all travels you go on – short, long, extreme and you don’t have to deal with insurance every time you go travel. There are, however, usually restrictions so that your travel cannot be longer than 2 months before you have to return home and just like with single-travel travel insurance you get a plane ticket home unless it’s a small illness.
- Easy, simple, always active, cheap
- Travel restrictions for travels over a certain period of time (usually around 2 months). Just offers a plane ticket home unless it’s a small illness.
- World wide health insurance is the full deal, not just a plane ticket home but actual health coverage worldwide. With this you won’t be getting a ticket home paid by the company but the actual hospital bill wherever you are. You can also extend it on a monthly basis.
- Pros: You won’t need to know your return date or length of trip. You also won’t have to end your trip unwillingly if you extend your stay longer than originally planned or need hospital care half way through.
- Cons: Expensive, you might have to deal with two insurance companies (home and worldwide)
Which travel insurance to recommend?
For trips shorter than a month or two, or for trips where you know your end date I would recommend normal travel insurance. Call your current insurance company and ask what a travel insurance costs. Personally mine is about $100 year and I’ve had that for many years. As long as I don’t travel more than 60 days (on one trip) I will always be covered on my travels and I’ve always travelled a lot making it an easy decision to maintain this insurance.
For longer trips it get’s tricky. My current trip is without an end date meaning that I will pass my 60 days. This means I will need actual worldwide health insurance and not just “travel insurance”. Alternatively I could come home every 2 months and keep the cheap insurance as I would technically start a “new” trip every 2 months (note: I don’t know if all insurance companies sees it this way but for mine: I just need to be home a day to “reset”). Seeing as my travel insurance is $100/year and worldwide health insurance runs at about $100/month it actually almost makes sense, moneywise, to just go home every two months. However, personally, I don’t want to deal with the hassle of interrupting my travels all the time. Ultimately I’ve chosen to have both yearly travel insurance and worldwide health insurance.
If I do decide to visit home I can use my yearly travel insurance for the first two months after I leave again and save the money I would have otherwise spent on the worldwide health insurance. After two months I activate my worldwide health insurance again and travel as long as I want. I save a lot of money but the downside is that I will have to remember cancelling and activating my worldwide health insurance.
For other travel insurance companies and for a great overview (no really), check out this chart:
There are many choices out there for you and the topic is not easy to wrap your head around. I’ve written about some of the problems you will run in to and what I’ve consequently ended up doing. It offers the cheapest solution while maintaining flexibility.
Please don’t hesitate to contact me or comment on this page if you have any questions!