A Little Review: World Nomads Travel Insurance for Long-Term Travel

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When you’re planning for long-term world travel, you have a dizzying number of options to review when it comes to picking the right travel insurance. After twelve years on the road, I still believe World Nomads is the best travel insurance for backpackers, adventurous travelers, and long-term travelers.

My initial research back in 2008 was thorough, and I found negative and positive reviews for every company in existence. It’s clear that the while every single travel insurance company has some negative reviews, World Nomads has a preponderance of success stories, and positive notes about its support staff. Plus, I’ve used this company for more than a decade, so this is a first-hand account and no one paid me to recommend them—my hard-earned money bought a policy on every trip.

And since every insurance company has sneaky loopholes in place to ensure you were following the rules, I share specific advice on what you will need to successfully make a claim if something happens while you’re traveling.

Below I’ll review why I bought a World Nomads insurance policy for most of my travels these past 11 years, but also why I used IMG Patriot at times. I’ll explain which types of world travels work for the two different travel insurance companies (hint, I used IMG when I needed an expat health insurance policy, and when I had a niece traveling with me). I’ll also help you decide if travel travel insurance is worth it (Hint: Travel insurance provides essential protection for long-term or adventurous backpacking trips).

Does Your Travel Insurance Cover COVID-19?

Pandemic coverage in travel insurance policies depends on your nationality and where you plan to travel. Most policies are not covering coronavirus related health or travel delays, but some actually are! That means you have an option when you’re traveling this summer.

What is the situation? In days and weeks after full lockdowns began in March, many travelers realized that their travel insurance would only cover them for a short period of time after the WHO and U.S. authorities issued high-level travel warnings. That meant if you stayed abroad instead of heading home, you wouldn’t be covered by late March. Since then, many policies have specifically clarified their pandemic policies to more clearly state if health or trip cancellations were covered if they related to COVID-19.

The short of it. Do NOT assume that your travel insurance will cover you any upcoming trips. Most companies still have exclusions in place as long as the CDC has a warning level 3 to “avoid nonessential travel,” which will be in place for a long while. IMG, which I have recommended in the past as a budget option great for families, notes that plans are not eligible for benefits directly or indirectly related to COVID-19.

Travel insurance with coronavirus coverage. From the source, I was informed that American travelers with World Nomads policies who are traveling domestically can receive medical and trip cancellation protection if the traveler or family member is affected by Covid-19. World Nomads policies do not include endemic or pandemic clauses for American travelers, so as summer approaches, this means that buying travel insurance will cover all on the policy who contract COVID-19 or go under quarantine when traveling. That said, naturally there are aspects that won’t be covered, like if your trip is delayed, changed, or canceled because of border closures—these are known risks right now, so if you book expensive trips know that your health is covered and is a reason to cancel, but not the general state of the world. The World Nomads site has very detailed answers outlined on the website for Americans’ looking for travel insurance that covers the coronavirus.

Why World Nomads is Good Travel Insurance

When I first left on my round the world trip in 2008, I looked for outside verification from others to know what’s best in the confusing insurance landscape (and one rife with fraud). World Nomads has a lot of credibility in the market. It’s also an inclusive travel insurance, meaning it covers a broad range of people (up to 70). It also includes the adventurous activities common on long-term trips and while backpacking.

For this reason, major tour and travel companies use World Nomads as their default travel insurance. Twelve years ago, I was a backpacker (and it’s the top rated travel insurance for that type of travel), but over the years I realized it worked for long-term travels of any style.

Let’s review why World Nomads is a good travel insurance option:

  1. It’s the travel insurance recommended by National Geographic, Lonely Planet, and Rough Guides—three names you can trust in travel. If Lonely Planet says it’s great for backpackers, then it’s a fair bet you should start your research looking at what a World Nomads policy offers. I first found World Nomads reviewed by long-term travelers in the forums, and nearly all of them noted that it was trusted by these top brands.
  2. World Nomads is actually a brand that secures the policy for you—that’s how it can insure people from 150 countries.
  3. It truly had the best coverage during my 10+ years of long-travel, and with competitive prices. I spent my first year as a pure backpacker, and from there out needed travel insurance that could cope with me traveling for nonstop for a decade. Anything else I threw its way—booking while already traveling, adventure sports, more than six uninterrupted months on the road—World Nomads bested the competitors.
  4. It’s a socially-conscious company that still has majorly competitive prices—a total win in my book. The company’s social good programs and sustainable company ethos is stronger than any other travel insurance out there.

And really, I cannot stress enough that World Nomads is among the most affordable companies for what you get in return. You have a nice balance of deductibles meets coverage meets activities. Backpackers and long-term travelers need the flexibility and security of knowing they won’t go bankrupt if something happens on the road. It’s why I can unequivocally say that World Nomads is best for backpackers and long-term travelers.

In addition to buying a policy online, you can extend your insurance policy indefinitely or even buy one when you’re already traveling, and World Nomads slick interface makes it easy to take care of business and get back to traveling—a good travel insurance lets you travel without the worry, that’s the entire point!

World Nomads Travel Insurance Review: What's Covered and What's Not Covered By World Nomads
Jumping from a boat in Australia during prime jellyfish season? Seemed like a good idea at the time!

What’s Covered by World Nomads (And What’s Not)?

The coverage on your travel insurance policy is the most important part—so this is where it’s vital you take time to understand exactly what buying travel insurance can get you on a trip. It’s everyday protection for you, for your luggage, and also in the event of BIG issues with a capital B (think catastrophic weather event, traumatic injury, etc).

Let’s review the five key coverage areas on any World Nomads policy:

  1. Overseas medical care
  2. Medical evacuation (Medevac)
  3. Baggage claims
  4. Theft on some belongings and electronics (read the policy details!)
  5. Trip cancellation coverage

Beyond these five areas that any good travel insurance policy must have, these are a few other things that are bonuses and also included—at least to some extent. Coverage on these areas depends on your country of residence:

Once you know what is covered by World Nomads, it comes down to the extent of coverage. You should not sign up for a policy that skimps in any of these areas. But some coverage does really depend on your trip, especially when we get into limits.

Wait, Can I Do That?! Adventure Activity Coverage

Before I left on my world travels, I made a list of all of the crazy and wild adventure activities that I wanted to participate in while traveling—then I used the World Nomads’ A-Z List of Adventure Activities to check they were covered in a policy. Each and every activity I hoped to experience was on the list of what’s covered.

While not all of your activities may be covered—there are some things general travel insurance will just not cover—the complete list is comprehensive, online, and broken down by country. This is an important step! I really wanted to know that rock-climbing in Laos was covered just as fully as scuba diving on the Great Barrier Reef.

On my first long-term backpacking trip, I was active and adventurous, and it was dead-simple to verify on World Nomads checklist if an activity was covered. Note that what World Nomads covers for each policy is clearly outlined online—it’s easy to check before you do the activity; that’s imperative! You don’t want to be waiting for an email from your insurance company while the boat leaves on your planned scuba diving adventure. With other policies (like the expat insurance I use with IMG), adding any adventure sports requires paying for an additional rider, and the coverage is not as robust.

World Nomads‘ coverage was designed by a world traveler—a Aussie named Simon Monk who wanted to demystify the entire travel insurance process. That’s why the policies seem single-handedly designed for long-term travelers and backpackers—they are! Rather than being left to choose your own coverage limits, the policies are designed to give you maximum protection for the type of things most travelers face on the road.

Only some travel insurance policies offer adventure sports riders (and even basic outdoor travel activities may fall under that!). Review the activities carefully—be positive that you’re selecting one that covers everything you have planned.

What Is Covered by World Nomads Travel Insurance
The full list varies by country, but here’s the starting point on what Is covered by World Nomads travel insurance. It’s a remarkable amount of activities covered—far more than many companies!

Is World Nomads Travel Health Insurance?

There are no insurance companies that by default offer health insurance as a part of their travel policies. Now, medical health emergencies are covered—that’s a key reason you’re buying the policy, but note that this is not the same as health coverage like regular doctor visits.

Generally, for World Nomads and really any travel insurance you might consider, when you review the fine details you realize that treatment is not designed to mimic health insurance. That’s why, written into the policy, your travel insurance will end either once you step foot on home soil, or within a week or two.

Covered Health EmergenciesNot Covered by Travel Insurance
HospitalizationIf you’ve taken drugs or alcohol
Day surgery and outpatient treatmentMinor rashes/non-emergencies
Visits to registered medical practitionersReckless behavior
Prescribed medicines Non-emergency treatment that can wait until you return home
Ambulances Certain pre-existing medical conditions
Extra expenses to get you home, if medically necessaryOngoing treatment at home

Making Travel Insurance Claims Online

Most insurance companies now allow you to file your claims online. A seamless system is a huge must for long-term travelers and backpackers especially because you can’t wait until the end of your trip to sort it all out—you’re going to have to file your insurance claim on the road.

For World Nomads, you can process all of your claims online, and there are no caps on the length of time you can be insured. This is not the case with all travel insurance policies. Some max out at three months and a few still don’t have an entirely online claims process.

For most insurance companies, if it’s a medical emergency and you have time, you are obligated to contact them and let it go through their authorized providers—that speeds up the process. Either way, I found the online claims process easy and the company offers 24 hour helplines for immediate assistance, as well as helplines for figuring out the sometimes bureaucratic process of filing a travel insurance claim.

WARNING: Travel Insurance Coverage When Riding a Motorbike

In addition to the small comment above about insurance coverage for licensed motorcycle drivers only, an ALA reader left this note in the comments, and it nicely explains why it’s so important to:

1. know exactly what your insurance covers.
2. take steps to ensure you meet the requirements for insurance claims reimbursements (have receipts, police reports, etc.).

From Matt of Great Distances: “For anyone who’s curious about motorbiking, the rule is this: If you’re going to pilot a motorbike in Asia (or really anywhere in the world), you need a motorcycle license in your home country as well as an international driver’s license with motorcycle certification (this requires a prior motorcycle license, at least in the U.S.). Without these things, your travel insurance will NOT cover you whatsoever should you get in a wreck or injure yourself or others while on a motorbike. And people wreck and hurt themselves ALL the time, especially when they haven’t had proper safety training and find themselves wearing clothing that provides no projection from motorbike mishaps.”

TL;DR: World Nomads Coverage Review Recap

  • World Nomads has made my life easier as a digital nomad living on the road for 10+ years by offering an entirely online process.
  • The adventure sports coverage is included in World Nomads policies by default, meaning there’s no chance you overlooked a crucial coverage step in the select-it-yourself policies.
  • World Nomads is the best insurance for long-term travelers. It’s during my solo backpacking trips that I’ve used World Nomads to the best success.
  • You are only covered for those things you are legally allowed to do—no drugs or drunk driving, and no driving without the proper license.
  • IMG is the best travel insurance anyone visiting the U.S. as a non-resident—this is where World Nomads coverage has some gaps for many international travelers (because the U.S. healthcare system is so whack, citizens of most aren’t offered the type of full coverage I believe essential to long-term travels in the U.S.).
motorbike riding World Nomads Travel Insurance Review
Three to a bike in Thailand? I actually don’t know if we would have been covered if we had gotten in an accident …

Essential Travel Insurance Tips

world nomads review

Travel insurance is the single best way to protect yourself against the unknown facing you on the road. During my more than a decade of travel, I’ve had dysentery, giardia, scabies, strep throat, and a host of health issues. Travel sickness is a part of long-term travel. Although I’ve never had major catastrophic health problems, nor been robbed of any key gear, I would never take the risk of backpacking the world without emergency help available. Travel insurance companies have a huge network of providers, and once you activate them, they negotiate (often in the local language) with those providing your help or care. That’s a huge relief when things are going south.

You can find terrible reviews online for all travel insurance companies. There are some circumstances where the traveler just didn’t fit within the policy wording and they weren’t covered. That’s tough. It is imperative that you read the requirements for making a claim if something goes wrong on your trip.

When reviewing any travel insurance policies, here are key cautions and warnings to heed:

  • Document your valuables. To make a claim, you must prove you bought it (receipts), that it was with you (take a photo of all valuables before you leave), and that it was stolen (a police report). Each step here is vital. Many negative travel insurance reviews are from people who didn’t have a copy of the police report, or couldn’t generate ownership proof. Read your policy and understand exactly what they require to make a claim.
  • Document your illness. Call your insurance company as soon as you are ill; they will help you find the best providers in the region. Plus it states in your policy that you have to do that! When buying a policy, you agree that they will choose a provider and be involved in the process—this is true for selecting hospital care, medevac providers, and more. If you don’t do this, they may not cover your bills. Also, keep your paperwork! There will be a lot of back and forths as you make the claim—the more information you have the better.
  • Follow the law. One sticky situation for backpackers is the rampant use of motorbikes in Asia. If you are not licensed to drive the vehicle in your own country, then you are not covered in an accident. This is a huge loophole. And it sucks. But double check things like this before you assume that if you’re in an accident on a winding Thai road that you’ll be covered if something serious happens. (See note below for more information.)
  • Read your policy. Seriously. It’s dry and boring. It will take at least an hour. But read it, understand what they are covering, and highlight anything that isn’t clear. If you’re unsure, email or call them! They answer questions before, during, and after you’re their client. There is also extensive Q&A in the comments below as other travelers and I hash out the fine print.
  • Understand what’s not covered. From pre-existing conditions to extreme sports, there are a few things you’re just not guaranteed in a general travel policy. But, every travel insurance company is different. The high-end Select plan from TravelEx covers pre-existing conditions, so if that’s a huge factor for you, then the significantly higher cost might be worth it. But if you’re a backpacker planning a long-term trip that will include adventure sports, then you should instead look for policies from World Nomads that are designed to meet that need. If you’re a family planning to travel the world for a year, and you will do adventurous things, World Nomads might still work—they have family plans—but also look to an IMG policy with the sports rider (you must add the sports rider, truly).
  • Understand the target market of your future insurance company. This helps you understand if they are providing the breadth of coverage generally needed by someone of your age, health, and style of travel.

FAQ About World Nomads & Travel Insurance

For Americans, ask if the insurance is primary or secondary insurance. And verify if the insurance requires that you hold primary. Primary usually refers to medical and homeowners insurance and some travel policies only allow you to purchase secondary insurance if you have a primary policy. For those who don’t carry health insurance, this would present a problem. Secondary means that you must file an insurance claim with your primary policy first. But some travel insurance policies will allow you to purchase them without having a primary policy in place. World Nomads will cover you on the road without requiring that you first file with your health insurance company back home. If you need to maintain U.S. coverage, then you either must keep your policy back home and buy a travel policy, or you can look at some of the more expensive plans that offer primary care coverage in the U.S. I bought an expat plan for 2018 with IMG Platinum International because I secured a European residency visa—I needed this expat travel coverage, but it didn’t cover me in the U.S., so either had to keep my U.S. health insurance, or buy a separate plan when I return home (I definitely went with securing a short-term plan when returning Stateside for a few weeks).

You’d be surprised what travel insurance companies count as an “adventure!” Unless you plan nothing more than sunning yourself on a lounger by the pool, you need adventure sports coverage. This covers that small hike to a scenic overlook nearby, a day trip by bicycle, and other innocuous sounding activities. It also covers the big ones—scuba, trekking, kayaking, etc. If you’re backpacking and will be gone for a long time, World Nomads is a good option to thoroughly cover all of the possible adventure activities.

The short answer is yes, World Nomads has coverage options ideal for many volunteer trips. That said, I have volunteered a lot on the road, and some longer placements might need something closer to an expat policy. Here’s a detailed look at the specific aspects you should consider when buying volunteer travel insurance.

Don’t buy “travel protection;” this term is a sneaky way for unlicensed companies to offer travel insurance—it’s likely not valid, so move along.

Yes, your coverage in even the standard policy covers theft of your belongings. That said, it’s not a huge amount of coverage and if you’re traveling with a laptop, high-end camera, and a nice smartphone then you are likely well over your limits. I carry separate gear insurance to protect my laptop, smartphone, and gear. I use Clements. Policies last a year and they are affordable—this is SO worth securing if you have high-end cameras, smartphones, drones, laptops, etc. on your trip!

World Nomads offers coverage up to 70 years of age, meaning it’s a good fit for adventurous senior travelers. The company also offers Silver Nomads plans for over 70, but the coverage is much more limited, so you should consider it more based on your destination. With that in mind, and since seniors have their own concerns, and after researching questions related to Medicare and travel insurance coverage, note that Globe Hopper plan from IMG is likely a good fit as well. You’ll want to read the plan details of course to make sure that it fits your situation, but I think it could be a good option and since it’s specifically designed for seniors with Medicare, and it will offer coverage in the right areas (and even has language about coverage if something were to unexpectedly happen with a pre-existing, which is ideal).

Things like high-altitude hiking may not be covered after a certain altitude. Let’s say your trek is covered, but you’re wondering what the policy means when it says “cover for emergency medical evacuation as long as it is ordered by the attending physician.” If there’s no local doctor, will you be covered?

Yes, you are covered for medically-necessary evacuations. The long of it is that you do have to make every attempt to have World Nomads arrange the transport—someone is being called to arrange the transport, so you have to make sure they are also called. My contact at World Nomads noted:

“In regards to remote location medical evacuation, our 24 hour medical emergency team will assist in finding the nearest licensed facility, so that may be an hospital or local clinic. For all of our locations, we require our travelers or someone else to call 24 hour medical emergency team in a case of an emergency. These two articles should help as well:Travel Insurance: Trekking in Nepal and Helicopter Evacuation and Travel Insurance and medical transport, Evacuation and Repatriation. “

If you are undertaking a risky hike, then you would want to go with a separate policy for remote hiking (that’s what EBC hikers usually need), but for the more basic Annapurna Circuit hikes, WN will likely cover what you need!

Yes, you definitely can buy your insurance on the road. This is not the case with all policies, so it’s a real boon that World Nomads offers this to travelers. Note however that you are not covered for anything that happens before you buy the policy (so you can’t secure after your gear is stolen or after you need emergency medical care).

Depending on what you’ve researched you may have found policies far pricier than World Nomads, and so that are way cheaper. What is this wide variation about? The reason that you might see such wide variations in costs is because some policies offer “trip protection” and not “travel insurance.” In short, trip protection is about recouping prepaid, non-refundable trip costs like flights, tour fees, hotels etc. Travel insurance is about providing coverage for your health, your person, and your gear once at your destination.

Other variations in cost come down to the deductibles and limits offered by the travel insurance policy. Some policies might have you paying out the first $250 for a hospital bill. Or they may cover only up to $25,000 for a major hospital visit. Or perhaps it offers a mere $500 in gear coverage (which doesn’t go far if you travel with a laptop, phone, camera, etc). So pay close attention to that when comparing policies. And lastly, the nature of your trip should determine coverage—all good policies either include adventure activities outlined, or they allow you to add a rider for certain activities you might do (ziplining, off-roading, scuba). Note that World Nomads does not have a deductible for Americans.

When you’re comparing policies for your trip, consider what activities you need covered, the amount of gear, and the potential cost of healthcare in your destination. I would make sure I had higher coverage limits in Europe than Southeast Asia, for example (although even SEA would be a huge bill if something catastrophic happened). If you’re going really remote, look closely at Medevac coverage and how much.

Once you’ve taken those things into consideration, it should be easier to narrow down which policies best fit your trip. World Nomads has decent coverage limits (higher than most student-focused or low-cost policies) and automatically covers a range of adventure activities (and allows you to pay a bit more if you need to cover riskier activities). Some policies allow you to you build a policy for yourself, choosing your own deductibles and coverage limits, and also choosing if you need adventure activities covered.

Yes, you must use a secure portal that requires you to have to log into and directly upload documents there—this is far more secure than making claims via email with all of your personal information. Then when you have new information on the status of your claim, the emails only notify you of a message and you have to log in to see it. 

The Explorer plans are an upgrade in every way to the Standard plan—it ups your coverages limits, often lowers your out-of-pockets, and covers more adventure activities than the Standard plan (which is saying a lot, because the Standard plan covers all of the more popular travel activities).

The best way to decide if you need the World Nomads Standard vs Explorer plan is to closely examine the activities and crosscheck that against your travel plans (and even your stretch travel plans as it’s better to buy coverage now if you’re floating the idea of bungee jumping in New Zealand, for example). Then look at the coverage limits—can you afford the deductibles? If not, then you might invest now so you know that you can swing any medical costs or theft deductibles if something happens.

The Standard plan is generous. For U.S. residents, it includes $100,000 in medical coverage and $300,000 for emergency evacuation, $1,000 for luggage (with a per-item limit of $500), and $2,500 for trip interruption or cancellation.

If you’re doing some crazy or remote activities, or if you have expensive gear, you may feel better with the Explorer plan, which for U.S. residents includes $100,000 in medical coverage and $500,000 for emergency evacuation, $3,000 for luggage (with a per-item limit of $1,500), and $10,000 for trip interruption or cancelation.

For residents of other countries, these numbers are much higher for both. For Spanish residents, for example, Standard vs Explorer offers €3.5 million vs unlimited for medical, and policies include rental car coverage. So, use the quote widget to get a specific idea of coverage for your situation and your nationality.

After more than ten years on the road, I moved to Europe in early 2018, at which point my more tame expat policy is serving me in good stead, but I still use World Nomads when I leave Europe for adventurous trips. :)

Check World Nomads plans and prices to see if it’s a good fit for your travel situation.


Disclosure:  While all of the information in this post is correct to my knowledge, do your own research and verify all aspects of your travel insurance. I cannot be held responsible for your use of any of the information provided. 

*Please note that I make a small commission—at no additional cost to you—on purchases you make through a select few product links. This keeps A Little Adrift an ad-free community and never affects my recommendations.

107 thoughts on “A Little Review: World Nomads Travel Insurance for Long-Term Travel”

  1. Hi Shannon! Thanks for your helpful post. I am actually trying to figure out what insurance to buy for myself. I have full coverage in my home country (where I am a citizen).

    However I have been working as a contractor in the US for a few years now. As an expat contractor I have to purchase my own medical insurance. I am a little confused as to whether WN considers my country of residence to be the US or my home country – since I do have an address in the US, but I am on a temporary work visa (tied to my job, so if I end the contract I end the visa immediately). My contracts are never more than 6-11 months long.

    In an emergency I would be more than okay being evacuated to my home country though since that is where my family is (and full medical coverage) and would prefer to be if something were to happen to me and I needed further medical attention beyond an emergency. So I’m really looking for insurance that will cover me for emergencies. Thankfully I have no chronic issues that require regular medical attention and I have checkups when I go back to my home country twice a year.

    So my question is: Would I qualify to buy WN? Or should I get IMG? The Patriot Plan link doesn’t seem to work anymore.

    Really appreciate your advice!

    Reply
    • If you have a residency and can be brought back to your home country, that should work to have a policy as a citizen of that country. If you want to be considered for a US policy, you should email them directly with the question since it sounds like you have residency but not citizenship there. IMG’s site was down a bit in Feb, but it’s back up. I think a Patriot plan sounds more like what you need based on what you said, because you’re based in one place. But that said, a WN plan would work as well, if you truly don’t think you want any regular checkups, and you might be doing some more adventurous travel on the side during your contract. But likely the IMG plans are a good fit!

      Reply
  2. Hi Shannon! Thanks for your helpful post. I am actually trying to figure out what insurance to buy for myself. I have full coverage in my home country (where I am a citizen). However I have been working as a contractor in the US for a few years now. As an expat contractor I have to purchase my own insurance. I am a little confused as to whether WN considers my country of residence to be the US or my home country – since I do have an address in the US, but I am on a temporary work visa (tied to my job, so if I end the contract I end the visa). In an emergency I would be okay being evacuated to my home country though since that is where my family is (and full medical coverage). Would I qualify to buy WN? Or should I get IMG?

    Really appreciate your advice!

    Reply
  3. Thank you so very much for the great information. My husband and I are 65 and older, US residents, on Medicare. When looking at medical insurance abroad, it is our understanding, Medicare will not cover us. Therefore, would we need to seek a medical insurance policy that covers as a primary? We are on a 3 week trip Bali, Australia’s, and New Zealand. My husband has Parkinson’s, well under control, do not see any issues that could come up due to pre-existing . Would greatly appreciate your guidance.

    Reply
    • Hi Allison, that’s a good question. I think that the Globe Hopper plan from IMG is likely a good fit. You’ll want to read the plan details of course to make sure that it fits your situation, but I think it could be a good option and since it’s specifically designed for seniors with Medicare, and it will offer coverage in the right areas (and even has language about coverage if something were to unexpectedly happen with a pre-existing, which is ideal).

      Reply
  4. Hi there,
    Really appreciate all your time for answers and the wonderful blog!
    We are considering WN for an upcoming two week January trip to Nepal. We will be doing some remote hiking/trekking to some small villages, but at lower altitude so it is covered by WM. We are also Americans.

    The main concern is if one of us is injured while hiking in a remote area, and unable to continue (say fall and hit a head or break a leg, etc…) will WN cover the expense of a helicopter evacuation TO the closest medical care facility?
    I have called and looked at their policy, but it states there is “cover for emergency medical evacuation as long as it is ordered by the attending physician” and “The emergency assistance team’s medical consultant will work in consultation with you and your attending physician to decide and arrange the most appropriate transportation.”
    It does not state that an evacuation is covered based on the point of illness or injury. If one is critically injured in a remote area, there will not be an attending physician. So far all plans I’ve seen who promote emergency evacuation all state it covers evacuation/transportation FROM medical facility to another facility or back to the USA if necessary.
    Any further knowledge you may have? Thanks for any insight and help!

    Reply
    • Hi Steph, thanks for reaching out and for the great question. I actually went straight to a contact I have at WN to ask them. The short of it is yes, you are covered for medically-necessary evacuations. The long of it is that you do have to make every attempt to have them arrange the transport—someone is being called to arrange the transport, so you have to make sure they are called to. I also found this outlined more on their site (so it’s more official than just hearing it from me). My contact noted:

      “In regards to remote location medical evacuation, our 24 hour medical emergency team will assist in finding the nearest licensed facility, so that may be an hospital or local clinic. For all of our location, we require our travelers or someone else to call 24 hour medical emergency team in a case of an emergency. These two articles should help as well:”

      Travel Insurance: Trekking in Nepal and Helicopter Evacuation
      Travel Insurance and medical transport, Evacuation and Repatriation

      Does that help? If you were doing a very risky hike, then you would want to go with a separate policy for remote hiking (that’s what EBC hikers usually need), but for the more basic Annapurna Circuit hikes I think WN will cover what you need!

      Reply
  5. Shannon — thank you, thank you for your in-depth information. And I have to say that you’re a most amazing aunt, too. You have lucky nieces and nephews!

    At the ripe old age of 67 I have never bought trip insurance and am floored at the amazing pricing from both IMG and World Nomads ($415 and $320 respectively). I have gotten pricing from both the operator of the Patagonia trip we’re going on and a big insurance company ($2104 and $1,467 respectively for two of us). How could there be such a discrepancy between the two companies you have provided info for and the two I obtained before stumbling onto your blog? I even specified a zero deductible and million dollar cap with IMG, and still — it’s a fraction of my initial research. I’m very glad I found your blog!

    Reply
    • Hi Julie! So glad that you found some good policies through both IMG and World Nomads! As far as quotes, I’m not sure why the policies differ. Have you looked at the terms of U.S. coverage for those two versus the other ones that you’re looking at? Some of them, for Americans, include a couple of weeks of coverage on home soil in the fine print, while for others your coverage ends on U.S. soil, or within a certain radius of your home address. If these other policies include any U.S. coverage, that would really jack up the price (but if you have healthcare in the States you don’t need travel insurance to cover you at home as your health insurance would kick in once you landed in an emergency. Other than that, I really can’t think of anything, but you could always get on the phone with the expensive ones, see what their pitch is for the difference, and then call IMG or WN to compare.

      Safe and happy travels Julie!

      Reply
  6. In an email to World Nomads (I was a Silver Nomad) I confessed that I did not own a house or apartment in the USA any longer and that I had a room at a friends house that I receive mail at and where I stay when I am in the USA. I am actually a “nomad” or an expat who is traveling the world in my 70’s. This was quite unsatisfactory to World Nomads as they have canceled my current policy with them. As one of the World Nomads CSR’s say in their email to me “The World Nomads plans are based on residence, not your citizenship. As you do not reside in the US, you would not be able to purchase one of the plans for residents of the US.”

    So, as you can see, being an expat, an actual “nomad” with no home ownership or apartment rental in the USA disqualifies me from their policies. Why I need to own a home or have an apartment in the USA escapes me considering I return to my “room” at my friend’s house several times a year but for World Nomads I guess real “nomads and expats” at not customers they want. Apparently, the word “nomad” is a marketing phase aimed at short travel tourists, not actual nomads.

    Reply
    • That really surprises me Tom! I know many, many people firsthand who have used WN for years of world travel, where they are back stateside just once a year or so—nomadic, like you. They also let you extend your policies for well over the year mark (I had a policy with them that I extended for close at least two years before I let it lapse for a few months while I was stateside). I am so sorry that you’ve hand them cancel on you like that.

      Travel insurance for those over 70, from what I’ve read include Geo Blue insurance and Global Insurance (backed by Lloyd’s of London), among others. Sending you good vibes and I hope you can quickly secure new insurance. (If you have any sort of homebase overseas, you might look into options for expats—these can be pretty good and still have coverage from when you are not at your “home.”)

      Reply
      • I think the real problem for those like me who somehow still have WN policies and are as you say “back stateside just once a year or so” is that if WN found out those policyholders were actually nomads or expats and not living full time in the USA and only traveling as a tourist short trips from the USA, those people would have claims denied and policy cancellations just like me. As you can see from my experience all I had to do was tell WN the truth about me that I have a room and come back a few times a year, and because I do not live full time in the USA, WN does not want to grant policies to those type of people. What is happening is those who are expats and nomads simply have never told WN the truth about their travels and that is why they still have WN coverage. Otherwise, they will be canceled just like I have been.

        Reply
        • I hear what you’re saying, but it’s not entirely true as I know countless people who have used them for long-term round the world trips—and have communicated that—and had no issue. I wonder what if their requirement is intention to return home? I have read policies that only cover if your intention is still to live in the U.S. at the end of your policy. I will be following up with them though to find out, as they market themselves to—and are popular within—the year+ travel/backpacker audience. All of whom generally have a room at a house somewhere in the U.S., not a full-time residence.

          Reply
  7. Hi, thanks for keeping this post up to date – your actual experiences with the companies is highly valued. Just to confirm, have you successfully filed claims with both IMG and WN (and received reimbursement)? Also, for emergency medical care, do either pay the hospital directly (or do they require travelers to go out of pocket and submit a claim afterwards)?

    Finally, any views regarding the ease of use (ie submitting and receiving reimbursement of claims) of IMG’s global (non-travel) medical coverage for covered claims? Thanks!

    Reply
    • Yes, so I’ve managed only smallish claims, under $500, but it’s gone smoothly. I have more claims experience with IMG because last summer I actually needed to go to an ER twice, and I had to pay out of pocket for the ER visits (about 350 euros each), and it took about three months once I submitted my documents for them to deposit money straight into my account. A non-American friend also used IMG for U.S. coverage and ended up needing very significant medical insurance coverage—in that case, since it wasn’t an emergency, IMG talked with the hospital to organize pre-approval and to authorize payments so the out of pocket was lower compared to the $20K+ bills that could have been there.

      For both companies, if it’s medical and you have time you’re supposed to contact them and let it go through their authorized providers—that speeds up the process from what I am told. Either way, I found the online claims process pretty easy and both companies have helplines that help when filing your claim and figuring it all out.

      Reply
  8. Thanks for all the information here.
    IMG is looking promising as I’m too old now for WN (66 and living in Thailand).
    Not being from US (so no Silver Nomads) and residing in Asia seems to limit my options somewhat.
    Do you have any suggestions for medical only because that is all that matters to me.
    Thanks

    Reply
    • An expat policy from IMG sounds like it would fit your situation exactly. The travel policies include things like trip cancelation, but the expat policies are meant to act as health insurance where you are living and they can be affordably priced. The only heads up is that, like travel insurance, if you are not in one of the hospitals they list in your destination then you have to pay upfront and then submit for reimbursement, which in my case came within three months both times that I claimed it. (start exploring plans here: https://www.imglobal.com/expat-insurance )

      Reply
  9. Hi Shannon, thank you SO much for all your helpful information. I am so glad I stumbled across your blog post. I am currently on Covered California (Obamacare) and am going on a trip for a few months. I was looking into getting World Nomads. I am confused in this post/people’s comments if I will be covered with World Nomad abroad? Also, is World Nomad truly the best option? I get confused if people are only recommending them because they’re affiliates or if they’re truly the best coverage for price as it’s pretty expensive compared to other companies. I saw some policies for Seven Corners. Have you heard/know anything with that insurance company? Your help would be greatly appreciated!

    Also, how do you call World Nomad when you’re abroad? Typically I don’t have minutes on my phone plan when I buy a local SIM card.

    Reply
    • Hi Kimberly! I can completely understand your confusion about the information about Obamacare—if you are not leaving the U.S. and stopping your U.S. insurance than ignore all of those comments (those long-term travelers were looking for a plan that would include everything Obamacare does PLUS travel insurance to avoid the U.S. fine that used to be imposed on those without health insurance). None of that sounds like it applies to you.

      For you, yes, many reviews are biased by the affiliate commission and if a blogger doesn’t explain when WN isn’t the best option, then don’t trust their endorsement. For the record, I have no affiliate or monetary relationship with IMG at all and am as honest about them as I am about WN. As for the best policy for you, it really depends on the type of trip you’re taking. The reason that you might see such wide variations in costs is because some are “trip protection” and not “travel insurance” (I did a cursory look at Seven Corners, and that’s all I could find?). In short, trip protection is about recouping prepaid, non-refundable trip costs like flights, tour fees, hotels etc. Travel insurance is about providing coverage for your health, your person, and your gear once at your destination.

      Other variations in cost come down to the deductibles and limits. Some policies might have you paying out the first $250 for a hospital bill. Or they may cover only up to $25,000 for a major hospital visit. Or perhaps only $500 in gear coverage (which doesn’t go far if you travel with a laptop, phone, camera, etc). So pay close attention to that when comparing policies. And lastly, the nature of your trip should determine coverage—all good policies either include adventure activities outlined, or they allow you to add a rider for certain activities you might do (ziplining, off-roading, scuba).

      When you’re comparing policies for your own trip, consider what activities you need covered, the amount of gear, and the potential cost of healthcare in your destination. I would make sure I had higher coverage limits in Europe than Southeast Asia, for example (although even SEA would be a huge bill if something catastrophic happened). If you’re going really remote, look closely at Medevac coverage and how much.

      Once you’ve taken those things into consideration, it should be easier to narrow down which policies best fit your trip. WN has very decent coverage limits (higher than most student-focused or low-cost policies) and automatically covers a range of adventure activities (and allows you to pay a bit more if you need the riskier activities covered). That’s part of why the policy is more expensive to start. On the other hand, IMG lets you build a policy for yourself, choosing your own deductibles and coverage limits, and also choosing if you need adventure activities covered (if you’re eating your way through Italy for two weeks, it’s probably not necessary!).

      I have bought and paid out-of-pocket policies from WN every single year for more than 10 years, and I started using IMG in 2011 when I began traveling with my nieces and nephews. I can’t tell you which policy is best for your trip, but as I have said in the post: When I am doing a backpacker style trip, I go with WN, and I sometimes switch to IMG when traveling with family, or for a short business trip where I am in offices most days.

      I hope that helps! My quick look at Seven Corners left me unimpressed, but mostly because I couldn’t see where they offer travel insurance versus trip protection? Let me know if I can help with anything else!

      Reply
  10. I just wanted to thank you for this very educational article! My boyfriend & I are planning a multi-year international trip, leaving our US roots (and insurance) behind us for a while. The research on international health and auto (we’ll be driving a GlobalX RV!) insurance options is so overwhelming (yet so critically important). Both World Nomads and IMG are on my list, but comparing them has been challenging. You gave me a lot to think about. Thank you for sharing your insights and experiences!

    Reply
    • Hi Melanie! So glad to hear that it’s helped you figure out some things to consider. And congrats on the multi-year trip! That is a big undertaking for sure, I remember how much planning went into my first year on the road. Don’t hesitate to reach out if there is ever anything I can do to help as you plan. :)

      Reply
  11. Shannon, thanks for your review. After doing research it looks like WN is one of the best options out there. I was scared off initially by several bad reviews, but the more I read them the more I see its because people don’t understand the coverage they are buying and then complain when they aren’t covered for something that they were told they wouldn’t be covered for in the first place.

    Here’s my question. I just paid a deposit on a hiking trip in New Zealand that is 1.5 years away. They require travel insurance and said to beware that some companies require insurance to be purchased within 7 days of making the initial deposit. Some other companies I researched required you to input the date of your first deposit for the trip, so I’m guessing that applies with them. I have not seen that with WN and they won’t let you book over a year in advance anyway. Do you have any experience with this? I submitted a question online but haven’t heard back from them yet.

    Reply
  12. Hi Shannon,

    We are planning on quitting our jobs and spending next year traveling both internationally and within the U.S. We understand the distinction between medical insurance and the more traditional health insurance (that we will not be able to go in for routine visits, etc.), and World Nomads seems great for our international legs, but I am having a hard time determining whether it could be our only medical coverage for the time that we are in the U.S. Now that there is no individual mandate, we are not worried about that aspect of getting ACA coverage, but if we include the U.S. as one of the countries to which we are traveling, will WN reimburse for medical expenses the same way they would if we were in Australia or Spain (assuming we are at least 100 miles from home)? Thanks!

    Reply
    • Hi Matthew! Congrats on the decision to travel for a year! What an incredible adventure you both have ahead of you. For your question—first, this is a big enough question that you absolutely want to have the answer straight from them, so I recommend that you email their team. Secondly, if the policy is the same as the last time I really read it closely two years ago, then the answer to your question is both yes and no (but again, you really must ask). The yes—they say as long as you are 100 miles from home that you are covered—I would confirm this in writing and in your policy. BUT, the no comes in because if you are medevaced back the U.S., coverage once you land on U.S. soil ends (you may have a two-week grace period, but it’s specifically worded not to imply medical coverage once “home”). And, importantly, coverage varies by U.S. State for U.S. citizens, so check where based on your residency/driver’s license, tax address, etc.

      If you are under 30, one option is catastrophic coverage like what UnitedHealthcare offers—this is usually lower cost and has huge deductibles but I have digital nomad friends who use if for their U.S. travels. You could always do something like that for you U.S. travels and then buy WN once you head out. Good luck! :)

      Reply
  13. A complete scam from top to bottom!! For what it is worth I have used them since 2006 and paid them many times without ever contacting them or filing a claim. 12 years later I need to contact them; not for a claim but just to buy a policy as I was getting error messages. I reached out to “24/7” customer service and the only thing the lady said was we can’t help you, we are after hours only and can only put in a request for emergencies during normal business hours. Thank god I didn’t actually need their help!

    Reply
    • Let me get this straight? You had a non-emergency, non-medical, policy-related question—and you were not a current customer—and they didn’t connect you to the 24 hour EMERGENCY hotline. That’s a win, because as someone who HAS used their 24 hour medical hotline for medical advice and assistance, it heartens me to know that my money is going toward assisting me at that point in the process and not paying for tech and clerical staff on to call to help you figure out what can clearly be sorted the next day. In what world does every single company have to provide every single service you desire day and night? Let me save you a step: IMG (a company I recommend here and have no financial relationship with), also does not have clerical staff on call 24 hours a day, but they also DO have a 24 hour hotline for medical assistance, which they answer even when it’s 3am and you’re crying, confused, and sick. Within the past two years, I have personally used both World Nomads and IMG for emergency medical problems and both responded exactly as I could have hoped—quickly, compassionately, and efficiently. THAT is why I recommend them.

      Reply
  14. This is a great review, Shannon. Thank you for your insight.

    We are considering WN for our travels next year. But our trip is simply a week cruise from the UK to Europe, and I am wondering if WN is overkill (or underkill??). Any thoughts?

    Reply
    • Glad it was helpful! I don’t think it’s overkill, but you likely don’t need the activities & sports rider that you can select as you check out. That rider extends coverage to more adventure-type activities, which it doesn’t sound like you will likely need for the cruise. Because Europe has more nationalized healthcare, it’s on the more affordable side. Other plans like IMG let you adjust the coverage maximums and deductibles and such, but that really comes in handy if you were doing something where you knew bills could mount up quickly (like a remote safari in Africa). WN basic could be a good option for your situation—the maximums are in a good range for covering Europe, and you will still have bigger things covered if you needed medevac or some such (hopefully not!).

      Reply
  15. Hi Shannon, I was considering Word Nomads before I read your article but am more confident now about going with them for a lengthy family trip to Sydney and New Zealand. If the total per person cost exceeds their maximum $10K limit, is it possible to break the trip up into two segments get two policies? Or, is it better to get the supplemental coverage with someone else? If either is possible, should I break the trip up by dates or by activity/locations? It’s the airfare getting to Sydney and back that puts us over, but I want to include the airfare.

    Thanks for any recommendation you can provide.

    Reply
    • Interesting question! My gut says that buying two policies might now be the right answer, but the complexity here makes me think you should absolutely contact them directly. It’s the sort of thing where you want their confirmation on the best way to handle. If you call, then I also suggest that you request they email you a summary of what you talked about on the call—that way you have it in writing that your approach is the right one. If they don’t get back to you quickly, shoot me an email at alittleadrift@gmail.com and I can ask a contact that I have there and help you get some answers!

      Reply
  16. Hi Shannon,
    Thanks for the quick reply. I will check out “Silver Nomads”. I too am from Fl. Have a wonderful holiday and safe travels. Be well and be safe .. Hugs

    Reply
  17. Hi Shannon
    I will be away Jan-March 2019. I want to buy insurance with WN and it gave me a quote with my age of 69. However, I will be 70 before the trip. Will I be covered turning the big 70 !!!

    Reply
    • Good question. I am not an expert on this, but I believe you are outside the requirements since you turn 70 before your trip. But! WN has a partner program called “Silver Nomads” listed here. That page should give you a quote for coverage that has many of the same inclusions (it lets you select for adventure trips, etc). I hope that is helpful! And you can always send WN a message, they are often quick to respond. :)

      Reply
  18. Hi Shannon. Thank you for all your insights. Any thoughts on how good WN is for Bhutan? Or is there someone else you’d recommend?

    Reply
    • Hi Doug, good question. WN does cover Bhutan in its policies, you would just list it as one of your destinations. Coverage within the destinations only varies in that Bhutan itself is remote, but your policy is based off of your own nationality. So, your coverage in Bhutan won’t differ than if you bought it to cover you somewhere else—the rates and limits are the same based on your policy document. The only things that do change are the activities covered, so you still will need to be sure any trekking or adventure activities are covered on either the standard or more active plan you select when you purchase.

      Reply
  19. My husband and I are leaving the country and we were trying to decide what to do about travel insurance. I appreciate your advice that travel insurance will pay for a hotel if the flights get cancelled or fly us home if a family member passes away. This is something I think is very important, and I definitely want to have this type of coverage!

    Reply
    • So glad that it was helpful, it is important to have insurance for those circumstances where you might feel trapped by circumstances, but you have the right plan in place to cover you so you can stay comfortably while you sort out the travel situation!

      Reply
  20. Hi Shannon we are travelling South America next year 2 are US citizens and 3 are from the Philippines but with US tourist Visa. We are visiting La Paz Bolivia, Lima Peru and Brazil. I am looking a coverage that only fit with our tour we are not doing any hiking etc. Just a plain tour, we just need a basic coverage, where can I find a fine print for the details of the terms and conditions without buying the coverage yet. Thank you o

    Reply
    • HI Evenlyn! Good question, actually just start the application process a tad—enter your details of home country and trip duration into the quote form (no email or anything needed, they just need your nationality as the policies differ). Then, on the next screen there are two policy options (standard and explorer), and you can directly view the entire policy from a link under each one. It’s very clear and easy to spot, and that way you can read the fine print and figure out which is the better fit for the trip you have planned! Hope that helps!

      Reply
  21. Shannon, I see above that you were going to do some “digging around” and see if WN was still a great insurance to choose. My daughter is traveling to China next week and I want to purchase something asap. She is American and traveling from the USA. Thank you! Lisa

    Reply
    • Hi Lisa! Yes, I actually have done some digging around, and I recommend World Nomads. I may have responded too late, as it sounds like your daughters’ trip was imminent, but I followed up with WN directly, got a contact on the phone and talked to them. It seems like their US underwriter wasn’t communicating well with clients making claims, even though they were processing the claims. But after some training, the communications issues are resolved, and the insurance itself is still solid as ever. I would use them in a heartbeat to insure the type of trip your daughter has planned.

      Reply
  22. Shannon, just wanted you to know that World Nomads is no longer a reviews.com on the best budget travel insurance list. The list now includes; Travelex, Hancock, IMG and Allianz. No discussion of WN at all.

    Reply
    • Oh! I didn’t realize that, thank you for letting me know! I will go do some digging around and see why they dropped off and update the post. :)

      Reply
      • It would be best to put a warning at the top of this article about this company (ah, I see you have regarding 2018).
        It’s now putting travelers at risk, as they have bad faith and obstruct the claims process, even for small claims, so they cannot be relied on to actually pay up, especially if something serious and expensive happens.

        The only value of insurance is peace of mind: if something happens, they’ll protect you. These bunch only CLAIM they’re protecting you. It’s travel insurance in words only. So it’d actually be safer to have none than have it with them.

        Best regards, thanks for the good blog

        Reply
        • Hi Bob, thank you for sharing your experience. Can you share your home country? World Nomads polices are unwritten by different companies in every country, so it would be helpful to know where you encountered this bad experience. Many thanks for weighing in.

          Reply
  23. Dear Shannon,
    I came across your article while looking for travel insurance that covers mountaineering. I would like your insights on WN and IMG.
    i) are claims with your supporting documents submitted via a secure website dashboard with encrypted transmission to protect the claimant’s personal data from 3rd party view? Submitting documents with personal data is a big no no via regular emails as its not encrypted.Some insurers I know communicate such matters via email – unfortunately.
    ii) how are the claims paid to you. Directly to your bank a/c or via cheque?
    iii) What is the speed of the claim process?
    Thank you
    Mack 18/06/18

    Reply
    • Hi Mack! Good questions.

      i) Yes, both of them use a secure portal that you have to log into and directly upload documents there. Then when you have new information on the status of your claim, the emails only notify you of a message, you have to log in to see it. Just last week I made a claim on my IMG expat plan and it was easy to log the claim and upload my documents.

      ii) Depends on what happened for IMG. On some plans, and for massive procedures they will pre-approve you at the doctor/hospital and you can have the hospital bill the insurance company — no out of pocket there until your co-pay is due, if it’s a covered expense. For smaller bills, it’s by check on IMG, and I am honestly not sure on WN — you’ll have to ask them.

      iii) I can only speak from my own experience and that of friends. As mentioned, major claims may be pre-approved with IMG if you know you are going into medical treatment, but even then it’s likely that the claims team will ask for other details if there’s even a remote chance that you don’t fit the bill. I find that speediness increases with the size of the bill. I know friends who were paid out in six weeks with both companies for bills sub $2K. A friend is currently in the claims process with IMG for bills upwards of 90K for emergency treatment in the US, and that is unresolved after 10 months (but was not paid upfront). Your mileage is going to vary depending on how clearly your situation adheres to the letter of their rules. It takes longer if there is a chance that your treatment is from a pre-existing condition or things of that nature. Or if you didn’t have a license to drive the motor bike that caused the injuries — that sort of thing. As you can expect, if it’s complicated why you needed treatment then it’s complicated to get it approved and they may need a lot of documentation. If it’s a straight-forward travel situation and you have all the required reports (doctors, police reports, etc), it can be speedy with both.

      Reply
    • I work for myself as a freelance travel writer and I have independently bought and paid for every one of my WN policies these past 10 years. Same with the IMG plans I recommend, every dollar came from my bank account. As I say in the post, WN is who I use for the bulk of my travels. Now that you say you are an American, you do have other considerations. I thought by your comment about a Spanish phone that you were not, but a WN policy def doesn’t cover you stateside for more than two weeks if you’re outside of your home state. For years I have carried a lowcost US plan alongside my WN since I was mostly outside of the U.S. traveling. Now, however, as I mention in the post, I use an IMG expat policy because I am living in Spain since last month.

      There are only a few travel insurance plans that met the mandate for primary coverage according to the ACA, and WN is not one of them (neither is IMG). If you need one of those, they cost SIGNIFICANTLY more. My advice is to buy catastrophic to cover you if you’re only stateside for a couple of weeks and a travel policy for the rest of your time outside the US. As I said that is not something I have done as I carry US health insurance in addition to my travel policies. (although from 2008-2012 I had no US policy and would have been up the creek if something major had happened).

      *As before, I am not a medical or insurance professional please reach out to verify (I add this clause not bc I work for anyone, but so that you recognize that I am a person who has done her own research and can only offer my opinion on what I found and my advice as to the policies I personally have bought. Your milelage may vary.)

      Reply
  24. Thanks for the response. I wrote them an email about 26 hours ago and they never answered. My old policy expired last night so I felt I had to hurry, and bought a policy. Unsure about international data, never thought of that. I tried WhatsApp and also regular dialing.

    Reply
    • Oh I understand if you have lapsed that you are concerned. I don’t know much from what you’ve said, but if you are Spanish you booked a Worldwide policy and specifically paid for the one that includes U.S. and North America, then that is your “primary” insurance if you have an accident stateside. It doesn’t cover anything like regular checkups and stuff, but covers emergencies.

      The stuff I talk about here, primary and secondary, applies chiefly to Americans who are not covered if they book WN policy and then get medically evacuated back to the states — our policies (the ones that companies sell to Americans like me) are not intended as primary coverage when we are back home; for that many Americans carry U.S. insurance as well as their travel policies. Does that help at all?

      *This is to the best of my knowledge and you should definitely Skype them to verify.

      Reply
  25. I am going crazy trying to reach World Nomads. My Spanish operator says the number doesn’t exist ! Help. Just trying to find out if I need a primary policy in the US.

    Reply
    • That sounds frustrating! Have you reached out via email? https://pp.worldnomads.com/contact-us — they have a form where you can submit a question and they will likely get back to you pretty quickly! The phone number is Australian, so perhaps you don’t have international data on your phone, or you could use Skype to call the Aussie number during their business hours. I think email is your best bet though.

      Reply
  26. Thanks for the review. Can I ask who you get your expat policy through. We don’t really need travel insurance, but we need basic health care coverage as we live in Central America.

    Reply
    • Yes, I went with IMG Global, my policy says Patriot International®. I like the coverage and it was the most affordable of the options. I also chose it though because it specifically had some of the specific limits and $0 deductible where it was required for my Spanish visa. I wasn’t allowed to have just any plan, and so this one was an expat policy that did function like healthcare, it lets me get annual checkups, well visits, things like that. Could definitely be something that would work well for living CA.

      Reply
      • Thanks so much for the reply. If you don’t mind I have a couple more questions ???? Does the hospital bill IMG directly or do you have to pay out of pocket first and then get reimbursed by them later? I forget my other question now. When I remember I will ask you. Thanks a lot for all of your help ????

        Reply
        • I am not sure how it works on the road since every healthcare system is not the same, but a non-American friend had it when she was in the U.S. and needed procedures, and from the ER to the planned surgeries, the US insurers accepted IMG as insurance and did not require cash upfront. In developing countries, you may have to pay out of pocket first, esp for smaller things like checkups since they don’t cost as much, but I would really suggest that you send a note to the IMG team with these questions as they will be able to better detail it all. For catastrophic and emergency coverage, I know that you have to contact them asap so they can help navigate the billing and treatment and all of that.

          Reply
  27. Dear Shannon,

    Thanks for the comprehensive review. I’m glad I came across your review. I have been going through some insurance website myself for the last 1 month, looking for the most suitable one for my need.

    I am a general surgeon from Malaysia, going to Milan, Italy for 11 months for a fellowship in cancer surgery. Within that period I will be travelling to some other countries for courses, conferences and of course vacations. I have been in contact with some insurance brokers regarding that, receiving input from the brokers is not enough and satisfying to me, and I feel but I must take my time to do my own research , read through the policies and address my concerns / questions to the respective insurance companies till I am crystal clear with what my needs are and which plan fits my requirements the best.

    As per requirement for Italian VISA application, I need to purchase a travelling medical insurance. I’m now weighing between Patriot International by IMG and Atlas Travel by HCC MIS ( Tokyo Marine). I am more incline towards IMG at the moment. Travel Atlas (Tokyo Marine) seems to have a lot of negative comments, mainly regarding the process of insurance claims. I have emailed my inquiries directly to IMG and hopefully will receive the answers soon. After reading your review, I’m glad and happy that my research for the past one month concurs with your opinion on IMG. This is my first time staying abroad alone, hence I am extremely cautious and want to be 100% sure before purchasing any plan.

    Reply
    • I haven’t heard of the Travel Atlas one, but it sounds like you have really done your research well. All travel insurances have some bad reviews, but if you are noticing a lot then I really would look elsewhere — they’re always going to make you submit receipts and records before paying out, but if they take it too far and are bad about paying claims then you wouldn’t want to be in Italy for that long without a solid choice. Like you, I came around to IMG for the broad and detailed coverage, and also the generally favorable reviews. I hope the fellowship goes wonderfully!

      Reply
  28. Hi Shannon. I’m 67 and going to the Yucatan for 9 weeks in the spring to study Spanish at the local language school, my longest trip thus far. I’ll be in Puerto Morelos (I know the town from previous visits). I don’t plan on anything extreme, a few day long tours to nature preserves/Mayan ruins/other cities; definitely snorkeling and I’m considering learning how to scuba because of the reef there; maybe zip-lining; renting a bicycle. Mostly I just want to live in the village, buying and cooking my own food, and getting to know the people and practicing my Spanish with a few adventures on the side. World Nomads sounds like it’s a good fit for more extreme travelers. Do you think it could be a good fit for me? If not any other recommendations? I have a couple of months before I leave so plenty of time to research. Any advice would be much appreciated! Not even sure where I heard about World Nomad, on a TV travel show I think….Thanks Shannon!

    Reply
    • Hi Alison! Good question. WN is pretty much general travel insurance that happens to also cover adventure activities — so it could work well for you with since you will be doing some of the temple visits, zip-lining, and water activities — insurance companies consider those adventure activities and it’s actually extreme things that aren’t covered base jumping, etc). The scuba especially is considered an adventurous activity by most insurance companies, so you will want to definitely check that it’s covered by whichever you choose. For WN, you have to buy the Explorer upgrade, and I think you have to buy an adventure rider on others (like IMG) as well. These generally are not a whole lot more on the policy but you should absolutely add it if you’re learning to dive (which you should! I love scuba and the Yucatan has some gorgeous dive sites). I think WN could be a good bet for you since it’s affordable and the explorer ride will likely cover the activities you mentioned (they have a handy list of activities covered as you’re booking so you can check — that way there are no surprises if you need coverage on the road). :)

      Reply
  29. Hi could you clarify, is WN a Primary coverage? I am abroad and do not have primary insurance currently. what would you suggest..THANKS for a great BLOG!

    Reply
  30. Hi Shannon,
    Real quickly here, great post, you echo a lot of what others say about WN but I find it helpful you shed some light on IMF and policies for families or children. In your referral mention, I’m happy to pay it back, for all your help and sharing, but how does the WN site associate with your name, like where is the/your referral link?

    Reply
    • Well, I haven’t read the WN policies in a while, but when I did, if you compare what they say about minors and guardians, IMG had clearer and more favorable terms (at the time that I compared, so please double check) about in what circumstances they would authorize and pay for a guardian to be flown overseas for the child (if something happens to the travel guardian, like serious illness, injury, etc). IMG allows you to select coverage levels and deductibles and all of that, whereas WN is a set policy, so with kids involved I did a low deductible and the clear coverage so that my nieces and nephews would always be covered. As for referral links, I don’t have any for IMG, and the WN one is built into the link. :)

      Reply
  31. Hi!

    I really need your advice:
    My BF and I are leaving for 4 month in South America (stoked).
    The first two months will be spent in Buenos Aires (just being city people, nothing too extreme, high theft there, but just hanging out enjoying the culture.)
    The next two months we will be backpacking through Patagonia, then fly to Cusco, do Machu Picchu (mostly backpacking, maybe white water rafting)

    I’d like to book with World Nomads for the entire trip, but it’ll be $575 per person for the whole 4 months!

    My question is, do you think we should book a cheaper insurance the first two and then switch to World Nomads for the last two to cut down on cost? Would that mess up any use of insurance at all?

    Please let me know your thoughts :)

    Reply
    • I would be stoked too! Four months is a great length of time to really dive deep and explore. And I am so glad you sorted out the insurance question, $575 definitely sounds more doable for a four month trip, and I am glad to know that you guys will be protected, especially with the outdoor activities that you have planned. Of note, WN is one of the few companies that definitely allows to purchase even while you are on the road, or even if you don’t have a return ticket yet, so you will be OK if you decide to leave and wing it for a few weeks before buying insurance (although double check to be sure if you go that route!). :)

      Reply
  32. UGH! Insurance is so wonderful to have and such a pain to research and acquire. Thank you for this review to make figuring out insurance for long-term travel easier. I hadn’t thought about needing to meet requirements of the Affordable Care Act- I’m glad you brought that up!

    Reply
    • Glad you found it helpful, it’s such a headache of a topic! I actually just bought insurance for next year that should cover me if the ACA requirements are still in place, and it will also act as an expat policy for me if I successfully secure a visa to live in Europe. It’s more a traditional plan, but with coverage all over the world too. But far less travel-focused than the travel insurance ones like World Nomads, that rarely work back home (so you often want or need to keep something in place), but travel ones tend to cover more of the adventure activities you might do on a RTW trip (trekking, diving, etc). That’s the main differences I have found in the past few months when I have been researching and buying an expat policy (I went with IMG Global in the end). Good luck!

      Reply
      • Thanks for your response Shannon. So if leaving a job, and losing health insurance, you would obviously recommend both a health insurance plan in US and a travel insurance plan (through WM, for instance…)?

        Reply
        • Yes, I do recommend that you either carry both, or you choose one of the more expensive plans from IMG, which *can* fulfill the ACA requirements while also providing travel insurance (you would have to research and check that, but as far as I know, IMG is among the only that hits that middle ground). That said, I found it cheaper this past year to carry a US policy, and then a travel policy that excludes the U.S. If the individual mandate is removed from ACA, you could also choose to risk it and not carry U.S. insurance. In that case, travel insurance would cover you for mild to moderate issues, but if it was severe or catastrophic travel insurance would pay to return you to U.S., where you would no longer have travel coverage and you would need U.S. insurance to kick in. I hope that makes sense! Good luck! You can also call WN or IMG and ask them to explain some areas if you aren’t totally clear on it.

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  33. Great article, thanks for sharing this!

    Just wanted to drop by to say: your comment on motorbiking in Asia without a proper license at home is spot on.

    For anyone that’s curious about motorbiking, the rule is this: if you’re going to pilot a motorbike in Asia (or really anywhere in the world), you need a motorcycle license in your home country as well as an international drivers license with motorcycle certification (this requires a prior motorcycle license, at least in the US). Without these things, your travel insurance will NOT cover you whatsoever should you get in a wreck or injure yourself or others while on a motorbike. And people wreck and hurt themselves ALL the time, especially when they haven’t had proper safety training and find themselves wearing clothing that provides them no projection from motorbike mishaps. Be safe out there everyone!

    Reply
    • Thank you for chiming in to confirm this and add info!! My husband and I had thought about international drivers license, but hadn’t thought of getting motorcycle certification … which is a really great idea. This will save us headaches and disappointment later- thanks!

      Reply
      • It’s my understanding that you have to be licensed to drive the automotive in your own country for coverage on your travel insurance policy, and since both vespas and scooters in the U.S. require a separate license to drive, then yes. But, you should call and confirm before taking my word on it.

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  34. Thanks for the info, Shannon. However, there are tons of bad reviews of World Nomads. I myself had a very very bad experience with them just a week ago. I will spare you the details. These guys are either massive liars or just totally disorganised – I think both. I used them once and never again!!

    Reply
    • Ah well, I do wish that you would share specifics. Too often in those reviews (including ones you had linked to), people are upset that claims are not paid even though it amounts to them not actually understanding what was covered in their policy. I don’t link to those negative reviews because I haven’t yet found a story where everything was submitted as required and the WN insurer didn’t pay. I am sure it has happened, I just haven’t found that to be the case in the vast majority of reviews that bash insurance companies, no matter which one it is. I hope that you can find resolution for your situation, it is so awful when you are out money that you had anticipated you would have returned, it is a situation I hope befalls few travelers no matter their insurer.

      Reply
      • I’ve used WN for years on and off. I’ve spent thousands of dollars on their policies, and had to make 3 claims. My experience is that they are so far the lesser of the evils, but they’re still evil. Especially with their new policies as of this year which restricts activities and forces you to itemize each country you’ll be visiting before hand.

        Specifically: I had one $8000 medical claim that involved a trip to ER, surgery and an overnight stay. WN were amazing, paid everything, the hospital liased directly with them, all I had to do was sign a couple of documents. This alone has pretty much paid up for all my insurance policies with them over the years.

        I had one trip cancellation claim when I had to return home due to a death in the family. They did require a death certificate (fair, I guess) and did pay up, though it wasn’t really a very significant amount.

        I had one theft claim that they denied on a technicality and I had to threaten legal action. After the threat, they then paid. But that was quite unpleasant and left a sour taste in my mouth.

        I’m really not a fan of theirs anymore (used to love them), but have yet to find a better alternative – that’s why I was reading this post!

        Reply
  35. No, they do not pay me to review it. If you buy a policy I make a commission, which I started years after I first posted this review (the first version of this review was in 2008). I have paid for my own policies and used World Nomads for eight years (they are covering me right now while I am in Vietnam for the past three months, and I pay for it). My review policy is linked in the footer of the site; I only review and recommend products I personally use and believe in. Likewise, I have used IMG when traveling with minors under my care and I recommend them for families (and I make no money if you buy IMG, I just think they have better family policies than WN if something catastrophic happens). Good luck finding the right policy for your trip and situation!

    Reply
  36. One of your tips is to buy primary policies. Doesn’t World Nomads only sell secondary insurance policies? I believe Travel Guard gives you the option to choose primary or secondary. I didn’t see that choice for WN.

    Reply
    • Good point although WN doesn’t require that you have primary insurance, just that you claim the primary first if you do. You can use them without a primary coverage from my understanding. Which could be wrong, but I did verify that back in the day when I started traveling in 2008 and before I had ObamaCare stateside. I’ve heard from expats that Aetna also carries a policy that works as a primary for travelers who want to also meet the terms of the Affordable Care Act, and then there may be state-by-state policies that cover travel too, but it’s highly varied by state and my state, Florida, does not have a travel one on the healthcare exchange. IMG Global has one too, it’s primary and travel, and it let’s you select if you need coverage while in the U.S., and Cigna Health had a wicked pricey travel one that would also meet the ACA requirements. I carry both travel insurance and ObamaCare. Good luck!

      Reply
  37. I”m wondering about some of the wording in the policy. It asks for “your country of permanent residence”. Basically, I don’t have a country of permanent residence. I am Canadian, but gave up my residence, and I currently live in South Korea as a temporary resident. Anyone have any insight into this, or who is in a similar situation? Cheers!

    Reply
    • That does sound pretty tricky Anna. I would check with the policy and see what they prefer you to list. Many travel friends stick with listing the place of their nationality and they use parents’ or friends’ addresses to meet that qualification. I have a Canadian travel friend who is in a similar situation but uses her parents house in a pinch, though she is not technically a resident for years now. Check with the policy though, as you would not want to be caught in a loophole and stuck with a big bill!

      Reply
      • Oh no, this is bad advice! Once you give up residency in Canada you’re no longer entitled to free health care. (In BC you can maintain it for up to two years, but in other provinces, it’s 3 or 6 months usually). If you suffer a severe medical issue while overseas, WN is under no obligation to fully treat you. They can, at their election, choose to fly you back to your stated country of permanent residence (even if this requires medical transport) if they think this will be cheaper for them. If you state Canada as your home country, and they do that – you will have no medical care available to you for 3 months (the waiting time before your Canadian health care kicks back in).

        Also, now when you file a claim you have to state that you are entitled to health care, and if you’re not, your policy is limited to $40k of medical care.

        Reply
  38. I’m a diver, as well, so always have DAN coverage. I’m looking for a plan that covers non-dive medical to augment my DAN coverage and for when we’re on non-dive trips, so am considering World Nomads or Patriot. Do you have DAN coverage in addition to your World Nomads (Explorer plan, I assume) policy?

    Reply
    • Good question! I haven’t been diving in a few years, so I don’t maintain dive coverage, but I did have DAN coverage my first year traveling when I was diving often. Now though, I just use the explorer plan/adventure sport coverage if I am heading somewhere and I think I might dive.

      Reply
  39. Nicely written Shannon, I've been meaning to do a similar post as I too am with World Nomads and haven't a complaint so far. Although I've not made a claim myself I met someone who has and they said it went through fine, and they paid up promptly, that's all you need to know when it comes to insurance companies at the end of the day.

    Reply
    • Precisely! And there are those few odd negative reviews out there from people, but I really did find that WN had great feedback from other RTW travelers and backpackers :-)

      Reply
  40. Nicely written Shannon, I've been meaning to do a similar post as I too am with World Nomads and haven't a complaint so far. Although I've not made a claim myself I met someone who has and they said it went through fine, and they paid up promptly, that's all you need to know when it comes to insurance companies at the end of the day.

    Reply
  41. Hey Brian, based on what I've read and what I understand, it depends on the level of the emergency. If you are in and out for something small, then you pay and submit for reimbursement. But, in the case of a medical emergency, they ask that you contact them immediately, or have the hospital do it, and they will pay – same for med evac, they will arrange if it is necessary. No specific places to go, but once they are talking with your hospital, they will help determine the next actions (transfer to a diff hospital, etc). I'm pretty sure that's how it goes down! :-)

    Reply
    • Precisely! And there are those few odd negative reviews out there from people, but I really did find that WN had great feedback from other RTW travelers and backpackers :-)

      Reply
  42. So true, thanks for that tip Mark, I rarely go through agents, but a few people have told me that some agents can be really high pressure as they try to make a commission.

    Reply
  43. This is killer advice, thanks Shannon. I know nothing about insurance and the whole process is daunting. Will definitely keep this in mind for the future.

    Reply
  44. Ooo – that's such a great tip – I'm going to add it to the article actually (w/attrib ;-) Thanks! I was pretty lucky to not have to make any claims w/them yet so it's nice to hear from other travelers that their claims have been paid out, and timely too. :-)

    Reply
  45. World Nomads do seem to be the popular choice among travellers. I've used them and they seemed fine though I've never had to make a claim. My understanding is that insurance is at times an agent's biggest earner so you do need to check prices to make sure you are getting a fair deal.

    Reply
    • So true, thanks for that tip Mark, I rarely go through agents, but a few people have told me that some agents can be really high pressure as they try to make a commission.

      Reply
  46. Thanks for the comprehensive review Shannon. World Nomads is the one most people seem to recommend when traveling. Good questions to ask and ideas to think about when picking a company.

    Do you know if you have to pay and then they reimburse or can they pay the medical clinic/hospital directly? Do they have a list of places you can go for medical treatment, or is it wide open?

    Reply
    • Hey Brian, based on what I've read and what I understand, it depends on the level of the emergency. If you are in and out for something small, then you pay and submit for reimbursement. But, in the case of a medical emergency, they ask that you contact them immediately, or have the hospital do it, and they will pay – same for med evac, they will arrange if it is necessary. No specific places to go, but once they are talking with your hospital, they will help determine the next actions (transfer to a diff hospital, etc). I'm pretty sure that's how it goes down! :-)

      Reply
  47. We've been using World Nomads insurance for the three years of our rtw journey…and I just renewed it again. While we have fortunately not had to make much use of this insurance, the two claims we did file were quickly addressed and money arrived in my bank account within a week of a decision.

    One piece of advice if you can't get a police report for stolen equipment – you can get a statement from your hotel, tour company or someone in authority instead.

    Reply
    • Ooo – that's such a great tip – I'm going to add it to the article actually (w/attrib ;-) Thanks! I was pretty lucky to not have to make any claims w/them yet so it's nice to hear from other travelers that their claims have been paid out, and timely too. :-)

      Reply
  48. World Nomads do seem to be the popular choice among travellers. I've used them and they seemed fine though I've never had to make a claim. My understanding is that insurance is at times an agent's biggest earner so you do need to check prices to make sure you are getting a fair deal.

    Reply
  49. We've been using World Nomads insurance for the three years of our rtw journey…and I just renewed it again. While we have fortunately not had to make much use of this insurance, the two claims we did file were quickly addressed and money arrived in my bank account within a week of a decision.

    One piece of advice if you can't get a police report for stolen equipment – you can get a statement from your hotel, tour company or someone in authority instead.

    Reply
    • Thanks for the comprehensive review Shannon. World Nomads is the one most people seem to recommend when traveling. Good questions to ask and ideas to think about when picking a company.

      Do you know if you have to pay and then they reimburse or can they pay the medical clinic/hospital directly? Do they have a list of places you can go for medical treatment, or is it wide open?

      Reply

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