“The worst can happen and does happen…so you had better make sure you’re Insured” – Fargo Season 1.
Usually, whenever I buy something I like to get my money’s worth and use it as much as possible. Take for example those Levi jeans that I wore everyday for a year until the knees wore out. Or take my trusty MacBook Pro which I use to beat out at least 10,000 words a day.
Travel Insurance on the other hand, is one of those rare things in life whereby you pay for it, and yet you hope that you never ever need to use it. But whenever you hit the road and head out on an adventure, it’s very important to get travel insurance. Whether you’re headed to Prague for a boozy weekend, or to Southeast Asia to spend 6 months finding yourself, disaster could be waiting for you at any point.
Most travel Insurers, are NOT covering any claims linked to COVID-19. This includes the costs of any medical treatment related to the virus as well as flight cancellations or trip interruptions.
If you want Pandemic proof travel insurance, then SafetyWing is offering this under their "Remote Health" plan.
For the most up-to-date safety information and what you should be doing to help, please consult the WHO and your local government.
These days there are countless travel insurance providers out there and choosing between them can be overwhelming. Furthermore, some of these providers have better reputations than others and there are some very unfortunate instances of insurers not paying out on claims. Finally, deciphering between policies and reading their fine print can be exhausting.
But we’re here to help.
In this SafetyWing Review, we’ll take a good, detailed look at SafetyWing and their travel insurance policy. We’ll run through the various types of cover they offer, look at what is and is not included in their policy, and we’ll assess their value for money. We’ll also have a quick look at some of their best competitors.
By the end of our SafetyWing Review, you should know whether SafetyWing is the right travel insurance provider for your next trip.
Before we begin the SafetyWing review, please note that a number of the links in this post are affiliate links. This means that if you click them, we may receive a commission. Furthermore, please note that terms and conditions of insurance policies are subject to changes and are ultimately based on your individual circumstances. Therefore, it is very important that you read the policy terms and conditions yourself before you purchase any travel insurance.
Do You Need Travel Insurance?
Do you really even need travel insurance? It’s a fair question. Afterall, the vast majority of trips end happily and safely without incident.
We at the Broke Backpacker have probably spent a combined total of maybe 10 years on the road and have easily visited over 100 countries. During all of that travel, we’ve clocked up a fair few mishaps ranging from inflected legs that almost needed amputating, to the inevitable bike crashes, all the way to gun-point robberies. These incidents were all traumatic enough themselves leaving physical or mental scars.
But mercifully, we were all insured at the time meaning that were spared the further trauma of paying out $10,000 medical bills or of having to find $400 for a new iPhone.
What Does Travel Insurance Cover?
In order for you to decide whether you really do need travel insurance, let’s look at some of the things it can help with, and where you would be without it.
- Lost Luggage
The aviation industry watchdog estimates that 5.73 items of luggage are lost for every 1000 passengers. This is not a bad statistic but it means that if you take 10 flights, there is a 5% chance of your luggage been lost forever. Also note that some airlines and airports (the black hole of Charles De Gaulle anybody?) are a lot worse than others for this.
Lost luggage can easily mean your trip is ruined as you’re forced to walk around Ibiza for a week sweating your ass off in the same inappropriate jeans and jumper combo you left home-in. Replacing everything you own though, can mean you then have to find $1000 to replenish your wardrobe, refill your toiletry shelf and get a new camera. Any good travel insurance policy therefore covers lost luggage, usually up to at least $1000.
- Medical Bills
Medical care can be seriously expensive. For example, Broke Backpacker founder Will Hatton was once hospitalised in Costa Rica and ran up bills in excess of $10,000. He recently spent 1 night in a Thai hospital, was billed $1,000 and his passport was used as a ransom. Personally, I don’t have $10,000 to pay to Costa Rican Doctors but I do have maybe $50 to get myself some insurance.
Coming from the UK where we have the NHS, the cost of medical care in some parts of the world is quite a revelation. If you are reading this in the US you already know all about health extortion but do remember that your domestic health insurance will not cover you outside of the US.
Accidents happen without warning and ill health can strike at any time, anywhere. In fact, if you have experienced driving or hygiene standards in India, then you’ll probably agree that you’re actually at a much higher risk of coming to harm on the road than you are at home!
- Travel Disruption
Travel disruption comes in all shapes and sizes but let’s take a classic, topical example. Every year a few airlines and travel agents go bust leaving passengers stranded. Booking flights home at short notice is expensive, but not getting home ASAP can mean getting fired from your job. Having to stay an extra few nights in a hotel can also put undue strain on an already tired travel budget.
Having travel insurance can therefore mean the difference between desperately raiding your overdraft to pay a hotel, or getting a few extra nights at your destination free of charge!
In many parts of the world, tourists are a target for thieves. I’ve had my phone stolen by knife wielding bandits in South America and know people who’s hotels have been raided leaving them without gold jewellery and laptops.
Getting jacked is scary, but having to find $400 for a new iPhone is seriously fucking depressing. Thankfully, my insurance covered it.
Nobody ever thinks it will happen to them and yet, it has to happen to somebody. Besides that, the law of averages tells us that if you travel enough, something, somewhere will eventually go wrong. I fasten my safety belt every time I get in a car and yet, I have never crashed once. But if I do ever crash, that safety belt may save my life so I’m gonna keep on fastening it.
Furthermore, some countries require you to obtain insurance before even letting your enter.
Breakdown of SafetyWing Travel Insurance
Who Are SafetyWing?
Ladies & Gentlemen, without further ado may we introduce to you SafetyWing! If you have never heard of SafetyWing, it’s probably because they are still a new company. Launched in 2018, founded by Norwegians and based in the US, SafetyWing are one of the newest travel insurance providers in the space.
In case you are nervous about entrusting your wellbeing to baby company don’t be. SafetyWing’s Insurance partner is Tokio Marine, one of the biggest and most established insurance companies in Japan, and the Insurance is underwritten by Lloyds. Furthermore, Insurers are required to go through a shed load of vetting and have erm, insurance, in place before they are even allowed to trade.
SafetyWing identify as long-term travellers and digital nomads describing their mission as “insurance for nomads by nomads”. In practice, this means that they focus on long term travellers and digital nomads who are not served by other providers, and can often fall between the cracks of healthcare systems.
SafetyWing are pretty unique in that they offer a kind of hybrid between travel insurance and health insurance. Their package is nowhere near as comprehensive as standard travel insurance as they have ripped out some of the features which are less likely to apply to digital nomads and long term travelers. This is reflected in the pricing which is very reasonable and competitive.
One Simple SafetyWing Plan
Whereas most insurance providers offer multiple different plans, SafetyWing keeps things straightforward and offers one simple plan.
The headline, is that SafetyWing plan covers you up to a maximum value of $250,000 per cover period. The excess is $250 meaning that you must pay the first $250 of any claim yourself. If you end up in hospital for stitches and the bill comes to $197, then unfortunately the entire bill comes out of your pocket and you cannot claim. That’s pretty standard.
In case you are in a hurry, the key points are set out below.
- Medical emergencies are covered up to $250,000. This also includes emergency dental care up to $1,000 which is perfect if you fancy a bit of 2am gutter boxing!
- Medical Evacuation is covered up to $100,000. Note that medical evacuation means been transferred to a hospital in your home country and does not mean been rescued from a mountain after breaking your leg whilst trekking.
- Emergency evacuation in case of civil unrest or something is covered up to $10,000.00. So, if London erupts into riotous, murderous, anarchy following Brexit, you can get yourself a flight either all the home, or simply to safety in Paris!
- In the event of a natural disaster, cover is $100 per day for 5 days for accommodation costs.
- Whilst trip cancellation is not included, trip interruption up to $5,000.00 is included. This means that if you are forced to cut your trip short, you may receive up to $5,000 to help you get home.
- Lost Luggage is covered up to $3,000. However, note that the maximum value per item is $500. Therefore, if you plan on checking that diamond necklace, you may wish to obtain different cover.
Please remember that policies change from time to time. It is important to for you to read the policy yourself and make sure you understand it. If you are uncertain of anything, it is a good idea to speak with the provider for clarification.
SafetyWing quite recently launched a second policy; Remote Health. Remote Health was initially designed to cover remote working teams and was a pioneering form of workplace health insurance for the age of the Digi Nomad.
However, SafetyWing have now evolved the concept and it is available for individuals. Remote Health differs from the standard policy in a number of ways offering a more robust cover. Crucially, it DOES cover pandemics like the COVID-19 outbreak of 2020 and for this reason appeals to a growing number of travellers.
Remote Health is more expensive than the standard policy but may still be a good investment for those seeking stronger cover.
What’s Covered By SafetyWing Travel Insurance?
Emergency Accident & Sickness Medical Expenses
Got food poisoning in Delhi? Got hit by a moped in Bangkok? Or maybe you just slipped in the shower and broke your wrist in Madrid? These things can, and do happen and will all require emergency medical treatment. Being sick, infirm and unable to jerk yourself off is bad enough as it is, so the last thing you want is a hefty medical bill which you have to pay out of your own pocket.
Emergency accident and sickness coverage is quite likely the most important aspect of any travel insurance plan – I certainly know it is for me. If you get ill, get hurt, or otherwise need medical attention, you have costs covered up to $250,000.
If you need emergency dental care, you are covered up to $1000.
If you need something major, like a root canal you will likely not be fully covered – in all probability, only the cost of the essential, immediate works will be covered. That said, in many parts of the world you can find cheap and competent dentists at bargain prices.
Note that the emergency medical coverage does not cover general hospital visits. Sadly, it doesn’t cover cosmetic surgery either so that facelift or breast enlargement will have to wait.
Besides the above coverage, SafetyWing also offers a few additional benefits:
- Acute Onset of Pre-Existing Condition – If you have a pre-existing condition which suddenly, flares up, then you can claim up to $250,000 of the maximum limit or $25,000 for medical emergency evacuation. If you do have a pre-existing conditions, please speak to the insurer about it to make sure you are covered.
- Outpatient Physical Therapy – You can claim up to $50 per day if you ever need to see a physio or a chiropractor during your trip. This is very useful for when the dreaded, Digital Nomad bad-back strikes!
Emergency Evacuation and Repatriation
Medical Evacuation is when you need to be sent to your home country, or another country for further or continued medical treatment, and are too sick to travel home normally as a regular passenger. For example – when you are still stuck in a hospital bed with tubes coming stuck in you.
Repatriation means the cost of sending your dead body home. This is often overlooked by many travellers but it really is very important. The cost of flying bodies home is very expensive and I would hate for my family to ever be landed with this cost at such an awful time for them.
Accidental Death and Dismemberment
This applies in the very, very unlikely even that you have an accident and lose an arm or a foot. Or if you tragically arrive at your departing destination and then die.
This coverage is for the loss of life or limb as a result of an accidental injury occurring during the trip. The loss must occur within 365 days after the date of the accident causing the loss. Basically what this means is if you have an accident and are dying, if you die your family will be covered.
Same goes if you have something happen that results in your arm eventually being removed as a result of the accident.
We appreciate that this is pretty heavy going, grim stuff. But please persevere, these cover policies exist for a reason – the reason being that it is has happened to somebody before.
Kidnapping is very rare but does happen so thankfully, SafetyWing’s Crisis Response coverage protects against this. If this happens, you’ll receive recompense for either your ransom, or loss of personal belongings that occur during the kidnapping.
Note that crisis response does not apply in some “dangerous countries”. Examples are Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nigeria, Somalia and Venezuela. Personally, I think it’s a bit harsh putting Pakistan on that list but there you go.
Incidentally, quite a few reputable travel insurance providers do not cover kidnapping at all.
Lost or Stolen Passport
Did you know that lost or stolen passport claims are amongst the most common ones made by travelers?! If your passport is lost or stolen, you can claim up to $100 for a new one which I think, should cover it pretty much anywhere in the world.
Of course, in order to minimise the risk of this happening you should keep your passport securely locked in your hotel room or hostel locker. Even in countries that require foreigners to carry passports with them, a photo-copy usually suffices.
When in transit, keep it near to you at all times and do not absent mindedly put it down anywhere.
Personal Liability indemnifies you in the event that your actions cause injury, harm or financial loss to another party. This includes vehicle accidents where you were found to be to blame.
Coverage also includes legal fees which can be harrowingly expensive.
Home Country Coverage
Somewhat unusually, SafetyWing even offers a level of coverage in your home country. This is because SafetyWing understands that long term travellers and Digital Nomads will go home once in a while, but that “the trip” is still not over. It’s great for popping home for Christmas or to attend your annoying cousin’s wedding.
The cover period is 30 days per every 90 day period (15 days in the US).
We are not aware of any other travel insurance provider who offers anything like this.
What’s Not Covered by SafetyWing
To get the full measure of any travel insurance, it is important to look at what is not covered as well as what is covered.
In the case of SafetyWing, there are some very notable exclusions which you should carefully take into account before deciding whether it is the right cover for you.
In case you get ill and have to cancel your trip, you cannot recover the costs of it. From what I can deduce, the rationale behind this is that for long term travellers and Digital Nomads, life is the trip! Therefore, you may be unlikely to ever even really need this.
Expensive electronic equipment is not covered by the SafetyWing plan at all. At first, this may seem odd in a policy aimed at Digital Nomads. However, most Digital Nomads have separate, comprehensive gadget cover anyway. Most travel insurers who do cover gadgets only cover them up to $500 which is about one third the price of a MacBook.
I for one have gadget cover which covers loss, theft, accidental damage and malfunction. Afterall, my livelihood depends on this little piece of overpriced silicon valley crap powering up each morning.
If you are robbed in Colombia, or you stupidly leave your Rayban sunglasses on an Indian bus, you are not covered. This is kind of unusual for travel insurance as both of these things do happen to travellers.
However, is this really such an issue? For example, in the case of your lost sunglasses, many insurers would try and wriggle out of paying that one anyway. Even if they did, you would have to pay the excess which could be anywhere between $50 – $250 (ie, more than the glasses are worth).
As for getting robbed, cash is generally not insured and any items are still subject to the excess. Therefore, the only thing you could realistically claim for, is a stolen smart-phone – see above re electronics.
Sports & Adventure
SafetyWing does not certain adrenaline sports such as Quad Biking and Parachuting which is fair enough. However, somewhat surprisingly, football/soccer is not covered if you are playing as part of a regular team. Therefore, if you are a Digital Nomad thinking of joining the local 5 a side team in Budapest, think again! Trekking and mountaineering is covered up to an altitude of 4500 metres.
High Risk Countries
SafetyWing does not extend any coverage at all to Cuba, North Korea and Iran. This is presumably because the US’ draconian financial sanctions prevent them from doing so. Note that if you do wish to visit Iran, you will need travel insurance to enter so should find an alternate provider.
The kidnap or crisis coverage is not available in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nigeria, Somalia or Venezuela.
Who Is SafetyWing Travel Insurance Suitable For?
So what makes SafetyWing unique amongst other travel insurance providers, and who is there cover the perfect cover for?
SafetyWing understand that there is a lot more to travel than a 2 week vacation. They appreciate that many of us set off with a one-way ticket, no itinerary, and have no idea when we will be coming back.
Therefore SafetyWing is perfect for;
- Long Term Travellers – SafetyWing are pretty unique in that they offer open-ended travel insurance. You can bum around the world for years, and stay covered as long as you keep up your premiums.
- One Way Travellers – As I said, your trip doesn’t need to have a set end date in order for the cover to be valid!
- Digital Nomads – When you’re a digital nomad, you move from one destination to another working and hustling as you go. You can hustle around the world for years at a time with this policy. If you’re living as a digital nomad long term, there’s a pretty good chance that at some point you’re gonna need to see a Doctor about something.
- Travellers With Kids – This is another cool feature. The policy covers one young child per adult, up to 2 per family, age between 14 days and 10 years old. So, if both you and your partner take the cover, it’s 2 children for free as long as they are not over 10 years old! If your child is over the age of 10, you may wish to enquire about separate or additional cover for them.
Who isn’t SafetyWing Travel Insurance Suitable For?
SafetyWing specialises in travel insurance for long term backpackers and Digital Nomads. This is a sizeable and growing niche. However, this kind of cover isn’t necessarily right for everybody out there. SafetyWing is perhaps not the best travel insurance out there for;
- Conventional Holidaymakers – If you are going on a classic, 2 weeks in the sun type holiday, then there will be plenty of travel insurance providers more suited to your needs, who can probably cover you cheaper than SafetyWing.
- Travellers Who Need Comprehensive Cover – Note that SafetyWing is a specialised cover but is not comprehensive. For example, trip cancellation cover is not included.
- Adrenaline Junkies – SafetyWing does not cover extreme sports such as white water rafting, running with the bulls or been fired from cannons. If you require this kind of cover, then perhaps consider another provider.
How Much Does SafetyWing Travel Insurance Cost?
Now for the zero’s and one’s. In fact, how on earth did we even get this far into our review without discussing the cost!
SafetyWing Travel Insurance can cost as little as $37 for 28 days. Compared to some private medical insurance policies, which can cost hundreds of dollars, this is great value.
SafetyWing’s monthly premium does vary depending on a number of factors, including the age of the applicant. A higher premium also applies if you intend to go backpacking in the USA (because of the expensive American healthcare system).
|Age||Cost For 4 Weeks||Cost For 4 Weeks (Inc USA)|
|18 - 39||$37||$68|
|40 - 49||$60||$111|
|50 - 59||$94||$184|
|60 - 69||$128||$251|
These rates are very reasonable and are definitely some of the most competitive ones we have seen – and we have reviewed a lot of travel insurance providers.
Quotes are made on a case-by-case basis. If you are interested, we suggest that you go and make your own at the official SafetyWing website.
Other Travel Insurance Providers
Not sure whether SafetyWing Travel Insurance is for you? Perhaps you feel you need a more comprehensive level of cover? Or maybe you are interested in SafetyWing but want to know what else is out there before you make a purchase?
There are loads of other travel insurance providers out there to choose from. In fact there are possibly too many! In this section we will take a quick look at some other leading, specialised travel insurance providers who we have also used and had positive experiences with.
World Nomads are by far, one of our favourite travel insurance providers. Like SafetyWing, they also specialise in backpacker insurance.
The cover levels for medical emergencies and evacuations are broadly speaking, very similar to SafetyWing. However, World Nomads do offer 2 separate plans depending on how much cover you want and what exactly you intend to do. World Nomads do also include trip cancellation, electronic gadget, and theft cover in the policies.
Word Nomads cover over 140 countries. They also cover a wide range of adventure sports which SafetyWing do not. However, they do not offer Home Country cover and do not offer open ended cover.
World Nomads’ cover is more comprehensive than SafetyWing but is also substantially more expensive. It is perhaps better suited to adventure travelers and more typical backpackers and less suited to Nomads.
For more information about World Nomads – check out our comprehensive World Nomads Review.
Alpha Travel Insurance
Another recommended travel insurance provider for backpackers and long-term travelers is Alpha Travel Insurance.
Alpha offer insurance cover for trips up to 24 months. This is ideal for doing that 2 year working holiday in Australia!. Most providers only cover up to 12 months, so this means you get twice as long.
With Alpha, you can choose from these insurance policies: Single Trip, Multi-Trip, Long-Stay, or Winter Sports. Alpha provides excellent value for backpackers wanting to travel long-term, with policies starting at just $0.50 per day.
When Should You Buy Travel Insurance?
Provided you’re still reading, I guess you have concluded that you do want travel insurance. Good decision. The next question is probably, when should you buy travel insurance?
Ideally, you should buy travel insurance before you start your trip and some providers may even insist on this. Note that if you do ever do make a claim on your travel insurance, they will probably ask for evidence of when your trip started in the form of an airline booking or flight ticket.
Some insurers will let you buy travel insurance from them once you have started your trip. This is great in case you forget to do it earlier, or if you change your mind and realise you do in fact need it.
However, the earlier you book it, the better for a number of reasons.
Firstly, things can go wrong before you even leave the country. What if your airline goes bust the morning of your flight?! How are you going to get from New York JFK to Bangkok now?! If you have the right cover in place, your insurer will help you find another flight and get you out there as soon as possible!
Secondly, most policies include a cooling off period – a period of time when you can cancel it and get all of your money back. We suggest using this period to carefully check the policy documents to ensure that the cover fully meets your needs. If on closer inspection it does not, you have time to either contact the insurer and amend the policy, or cancel it and obtain more suitable travel insurance elsewhere.
As a rule of thumb, I usually book my travel insurance the same day I book my flight. The only exception is if I have long term or annual cover in place at the time.
How to Make a Travel Insurance Claim
It is unlikely that you will ever need to make a travel insurance claim. However, in case you do you will be pleased to learn that the process is usually quite straightforward and user friendly if you are dealing with a reputable company. If you are not – then may the gods help you.
To begin a claim all you need to do in contact (call) SafetyWing and chat with their 24/hour multi-lingual staff. You can also login to your profile on their website and file a claim there.
In the case of lost or stolen items, you will need to write up a formal sworn statement of events, detailing what happened and what was lost. You will also need to have an official police report made – it is very important that you obtain this even if it means you having to pay a fee or hassle the police force for it.
The Insurer may wish to contact you to discuss your claim further and you may even be subjected to a bit of an interview. You have nothing to worry about if your claim is in order.
It’s helpful to get all of your receipts and invoices together first and submit all expenses for your claim at once. Keep copies of every expense, bill, invoice and report as you will need to provide these to the claims team so they can assess your claim.
List each expense for the amount shown on your receipt/invoice and answer all other questions. You’ll be sent an email advising what documentation you will need to send them to support your claim.
After that is sorted, you upload all of your information and documents, review the claim and then click submit. The SafetyWing team will get cracking and will stay in contact with you throughout this process. Note that resolution time does vary from one case to the next.
Staying Safe on your Adventure
We hope you never have to claim on your travel insurance and wish you many long, happy, safe adventures. And in order to help you stay safe, we do have some top tips for you.
Firstly to make things far more difficult for potential thieves to take your money, pick yourself up a backpacker security belt to keep your cash safe & hidden on the road. Also check out our Backpacker Safety 101 post for tips and tricks to stay safe whilst on your backpacking adventure.
For hiding bigger wads of cash, check out this post on ingenious ways to hide your money when traveling.
I strongly recommend traveling with a headlamp whilst backpacking anywhere in the world (every backpacker should have a good headtorch!) to prevent you falling down a well on a dark night. In case you don’t have a head torch, check out this post for a breakdown of the best value headlamps to take backpacking.
You should always have emergency cash hidden on you - pick up this awesome security belt with its hidden pocket before you travel, it's perfect for hiding money, a passport photocopy.
Frequently Asked Questions about SafetyWing Travel Insurance
These are some of the most commonly asked questions about SafetyWing which we received from you guys.
Do SafetyWing Insure Electronic Devices?
No. SafetyWing does not cover electronic devices. This is because most Digital Nomads usually have dedicated gadget insurance. If you have expensive electronic devices, I recommend getting decent cover for them.
What Countries Are Covered by SafetyWing?
SafetyWing covers over 100 countries. They are not able to cover trips to North Korea, Iran or Cuba at all. The kidnap and crisis cover is not available in Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, Nigeria, Pakistan & Venezuela or any other country from where they are prohibited due to the US’ Financial Sanctions.
Is SafetyWing the Best Travel Insurance for Digital Nomads?
It is not possible to say which provider or cover is best. However, SafetyWing’s mission is to provide cover for nomads, by nomads. They certainly do provide dedicated, strong cover for Digital Nomads at a great price.
Is SafetyWing the Cheapest Travel Insurance on the Market?
SafetyWing is definitely amongst the cheapest dedicated, travel insurance providers we have come across.
Final Thoughts on SafetyWing Travel Insurance
Whether you are planning to spend a month in Oz, or to live in Southeast Asia as a freelancer, it really is a good idea to get yourself some insurance.
Life is unpredictable and you never know when illness, accident or bad luck can strike. When it does, there is no worse feeling than being stuck with hefty expenses that could have easily been avoided.
I hope your future backpacking adventures fulfil all over your travel dreams and then some. Hopefully, the day will never ever come when you actually need to claim on your insurance.
But, if that dark day does arrive, SafetyWing travel insurance will help you out and you’ll be glad you made the investment.
A word on Travel Insurance. Please note that Insurance terms and conditions do vary and may change from time to time. The information provided here is for guidance purposes only. We recommend you check with your policy provider to ensure that you are fully covered before beginning your trip. Please read your policy terms and conditions very carefully.
Yay for transparency! Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. This means that if you book your accommodation, buy a book or sort your insurance, I’ll earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. I only link to stuff I’ve actually used and never endorse crap. Your support helps me keep the site going.
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