Travel Insurance Travel Tips

Best Budget Travel Insurance: World Nomads vs. SafetyWing Comparison

Keller Peak at sunset in California
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Often in the planning stages of our upcoming trips, there’s a lot of romanticism that happens around the epic adventures we imagine having and the beautiful memories we’ll make in the process. It’s all towering waterfalls and luxurious yacht cruises and the. best. meal. of. our. lives.

But what about the things that aren’t so awesome about the travel experience? Things like lost luggage, coming down with an illness overseas, or worse. While it can definitely dampen the mood, it’s important to talk about these things so we can be prepared and covered when things do go wrong.

I’ll be the first to admit that talking about travel insurance can feel about as sexy as doing your end of year taxes. But it’s one of those things that’s necessary to talk about, so let’s just to make this as pain-free as possible shall we?

I’ve written in the past about why I think travel insurance is so important and my feelings on the subject haven’t changed. Over the last four years of traveling full-time for this blog, I’ve seen over and over again how planning ahead with travel insurance can literally make or break your trip and potentially your entire bank account.

However, I know that after you’ve saved up for months or potentially years to go on your upcoming adventure, the last thing you might want to do is shell out extra dough for something you fear you may not even use. It can feel like you’re throwing money out the door that could instead be spent on a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

I totally get it because I’ve been there. When I first went on my round-the-world trip in 2016 that had taken me almost 2 years to save for, I cringed at the thought of paying for travel insurance that I may never need.

Turns out, having insurance ended up saving me $1,500 within the first couple months of my trip. But even more importantly, it gave me peace of mind that I had a backup plan if shit hit the fan.

Since living in the time of a pandemic has made traveling an especially strange and complicated ordeal and since I know money is even tighter than usual for many, I wanted to write this post to discuss two of the top budget travel insurance companies out there: World Nomads and SafetyWing.

World Nomads is a company that I’ve used and loved for years and is a household name recommended by tons of bloggers and travel companies. SafetyWing is a newer player in the travel insurance space (they launched in 2018), but I’ve been really intrigued by their offerings because as of August 2020, they’ve begun to cover COVID and their plans are some of the most affordable out there.

In this post, I’m going to be breaking down both companies and the pros and cons of each so you can decide which budget travel insurance plan might be the best for you.

[This post contains affiliate links which means I may make a commission if you make a purchase through my links, at no additional cost to you. These links support my site so I can continue bringing free content your way. Thank you for supporting Live Like it’s the Weekend!]

Budget Travel Insurance Breakdown:

SafetyWing vs World Nomads

Best budget travel insurance

Why Buy Travel Insurance in the First Place?

Imagine you’ve saved up thousands of dollars to spend a summer abroad and three days into your trip you wind up in the hospital overseas. Without travel insurance, your bills could wind up wiping out your entire trip budget – or worse, your entire bank account, depending on the severity of the incident.

That might sound dramatic, but I’ve seen these situations played out in past travels. Luckily nothing this crazy has happened to me, but I’ve seen countless GoFundMe pages dedicated to expats who got into scooter accidents in Bali and couldn’t pay their medical expenses, or travelers who needed to be airlifted home and were stuck abroad with sky-high medical bills.

Even in less costly cases like lost luggage or damaged tech gear, these can be enough to put a huge damper on your trip. And as travel is more uncertain than ever these days, the last thing you want is to experience a trip delay or cancellation without getting your money back for that trip you’ve been dreaming about.

The Pros and Cons of Buying Travel Insurance 

Like with any purchase you make, there are always pros and cons. Here are the biggest ones to consider below.

The Pros of Buying Travel Insurance: 

  • Peace of mind that you’re covered if things go wrong
  • Saving money in the long-run if disaster strikes

Cons of Purchasing Travel Insurance:

  • It costs money up front and you may never end up needing it 
  • No plan ever covers everything so you always need to read the fine print and really have an understanding of what you’re paying for
girl with camera in Ljubljana, Slovenia - best budget travel insurance

What to Know About SafetyWing Travel Insurance

SafetyWing is a younger company who launched their first travel insurance product in 2018. While they may not have the klout that other companies have from being in the biz for many years, they have earned a great reputation thus far based on their accessibility for budget travelers and covering some things that other companies don’t.

The company’s slogan is “for nomads, by nomads,” and they live up to their moniker by offering continuous month to month insurance that automatically renews like a subscription for those that are traveling long term.

One great benefit that SafetyWing provides that many other insurance companies don’t, is that you can purchase a plan at any point in time during your trip in case you forget before your departure.

Plus, at about $40/month (approx. $75/month if you’re traveling in the US), SafetyWing offers one of the most affordable travel insurance plans I’ve seen.

It’s important to note though, that no travel insurance company covers everything. There are definitely a few drawbacks to SafetyWing insurance that you’ll want to pay attention to in order to determine if they have the right plans for you.

One of my biggest qualms with SafetyWing insurance is that they don’t cover tech gear, which is especially important for someone like me that carries a lot of equipment on each trip. For the average traveler and tourist though this is probably less of a necessity, and additional tech gear insurance can always be purchased separately.

Some other things to consider with SafetyWing are that they only cover trip interruption or delays, not complete cancellations. So if you’re worried your trip may have to be cancelled altogether, they might not be for you.

Make sure to read the full list of exclusions of Nomad Insurance coverage here.

What Is and Isn’t Covered by SafetyWing Nomad Insurance?

Coverage Includes:

  • Global coverage outside of your home country (excluding Cuba, Iran and North Korea)
  • Emergency evacuation
  • COVID-19 coverage**
  • Trip interruption or delays
  • Lost checked luggage
  • Emergency dental
  • Hospital coverage for unexpected illness and injuries
  • Natural disasters

**Current COVID-19 coverage:

Coverage works the same as any other illness as long as it was not contracted before your coverage start date, and does not fall under any other policy exclusion or limitation. If there is a travel ban, SafetyWing still covers COVID, as we treat it like any other illness. 

Testing for COVID-19 will only be covered if deemed medically necessary by a physician. The antibody test is not covered, as it is not medically necessary. (COVID tests for destinations are not considered medically necessary at this time).

If you have more COVID-19 related questions, make sure to contact SafetyWing for clarification. You can contact their customer support around the clock via the online-chat on their website, they usually get back to you super quick. 

Coverage Doesn’t Include:

  • Tech and electronic gear
  • Cancer and pre-existing conditions
  • Routine check-ups

**If you’re living abroad and looking for more of an international health plan, check out their Remote Health insurance.

How Much Does SafetyWing Cost?

SafetyWing typically costs approximately $40/month for people between the ages of 10-39 years old, and it automatically renews every month like a subscription until you decide to cancel it. That’s less than $2/day during your trip!

The below test quote is for 1 month of travel to Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia for someone ages 34 years old:

SafetyWing budget travel insurance quote

You can choose specific dates as well if you’re going on a shorter trip, but SafetyWing is really ideal for long-term travelers who want to start a plan once and not worry about it.

The price does go up as your age increases above 39 and also if you plan to travel within the United States as well.

For the same 10-39 age group for example, travel within the U.S. increases to about $73/month (that’s still much cheaper than World Nomads travel insurance).

For travelers ages 40-49 exploring outside of the U.S., the price increases to $65/month, all the way up to $137/month for travelers over the age of 65.

Girl sitting on rock formations in Alabama Hills - exploring is why it's important to get budget travel insurance

What to Know About World Nomads Travel Insurance

If you’ve ever shopped around for travel insurance before, then you’ve probably heard of World Nomads. They’ve been around for almost 20 years and are trusted by tons of travel bloggers and big brands.

World Nomads has an advantage in being around for longer, so they’ve had time to streamline their systems and make the claims process super efficient. Their insurance plans aren’t perfect either though.

With World Nomads, customers are offered two plan options: the Standard plan and Explorer plan. The difference between the two plans is that Explorer covers a higher amount for things like emergency evacuation, trip delays and cancellations and rental car damage (Standard doesn’t cover rental cars at all), while also providing coverage for more extreme sports like bouldering, free diving and even bull riding.

Even the Standard plan covers over 200 different types of sports and activities though, so World Nomads is a great option if you are someone who does a lot of adventurous activities on your trips.

With these additional coverages comes a price though. World Nomads can be about twice the cost of SafetyWing or more, depending on where you’re from and which countries you will be traveling to.

Here’s a closer look at what World Nomads covers.

What Is and Isn’t Covered by World Nomads Nomad Insurance?

Coverage Includes:

  • Emergency accident and sickness medical expenses
  • Emergency evacuation
  • Emergency dental
  • Non-medical emergency transportation
  • Lost, stolen or delayed baggage
  • Trip delays, interruptions and cancellations
  • Tons of more extreme adventure sports and activities

Coverage Doesn’t Include:

  • At this time, World Nomads does not cover COVID related medical expenses, trip delays and cancellations. Check their FAQ page for the most updated information.
  • Expenses related to pre-existing medical conditions
  • Non-emergency medical expenses
  • Items left unsupervised in a public place
  • Gear damaged while in use

How Much Does World Nomads Cost?

Every insurance policy with World Nomads is unique and the price can totally depend on where you’re traveling and for how long.

However, I did a little test quote for traveling in Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam for one month and the price came out to $118 for the Standard plan and $209 for the Explorer plan. This is compared to $44 for SafetyWing insurance for the same trip.

World Nomads travel insurance quote

Things to Consider As You Choose the Right Travel Insurance Plan For You

Every traveler’s needs are different and what might be a non-negotiable for you might be unnecessary for someone else. It’s so important to look into the details of what each plan covers and read the fine print so you know what you’re really paying for.

In this article, I wanted to provide you with two really great options for budget travel insurance that hopefully are affordable enough so that purchasing travel insurance doesn’t add more stress to your bank account in these times.

As you sift through each plan, here are some things to think over that might help you determine which plan is right for you.

  • Do you have certain medical conditions that may need to be treated abroad?
  • What kinds of sports or activities are on your itinerary for the trip and are they covered if you get hurt? World Nomads is probably a better option if you’re into extreme sports.
  • Will you be bringing expensive tech gear and/or electronics on your trip?
  • How long will you be traveling for and are you keeping your health insurance back home?
  • Do you have a travel credit card (like the Chase Sapphire Reserve) that already comes with particular insurance benefits? Make sure to look into what those are so you aren’t double paying.
  • Which countries are you traveling to and how does each insurance company provide different benefits for each?
  • Do you have an unpredictable job that might cause you to potentially cancel? If so, you’ll want to make sure your coverage includes trip cancellation.
  • Are you mostly traveling in the US? If so, I would opt for a travel insurance brand with the highest possible medical coverage as healthcare in the US is NOT cheap!

Budget travel insurance is not always going to be the best option for you depending on your needs and where you’re traveling to, but I hope this post helped you better understand that there are affordable travel insurance options out there!

[This post was created in collaboration with SafetyWing, but as always all opinions are my own and I would never promote anything I don’t freaking love.]

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