Nomad Insurance: Our Honest SafetyWing Review in 2024

Are you even traveling if you don’t end up in a foreign hospital at least once? No?…just me then…

I don’t know why I thought we’d make it 3 whole months in Vietnam without a medical claim. Yet, here we are. It’s Wednesday morning and despite having a ton of work to complete, Jonny and I are sitting in a Vietnamese hospital, patiently waiting for medical help. 

When you wake up with one eye mysteriously swollen shut, it’s not one of those things you just ‘wait out’, hoping to get better. It’s something that needs qualified medical attention. So we’ve found ourselves at Da Nang Family Hospital & International Clinic, waiting to see an English-speaking doctor in the middle of a Vietnamese beach town.  

As I look around, I can’t help but notice the cleanliness of the facility, the kindness of the staff, and the comfort of knowing we’re in good hands.

At the beginning of my travels, seeing a hospital like this would’ve set alarm bells ringing, making me anxious as to the potentially heavy and soon-to-be-owed fees that are normally associated with a modern ‘international’ doctor.

However, having visited more hospitals abroad than I’d like to admit, I know the right travel insurance will have us covered in any event.

Da Nang Family Hospital & International Clinic
Da Nang Family Hospital & International Clinic
Jonny getting an eye test
Jonny getting an eye test

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What is travel insurance?

Travel insurance is different from your regular home healthcare, as it can cover things like emergency medical coverage, property protection, trip interruptions and more.

While we need and rely on travel insurance for all of these reasons– is it enough coverage to feel protected while on the road?  

For us, the answer is yes. 

Most companies provide coverage for most things, from flu-like symptoms and accidental injuries to stolen property, and, I’m almost embarrassed to admit that SafetyWing has helped me with all of these

What is SafetyWing?

SafetyWing is the insurance providers that we use (and have been consistently using since 2019).

It’s a travel insurance that covers medical emergencies, unforeseen sickness, travel-related issues, and property protection. 

I highly recommend SafetyWing Nomad Insurance, as it’s an affordable insurance option – their service is offered as a simple subscription model, and fees start at $45.08 per month so you can ‘pay as you go’. 

I initially signed up to SafetyWing because it was affordable and the safe or ‘done’ thing, but I’ve kept my membership active because they’ve genuinely had my back over the years. 

Small things like doctor appointments related to Bali belly, an eye infection, and COVID were all covered, but that isn’t where SafetyWing (or any insurance company) typically shines.

It was when I broke both my feet (in unrelated injuries within one week of each other – yes, this really happened) and had my scooter stolen, that SafetyWing stepped up to the plate

With thousands of dollars in medical bills looming, an expensive bike missing, and plenty of unrelenting fear… SafetyWing had my back. 

Let me explain…

Our Experience with the Claims Process

Having been around the world a few times, I understand what is and isn’t covered under typical travel insurance policies. This is the first thing you need to make sure to understand before hating on insurance (as most people do!).

What You Need to Know

Most insurance companies (travel or otherwise) get a bad rap, because the customer doesn’t read the fine print or understand the conditions.

You must remember: insurance companies are for-profit companies looking to benefit too. Yes, their goal is to help the customer, but, the customer has to play by the rules. 

After being ‘scammed’ each time I made a claim, and not getting reimbursed by various insurance companies, I finally read the fine print and learned the rules.

This was a game changer

Here’s some key takeaways from what I learned: 

  1. There is a deductible. Currently SafetyWing Nomad Insurance has a $250 USD deductible and you must submit claims to reach this deductible before they cover any expenses. This may seem silly as you submit a $30 claim here and a $17 claim there, but they definitely add up over the year (the plan and deductible reset annually).

    Note: I think there is a no-deductible plan in the works, but more information can be found on the SafetyWing site.

     

  2. Keep all your receipts and reports. In order for your claim to be accepted and processed, you need to submit all receipts, medical reports, and related documents. Everything can be done electronically on the SafetyWing portal. It’s a bit tedious and time consuming, but easy enough to navigate. They also have an email address you can send documents to, to make things easier. 

  3. Always submit a claim. Like I mentioned above, there is a deductible to reach, so if you want to maximize your coverage, you have to submit all claims. The process is straightforward and can be completed on their portal or via email.

     

  4. Be patient. My experience is that claims can take up to 12 weeks to process. I usually follow up via email every few weeks and keep a reminder in my calendar to check the portal to monitor any progress. At times it may feel slow, but it’s all necessary to make a successful claim.

     

  5. There is an option for upfront coverage. While I haven’t personally used this (yet!), when I broke my foot and the doctor suggested surgery, the hospital offered to contact SafetyWing to receive coverage of costs before the procedure was done (SafetyWing agreed to this). More on this below. 
Maxs broken foot
Max in the best of spirits during a frustrating foot injury

Property Coverage

At the time of submitting my claim, damage or theft to third-party property (including my scooter rental) was covered if I had met certain requirements such as proof of my rental agreement and a police report on the day of the incident.

Luckily I had both. 

Often, crucial things such as securing a contract with your property or scooter owner, and obtaining monthly receipts of payment may slip your mind when you’re living ‘carefree in paradise’, but if you have these documented, it makes your life so much easier when things don’t go according to plan.

Similarly, on the day my scooter was stolen, I did the least fun thing, and went to the police station with the manager of the restaurant from where my scooter was stolen.

Mind you, the manager did me a huuuuge favor by agreeing to check the CCTV, go with me to the police station, vouch for me, and help me submit a police report in a foreign language. But he knew that, although the chances of finding my scooter were slim, if he helped me submit the police report and complete the paperwork, I may have a chance at filing a successful insurance claim.

…and he was correct! 

It took a lot of paperwork, translating, Skype calls, and explaining (as it would with any insurance company worldwide), but SafetyWing held up their end of the deal and covered my claim in its entirety, issuing roughly an $1,800 USD check to the scooter owner within 3 months of starting the claim process. 

Overall, the process was straightforward and clear.

I won’t say it was easy because nobody trying to claim $1,800 USD from an insurance company is going to have an ‘easy time’, but I did feel hopeful, like I was being listened to and taken seriously by the claims agent, and that my claim would be processed in a timely manner. 

SafetyWing was responsive, clear about their concerns, and communicative about what I needed to do in order to get my claim pushed through the system.

3 months later, my scooter rental guy had $1,800 USD to buy a replacement bike.

Health Coverage

You’ll have seen above that I oh-so-casually shared that I broke both of my feet within a week of each other. Yes, this is sadly true. What a time to be alive!

While I’ll save the less-than-exciting details of the incident for another day, the long and short of it was, I tripped in the kitchen, broke my toe and side of my foot, then a few days later, fell out of a chair (I was sober) and broke my other foot in two different spots. 

The first injury was mild enough that I was willing to try ‘wait it out’, but the second injury was brutal.

I ended up speaking to multiple doctors in various hospitals, and paid several visits to a surgeon’s office, as there was a high chance I was going to need surgery.

In Indonesia.

Great.

Two things happened here with this claim:

  1. Reimbursements. Fortunately, I had the funds to frontload the costs totaling several hundred USD for x-rays, doctor’s visits, crutches, and a walking boot. About a month later, I submitted the receipts and medical reports, and SafetyWing covered everything minus the $250 USD deductible. After a few months, I submitted another batch of follow-up care appointments and scans, and the final costs were covered as well. Despite it feeling like my life was falling apart, the medical coverage aspect of it was straightforward and I received my reimbursement within 6-10 weeks of submitting each claim

  2. Prepayment for surgery. Thankfully, I didn’t need surgery in the end. But the hospital was very well aware of SafetyWing insurance and explained to me which hospitals and doctors are likely to fall under my coverage, as SafetyWing tends to prefer local hospitals (as they are cheaper than the services in fancy private hospitals). This is understandable. The hospitals worked together to get me to the right facility and doctor, then called SafetyWing on my behalf to discuss coverage before the surgery, as the hospital wanted a guarantee of funds, which SafetyWing agreed. 

In that moment, it was stressful.

I was a single girl traveling between hospitals via taxi in a foreign country, with two broken feet.

But this discomfort wasn’t because of insurance, just circumstance.

I think a lot of people forget this and say things like, “they should’ve covered it at the first hospital, no questions asked”, but that’s not how insurance works… not abroad, and certainly not back home in the States. 

In the States we require referrals, visiting in-network doctors, and deductibles around $5,000 USD at times.

While this is not the situation for everyone’s insurance in the States (or abroad), it’s important to remember how insurance works when expecting miracles abroad. 

Indonesian hospital
Choosing the right hospital helps ensure coverage and minimize costs

Would we recommend SafetyWing to our friends?

Yes, yes, 100% yes.

And if you want another opinion, check out SafteyWing’s TrustPilot reviews

While there are things about insurance claims processes that can be tedious or annoying, that is all part of the process, and SafetyWing does it’s very best to create a streamlined portal, straightforward process, and set clear expectations

For a plan that starts at $45.08 per month and allows you to pay month-to-month, it can’t be beat! 

We’re in the process of detailing everything there is to know about the Nomad Insurance plan (travel insurance), and well as their comprehensive health coverage packages, Nomad Health (for individuals) and Remote Health (for teams / companies).

Be on the lookout for these articles coming soon!

Curious to learn more? Have a look at the SafetyWing site or leave a comment with a question and we’d be happy to help!

Stay safe out there, and look after your feet (both of them!).

Max quit her corporate job in 2013 to take a chance building businesses online while traveling the world. Armed with an adventurous spirit and a can-do attitude, Max has traveled to more than 50 countries, embracing slow travel as a digital nomad and long-term living in places such as Thailand, India, Nepal, and Indonesia. Max currently resides in Bali where she oversees content creation for DNG as our resident travel aficionado.
Picture of Max Pankow
Max Pankow
Max quit her corporate job in 2013 to take a chance building businesses online while traveling the world. Armed with an adventurous spirit and a can-do attitude, Max has traveled to more than 50 countries, embracing slow travel as a digital nomad and long-term living in places such as Thailand, India, Nepal, and Indonesia. Max currently resides in Bali where she oversees content creation for DNG as our resident travel aficionado.

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