Being a remote-working digital nomad is great.
You get to explore different cultures, eat different cuisines, speak different languages, and you get to sustain your nomadic lifestyle with your remote-based, internet work.
But many digital nomads, especially novice remote workers enjoying their newfound freedom, end up focusing too much on all of the fun they’re having jet-setting around the world while forgetting that they need to be protected in case all of that fun comes to an abrupt halt.
This is where the magic of digital nomad insurance comes into focus.
Digital Nomad Insurance vs. Travel Insurance
First off, we need to clear up a little bit of confusion:
Digital nomad insurance and travel insurance are two separate things. While a digital nomad is technically a traveler, most travel insurance is not optimized to meet the needs of digital nomads.
For starters, travel insurance, as the name implies, is based around traveling. It mostly covers things like missed flights, lost baggage, and theft. While there are always provisions for medical emergencies while abroad in travel insurance policies, what constitutes an “emergency” is often very specific and reserved for only the most serious of illnesses. Furthermore, travel insurance typically only covers a short and specific duration of time – usually no more than 45 days – thereby making it only ideal for a short-term trip.
Digital nomad insurance, however, is a comprehensive suite of travel insurance, health insurance, and life insurance put together to guarantee that all traveling, remote-based workers can enjoy the protection they would receive if they were position-based, full-time employees. Many times, government agencies and/or employers offer health insurance, retirement plans, and unemployment protection to make sure that their workforce stays strong and productive. But as digital nomads move from place to place and are typically freelance or contract-based, they are often not eligible to receive even the most basic protection usually offered by either a government or an employer.
“That’s something that needs to change,” says Sondre Rasch, CEO of SafetyWing, the first and only insurance company that offers plans specifically for digital nomads, freelancers, and remote-based workers who don’t qualify for traditional protection from governments and employers.
“The old structures just don’t work for people who work online and are location independent.” The structures Sondre is talking about are the traditional reward systems exclusively intended for full-time, location-based employees.
Sondre and his team have set out to build a suite of social insurance programs, not unlike the ones that exist in their home country of Norway. “We are reimagining things that are complex and heavily regulated and turning them into simple subscription products that are location independent. We are building a social safety net on the internet so that distributed startups and remote workers from all over the world can still be supported.”
Because if you’re a digital nomad without insurance, you’re unnecessarily putting yourself under a lot of risk.
5 Awful Things That Can Happen To Remote Workers While Abroad
1. Medical Emergencies
No one expects a medical emergency to happen, but they definitely do happen. And if you aren’t protected, all of that intense physical pain will quickly turn into intense financial pain.
Most people get health insurance one of two ways: Through their employer or through their government. But many digital nomads are freelancers working from contract to contract and they don’t usually qualify for these kind of employee benefits. Also, if they’re always on the move, they very likely don’t qualify for residency in a government which would normally provide health insurance.
So as a nomadic worker, if and when a medical emergency strikes, you need to be fully protected to tackle the issue head on without any undue financial strain.
2. Trip Interruptions
Being a digital nomad comes with its challenges. Apart from the cultural difficulties of the lifestyle, there is a laundry list of logistical hurdles to overcome as well.
When you’re constantly traveling from place to place, making sure that your trips are insured is crucial to maintaining your financial safety net. Things like missed connections, lost baggage, and lengthy airport delays are all common travel interruptions that can seriously hamper a digital nomad’s productivity.
But when all of your travel arrangements are covered, you can put your main focus on the most important task at hand – being the best remote worker possible.
3. Dental Emergencies
Your teeth are important. And keeping them protected from any spontaneous dental calamity is also important.
Unfortunately, going to the dentist, in almost every country, is really expensive. If you aren’t insured, an emergency trip to the dentist will leave a seriously big hole in your wallet. And much like medical emergencies, dental emergencies shouldn’t – and many times can’t – be ignored. Digital nomads often don’t have the luxury of building up a steady relationship with a local dentist, and as such, they can get slapped with a huge dental bill when there’s a major problem that needs immediate attention.
Knowing that your teeth are protected when you’re constantly on the move should make you a little less timid next time you go out to eat.
4. Terrorism, Natural Disasters, Political Disturbances
The world is a scary and dangerous place. A lot of times humans are creating problems and other times it’s the planet itself which is causing a ruckus.
When you’re covered with digital nomad insurance, any time there is a need for you to immediately get out of a dangerous situation, you’ll be able to seek immediate evacuation at no extra cost to you. Also, whenever you get to your new place, you’ll be able to claim your temporary accommodations as part of the emergency evacuation.
Being able to lift the financial burden of unforeseen political or natural disasters is a seriously nice luxury for all who want to travel to every corner of the globe.
5. Personal Liabilities
You’re not perfect. Sometimes you mess up. And sometimes those things that you mess up are really expensive pieces of property.
The coverage of personal liability means that you are not financially responsible if you accidentally break or damage someone else’s things – including their bodies. That’s great news if you ever find yourself at the tail end of a really bad situation and are staring down the barrel of a potential lawsuit unless you fork over lots of money.
While it’s definitely not an ideal situation to be in, it can, and does, happen. Don’t let some silly mistake cause you complete financial ruin.
Getting Covered In The Growing Digital Age
One of the best things about remote working insurance is that you can get yourself covered right now, and it doesn’t matter where you are in the world.
“Most insurance companies don’t cross international borders,” Sondre explains, referring to the fact that most insurance companies require a country of residency to sign up for any kind of insurance plan. “But when people work online, they can live wherever they want.”
SafetyWing’s one-size-fits-all insurance plan allows its participants to be immediately covered on their low-cost, low-commitment plan, even if they’re already traveling and have no established residency.
And SafetyWing’s future is looking bright.
As technical skills become more specialized and people become increasingly weary of the daily commute to the office, many companies are taking to the internet to find talented individuals to join their workforce.
The freelance platform Upwork conducted a study which found that 63% of companies hire remote workers, a number that is expected to grow substantially in the future.
The study went on to find that, “64% of hiring managers feel that their company has the resources and processes in place to support a remote workforce, yet the majority (57%) lack a remote work policy.”
This lack of a coherent remote work policy leaves many off-site workers in the dust when it comes to things like receiving healthcare benefits.
“That’s why we’re soon launching our next product,” says Sondre.
“It’s called SafetyWing for Startups. It’s a packet of health, dental, and maternity insurance that a company can offer to its remote workers around the world. Within a few minutes, all of a company’s remote workers, regardless of where they are in the world, can enjoy the securities they need to become a productive and protected worker.”
And just like that, all of the remote workers of the world qualify for insurance.
For more information about SafetyWing, check out their website.