The Budget Savvy Travelers

Travel Health Insurance in 2021 | 5 Reasons NOT TO BUY World Nomads

We purchased a one year World Nomads travel health insurance plan in 2014. It cost $2,100 for the period 2014-2015 and covered both of us (two travelers). Today, the same “standard” plan would cost about $2,300 or $1,150 per person. The following year we decided to cancel our plan (with World Nomads) because of the exorbitant cost. Many travel influencers and bloggers recommend World Nomads insurance to fellow travelers because they receive a lucrative referral fee.

Travel Health Insurance | 5 Reasons Not to Buy World Nomads

Popular bloggers such as Nomadic Matt, the Broke Backpacker, and the Expert Vagabond, etc.,  make a ton of money promoting World Nomads through their affiliate program. Looking back, we too were probably hoodwinked into signing up. Of course, in hindsight, we should have been less afraid and considered cheaper and more sensible alternatives. After purchasing and researching travel health insurance for many years, below are the 5 reasons to buy World Nomads:

  1. Preexisting Medical Conditions Are Not Covered by World Nomads
  2. You’re Not an Adrenaline Junky or Thrill Seeker
  3. You Can Receive Many of World Nomads Perks for Free by Simply Using Your Credit Card
  4. Many Things Are Covered but Not All
  5. World Nomads is Expensive When Compared to Competitors

Your health is an important aspect of any international trip. | Travel Health InsuranceDon’t get us wrong. World Nomads is a reputable option. It’s just ridiculously expensive. Most of us will pay the high cost because it seems like there is no alternative to World Nomads or for peace of mind. However, if you do the research, which most people are not motivated to do, you’ll see that travelers are purchasing World Nomads travel health insurance because:

  • Researching insurance is boring.
  • Many other travelers purchase World Nomads and they assume it’s a safe option.
  • They’re simply following the trend.
  • They have many fine reviews.

Practical Travel Health Insurance

During our last six years of travel through 70 countries, thankfully we’ve only needed to visit a doctor (outside of the US) a handful of times. During our time using World Nomads, we visited an eye doctor in Thailand and we damaged one of our laptops. Gratefully, both circumstances were covered by World Nomads with limited hassle.

The eye doctor was located in an extremely modern and new tourist hospital in Phuket. The cost of the visit (to the emergency room) would have been $50 if we were to pay out of pocket. Also, the screen on one of our laptop’s cracked while traveling. This laptop only costs a couple of hundred dollars brand new.

We love hiking and realize that there are many potential hazards out on the trails. | Travel Health Insurance

On the standard plan, World Nomads will only cover up to $500 per article. For this reason, World Nomads covered the cost to have the laptop repaired, which was $185.

Essentially, during our year of travel, we spent $2,100 on travel insurance (referred to as the premium) and received benefits of $235. On the contrary, not having travel health insurance would have saved us $1,865. In brief, the money you save on purchasing travel health insurance can be used to extend your trip. Below are the five reasons why you should not purchase World Nomads travel health insurance.

Some Activities We’ve Participated

We’re always looking for a good time, especially in Aitutaki. | Travel Health Insurance

To provide you with some level of risk that we take, below are some of the activities we’ve participated in. We may not be courageous enough to try bungee jumping or skydiving—yet. However, we have participated in some fun and precarious activities including:

  • Snorkeling
  • Long-distance hikes
  • Whitewater rafting
  • Helicopter flights
  • Extreme canyoning (rappelling)
  • Safari
  • Scottish hillwalking
  • Touring India
  • Taroko Gorge, Taiwan
  • Hot air balloon riding
  • Tuk-tuks and trike rides
  • Renting a scooter in Thailand for two months
  • Scuba diving in the Great Barrier Reef

1. Preexisting Medical Conditions Are Not Covered by World Nomads

Logically, most people looking to take a round-the-world trip or travel for an extended period are probably fairly healthy. This is a good thing for you and World Nomad’s business model because they do not cover preexisting medical conditions. However, you may still purchase World Nomads travel health insurance, they just “won’t cover any claim made as a result of this condition.” If you have a preexisting condition then World Nomads probably does not make sense for you.

2. You’re Not an Adrenaline Junky or Thrill Seeker

Adrenaline junkies or thrill-seekers are more likely to get hurt while traveling the world. How many times have we heard about someone jumping off a boat or cliff and getting seriously injured? Much of this is due to bad decision making and/or alcohol. Regardless, if you participate in riskier activities where the odds of sustaining an injury increase then World Nomads travel health insurance may be a good fit for you.

The odds of an accident occurring increase based on the riskiness of the activity. Photo captured on the island of Brac, Croatia. Bol Beach in the background is one of the best beaches in Europe.  | Travel Health Insurance

Why? Because one nice aspect of World Nomads travel health insurance is that there is a $0 deductible. Essentially, this means that after you’ve paid the premium (or lump sum price) then every medical expense will be covered up to the $100,000 maximum benefit. As a result, this type of insurance encourages riskier behaviors because there is limited liability built into the $0 deductible.

World Nomads Explorer Plan

Adrenaline junkies and thrill-seekers may be tempted to purchase the World Nomads “Explorer Plan.” Additional activities such as sky diving, via Ferrata, and camping above 22,965 feet are included. Adding the Explorer Plan will increase your premium by 50%! Also, it only covers very specific activities. We think people who are genuine adrenaline junkies and thrill-seekers are probably more durable and less fragile then someone who’s just sort of in the mood for something risky.

If you’re interested in the Explorer Plan, then consider paying for only the days that involve the risky activity. An example of a short-term, risky activity is cave diving.  If during the first week of February you’re going to be cave diving but for the rest of the month, you’re not, consider purchasing the Explorer Plan for only the first week and the Standard Plan for the rest of the month.

3. You Can Receive Many of World Nomads Perks for Free by Simply Using Your Credit Card

There are many perks that World Nomads include in their plan. However, some of them you can get for free by simply charging the entire travel fare to your eligible credit card. For example, with our Visa signature card we receive the following benefits for free:

  • Travel Accident Insurance: Receive a payout to you or your survivors for common carrier accidental death or dismemberment.
  • Lost Luggage Reimbursement: If lost or stolen, checked or carry-on luggage is covered up to $3,000.
  • Purchase Security: Replaces, repairs, or reimburses you for eligible items of personal property up to $500 per claim for 90 days from the date of purchase due to covered reasons.
  • Warranty Manager Service: Get double the period of the
    the original manufacturer’s written U.S. repair warranty up to one (1) full year on warranties of three (3) years or less.
  • Travel and Emergency Assistance Services: Get help coordinating medical, legal, and travel services while outside the US.
  • Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver: Receive coverage, at no
    additional cost, for damage due to collision or theft.

Trip Cancellation, Trip Interruption, and Trip Delay

One aspect of the World Nomads insurance that we like is the trip cancellation, trip interruption, and trip delay benefits. Although, after traveling to 70 countries in15 years, we never had a situation which would have qualified us for this reimbursement—luckily.

Although unlikely, we can see the benefit in World Nomads covering costs related to trip delays. Specifically, in cases where two separate flights have been booked with two different carriers. For instance, a delay in the first flight may cause a traveler to miss the second flight. Thus, creating a domino effect in their itinerary.

However, there’s a huge asterisk associated with the trip delay benefit. The flight needs to be delayed by three hours or more. So if the flight is delayed 2.5 hours or there’s an issue landing the plan (and in both cases, you miss your connecting flight) it does not qualify.

However, a simple way to mitigate this potential loss is to simply purchase trip insurance on those specific flights. The cost of purchasing individual flight insurance would be significantly less than purchasing World Nomads travel health insurance. Please note that if you cancel your trip for reasons other than those listed in the Trip Cancellation and Natural Disasters, Political Unrest, Terrorism, and War sections, you will not be covered.

4. Many Things Are Covered but Not All

Needless risks are so not worth it. | Travel Health Insurance

World Nomads travel insurance will cover most normal occurrences in daily life. However, there are 44 disclosures on their website that address circumstances where they will not pay for costs arising from specific situations, including:

  • Accidents while under the influence
  • Consensually contracted sexually transmitted diseases
  • Traveling overseas to receive medical treatment
  • Illegal activities
  • Preexisting conditions
  • While working overseas
  • Needless risks
  • Not all countries are covered
  • Failure to take appropriate action to avoid or minimize expenses

5. World Nomads is Expensive When Compared to Competitors

Realistically, if you’re in normal health then seeing a doctor or purchasing prescription drugs around the world is fairly cheap (by Western standards). For example, Audrey visited a dermatologist in Croatia and the procedure cost 30 USD.

We both had our teeth cleaned and examined in Budapest, Hungary for about 50 USD for both people.  Audrey’s prescription for NuvaRing cost us about 20 USD when we were working in the US, with top-notch medical insurance. Around the world, we can usually find it for between 15 to 30 USD without having medical insurance.

After the first year of using World Nomads travel insurance, we transitioned to Patriot Travel Medical Insurance with IMG. It covers everything that World Nomads does but at a fraction of the cost. The transition made sense for us because we were looking to cover only catastrophic accidents and medical emergencies. For example, if we were to break a leg or incur some other relatively minor medical condition we wouldn’t mind paying the expense directly out of pocket—once again, this is when visiting countries with cheap medical costs.

Visiting Countries With High Health Care Costs

We’re by no means encouraging others to travel without medical travel medical insurance. However, the longer we travel, the less medical insurance has become a stressful concern. Also, everyone handles stress differently and we can’t recommend something based on someone else’s risk and comfort levels. We can only share our experience.

Quad biking in Scotland, a country with very expensive health care costs. | Travel Health Insurance

An option to spending thousands of dollars on World Nomads travel insurance is to purchase IMG’s Patriot Travel Medical Insurance. You can do this by either purchasing travel health insurance to cover your trip:

  1. For the entire period.
  2. Only when visiting countries with high health care costs.

Regarding the second option, when we were traveling through Asia we didn’t carry travel health insurance, except when we visited Japan for three weeks. In other words, you can purchase either IMG or World Nomads for specific segments of your round-the-world trip or while traveling internationally. Looking back, we regret paying for World Nomad’s expensive premiums when we traveling through countries with low health care costs.

So What Did We Do?

When we concluded that we were spending too much on travel health insurance we transitioned to the IMG Patriot International travel health insurance plan. We purchased the 2,500 deductible, with a $100,000 policy maximum plan. Once again, this was at a fraction of the cost of World Nomads. We were covered for about three years—tweaking the plan many times along the way based on where we were in the world and how we felt both physically and mentally.

Staying Healthy on the Road

Mitigating your risks while on the road will help keep your health care costs as low as possible. | Travel Health Insurance

Backpackers know that lugging around a heavy rucksack around the world is a great way to stay in shape. However, if we were going to give common sense health advice to fellow travelers and backpackers it would include:

Not Staying out Past Midnight

It’s fairly safe to say that most bad things happen after midnight. If you’re going to stay out later, make sure you have a solid plan on how you’re going to return safely to your accommodations. We’ve heard countless horror stories of tourists in South America that decided to take a shortcut down an unlit street. You’re risking your health and your possessions. Probably not worth it.

Not Taking Needless or Foolish Risks

Just because everyone’s jumping off a cliff or a boat doesn’t mean it’s safe or that you have to do it. Listen to your gut. If it’s telling you that something doesn’t feel right then take a moment to analyze the risk.

For example, recently a British man was on holiday in Croatia when he decided to jump from the top deck of a party boat. He ended up impaled on a metal pole and broke seven ribs, shattered his collarbone, and punctured his lung. This is the type of traveler who should purchase World Nomads $0 premium travel health insurance.

Travel With Caution | Live to Travel Another Day

Would you rather take the risk of injury or travel for another three months healthy? That’s a no-brainer for us. For example, nearly all tourists traveling through India get sick from consuming local food or drinks. We did not. This is because we were extremely cautious about what we ingested.

For example, we were constantly being pressured to eat or taste something that was not hygienic. Of course, we kindly declined the invitation—however in some cases, we needed to be very forceful as many people would not take “no” for an answer. Don’t feel bad. Remember those people are not going to be in the hospital room with you or paying for your medical bills. Live to travel another day.

Are you thinking about purchasing travel health insurance or have you purchased travel health insurance from World Nomads, IMG, or another company? Please share your experience or questions in the comments section below.


Disclaimer: The Budget Savvy Travelers have no affiliation with World Nomads, IMG, SafetyWing or any other travel health insurance company. The views and opinions expressed are their own and not motivated by any other individual or institution.

2 thoughts on “Travel Health Insurance in 2021 | 5 Reasons NOT TO BUY World Nomads
  1. Prior to leaving on 6 week excursion there was a problem with the site not recognizing my membership. Supposedly that was corrected. For 6 days and counting I have been contacting World Nomad through every email and phone number that is available on a convoluted system of redirection to other sites and underwriters. I also made an emergency call on March 14 from Spain to a recording informing me of a 48 call back. Never happened. Now 6 days and waiting in-order to file a claim. Their service and response time is unacceptable.

    1. That’s terrible customer service. For what you’re paying there should be someone easily available 24/7.

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