Travel is all about excitement, adventure, and meticulous planning! Well, two of those sound fun. But the truth is that you have to plan ahead when you travel with your family, and one thing you have to consider is whether or not you’ll need travel insurance for your family gap year.
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I won’t bury the lead — we did not get travel insurance while we were traveling the United States (our home country), but we did get travel insurance when we traveled overseas and backpacked through Europe for 10 months.
That’s not to say that travel insurance would never come in handy in the US, or that you definitely need it in Europe. I’ll share more about why we made the decisions we did, why SafetyWing is our travel insurance of choice, and why you may or may not want to purchase your own travel insurance for your travels.
What can travel insurance help with?
Travel insurance offers various types of coverage and assistance to travelers, but benefits vary among providers and plans. You’ll want to pay close attention to the policies you’re considering to make sure you get the coverage you want.
Here are some of the common benefits and services typically offered by travel insurance policies:
Trip Cancellation and Interruption
If you need to cancel or cut short your trip due to unforeseen circumstances, such as illness, injury, or death of a family member, travel insurance may reimburse you for non-refundable expenses like flights, accommodations, and prepaid activities.
If your trip is delayed for a covered reason such as severe weather or an airline strike, travel insurance may provide reimbursement for additional expenses due to the delay, such as meals, accommodations, and transportation.
Travel insurance often covers medical costs if you become ill or suffer an injury during your trip. Coverage may include hospitalization, doctor’s visits, prescription medications, and/or emergency medical evacuation.
When evaluating travel insurance plans for medical coverage, make sure to note if the coverage extends beyond emergency treatment to preventative care (it often doesn’t).
Baggage and Personal Belongings
It’s never fun to lose your luggage or personal items (or worse, have them stolen), but it’s a risk when traveling. Your travel insurance policy may reimburse you for the loss, theft, or damage of your baggage and personal items during your trip. It may also cover the cost of essential items if your baggage is delayed.
Travel Assistance Services
Many travel insurance policies offer 24/7 assistance services. These services can include emergency travel arrangements, medical referrals, translation services, legal assistance, and concierge services.
If you need to be evacuated to a medical facility or transported back to your home country due to a serious illness or injury, travel insurance may cover the associated costs, which can be substantial.
Accidental Death and Dismemberment
In the unfortunate event of accidental death or severe injury while traveling, travel insurance may provide compensation to you or your beneficiaries.
Travel insurance often includes personal liability coverage, protecting you from legal expenses if you accidentally cause injury or property damage to others.
When you’re comparing travel insurance options, be sure to look at what is covered and not just the cost. An inexpensive option that doesn’t cover much might not be worth paying for at all, and if you’re budgeting for a pricier choice, you’ll want more robust coverage.
Do I need travel insurance while traveling in the United States?
If you are from the United States and plan to travel just within the country, it’s my opinion that travel insurance usually isn’t necessary. If you’re traveling by car, you don’t have to worry about airlines losing your baggage, and your health insurance likely covers treatment for you outside of your home state (though you might have to pay out-of-network prices).
You should check your medical insurance fine print to know ahead of time what kind of services you could get outside your home state, including emergency care.
If you’re traveling by car, definitely make sure your car insurance is up-to-date with full coverage.
Also, as an alternative to purchasing an overall policy, you may choose to pay for cancellation insurance on individual hotel or rental accommodations, activity bookings, or transportation tickets.
Do I need travel insurance while traveling in other countries?
We decided that yes, we did want to pay for travel insurance while traveling outside of the United States. There’s no requirement for American travelers to show proof of travel insurance when you travel to Europe, but it does provide you with peace of mind.
You’ll want to look up the entry requirements of any country you’ll be traveling to, in case they have specific stipulations for insurance coverage.
We were mostly concerned with medical coverage in the case of an emergency overseas, but it was also nice to have coverage for trip cancellations and loss of luggage.
What’s the best travel insurance for digital nomads?
I did a ton of research on travel insurance before we headed overseas, and there was no contest — SafetyWing is the best travel insurance for full-time travelers.
I’m sure more and more options are springing up, but in 2021, most travel insurance was designed to cover one trip to take place over a specific time frame. As a digital nomad family, we needed travel insurance that would cover us in most countries, that we could pay for on an ongoing basis, and which we could cancel whenever we were ready.
While there are a few options out there, SafetyWing was our choice for several reasons.
Affordable Coverage: SafetyWing offers inexpensive travel insurance plans designed for long-term travelers and digital nomads, making it more accessible for those on a budget. It’s especially good for families, as children are free when included on a plan with a paying adult (2 maximum per family).
Comprehensive Coverage: SafetyWing’s policies cover all the areas that were important to us — emergency medical care, travel cancellations and delays, lost luggage, and more.
Flexibility and Convenience: SafetyWing’s travel insurance policies are subscription-based, allowing you to start and stop coverage as needed. Your coverage auto-renews every four weeks, ensuring continual coverage until you choose to end your policy.
SafetyWing Nomad Insurance is especially designed to work for digital nomads, remote workers who travel overseas, and full-time traveling families. It was the perfect solution for us.
How much does SafetyWing cost?
In June 2023, SafetyWing insurance starts at $45.08 per 4 weeks, per person. It gets better for families, as children under 10 are free when included on a policy with a paying adult (maximum 2 free children per family).
Your policy premium is charged every 4 weeks until you cancel, which was perfect for us. We set it up one time and just let it roll until we were back in the States, and we had no difficulty with cancellation whatsoever.
Is it easy to get care and make claims with SafetyWing?
In the end, SafetyWing was pure peace of mind for us. We were lucky to never run into a situation where we had to get medical care, cover trip cancellations or lost luggage, or any other occurrence that would have warranted a claim.
But here’s what I’ve heard others say. SafetyWing can give you recommendations on where to go for medical care, but it’s up to the facility whether they will bill SafetyWing directly or make you pay upfront and file a claim with SafetyWing later on. Obviously, the first situation is preferable, as it’s not always easy or possible to pay a large medical bill upfront.
I read reviews where people said that the process of filing a claim and getting reimbursed was sometimes lengthy, but in every situation the person reported that they did eventually receive a reimbursement of all bills they paid upfront.
Embarking on a family gap year or embracing a nomadic lifestyle is an exhilarating experience. It offers opportunities for personal growth, cultural immersion, and unforgettable memories. Travel insurance ensures peace of mind for you and your loved ones, wherever your destination.
SafetyWing travel insurance, with its affordable rates, comprehensive coverage, and flexibility, is an excellent choice for families and digital nomads alike. Prioritize your well-being and enjoy your journey with the knowledge that you have a reliable safety net in place. Safe travels!