Traveling isn’t all cocktails on the beach.
Not the way I do it.
When you travel full-time, it’s a special lifestyle.
With life, comes chores. I can’t put off all the things I need to do for a few weeks while I’m vacationing. I'm always vacationing, and the work has to get done sometime.
When every day's a holiday, there really are no holidays.
So fellow travelers often wonder why I’m bent over my laptop, or making business calls, when I’m supposed to be always taking full advantage of some tourist destination. It's because things like banking, taxes, and insurance have to be tended to.
Insurance has been a particular problem of late.
The Failure of World Nomads
my first claim recently and the company wouldn’t pay.
Despite their name, they don’t favor nomads, I found out.
If you aren’t anchored to a home country with a legitimate residential address, they don’t want to do business with you. That is unless they can take your premiums without telling you that.
I haven’t had a home address since I left Hawaii (USA) more than three years ago. All I have is a mail forwarding address in Nevada.
I was always quite clear about that with World Nomads. I told them I don’t just take trips from time to time, I am constantly traveling. What would I do with a residence?
One time a couple of years ago I had trouble with the World Nomads web site accepting my online application (you need to renew every few months or so). A World Nomads rep walked me through the process of getting around the address problem over the phone. Fine.
In July, I had a medical bill for treatment of bronchitis at a Thailand hospital that amounted to a little more than $300. I properly filed the forms, my first claim, and was soon told they wouldn’t honor it because I didn’t have a home residential address!
Of course, I was not pleased. I protested vigorously.
Premiums of more than $100 per month that were accepted by World Nomads for more than three years were nothing to sneeze at when, as I pointed out, they knew my non-residential address status. We went round and round a few times but still WN refused to honor the claim.
Finally, the company offerred to refund six months of premiums in hopes that I would go away.
Since that amount was more than double the amount of the claim, I accepted. My alternative at that point was getting attorneys involved and I preferred not to go that route.
Searching For New Coverage
So then I was completely without travel insurance, which routinely covers not only medical and hospitalization costs, but relocation to a hospital near your home if seriously injured, and repatriation of your remains should you die while traveling. It also covers lost or stolen baggage, losses due to canceled flights, and other relatively low-cost travel-related nuisances.
I really only wanted the medical/hospitalization part but it’s difficult to find that separate from all the packaged plans. And nearly all plans require a home country and residential address. At one point I considered self-insuring, but quickly realized that I’d never save enough to pay for any kind of catastrophic injury or illness.
Well-meaning fellow travelers on forums where I discussed my problem suggested using a friend’s or relative’s address in the U.S. as a surrogate residence just for the purposes of the insurance. In other words, commit fraud, no matter how minor. I found that idea distasteful, even perhaps risky, providing another reason for the insurer to deny my next claim if found out. But I'm told it works.
I also dislike burdening a friend or relative with that kind of personal intrusion of privacy, even though I have two adult sons and know other people who likely would allow me to do it. I would be the same way, I suppose. I’m sure I'd allow a friend to use my address in that kind of situation if asked, but I think I would still harbor a lingering sense of resentment about being used that way.
I also envision the possibility of a grisly scene one day when a FedEx box of my remains lands on the doorstep of some unsuspecting friend.
Nevertheless, I was preparing to seek the subterfuge route, because sometimes you just have to hold your nose, hope for the best, and do what you have to do in this world. I don’t even want to know what would happen if I got run over by a bus in Bulgaria without the means to pay the medical bill.
Now Traveling With Safety Wing
So I kept looking for a legitimate, affordable policy that would insure the true nomadic lifestyle of a traveler like me. I’m not sure why it's so difficult. But I persevered and eventually discovered SafetyWing, a Tokio Marine HCC-backed insurer that did not require a home country residential address, and covers me as a traveler wherever I am. I pay just a little more per month than I did with World Nomads.
I just hope now that I never have to find out how SafetyWing's claims process works. That would be fine with me.
Quotes For A Good Life On The Road
“A foolish faith in authority is the worst enemy of truth.”
-- Albert Einstein
See my complete collection of "Quotes For The Road" by clicking "More" in the dropdown menu above.
Who Am I?
I'm a retired journalist from Hawaii who tired quickly of retirement and hit the road as a slow, solo world traveler in August 2016. I've spent time in 20 countries on four continents. Currently I'm in sunny Merida, Mexico, waiting out developments in the coronavirus crisis before moving on. Meanwhile, learn more about me and my travels at Nomadic Matt, and Expat Focus, and in a great story by veteran Borneo newsman and prolific author James Ritchie, about our memorable meeting in Malaysia, A Confluence of Adventure Writers .
Also online ...
GARIFUNA SETTLEMENT DAY
Still the most authentic, lively and colorful local cultural festival I've seen on the road.
I found this Alternative Arts and Music Festival in the Amazon highlands of Peru. What a find!
Solas "Best Travel Writing" Awards
Saysha: What Happened?
13th Annual Solas Awards for Best Travel Writing
(Read it here)