In mid May our medical insurance provider advised us they are getting out of the long term expatriate medical insurance business, therefore cancelling our policy. With only 3 weeks until we departed on a 15 month tour of Europe this threw us quickly into research mode to find replacement coverage. We posed the question to our fellow nomads on two Facebook groups we belong to asking what coverage they used. We received a number of suggestions and recommendations, the most helpful of which was to contact Susan Polk Insurance agency. Susan has assisted a number of full time nomads with their medical insurance needs over the years. In addition to contacting Susan we did a tremendous amount of research ourselves to gather as many options as possible.
What we found is every nomad has many different circumstances influencing their options for health coverage. What country are you a citizen of? What country are you a resident of? Do you have health coverage available in your home country? Do you have pre-existing medical conditions? How old are you? How long do you want coverage for? What countries are you traveling to? Etc, etc, etc… An important point for us is that as Canadian citizens we are eligible for health care immediately if we re-patriate.
Many of the recommendations presented to us by other nomads were not applicable to us based on our circumstances. After talking to Susan Polk, the biggest decision to be made was do we need permanent long term health coverage or short term travel coverage. Long term coverage is more costly as the insurance company takes you on for many years, possibly paying for a long term illness. Short term travel coverage is for a maximum one year at a time and thus allows the insurance company to not cover a long term illness. Each year is treated as a new application and any illness from a prior year would be considered a pre-existing condition and excluded from a new policy. This makes short term coverage much more affordable and less costly overall for the insurance provider. Insurance companies are also basing their short term premiums on the assumption that a long term traveler is typically in good health.
So the next important question became, what would we do if one of us got a long term illness. The answer was easy, our traveling days would likely be over and we would move back to Canada for the support of family and friends. Once we reached that decision we knew that long term coverage was not necessary and we could focus on short term travel insurance. That decision made we further narrowed our choices down to Patriot Travel Medical, World Nomads, and Atlas Travel. Then came the arduous task, which Blair took on, of reading seemingly endless pages of coverage options and exclusions to determine which company fit our needs the best. Remembering this policy is only for one year we chose the best one for that time frame knowing when it expires we have the option to change companies if a more suitable policy becomes available.
For our first year we chose World Nomads Explorer Plan and will re-evaluate our insurance needs again in 12 months. The World Nomads policy gives us some extra coverage, besides health insurance, related to travel problems which was a nice addition. Researching health insurance will no doubt be an ongoing project during our home free travels…..