In Part 1, Meredith helped you ensure your spending power while you travel with her tips for using debit and credit cards. Now, let's take a look at the insurance you need (and don't need) while you're on the road long-term.
I Got You Covered
Insurance is a tricky one, but I'll share my experiences.
Most travel health insurance requires you to have a primary plan in the United States. If you are no longer working and do not have employee-sponsored insurance, you will likely need to consider the implications and opportunities of ObamaCare. This information is subject to change depending upon the President’s and Congress's actions to repeal ObamaCare.
However, ObamaCare states the 330-day rule: unless you are outside the United States for more than 330 days in a calendar year, you are subject to the law, which means that many globetrotters must carry qualifying insurance for the entire year or be prepared to pay the tax penalty. In 2016, the penalty was the greater of $695 or 2.5% of household income. It is not sufficient to purchase short term health insurance only while you are in the U.S. However, there is a three-month coverage gap exemption that you could consider if you are planning on traveling for less than three months.
Remember this isn't only about finances, but also about ensuring you have a healthcare policy that might be required by your travel insurance or to cover you should you need to return to the U.S. for treatment. Please do your own due diligence and research the current requirements under ObamaCare or its replacement, as well as requirements from your travel insurance.
This is a general term that typically includes medical expenses, lost or stolen luggage, or other losses or damages to belongings while traveling. I highly recommend having travel insurance – it may even be required by some outdoor or adventure tours or guides. That said, I haven’t had amazing experiences with any particular company. As mentioned above, many travel insurance policies are a complement and secondary to your primary health insurance. This usually means that if you need to seek medical attention you pay out of pocket, and then submit a claim to your primary health insurance. If they deny it, you can submit to your travel insurance.
I had coverage with World Nomads and filed one claim for damage to personal items. The claim system is long and complicated and NOT traveler friendly. I had to print, sign, scan and email documents, and ultimately they sent a check rather than an electronic deposit which is not ideal while you're traveling. I wouldn't say I recommend them, but they seem to be among the best coverages available. When pricing the plans, note that the monthly rate reduces with longer policies, so consider overestimating instead of underestimating your travel time. Renewing for just a few weeks or a month is more expensive.
In trying to minimize at-home expenses, you may be able to reduce your car insurance. Check with your state; however, if you have a vehicle and can store or garage it, you may be able to update your registration for non-use and therefore can temporarily remove the required liability insurance, saving substantially each month.
This is Part 2 of a 3-part series by Meredith about preparing for long-term travel. Read Part 1 here, and check back soon for part 3!
Meredith McCurdy is returning to the U.S. after a year of globetrotting. A sports marketer, yoga teacher, and wanderluster, she loves helping others take the travel plunge.