18 Dec Insurance for digital nomads
As the 21st century marches on towards the end of its first quarter, we are becoming used to a world of freedom and choice that previous generations could not have imagined. Don’t want to go into the office? Stay in bed and work from there, then. Bored of living in New York or San Diego or Austin? Up sticks and move to Portugal or Laos or Bali.
OK, not everyone has quite that level of freedom, but it is a reality for a significant proportion of us today, and life as a digital nomad has an enormous appeal, not just as a way to spend a year or two before you settle down, but as a lifestyle choice. You can bet that there are web designers in their early 20s working from a beach in Bali who will still be there enjoying their retirement 50 or 60 years from now!
A reality check
If that tells you one thing, it is that the digital nomad lifestyle is more than just hippy idealism and sunset cocktails on the beach. It’s a serious career choice, and that means there are serious decisions that go with it.
One of the most important relates to health. As a self employed freelancer or contractor, if you’re not working you’re not earning. Being off sick can be a serious problem, even if you are in your home country. But if it happens overseas, you can be in even bigger trouble.
The importance of insurance
Travel insurance is about more than protecting your luggage in the event of loss, particularly for long-term travelers. It also needs to cover healthcare, dental and all the associated costs that can go with them, such as repatriation in the event of a serious problem.
That goes without saying if you are in Laos, Cambodia, Bali, Thailand or any one of the hundred other digital nomad havens in South East Asia. But what if you are instead exploring Europe? The South of France and the Portuguese Algarve have become magnets for this new breed of global migrant.
Many talk about the wonders of the European healthcare system. Let’s face it, people on both sides of the Atlantic never tire of saying how much better it is than in the USA. So the question Do I Really Need Schengen Medical Travel Insurance for Europe? is an understandable one.
A quick look at the Department of Health UK website quickly provides the answer. The National Health Service (NHS) is often held up as a glowing model for the rest of the world, but it has its limits. Specifically, it is “free only to people who live on a lawful and properly settled basis in the United Kingdom.”
In other words, unless you are a UK resident, make the required National Insurance contributions and are registered with the National Health Service, you will have to pay for any medical treatment.
Having said that, nobody is going to leave you bleeding on the street. In an emergency, the NHS will provide treatment and care, regardless of who you are and where you are from. But beyond that initial care, any further treatment will be charged.