While teaching abroad I have visited over 20 countries and lived and worked on four continents. I have also been evacuated due to the Egyptian revolution, had surgery in Costa Rica and visited a Spanish hospital for a potential blood clot. In this post, I’ll share what travel insurance is and why it’s important for teachers abroad to make sure they have adequate cover while traveling and teaching abroad.
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What is travel insurance?
Travel insurance is a supplementary insurance used by travelers, nomads and teachers abroad. Travel insurance typically covers issues like flight delays, cancellations, and lost luggage as well as medical visits abroad and evacuation.
Every time I leave my home base country (wherever I am teaching at the time), I make sure to buy travel insurance for the duration of my trip. You’ll want to start your policy on the day you leave and end the policy on the day your last flight arrives. (Be careful if traveling through multiple time zones!)
I consider travel insurance to be essential to every trip I take and have used it to pay for medical visits and medication abroad, canceled flights, luggage delays, hotel stays due to missed flights and even surgery.
Why do teachers need travel insurance?
If you are teaching abroad for a school year or semester, your medical insurance in your new country is typically tied to your job. This means that there may be a gap between when you leave your home country and start your teaching job abroad. During this gap, you’ll want to make sure you are covered in case you need medical attention abroad, as well as for trip cancellations and delays.
If you are planning on traveling, or traveling and teaching as you go, then you 100% need travel insurance. In this case, you’ll need a policy that covers medical and trip expenses in multiple countries. I’ve known several people who have ended up in the hospital during trips abroad and ended up thousands of dollars in debt because they didn’t have travel insurance. Get the insurance. It’s worth it!
Are all travel insurance companies the same?
There are a lot of different travel insurance companies out there. Unfortunately, I had a REALLY bad experience with World Nomads. I am a US citizen and was a permanent resident teaching abroad in Australia when I took time off from teaching and traveled to Europe to meet up with my parents and visit my in-laws.
When my flight from Dubrovnik, Croatia to Singapore was canceled due to high winds (the airport staff let us watch the monitor where flights were circling the airport trying to land and none of them could), World Nomads decided that they wouldn’t pay for my new flights, meals purchased during the time waiting for my rescheduled flight, or new hotel booking in Singapore.
World Nomads Australia claimed that I should have purchased the policy as a US citizen and World Nomads US claimed that I should have purchased the policy as an Australian resident. I went in circles, eventually speaking to the VP of World Nomads US about my situation and they never paid me a penny.
Now I recommend SafetyWing insurance which is rated 4.4 stars out of 5 on Trustpilot. If you are a digital nomad, SafetyWing travel medical insurance is perfect for you! SafetyWing offers Nomad Insurance and Remote Health for Nomads and Companies. While you are usually covered by medical insurance from your school when teaching abroad, I recommend taking out SafetyWing travel medical insurance when traveling while abroad or between contracts (when moving to another country, for example.)
What should I look for in a travel insurance policy?
All companies have different policies and even different levels of policies, so here are some questions to ask.
- Does it cover travel costs, medical costs, or both?
- Can I extend my coverage if I decide to stay longer in my destination/abroad?
- What is the deductible? Are there different levels of deductibles?
- What pre-existing medical conditions are not covered?
- Can I use it to travel back to my home country? (This is REALLY important for teachers abroad. Imagine you want to go back to the US for Christmas and are teaching in Spain. You need a policy that covers your country of citizenship and not many insurers offer this, or there may be a time limit. Read the fine print!)
- Am I responsible for paying for medication?
- How do I file a claim?
- Does it cover any covid related costs?
- Does it cover extreme sports like skiing?
- Can I buy a year plan or only individual trips?
The most important things when choosing a travel insurance company, in my opinion, are reading the fine print and looking at reviews.
Travel insurance is a must for travelers and teachers abroad. Without it you run the risk of getting stuck with hefty bills. It’s ALWAYS worth it to get the insurance, even when nothing goes wrong.
If you are planning on teaching and traveling long term, then I recommend checking out SafetyWing’s Nomad Insurance which is available for 180 countries and can be bought or renewed while traveling. The creators were inspired by their own nomadic lifestyle to create it for others like them. You can get all the details here.
Happy teaching (and traveling!)