Health Insurance for Full Time Travel
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Last Updated on November 18, 2019 by Amy
All prices are in USD. We are Americans, Blowing Bubbles is Canadian.
In October, our friends on S/V Blowing Bubbles were in a major accident in Indonesia. Kyle was evacuated to Singapore, where they received a $78,000 medical bill.
We’ve had small medical bills here and there in our four years of travel. Many of them have been for care that we felt was good, and significantly cheaper than we would pay in the US. Some examples of full out-of-pocket payments we have made in the last few years:
- my visit to the emergency room in Labuan Bajo, Indonesia where I paid $55 for the emergency room visit and prescriptions
- my well-woman exam in Australia for $55
- a dermatology appointment in Australia for $23
- x-rays in Fiji for our Australian visas at $150 each
- a dermatologist in New Zealand for $60
Blowing Bubbles’ accident gave us some things to look at regarding our health insurance policy and what we could do to avoid problems with insurance policies. We learned a few lessons from what they experienced.
Getting Health Insurance
We used a broker to find our health insurance. It is a policy that is known as “ex-pat” insurance. We pay about $3,300 a year right now for our premium with a $500 deductible. We are young (35 this year!) and generally in very good health. Health care outside of the US is out of pocket, which we could then file for reimbursement. We have never been close to our deductible.
As ex-pats, we can only spend 6 months of the year in the United States to be covered by this insurance. When in the states, it works just like regular health insurance: we file with the health care provider.
Many of our friends (including Blowing Bubbles) use DAN insurance. There are a few different policies available at different coverage limits.
Here is our broker’s contact info:
Cecille Brechin CIC, LTCIS, MSAA
5 Star Worldwide Insurance Agency
Toll free 855-499-9915
With cheap insurance comes low maximum limits. We pay ten times the amount our friends paid for health insurance, but our policy has a maximum limit of $5 million! Blowing Bubbles exceeding their maximum limit.
Our policy has a $50,000 sub-limit for evacuation. When we applied for our cruising permit for Chagos, we were required to acquire insurance of $100,000 to cover emergency evacuations.
We contacted Cecille and sent her the verbiage the BIOT administration staff sent us. Cecille found a travel policy for us that gave us $50,000 medical insurance limit, a $250 deductible, and $1 million in medical evacuation for 60 days for $113.82. Very reasonable!
The major issue Blowing Bubbles experienced was that their main health insurance policy excluded motorcycles….so it didn’t cover any of their motorcycle accident.
We rarely ever ride motorcycles, but we read through our insurance policy to better understand our exclusions and found that we are not covered when we dive without a professional dive instructor.
If you don’t want to pay for an extremely high maximum, DAN does have a few good policies for basic coverage. While Blowing Bubbles exceeded their limit, they did have really good things to say about DAN and are still very passionate fans of DAN insurance.
- Medical Non-Dive Accidents: $20,000
- Emergency Medical Transportation: $100,000
- No Medical Insurance
- Emergency Medical Evacuation: $150,000
Every year our premium increases by 15%. This is COMPLETELY normal, as I’ve read of 15% or more increases in many sailing forums.
What else should you look for in health insurance? What loopholes have you struggled with when filing a claim?
I strongly encourage anyone looking for cruising insurance to look at “Seven Corners Insurance”. We are 31 months into a planed circumnavigation presently in lock-down in the Bay of Islands,NZ. We are Canadian in a Farrier F36/39 Trimaran.
They have a variety of policies, ours is Liason Magestic
Great tip! Thank you!
The exclusions are a common unpleasant surprise in insurance policies at home as well! This is really great information.
Thanks for the article – well written and informative as ever. We were sad to learn about the travails of S/V Blowing Bubbles and wish them the best. While you provided the details of your broker, would you mind sharing the name of the insurance provider for you policy?
As I said on the FB post we used IMG the gold plan at first and then the bronze as it got very pricey the older we got. I found it wasn’t helpful in the US. my deductible was high. A caveat is all the insurance companies play games with deductibles and what they call reasonable and customary fees. Still I would not have wanted to be without it if a critical need arose.
Great information! A side note about DAN/DAN Boater in the fine print of their policies it says you must spend 1 night in the US every 12 months in order to be covered. I confirmed this myself with DAN customer relations. Being a fulltime cruiser we rarely fly back. Therefore I will not be renewing my policy this month. There are other options.