While many expats moving abroad for work are covered by their employer’s group insurance policy, there is one group of workers abroad that are completely on their own. Freelancers have the freedom to travel and often love to immerse themselves in different cultures, but these independent, self-employed professionals don’t just need to find their own clients, they need to find their own insurance as well.
Every spot on the globe has its own risk factors that freelancers must take into consideration. One way to learn about these location-specific concerns is to visit The State Department’s website. There, you will find both travel warnings and alerts. Warnings are issued when there is a very serious and ongoing situation and The State Department wants to discourage travel to an area. Alerts are notifications of short-term hazards, such as natural disasters, that are either occurring, have potential to occur or are expected and that temporarily increase traveler safety risks.
For example, The State Department has issued a warning for Sudan that was recently updated in April 2013. This warning mentions the ongoing risk of terrorist attacks and kidnappings. If your freelance work, or your sense of adventure, calls you to a place with such warnings issued, you need to think about adding international life insurance and kidnapping insurance to your portfolio. Even if you have life insurance back in the States, it might not cover your death when it occurs in an area known to be experiencing terrorist attacks or political unrest. International life insurance, on the other hand, is designed to cover such risks. Kidnapping insurance can help cover expenses related to ransom, payment of informants, accidental death, reward payments, counseling and even the services of a negotiator. You may also consider warzone insurance for bundled coverage of health, life and disability as you travel into a known warzone.
Travel alerts may require different insurance considerations than warnings. For example, in January 2013, an alert was issued for South Pacific cyclone season. This alert expired on April 30th, but if you’d travelled, or planned travel, to that region during season, you would have wanted to consider trip insurance so that you could get reimbursed for any cancelled arrangements and reservations due to the storms.
In addition to considering the warnings and alerts issued by The State Department before you move to another location on your freelancing journey, you must measure some of the more universal concerns that will affect you no matter where you go. Generally, this includes healthcare expenses for accidents and illnesses you can experience while abroad. As you come into contact with new foods, pests and diseases, you may find that you become ill more often than you did at home. Since domestic health insurance doesn’t cover you abroad, you must make sure that you have a comprehensive travel health insurance that protects you from the expenses of obtaining qualified medical treatment overseas.
These policies offer another benefit that many freelancers and other expatriates often don’t consider, and that is the repatriation of remains should you pass away while abroad. This is an expensive process that could add another layer of stress and frustration to your family’s lives if you don’t have an international health insurance policy ready to cover it. Finally, your travel health insurance policy may even pay for a loved one to come be by your side if your health is in jeopardy.
After you’ve covered the basics in coverage, then accommodated any specific risks that you face in the locations you plan to visit, you should then consider some of the activities you plan to take part in and determine whether they are covered by your policy or if you need special riders to supplement the coverage. Some of the riders to consider include:
- The adventure sports rider to ensure proper coverage when taking part in certain activities such as inline skating and jet skiing.
- An evacuation plus rider to cover medical evacuation even when your medical condition is not life threatening.
- The citizenship return rider for those short-term trips back to the States to visit friends and relatives.
As a freelancer in this tech-savvy world, you may think that your laptop and cell phone are all you need to work abroad. But without the right international insurance backing your trip, you might find yourself out of commission, and out of money, fast.