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I read a whole bunch of World Nomads travel insurance reviews before signing up – but I never thought I’d be making one of my own.
I’ve already written about why I use World Nomads travel insurance and what to look for when choosing your own digital nomad insurance. But I never thought I’d find myself sitting down to write a full review of World Nomads because I’d had to make a claim.
Going into hospital while travelling is the kind of thing that you think will never happen to you. And then, out of nowhere, it does.
The good news is I can now share more details on the World Nomads claims process and share my experience of using World Nomads. I also made my money back (woohoo!). So here is a very honest review of World Nomads and my entire experience.
Why I chose World Nomads travel insurance
Before we move on to the gory details and full review, let’s just talk about why I chose World Nomads travel insurance in the first place. This is my second year of using them, and my first year started when I began travelling full time.
Getting adequate travel insurance was one of my biggest concerns when quitting my job to travel. And, since I’m the kind of person who likes to shop around before putting their money down, I a LOT of reviews of World Nomads before I coughed up the pretty hefty price tag.
That’s right – World Nomads isn’t the cheapest travel insurance you could buy.
Insurance is a funny thing, isn’t it? When you purchase travel insurance, it’s one of the only times you buy something in the hope that it will be a waste of money.
And that means it’s all too tempting to hop on a comparison site, find the best deal and grab it.
After what happened in Peru, I am SO glad that I didn’t do that. Not only would other travel insurance companies not have covered what I went through, but their policies are much stricter and my claim could have even been void. I’ve written a whole post on the ways you can get caught out with travel insurance, which you can read here.
I chose World Nomads travel insurance because it’s designed for full time travellers. There’s no need to go home every X number of days, you can renew while on the road (which is rare!) and it covers all sorts of events and activities. Essentially, it covered almost every scenario and had been designed for digital nomads like me.
When it all went wrong
I arrived in Peru ready for the scariest thing I’d done in a while: going back to school!
I’d always wanted to take intensive Spanish classes and, since I had some free time after a trip to Patagonia, it made sense to tag them on to the end. I decided on Peru because I’d heard the Spanish was fairly neutral and I knew the food was good (hello, priorities!).
Only it didn’t go the way I’d planned.
Realising something was wrong
After my first day at school, I was buzzing. I was on the highest high I’d felt in a long time. I knew this trip was going to be good for me.
On the second day, though, I started to get a weird achy feeling in my big toe. Putting it down to a bout of arthritis, I ignored it and had an insanely productive day, finished with a walk in a Miraflores park with the Peruvian woman I was staying with.
I remember how happy I felt as we left the apartment. And I vividly remember how quickly the pain developed. By the time we got back to the apartment, I was limping and in a lot of pain. Still putting it down to arthritis, I went to bed expecting to feel better in the morning.
But I didn’t. For a few more days, I limped to school and rested when I got back. Noticing that it wasn’t getting better, I realised there might be something else going on and headed to the hospital.
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A scary hospital experience
The first thing the doctor did when he saw me was take my temperature. He thought I might have a foot infection – but the lack of fever suggested otherwise.
An x-ray confirmed that my bones were perfectly fine and the doctors concluded I must have torn my soft tissue. They put my foot in a cast, prescribed me some painkillers and anti-inflammatory pills and sent me home.
They also told me I couldn’t walk for three days.
When I realised I wouldn’t be able to go to school, I was heartbroken. I’d saved and planned for this trip for months. It was the one thing I’d always wanted to do and it had gotten off to such an incredible start. And now I was stuck in bed with my leg in the air for three days.
Those three days passed, though, and I was able to take my lessons via Skype. It defeated the point of being in Peru – especially as I couldn’t even walk to the shop – but I was just happy to be on the mend.
Only I wasn’t. Three days later, I was in more pain than ever and my foot was bulging out of the cast. I was terrified but I knew I had to get back to the hospital right away.
“No me gusta”
The doctor ripped the cast off, held my foot in his hands and said “no me gusta”. Even with my very basic Spanish, I knew that wasn’t a good sign. He repeated it again and again: no me gusta, no me gusta, no me gusta.
All of the fear I had up until this point multiplied like bacteria. What was going on? Why didn’t he like what he saw? What was going to happen to me?
I was sent to a room for blood tests – something I don’t deal well with on a good day – and then wheeled off for an ultrasound. In the ultrasound room, I got my answer: It’s an infection. Look, you can see it here. It’s not good.
I looked at the screen and, sure enough, there was no mistaking that there was something in my foot that shouldn’t be in there. And because the cast had been compressing it, it had spread halfway up my lower leg.
They told me I was less than 48 hours away from life-saving surgery.
Most of the conversation was in Spanish but it didn’t even occur to me. I understood everything the doctor was saying. And my head was weirdly empty and full at the same time.
I heard the doctors talking about an IV drip and begged to know if there was another way. It was 11pm, I was exhausted and I couldn’t handle the thought of more needles. Plus, I didn’t want to take a taxi home any later than I had to. I felt safe in Lima but I felt incredibly vulnerable without the use of my legs.
They told me there was only one other option: an intensive course of antibiotics. I agreed without hesitation.
For the next 10 days, I had to take 7 pills a day and each one had to be taken on a full stomach. I was so exhausted from the infection that I barely had the energy to lift the first spoonful of rice to my mouth. It was a slow and painful process – with some meals taking me an hour or more to eat – but I managed it and the infection was healed.
It took a further 2-3 weeks before I could walk again, and another 2-3 weeks before I was walking without a limp and without pain.
It’s been three and a half months since it happened, and I’m still building the strength up in my ankle. Aside from the weakness – and a lack of exercise – I’m able to go about my life normally again now. I even managed an early morning hike in Kotor, Montenegro.
My World Nomads claim
Throughout the whole experience, I didn’t worry about money once. That’s probably because I felt pretty numb to everything – it was like a 2-week meditation, broken by tears when the pain got too much but otherwise empty.
I didn’t ask how much all these x-rays, ultrasounds and other tests were going to cost, even when I was about to pay. Frankly, I didn’t care. I knew it was going to be a lot but I was in so much pain that nothing else seemed to matter.
Once I began to recover, though, I looked at my receipts. My expensive trip to Peru had become even more expensive with all the hospital visits and the huge amount of medication I had to buy.
And so I decided to claim on my travel insurance.
Contacting World Nomads
Every time I’ve claimed on my insurance before – yep, there have been a few! – I’ve had to call them to start the claims process.
Both of my phones charge extortionate rates for making calls from certain countries, and Peru happens to be one of them. I wondered if it was even worth claiming on my insurance given how hefty my phone bill would be.
I logged on to the World Nomads site to see what options I had – and was SO relieved to see that you can make your claim online. No telephone calls needed.
The World Nomads claim form
The World Nomads claims form really couldn’t be simpler. It almost felt too simple when the time came to fill it in.
If you ever need to make a claim with World Nomads, you’ll be guided through a step by step process where you answer a series of questions. Many of these are multiple choice and all of them are straightforward.
After submitting my initial claim, World Nomads got in touch in less than 48 hours to let me know what they needed. This included receipts for the medication, test results, hospital bills and proof that I was discharged from the hospital.
All in all, they asked for about 25 pages of supporting documents. I had almost everything, but was missing one (I think it was a hospital admissions form) and worried that my claim would be rejected because of it. I uploaded these as PDFs and waited nervously.
After a few weeks, though, I got the email telling me they were sending all of the money (minus the £100 excess fee) and that was that. The money came into my account and the case was closed.
READ NEXT: The time I found an elephant in my campsite
Claiming with World Nomads
As with all insurance companies, there was a reasonable waiting time once I’d submitted my claim. If any part of the process was painful, it would be the waiting in silence, wondering if they even received the documents.
Unlike other companies, though, World Nomads did give me a deadline of when I could expect to hear from them. It was just a little frustrating not knowing if it would be accepted. There was a short wait of around 4 weeks in total, but I’ve always found that to be the case.
All in all, I couldn’t have been happier with my entire experience. Given that I was missing a documents and didn’t claim instantly – I waited until I had my final hospital appointment – they could have probably denied my claim. I know other insurers certainly would.
What really impressed me above all else, though, was how simple and clear everything was at each stage. And also how few stages there were! It really was the easiest insurance claim I’ve ever had to make, even though it was probably the most serious. That simplicity just made the whole thing so stress-free it almost felt like I shouldn’t expect the payout. And it’s hard to put a price on that.
Is World Nomads worth it?
Now that I’ve been through the entire claims process, I can give a much better review of World Nomads and whether it’s worth the price… and I say YES!
Had I not had that experience in Peru, I may have been tempted to switch to a similar service. Given that I never expected to use my travel insurance, I may have been tempted to look for cheaper options. World Nomads used to be the only option for long-term travellers but there have been more popping up since I first joined.
But now I’m sticking with them.
The World Nomads system was so easy to use and so stress-free, though, that I’ll be sticking with them. The whole point of insurance is to have peace of mind and I now have full confidence that I’ll be in good hands if anything else goes wrong.
World Nomads Standard vs Explorer
There are two tiers of insurance available with World Nomads – another example of how simple everything is. The Standard covers all the basics, but the Explorer covers more adventurous activities as well as some extras.
I’ve only ever bought the Standard insurance – again, not expecting to need it! When I renew my insurance in November, though, I’m going to upgrade to the full Explorer package.
The Explorer package includes all the same benefits as the Standard package, including emergency medical expenses, dental treatment, counselling, trip cancellation, baggage damage or loss and more. The Explorer package generally covers a higher value for all of these, plus has some extras. This includes cover for rental cars, money, delays, missed connections, hijacking, natural catastrophe and trip resumption.
World Nomads discount
If you’re new to World Nomads and worried about the price, good news! It’s super easy to get a discount. Simply click this link to get a quote and then leave the page open for a few minutes.