Digital Nomad Jobs and Insurance That’d Be Good No Matter Where You Stood
New technologies are constantly emerging, and as a result, new ways of working are also arising, causing the global labor market to become increasingly fragmented. With the rise of remote work, more and more people are seeking the ability to work from any location without having to choose between their ideal job and preferred living arrangements. Ideally, they seek flexibility to switch their remote working location periodically. This provides the best of both worlds, and it’s made possible by digital job activities. There’s a specific group of people who actively pursue this lifestyle, and they’re known as digital nomads.
What’s a digital nomad?
Digital nomads are individuals who travel from their home country to another country for work, made possible by technological advancements. This group includes freelancers, business travelers, GIG economy workers, journalists, remote workers, social workers, and exchange students.
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The COVID-19 pandemic cut the aspirations of such freedom short, but the digital nomads recovered quickly. In 2021, there were approximately 35 million digital nomads globally, with 15.5 million from the US.
Common attributes of digital nomads are their risk affinity and ownership of assets that do not hinder a spontaneous change of heart to move to a new location on a Tuesday afternoon. So it is less surprising when looking at the demographics of digital nomads and seeing that they are relatively young: 44% of American digital nomads are millennials, 21% are Gen Z, against only 12% being Baby Boomers — the generation that recently entered the silver economy.
From an insurance perspective, these digital nomads are challenging to attain, as most insurance products are, in one way or another, linked to a government entity- and its regulations. This shouldn’t stop incumbents from pushing past those barriers, though, as this population segment is fascinating, not only from their unique lifestyle but also from a financial perspective. They are often highly educated, with 55% holding a bachelor’s degree; information technology and creative services are the most popular job fields among them. Their pay is very lucrative: the average yearly income of digital nomads is $117,959 per year, and they have a global economic spending of around $767m.
How can an insurance company break into this fun, young, and profitable segment? Digital nomads are eager for exciting experiences, and an insurance company can position itself as the facilitator of such adventures by protecting against unexpected emergencies. In this way, the insurance corporation can position itself as a protector, enabling digital nomads to pursue their experiences without worrying about unforeseen circumstances.
How digital nomad jobs introduce new needs for the insurance sector
Currently, insurance products tend to be overly complex, lacking user-friendly processes and taking up valuable time for digital nomads to research and obtain coverage before traveling. They also exclude relevant treatments and have limitations, leaving digital nomads to piece together a patchwork of inadequate products. Additionally, these insurance options are inflexible, resulting in low customer satisfaction and retention.
To create insurance products that truly serve digital nomads, insurance companies must take a customer-centric approach and deeply understand this demographic's specific needs and preferences. Digital nomads face various travel-related risks, such as trip cancellations, flight delays, and loss of stolen luggage. They are also at higher risk for health issues while traveling, especially in areas with limited access to healthcare.
Furthermore, many health insurance plans only cover single trips, leaving digital nomads without adequate coverage for ongoing medical needs such as dental care, checkups, and travel vaccinations. They may also face liability risks while working in countries with different laws and regulations than their home country.
The ideal insurance policies for digital nomads should:
- Include coverage for travel disruption and cancellation, medical emergencies, and liability protection,
- Be flexible, offering worldwide coverage so digital nomads are protected no matter where they travel.
- Be easy to understand and accessible from anywhere in the world. Insurers can leverage technology to provide an online platform to purchase and manage insurance policies.
What for the average individual is a “nice to have,” the digital nomad sees as a “must have.”
The future of digital nomad lifestyle
For insurers, keeping pace with digital nomads' changing needs and circumstances is crucial. With the boom in remote working and the increase in digital nomads in the past few years, particularly after the pandemic, insurance companies are just starting to address this new demographic. Most digital nomads are still relatively young, so as the population ages, the needs of digital nomads are likely to change, posing new insurance challenges.
What potential insurance product could an insurance company offer to enter and pioneer the digital nomad market? A highly underserved product within this market is anything related to the long-term financial well-being of digital nomads who often prioritize living in the present. In other words, there’s a need for retirement planning and investment solutions.
Traditional insurance companies typically offer requirement policies tied to life insurance policies linked to a single country’s specific retirement regulations and schemes. This means that retirement planning is particularly complex for digital nomads, who often require more international and flexible plans. Managing finances and saving for retirement is much easier when you live your entire life in one place, and the current system isn’t designed for nomads. There truly is a gap in the market.
Insurance companies can help digital nomads to be able to save for their retirement by providing more flexible, international, and tailored-based annuities and life insurance. This can be done internally by improving additional offers or creating new products, or externally by collaborating with the right startups.
At Plug and Play, we believe great innovation happens through collaboration between incumbents and startups. As such, we couldn’t ignore the digital nomad insurtech scene and decided to examine the current offerings. Our findings were quite interesting: out of 13 insurtechs we analyzed that specifically cater to this target market, none offered retirement planning. Only five companies focus on health and property & casualty insurance, while the rest focus only on one or the other.
Interestingly, most of these insurtechs differentiated themselves less on the insurance product and more on the additional services offered with the insurance. Some examples include the ability to receive remote medical care, pregnancy check-ups, or psychological support. We have included our exact findings in the appendix for your reference.
The evolution in this sector is fascinating. The integration of retirement plans and life insurance solutions within that sector still needs to be addressed, and the opportunities are riveting.
Digital nomads’ needs could be connected with various products incumbents offer to critical mass. Some examples include cybersecurity insurance, as their work is, in most cases, fully digital. Many digital nomads have a social presence as the typical influencer or the more reserved individual who still uses digital channels for their marketing and go-to-market strategy.
Social-identity insurance would protect digital nomads from hacking, losing their accounts, and getting stripped of their income stream.
Tangible assets are also great insurance targets. Digital nomads moving with lightweight possessions have fewer items but genuinely care for each of them, which small-item insurance would cover perfectly. It follows the idea of protecting your bubble, focusing on the few gadgets and electronic items an individual on the move would own.
A look into what insurance incumbents are doing currently
What are the insurance incumbents currently doing in the space? We had the same question and took a look. The startup-corporate collaboration is predominantly on an MGA business model. An MGA is a managing general agent that partners with a risk carrier, an insurance corporation, to offer niche insurance solutions to a specific population segment. The collaboration is fruitful for all parties. The risk carrier gets a new channel to attain hard-to-insure individuals, the MGA (insurtech) doesn’t need to carry the risk itself, and the end-customer can find tailored insurance solutions to their needs that go beyond the traditional products and offer little to no flexibility.
- World Nomad and True Traveller are underwritten by AXA, Safety Wings by Lloyd’s, and Insured Nomads by HDI (Hannover Speciality). Allianz partners up with Trov, a startup that provides on-demand insurance for specific items, such as laptops or cameras, for short-term periods. Those are the first steps into the scene of flexible and adaptive work conditions incumbent corporates make to enter the hard-to-attain market.
- An exciting use case is the collaboration between Remote Year and Cigna. Remote Year is a program that allows individuals to work remotely while traveling and exploring new destinations, while Cigna is a global health service company. The insurance solution includes health insurance coverage, access to telemedicine services, and emergency travel assistance.
- Safety Wing and Slack are leading the way with an innovative partnership tailored to this new reality as the workforce moves toward remote work in record numbers. By connecting health insurance coverage for dispersed teams that use Slack as their primary means of communication, these organizations have redefined collaboration and provided a blueprint for success during unprecedented times.
So, exciting times are ahead for digital nomads, and insurance corporations are coming to the stage. The space is highly underserved, and the demand is there. The demographic of remote and freelancing workers is increasing, so we will look for new, fun, and valuable collaborations between insurtechs and corporations to create the innovative insurance solutions needed.
The six startups that offer both health as well as property and casualty (P&C) coverage are:
- World Nomad: What sets World Nomads apart is its flexibility, allowing policyholders to purchase the plan while already traveling. The coverage includes emergency health care, a 24/7 assistance team, transport and treatment, and over 200 adventure activities. The startup donates to local charities to run projects directly with local communities.
- Safety Wing: Their health insurance covers almost every country in the world. They go beyond B2B by offering online healthcare insurance for companies that employ digital nomads. Beyond the adapted health insurance that includes emergency flights home, missed flights, theft, and lost baggage are all taken care of too.
- Insured Nomads: Insured Nomads specializes in two categories of coverage: travel insurance for those who make regular trips abroad and health insurance for those who live and work overseas. Insurees can buy add-ons for adventure sports, pet insurance, car rental, and accidental death and dismemberment. For health insurance packages for those living overseas, they differentiate by offering coverage for routine, preventative, and chronic care. They offer a membership that entails crisis response and well-being counseling.
- True Traveler: They are a travel insurance for backpackers with experience dating back to the 1980s. They offer customizable coverage for those under 40, focusing on long-term excursions and multiple trips.
- PassportCard: The startup offers real-time payouts in emergencies. Claims can be made through their phone service, website, or app. They offer three levels: emergency care and evaluation, elective medical treatment, wellness care, claims, and continuous hospitalization.
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- IMG: IMG offers health and travel insurance packages and tailored plans for ex-pats and digital nomads. They provide flexible travel medical insurance on a trip-to-trip basis. The startup offers an extensive network for emergency treatment and 24/7 online support.
Plug and Play Tech Center'sMunich, Germany officeis situated in a city that's home to a number of large corporations and has one of the most vibrant startup scenes in Europe. To join our platform, please contactDaria Pelini, Venture Analyst, orKim Varnai, Venture Analyst for more information.