Travel Insurance for Taiwan: Do You Need It? Which One Is Best?

Nick Kembel riding a scooter under a traditional gate in Taiwan

If you’re reading this, you’re most likely planning a trip to Taiwan, or you might already be there. And now you’re asking some important questions: Is travel insurance needed for Taiwan? And which travel insurance provider is best for Taiwan?

Taiwan’s health care system has been ranked the best in the world. I’ve lived in Taiwan for over a decade, and even though my home country (Canada) also has good health care, Taiwan’s still never ceases to impress me.

Even without health insurance, a visit to a doctor in Taiwan won’t cost you much. However, there are many more expensive things that could go wrong. For this reason, I always recommend that visitors to Taiwan should come with travel insurance. Now that I no longer live in Taiwan, I always buy travel insurance when going back for visits.

In this article, I’ll cover everything you need to know about travel insurance in Taiwan and why I think SafetyWing offers the best plan for travelers to Taiwan.

Do I Need Travel Insurance for Taiwan?

While you may need a visa for Taiwan, there is no legal requirement to have travel insurance for entering Taiwan. That means nobody is going to ask you or care whether you have travel insurance or not.

Getting travel insurance is a good idea for traveling anywhere in the world, not just Taiwan. Just like insuring your house or car, it only makes sense to insure your travels.

A lot of things can go wrong when we travel, and those things can be VERY expensive. Accidents, medical emergencies, loss or theft of personal items, and so on. And if COVID taught us anything, it’s that trips can be canceled for reasons beyond our control.

Therefore, it is a smart idea to buy travel insurance for your trip to Taiwan. (Also read: how to find the which budget airlines go to Taiwan and book the cheapest flights here).

Taiwan-Specific Reasons to Get Insurance

A large broken chunk of roof that has fallen on the street above some scooters
Typhoon damage on the street I lived in Taiwan

You may have heard that Taiwan is one of the safest countries in the world, and that is true according to reports like this.

But unexpected and unfortunate things can still happen. For example, in my first year in Taiwan, my laptop, camera, and hard drive were stolen from my apartment in New Taipei City– something you almost never hear of in Taiwan. Ironically, I had just come back from a trip to the Middle East, including so-called “dangerous” countries like Syria, Iraq, Iran, and Pakistan, where nothing bad happened!

Here are just a few examples or other things that could (and do) happen in Taiwan:

  • Taiwan has a poor track record when it comes to traffic safety. Cars don’t always give way to pedestrians. The streets (and sometimes sidewalks!) are filled with scooters. Many local drivers (including taxi drivers and even some private drivers) have terrible driving habits. 
  • Are you planning to rent a car, scooter, or bicycle in Taiwan? Having insurance will be extra smart.
  • Same thing goes for adventure activities like surfing, scuba diving, ATV riding, river tracing, paragliding, or hiking. Note that Taiwan has poisonous hornets and snakes – even in Taipei City, such as the famous Elephant Mountain trail!
  • As one of the most crowded countries in the world, nasty viruses tend to spread quickly among the Taiwan population. Good hygiene and mask wearing go a long way in Taiwan, but can’t stop everything. 
  • Taiwan is famous for its street food, and food handling is generally very sanitary. However, some visitors still get sick. 
  • Up to a half dozen typhoons strike Taiwan every year. Typhoons can cause flight delays/cancellations or significantly altar your travel plans. Sometimes roads are destroyed by landslides and high mountain places such as Alishan or Cingjing Farm cannot safely be visited. You might have to change your itinerary at the last minute and cancel some hotels. 
  • Carrying an expensive camera, laptop, or phone? If you lose or break them, don’t expect them to be any cheaper in Taiwan than your home country. Electronics are pricey in Taiwan, despite the fact that some of them are even made there.
  • What if China attacks Taiwan? While I hope the day never comes, tensions between Taiwan and China have been notably higher in recent years.
  • There are many strong ocean currents around Taiwan. This is why many beaches in Taiwan don’t allow swimming, and every year there are reports of people getting swept away, nearly drowning, or worse.

Note: Call 119 for medical emergencies and 110 for police in Taiwan.

What is the Best Travel Insurance for Taiwan?

A hand pointing up to a cluster of English words shaped like an airplane, with the words "Travel Insurance" the largest
The best insurance for budget travelers

Let’s face it: there are a lot of insurance providers out there. You probably have some options in your own county, and sometimes those end up being the easiest or best.

For example, I have purchased travel insurance through AMA (Alberta Motor Association), which is based in my province in Canada. I already buy their roadside assistance membership at home, and having that gives me a discount on their travel insurance. It’s worth checking out what’s available in your region.

However, if you travel a lot like I do, you may want to consider an international company aimed at budget travelers. I recommend SafetyWing.

SafetyWing is a Norwegian company that offers travel insurance aimed at nomads or frequent travelers. They are one of the cheapest out there.

How Much Does it Cost?

A bowl of Taiwanese beef noodles
Travel insurance is cheaper than one bowl of beef noodles per day.

SafetyWing’s prices start at USD 45 for 4 weeks of coverage, for anyone age 10-39. This works out to only around $1.50 per day (that’s TWD 50, less than the price of a bowl of beef noodles!)

If you’re visiting Taiwan with kids, one kid aged 14 days to 9 years old is free with each paying adult.

This covers any country in the world, including Taiwan. Only countries that are sanctioned by the US, UK, EU, or UN are not covered, as well as your own country.

This means that even if you are planning to visit other countries before or after Taiwan, you will be totally covered.

The prices will go up if you’re older or if you’re visiting the US as well, but they remain competitive or cheaper than others out there. You can use their price calculator to find out how much it will cost for you.

Since most travelers visit Taiwan for less than a month, this should be enough to cover your trip. In my opinion, $45 or TWD 1400, roughly the cost of one night in a budget hotel in Taipei, or a fraction of the cost of your flight to Taiwan, to totally insure your whole trip, is worth the cost.

What’s Included?

A blurred image of an ambulance
Medical emergencies are covered

SafetyWing’s Nomad Plan includes illnesses or injuries, hospital visits, prescription drugs, emergency evacuation, unplanned overnight stays, and lost checked baggage.

Here are the specifics:

  • 250,000 USD for emergency medical coverage
  • 1000 USD for emergency dental care
  • 100,000 USD for medical evacuation (25,000 USD if the cause of medical evacuation is acute onset of pre-existing condition)
  • 10,000 USD for an evacuation due to political upheaval
  • 5000 USD for trip interruption
  • Up to 200 USD for travel delays
  • 12,500–25,000 USD for death or dismemberment
  • 20,000 USD for repatriation of remains

The following are NOT included, and these are pretty normal among providers:

  • Cancer treatment
  • Routine check ups
  • Pre-existing conditions

SafetyWing’s website also offers chat support 24/7, and they typically reply within a minute or less.

What if I Get in a Scooter Accident?

Nick Kembel on a red scooter on the highway with the coast of Kenting visible behind him
That’s me riding a scooter in Kenting National Park

Taiwan is a country of scooters (for my Taiwan facts article, I calculated that there is 1 scooter for every 1.7 people in Taiwan). Riding a scooter is one of the best ways to explore Taiwan.

My wife and I have a scooter, and we frequently rent one when visiting different parts of the country. On the offshore islands, going around by scooter is practically essential.

SafetyWing’s insurance covers scooter accidents as long as you are properly licensed and wearing a helmet.

Being properly licensed in Taiwan means that you have an IDP (International Driver’s Permit) or a local Taiwan-issued motorcycle license. A driver’s license from your home country will not be sufficient.

Rental agencies in Taiwan will always provide a helmet, but it’s up to you to wear it. Most Taiwanese do, but you will find that many don’t wear them on the offshore islands. Just keep in mind that you won’t be covered if you aren’t wearing the appropriate safety gear at the time of the accident.

Is COVID-19 Covered?

Two kids wearing masks and with a sticker on their shirt that says Quarantine
My kids when we entered Taiwan during the peak of the pandemic

As you may or may not have heard, Taiwan was one of the exemplary countries in their handling of COVID. They managed to keep it out for quite some time and get most of the country vaccinated before it really got in.

You may also have heard that Taiwan took a long time to shed its COVID restrictions, only finally reopening to tourists in October 2022, and removing the last of its restrictions in early 2023.

SafetyWing will only cover you for necessary COVID-related medical treatment. For example, if you just need a test to go back to your country or because you think you might have COVID, that won’t be considered medically necessary.

If you get COVID while traveling in Taiwan and become very sick, you will be covered.

What If I Don’t Get Travel Insurance for Taiwan?

While I don’t recommend traveling anywhere without travel insurance, if you do decide to take the chance, you can at least be relieved to know that many simple and more complex medical treatments in Taiwan are much cheaper than in other countries.

In fact, medical tourism is a thing in Taiwan, and some people fly to Taiwan for medical procedures because they are cheaper.

Even without a NHI (National Health Insurance) card, which most locals have, a visit to a doctor while traveling in Taiwan will only cost you about 600 dollars in Taiwan’s currency (USD 20).

Of course that price is going to rise quite a bit if you need emergency care or something more serious happens.

If you need to visit a hospital in Taiwan, see this guide to medical care for foreigners in Taiwan.

What If I Plan to Live in Taiwan?

If you’re going to be living in Taiwan, whether it’s for teaching English, some other kind of work, to be a student, or you are married to a Taiwanese, then you will be eligible to take advantage of Taiwan’s excellent National Health Insurance.

The first step will be to get your ARC (Alien Resident Card). Part of the process will require you to get a health check either in your home country or in Taiwan (doing it in Taiwan is usually cheaper).

Finally, you’ll be able to apply for a NHI card, just like the locals have. With this card, you’ll only have to pay TWD 100 (USD 3) to see a doctor, including any prescribed medication!

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