Behind World Nomads Travel Insurance: An Interview with Chris Noble
I've been a fan of World Nomads Travel Insurance for quite some time. I've used their insurance since the beginning of my travels, and they've never let me down. World Nomads had my back in Japan, they had my back in Vietnam, and everywhere in between. Knowing the had my back enabled me to go out and do what I do best - focus on the experience, so I could try to produce some valuable content for you guys! I was trying to think of how to describe World Nomads, and came up with a few things.
For one, I'd say that World Nomads is the best travel insurance for backpackers. It's not too costly, and you have some flexibility in the plan that you choose. It's also very simple, so even if you're on the road and in a rush, it doesn't take long to get covered. You also want to keep your travel insurance cost low, and you can do that with World Nomads.
I'd also say it's the best "adventure travel insurance." What I mean is, you can find the coverage that suits your needs. If I'm going white water rafting or zip-lining, I indicate that and my coverage reflects that. The bottom line is that you know you'll be covered for those activities!
I literally have a page on my site called "get travel insurance," so you know I'm a fan.
When I was thinking about putting together this post on World Nomads, I was thinking about all these subsections I'd include on "travel insurance cost," and "what you need to know about travel insurance" and it just occured to me that that wasn't necessary. World Nomads is really straightforward, so the easiest thing to do was to give you a feel for why I choose World Nomads Travel Insurance every time.
Then, the idea broadened, and I actually reached out to World Nomads to see if they'd want to share their story, beyond what you could find on their website. Thus, I ended up catching up with Chris Noble, who was at World Nomads when they were just a startup, if you can believe it!
I thought the interview was fascinating, and hopefully you will as well!
NOTE: This post may contain some affiliate links. That means, simply, that I may get commissions from some of my recommendations. That being said, my opinions are fully my own.
Talking All Things World Nomads with Chris Noble
Before I get into the interview, if you're curious about what World Nomads Travel Insurance would cost you for an upcoming trip, you can check it out here.
Okay, here we go!
CM: Firstly, Chris, thanks for joining me. Can you briefly fill all my readers in on yourself, and your role at World Nomads?
CN: I’m the General Manager of the brand. But saying that out loud makes me sound like a corporate suit. I don’t even own a suit! You can’t go on an adventure in a suit. No suits here!
CM: I'm with you on that one, Chris! So, as far as I understand you were around World Nomads when there were only a handful of employees - how have things changed since then other than your continued disdain for suits? What have you guys accomplished?
CN: It was a start-up when I joined. The entire staff could fit around one table…and did while we worked. Now we provide travel insurance to close to half-a-million travelers a year from 130 countries.
But we’re more than the insurance – sure, it pays for everything we do – but we ARE travelers and we care about a particular type of traveler, the independent, adventure seekers, those who believe travel is their life. So we do lots other than just insurance.
CM: Well, I suppose there's a reason I ended up with World Nomads. So it's pretty clear that as far as travel insurance is concerned, World Nomads does things a little differently. What’s your philosophy then?
CN: You can’t live and die an Apple. You can’t live and die a Red Bull, but you CAN live and die as a World Nomad.
For so many of us travel is life, not something you do to escape your life. We try to support Nomads in everything they do, helping them find inspiration for a new place to explore. Thinking about ways of making a connection with the locals you meet, and how you might give back for the privilege of the experiences you’ve had.
It’s imperative that travelers share their stories because travel breaks down prejudice and encourages compassion and understanding – which is why we run scholarships in travel writing, photography and film, to enable everyone to tell the best stories they can.
Traveling in a responsible way means lots of things, but most importantly that you don’t blunder around the world with no understanding of what you’re seeing, or the affect you’re having. It’s crucial to be an informed traveler. And this is where the insurance comes in, it’s important to stay safe and be prepared for what may come at you. Informed travelers are better travelers, and better world citizens.
So that’s why on the World Nomads site you’ll find great travel writing stories, a safety blog, tips on how to explore a destination, the scholarships, and the learning guides to help you create. We’re doing everything we can to support the traveler… not just flogging you an insurance policy.
CM: That makes a lot of sense to me. Generally speaking, why do you think my readers should consider World Nomads when it comes to travel insurance, beyond some of what you've mentioned?
CN: This sounds weird, but it’s true – I’m prohibited by law from saying our insurance is better than someone else’s. No truly, there are laws about that! Insurance is a financial product and it’s one of the most heavily regulated industries in the world. So your readers will have to judge for themselves if our insurance is right for them.
But we have designed it specifically with the independent adventure-seeker in mind. Which is why you can buy it after you’ve already departed (that means you can extend if you keep on traveling longer than expected), why we have 100+ adventure activities, like zip-lining through the rainforest, or trekking to Everest base camp, covered. And we try to make it as easy as possible for you to find out if your adventure is covered because yes, we want you to explore your limits.
And for all the reasons I’ve listed above, we’re going to be with you on every step of your journey. Lots of big monolithic insurers take your money, hand over a policy and hope to never hear from you again. Not us, we want to know about your travels. Share your experiences with us on social media, comment on our articles, join our Ask A Nomad community and share what you’ve learned. Apply for a scholarship. Write for us. Be a World Nomad.
"We ARE travelers and we care about a particular type of traveler, the independent, adventure seekers, those who believe travel is their life."
CM: Alright, you guys offer travel insurance to independent travellers from more than 130 countries. What sort of impact do you aim to have in the travel sphere?
Global domination. Too much?
Honestly, we’re never going to be the brand for mom and pop travelers, or the traveler who complains “the McDonald’s sauce doesn’t taste the same as at home”. But for those of us who believe in the power of travel to transform lives, those of us who know that travel is what makes us feel alive, that it is the reason for living…we want to be the place where you feel most comfortable.
CM: Well me of all people believes in the power of travel to transform lives, it's certainly transformed mine. Just to totally just to another topic - I’m a massive podcast fan, and I noticed World Nomads has recently released their own podcast. Can you speak to that a bit, what are the goals there?
CN: Writing about all aspects of travel, making films about travel, has always been an important part of what we do, so why not extend that to the spoken word, audio?
The podcasting movement has seen the democratization of radio, the breaking down of barriers and giving everyone a voice. We’ve always been committed to helping travelers tell their stories, and with podcasting becoming so mainstream now, we just had to be there.
Can your listeners do me a favour, can you listen then subscribe and rate on Tunes for us. We’re trying to get it in the top 20 of travel podcasts.
CM: In general, why do you think travel is important, Chris?
CN: It IS life.
CM: One reason I’ve bought World Nomads travel insurance in the past is because I know you guys support global community development projects. Can you speak to that a bit?
CN: “A bit”? I can speak about it forever! Try and stop me!
It is fundamental to everything we do. We believe travelers have a duty to ‘give back’. Each traveler receives so much from the experience, and it’s just plain rude to take, take, take and do nothing in return. It’s incumbent on us to preserve the ‘travel experience’ for future generations, and that doesn’t come without obligations and effort.
We started The Footprints Network in the wake of the Asian tsunami in 2004, when we felt compelled to help out in some lasting way. You know the old adage about giving someone a fish or teaching them to fish, we felt that was what we needed to do. So the idea of micro-donations at the point of sale going into small buckets to fund specific community-based projects was a better use of the money than chucking it all into one giant bucket.
We wanted, and we knew travelers wanted, to be able to direct their money to projects that would make lasting improvements to a specific community, and we wanted to be able to see it going there. Footprints has been incredibly successful, we’ve raised almost $3 million and funded 189 projects. That has demonstrably changed lives. I’m very proud of Footprints.
"we want you to explore your limits."
CM: What’s one thing that people likely would not know about World Nomads but should?
CN: We sell travel insurance.
Seriously, we do so much in the travel community, we’re known as the scholarship place, we’re known for our films, known for our great content, our travel inspiration. But every month someone who is a World Nomad will ask us if we can recommend a good travel insurance for their trip. Umm, yep, us!
I’m conflicted about that…. I am the general manager of a brand that sells travel insurance, my bosses like to see how much of it we do sell, but it’s not a great look when someone doesn’t know that’s what we do. But I’m also kind of proud of that. We do so much, that means something to the travel community, that they appreciate, and feel affinity with, that they don’t know we do it all by selling insurance…. Yeah that’s good too.
CM: There's no doubt World Nomads is more than just travel insurance. That being said, as a travel insurance company, how do you ensure you’ve got the back of your customers?
CN: When you get down to the nuts and bolts of the insurance product we offer, it is vital that we carry through with the promise we make to you when you hand over the money.
And you’re right, we’ve made a promise to ‘have your back’. In the Australia region we underwrite our own product, run the call centre in-house and have an Emergency Assistance team right here (they’re just around the corner from where I work.) That gives us an unbelievable level of control over the customer experience (sorry, business jargon there).
But, as you know, we provide coverage to people from 130 countries around the world. To do that we have to choose underwriters and Emergency Assistance providers who are licensed to do that job in their jurisdiction – Damn this is getting technical, hang in there, I’ll be speaking like a real human being again in a second.
We have 6 of those relationships around the world. But we don’t just choose anyone. There has been a very long process in negotiating with those providers to make sure the product they offer, and the services they provide are up to World Nomads’ standards. They do it our way or no way at all. We’ve been lucky in that we’ve found insurers and assistance companies who “get” us, and love what we do and do all they can to support us… and ultimately you the traveler.
CM: Let's get away from that technical jargon and broaden things up a bit. To cut to the chase, it's pretty safe to say that World Nomads sees itself as more than just a travel insurance company?
CN: Actually we produce a truckload of content. But yes it’s very fair to say we see ourselves as a travel lifestyle brand. We want to be a part of every traveler’s life, all the time, not just when it comes to thinking about insurance. How are we going, have we nailed it yet?
CM: I should ask before we wrap up, what’s the significance of the name “World Nomads?” It’s not the name of your average insurance company. Is it self explanatory or is there more than meets the eye?
CN: It was the name of the personal blog of the founder, Simon Monk. We’re talking back in 2002 here, when MySpace was the only social media platform and before everyone had thought about “personal branding”. He’s an English guy who set about traveling the world, solo at first then later with his wife, and then his 2 kids. He still travels extensively. Since his blog name became the brand he had to pick a new one, it sums him up perfectly too. Look for Original Nomad on Twitter and other social media.
CM: Where does World Nomads (and you!) go from here?! What does success look like moving forward?
Apart from global domination? We might not get to be the biggest, but we want to be the most loved travel brand in the world.
Have you used World Nomads before? What did you think? What do you think about their company culture? I'd love to hear your experience with World Nomads below to know if you too would recommend them!
Like it? Pin it!