Travel insurance is important for any type of trip but especially for volunteers, not only do most organizations require you to take out one or the other but in case of health or security emergencies, it helps greatly and/or facilitates a solution.
Volunteers who spend days to weeks somewhere outside their home country will need a comprehensive policy that covers everything from lost luggage to delays and medical and health evacuations.
If you are planning to add time to your volunteer period, it would make more sense to choose a plan aimed at backpackers, who take it for granted that they will be visiting more than one place during that period of time.
In short, you need a policy that covers your travel, keeping your health insurance in your home country and paying for travel beyond your general health coverage (either individual if you are from the US or national coverage if you are from Canada, the UK or similar).
Volunteers and long-term travelers
Long-term travelers and volunteers may have stays that vary from 1 month to 2 years or more, therefore, and also due to factors such as the chosen destination or the person's health situation, there is a great variety when choosing a policy.
If you are in a volunteer placement for a long time you also have to consider whether you want to include local medical care for general check-ups. Ask yourself: How good is the medical infrastructure there? Do I still need backpacker policies that provide even more medical coverage?
In short, for most of these types of trips, we advise you to take out an insurance policy that covers lost luggage, health emergencies and accidents from outdoor activities such as snorkeling and hiking. IMG Global (https://www.imglobal.com/travel-medical-insurance/patriot-travel-medical-insurance ) and World Nomads (https://www.worldnomads.en/ ) backpacker policies are among the best.
We are used to understanding expats as someone who is not going to return home for a long period of time, however, if your volunteering is for more than 8 months in the same destination, an expat policy would be a good choice. In this type of situation, you live somewhere and do not classify your trip as a "travel" opportunity, per se. You are going to explore your new home, but you are not going to travel to new countries every week as you will be spending most of your time in your volunteer position.
These types of policies are not fully considered travel insurance as they offer primary health coverage in any foreign country. This type of policy will allow you to see a local doctor for coughs or colds, for your annual gynecological visit and so on. It is not intended to cover adventure activities such as snorkeling, diving, trekking, etc. These policies normally also cover medical evacuation for disasters and repatriation of remains (like any good travel insurance).
Three interesting options are Cigna Global (https://es.cignaglobal.com/ ), IMG Global and GeoBlue Xplorer. (https://en.geobluetravelinsurance.com/?redirect=N ). The fourth option in some destinations is to buy local insurance through a national provider; this is more complicated to arrange from abroad but would be easier once you live there. We also recommend that you open a bank account and have a local address (note that it is more difficult if you are not fluent in the local language).