Insurance with Multiple Agencies

Hi, I am ready to join the ranks of travel nurses but I have many questions. I keep reading that it is in my best interest to go with multiple agencies for the best jobs and contracts. My question is how does this work with health insurance? Thank you for your time.


  • Agencies only provide health insurance when you start an assignment with them. Technically, they can terminate the benefits when your assignment with them ends. Of course, you may sign on for another contract with the same agency, in which case your health benefits would continue on as normal.

    You may also have a break in between assignments with the same agency. Most agencies have a grace period where they'll continue covering your health benefits even though you're technically not working. You should always inquire about an agency's policy for this and know that if the break in between assignments is longer than one month, then your benefits will most likely be terminated and started back up once your next assignment starts. Of course, you always have the option of using COBRA in such cases, which essentially means that you're able to pay for the same insurance policy in order to maintain coverage.

    If you switch agencies, then you'll most likely switch benefits. It's just like switching jobs normally. Again, you're eligible for COBRA coverage during any downtime. The problem is that switching health insurance can have some negative aspects. For example, your particular medication might not be covered under the new plan.

    If the problems associated with switching coverage are important to you, then there a re a couple of things to consider. First, many travel nurses secure their own health coverage in order to avoid this problem altogether. Many healthcare staffing companies will increase your pay if they don't need to provide health insurance, so it's often a wash in terms of cost.

    Second, the reasons for working with multiple companies may be worth dealing with the problems associated with switching health coverage. Working with multiple companies increases your access to the job market because different companies have contracts with different hospitals. This is really important because the most costly aspect of travel nursing is unanticipated downtime. Missing an extra week or two of work because the only agency your work with couldn't land you a job costs several thousand dollars. Working with multiple companies can also increase your negotiating power. By having alternatives, you'll be in a better position to negotiate.

    Finally, it's important to point out that when people recommend "working with multiple agencies", they really mean to enlist multiple agencies in helping you find jobs. You may actually end up working with only one agency because you keep signing contracts with the same agency. The other agencies simply ensure that you have your bases covered if something goes awry. The most common scenario is for a travel nurse to work a few assignments with one agency and then a few with another. The average time with each agency might be 8 months to 1 year.

    I hope this helps!
  • Thank you so much for your answers, Kyle! I apperciate your help.
  • Kyle what about - Malpractice liabilities when you work as a travelers. Do travelers have to carry a malpractice liability insurances or is that something covered through agency or hospital?
  • Ali, Malpractice is almost always covered by the agency. In most, if not all, cases the contract between the hospital and agency requires the agency to cover the traveler.
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