When you move abroad you might end up better off or worse off when it comes to state benefits: local national health system, guaranteed income in case of incapacity to work due to ill health or accident, family protection in case of death. Well ahead of your move, it is important to have a close look at the state benefits and other benefits linked to your job for which you will be eligible in your new country of residence. If you find gaps in the cover you need (or even gaping holes!), you should be able to find in advance expatriate cover tailored to your needs.
International Health Insurance
Having good health cover is usually a priority for most expatriates. While some countries have good local national health systems, such as those in Germany, the Netherlands and France, in other locations the need for expatriate health insurance is an absolute necessity. Others destinations may have good medical care but it can be very expensive, such as in the US where all medical care is private. In this case, one could be tempted to take out expatriate insurance, which could offer broader cover and be less expensive. But it would be against US laws and you could incur very heavy penalties.
Most other countries, however, do allow you to have expatriate health insurance. Nevertheless, you do need to assess the quality of medical care of the country you are going to and the legality of having expatriate cover.
This is why it is important to get independent professional advice when you are in the process of purchasing health insurance for your new country of residence. You could find help by visiting Expat Assure, independent international broker for expatriates all over the world.
Evacuation and Repatriation Cover
This cover is often offered as an option with an international health insurance policy.
Definition of Evacuation (only)
In the case of a medical emergency, if the country where you reside does not have the facilities to treat you, you are evacuated (temporarily) to the nearest country with adequate facilities. When the treatment is completed, you are transported back to the country where you have been working as an expatriate.
Definition of Evacuation and Repatriation (both)
This sort of policy has more scope than the evacuation cover only. For instance, assume you had a medical emergency evacuation to the nearest suitable country and your medical condition then stabilised. However, you still need further medical treatment for a full recovery. With this more comprehensive cover, you then could be sent back to your home country for the completion of your treatment.
Alternatively, if the insurance company doctors assessed in the first instance that it was in your best interest to be sent straight back home, then you would be transported directly to your home country for treatment.
However, it is important to note that moving or evacuating a seriously ill or badly injured person can be very difficult and carries health risks of its own. The insurance company must determine a safe method of transport, having regard to the patient’s medical condition. This could mean having to hire a medically-equipped plane or helicopter. The total cost of transport and the affiliated expenses could be in the region of thousands of dollars. This is why the Evacuation and Repatriation option is very useful to have, and is a must for countries without western-standard medical facilities.
International Life Insurance
Life insurance may be used for two purposes:
This is the most frequent use of life insurance. When abroad, the need to have our family financially secure in the case of our death becomes even more of a priority.
There are many reasons why entrepreneurs leave their home country to start a business. The most usual form of start-up is a limited company, with two or more shareholders. However, a problem could occur in case of the death of one of the shareholders: for example, the company amy be a few years old and highly profitable, reinvesting its profits each year but without significant cash reserves. As a result of the death of one of the shareholders, his/her beneficiary could demand a high value for the shares, or wish to replace the deceased on the management board. Without cash available to buy back the shares, the option for the deceased’s inheritor to become a board member could result in a nightmarish situation. A number of very good companies go bankrupt each year for this very reason.
The only way to avoid such a situation would be to have a shareholder protection arrangement which would involve: life insurance for the directors, suitable trusts and a binding buy-and-sell agreement. In the UK, the life insurance premium would be tax deductible from the company expenses.
International Income Protection
Unless you are an employee, and the company you are/will be working for guarantees you an income should you be unable to work due to illness or accident, it is necessary to purchase an income protection plan.
Local income protection plans are usually cheaper than international ones, but they should be considered only if they provide international protection.
Insurance Company or Independent International Broker?
Most international insurance companies are excellent and trustworthy. However, the downside for the expatriate is that a company’s sales consultants will promote only their products even if a more appropriate option exists on the market.
Independent international brokers can choose the most appropriate product for you in the international market. Brokers are an economical way for insurance companies to source new business, and whether you go direct or through a broker, your premium will be the same. The downside for the expatriate is that some brokerage sales consultants are incentivised by the amount of commission they bring to the brokerage and could favour products with higher commissions.
Raymond Leprêtre is the chairman of Expat Assure, an international insurance broker for expatriates based in London.
Raymond understands the needs and requirements of an expat as he’s been a French expat in London himself for over 30 years. He has also worked with expatriates for more than 20 years as a financial adviser helping them with financial, income protection, life and health insurance advice.
Raymond’s role as chairman is not only to lead the company, but also to instil his values and strong ethics into the heart of the company. As an independent broker, Expat Assure is not tied to any particular insurance company and can therefore offer impartial advice and a wide choice of insurance solutions for expatriates. The advice and service delivered to each client is personalised and entirely focused on their individual needs.