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Local Vs International Health Insurance For Expats

By Expert Author: Andrew Wilson

When moving overseas many expatriates do not fully appreciate how much a quality expatriate private medical insurance will cost them. Once they see the premiums they will sometimes baulk at the expense, particularly if paying for health care insurance isn't something they have previously done. They will often believe it is far better to search for inexpensive substitutes.

If you did take a local plan then just what are the prospective pitfalls? The first and most obvious will likely be language. Policy wordings are vitally important and being able to read and comprehend them is vital, after all should you have misread a policy wording then you will usually find out the expensive way whenever your expensive treatment turns out to not be insured. Reading a policy wording in your language can be hard enough, trying to do this in a foreign language may be extremely hard.

You then need to look at the plan and the coverage provider itself. It may be inexpensive for a good reason! Whilst most expatriate plans are going to be regulated in some way - the majority of the plans we deal with will be regulated by the UK Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and this means you will have a great deal of protection given by them. However, what would happen if your local plan turned down an insurance claim, where would you go from there? What protection will you have? Perhaps you could have none and thus this cheap local coverage is now looking very costly as you are saddled with really expensive medical expenses.

Local Private Medical Insurance coverage versus Expat Private Health Insurance policies

An additional thing to consider is where treatment is available. An International policy will most likely permit you to use any medical facility in your chosen area of cover - typically this would be Europe, Worldwide excluding the USA and Canada or Worldwide. Because of this it's possible to have your medical treatment in the right facilities available giving you access to the best treatment available. A local policy will most likely restrict you to the country you're in and also to a restricted hospital list. This may not include the facility you want to use or the hospital that expatriates normally use.

How do the benefits look, provided that you can read and have an understanding of them? You should think about exactly how much the plan will pay out annually or per lifetime and in particular what are the sub limits on treatments. You local plan may look okay, it allows you to use the hospital that you'd want to but can it provide enough benefit levels to cover the more serious and thus more costly conditions. What if the policy ran out halfway through treatment, what would you do then? An expat plan will normally have a large annual limit. Again, your cheaper local plan could prove very expensive should you be stuck with the balance of the treatment costs.

You need a health care insurance plan when you're sick or injured and you need it to work for you and you need it to work fast and efficiently. Expatriate plans will have multilingual emergency contact numbersavailable 24/7. Wherever you are or what treatment you require your international plan is only a telephone call away and from the first call they will act to make certain you and your requirements come first and you get the best possible treatment at the earliest opportunity. They will be able to talk to hospitals and doctors and know what you require and ensure that you obtain it. With a local policy you will most likely only be able to speak with people in the local language and crucially might end up in a hospital where nobody understands you and you don't understand them - crucially this could delay treatment.

Even if you're not having any treatment, in what way will routine supervision of the policy work? Even if you can understand your documentation will you be able to deal with a company who may not speak your native language? Will you be able to accurately complete the application procedures? Imagine if you overlooked something vital off the application that came to light when you required treatment, this could invalidate your cover altogether!

Like anything in life, cheapest is not always the best. Whilst local cover can seem to be like an ideal cheap option you might find out the hard way that a more expensive, higher quality international health insurance plan actually is the most economical option by far.

Andrew Wilson
Xact Risk Solutions

Andrew has over twenty years experience providing the best insurance solutions for his clients needs. A recognised expert in the field of international medical insurance, he has helped expats all around the world whether they be individuals, families, groups or companies. Please visit the website at www.xactexpat.com to find out more, or you can get a free, no obligation quote simply by visiting www.xactexpat.com/get-a-quote.html

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