For anyone planning a move abroad, one of the most important things you need to think about is health insurance. Health insurance works the same way as health insurance in your home country, where you pay a monthly or yearly premium to cover medical expenses. If you get sick or are in an accident, your health insurance covers hospital costs.
Overseas property owners making multiple temporary trips to their overseas property tend to take out annual multi-trip travel insurance. Travel insurance covers temporary trips to their overseas property in the event of an accident and emergency treatment.
If you plan to live permanently overseas, you can sometimes buy local insurance coverage from your new country’s government or a local health insurance provider. Local healthcare cover is commonly provided in these main formats:
+ “Free” state cover, where the healthcare systems are funded by tax contributions, e.g. United Kingdom and Spain
+ Hybrid state healthcare insurance providers, e.g. France and the Netherlands
+ Local private healthcare insurance cover providing quicker access to private healthcare facilities
Local healthcare cover in countries with excellent healthcare infrastructure, such as France, is considered adequate for many expats and at a cost lower than international health insurance cover. However, international cover may be required in countries with limited access to local healthcare.
International Health Insurance, sometimes referred to as Expat Health Insurance, is a common type of coverage purchased by people moving abroad. International Health Insurance is an excellent solution for those who want faster access to the best hospitals and doctors. Generally more expensive than travel or local health insurance, these policies provide several key benefits.
You can buy International Health Insurance cover for specific regions, e.g. Europe, Worldwide, including or excluding the United States. Due to the high cost of medical care in the United States, the cover is usually substantially cheaper when excluded from the policy. The cost of cover is based on many factors, including your age, medical history and the countries you need to cover.
No one health insurance plan fits everyone’s requirements perfectly. You should ensure that the chosen plan meets your specific needs, so here are key questions you need to ask the insurance provider:
Does the policy cover pre-existing conditions? A critical consideration for many moving overseas. It is essential to check what would be covered.
Does it cover everything you need? Does it cover all the potential costs you want to cover, e.g. medical emergencies and dental treatment?
What’s included, and what is optional? Does the policy cover maternity care, dental work or rehabilitation treatment?
How does the claims process work – direct or indirect? Are you required to pay the hospital yourself or can the insurance company pay the hospital direclty
What is the excess on the policy? How much of the costs do you have to pay first before the insurance company pays the rest of the healthcare bill?
What are the policy limits? Is it unlimited or restricted to lifetime, per claim or yearly basis
Coverage abroad? If you plan to travel to more than one country, does your insurance cover other countries?
Fixed or comprehensive cover? How much will the policy cover – percentage of the total costs or fixed amount per claim.
You can choose what you want your insurance plan to cover. Below is a list of basic and optional cover provided by international health insurance plans.
You should check the policy clauses and exclusion sections to reconfirm what is covered. For example, cover for pandemics such as Coronavirus depends on the insurance provider.
While you can make enquiries before arrival, if you use a local insurance healthcare provider, you will have to set up your cover once you have arrived in the country.
For most international health insurance policies, you are advised to get cover in place before you officially move overseas. Some insurance policies have a waiting period before full coverage kicks in, so planning ahead is strongly advised.
You should set aside time to properly assess the different offerings of health insurance providers, whether you are looking at local or international health insurance cover. A good start is reading reviews on the providers, and the Overseas Property Forum team can connect you with reputable global health insurance companies with a good track record. Tell us about your healthcare requirements?