5 Things you should know about being an American expatriate

When making the decision to move abroad and become an expatriate, about 83% of the US Americans are generally satisfied with life abroad, according to a recent survey by InterNations. Among the US expat respondents, over two-fifths want to stay in their destination country forever. As more and more Americans tend to live around the world, we are going to discuss some tips and facts to help future and current long-staying US expatriates to better prepare for the steps into the unknown.

  • Make Sure You Know US Expat Taxes

One of the most important things that US expatriates should know about is US Expat Taxes. The US is few of the countries which requires tax filing to its residents after they have moved abroad, even if you are paying tax in your destination country. In order to prevent penalties and earn tax credit, US American expatriates must file US tax obligation on time. Special regulations may apply when using foreign taxes paid as a credit against US tax obligations. It is important for future and current US expats to understand US tax programs and talk to a expat tax professional.

  • Take Advantage of Social Security Agreement Between US and Your Destination Country

According to US International Social Security Agreements, The US has established many bilateral social security agreements that allow American expats to only pay social security taxes to one of the two governments. Some of the eligible countries are: Italy, Germany, Canada, United Kingdom, Spain, France, Chile, Japan, etc.  This regulation can help eliminate dual social security taxation. When working expatriates retire, the contribution to the social security system of other country may count as well.

However, the exact regulations may have certain exclusions and rules such as self-employment rules, territoriality rules, etc. US American expatriates should examine your destination country’s agreement descriptions to make sure that you are covered while you live abroad. Again, talk to your tax and legal adviser.

  • Apply for New Driver’s License In Your Destination Country Maybe Required

If you are thinking about driving in your destination country, please be aware that road conditions and driving regulations can be different from those in the United States. Insurance and a valid driver’s license are required in most countries. Many countries may not accept a US driver’s license, so you may want to apply for  an International Driving Permit (IDP) or local driver’s license.

 

  • Understand International Health Insurance 

One of the most important considerations for American expats is obtaining global medical coverage, especially where local plans may be non-existent or adequate medical care may not be available. Your domestic health plan in the USA probably won’t cover you abroad so you need to search out an international plan assuming you will become a non-US resident. Therefore, it is critical for US expatriates to purchase an international health insurance plan. A good plan should provide a large direct pay medical network so you and your family wont have to pay out of pocket fee in multiple currencies. In addition, many international health insurance plan providers offer international medical networks with English speaking doctors and medical staff for those who don’t speak the local language.

If you are an US expatriate who is living abroad and travel often back to the United States, it is also important to get the USA coverage option in your international health insurance plan. Most American expats residing abroad will seek out a global medical plan that includes the USA because if they suffer a serious medical illness or injury, the expat will most likely want to seek medical treatment back home in the USA. It is important to contact your international health insurance needs with an expat insurance expert such as Expat Financial and weigh the costs and benefits of having an international health insurance plan that provides full coverage in the United States of America. 

  • You May Have to Report You Foreign Bank Accounts When Living Abroad

Foreign Bank Account Report (FBAR) is a report of foreign bank accounts that based solely on your overseas account balances. This may be the case if you have a balance that exceeded $10,000 or more in your foreign bank accounts at any point during the year.

Expat Financial offers independent advice, solutions and excellent service and support to clients around the world and we have extensive experience in sourcing medical cover for individual  American expats and expat employers worldwide. We offer a variety of excellent global medical plans that can meet almost any need and budget. For more information and to review the plans that we offer, contact our office or visit our international health insurance page. If your organization has a group of two or more expatriate employees, our firm can source international group insurance plans.

 

 

Is your company meeting it’s “Duty of Care” obligations to it’s expat employees?

An Expat Employer’s Fiduciary Duty of Care for Expats

Sending employees abroad is a big financial, moral and legal responsibility for expatriate employers. Many professionals are constantly talking about the importance of providing a “duty of care” for expat employees sent to work abroad and even when sending employees for long or short term assignments and meetings. What does this mean? In my view, it basically means that the global employer needs to take all steps required to safeguard and prepare for the safety, well being and health of their employees. It is the fiduciary responsibility that experienced global mobility managers realize is so important regardless of the legal implications – its a moral responsibility. This is especially true today in a world where conflict and terrorism can strike almost anywhere. It makes sense to plan for what your employees may face abroad.

Employers Should Examine Their Obligations

It is critical that expat employers meet the overseas obligations of their employees, whom can find themselves in new and sometimes hazardous regions and countries that they may not be adequately prepared for. It is vital that HR managers carefully read over the employment contracts to make sure that the company is fulfilling its obligations to their employees. This means that employers should examine their employees’ needs and country location to prepare for contingencies. Our firm has access to very detailed country information that can provide global mobility managers with key insights for each destination, including security reports. 

Expat Employers Should Identify Risks

When your HR department is sending employees overseas, it often make sense to ID risk and adopt prevention measures and train employees. You can’t hope that nothing terrible will happen. You can’t account for all the risks that your employees and their dependents may face working or traveling abroad, but you can take steps now to plan and mitigate those situations. We recently had an employer who finally agreed to implement a comprehensive kidnap and ransom program with security evacuation and in the first year of the policy it was used after a group of employers were kidnapped by bandits. Luckily with the assistance of on-sight negotiators paid by the insurer and a ransom being negotiated, the hostages were released unharmed.

heart rate monitor and doctors in an emergency room

Inadequate Insurance Coverage for Expats

A recent report from Cigna mentioned that 50% of expatriate employees feel that their expat employers are not meeting their duty of care requirements for the global assignments that they are on. Furthermore, three quarters felt that they did not have sufficient funds to support their healthcare expenses. We often run into situations where new and even existing expat employers will send employees and their dependents (spouse & children) on overseas assignments with inadequate planning and especially insurance coverage. With more an more companies and non-profit organizations sending employees for short or long term assignments to high risk countries such as Iraq & Afghanistan, the requirement to provide a secure and safe work location is vital. Our firm has extensive experience in working with employers operating in such areas where civil strife and conflict are commonplace.

Common Expat Insurance Deficiencies We Have Observed

Here are a list of deficiencies that we often encounter:

  • No coverage for pre-existing medical conditions
  • No cover for pregnancy or a 12 month waiting period
  • Many expat employers have no disability coverage in place
  • Coverage is placed with insurers that simply can’t meet the needs of expats
  • Lack of adequate evacuation cover that is not fully insured
  • No war or terrorism coverage for employees residing in high risk countries
  • Inability of expats to find medical centers that can receive medical payment directly from the insurer

What Expat Insurance Coverage Can Help Your Company Meet It’s Duty of Care?

A group expat plan that is properly designed and sourced can provide a high level of global insurance coverage that will fully meet the duty of care for your expatriate workforce stationed around the world. We are able to source the following coverage for our group expatriate clients:

It is critical that your global mobility department fully commit to the duty of care philosophy and provide global coverage for your employees that exceeds what is required no matter where they are posted. Our firm can source plans for individuals and groups. For more information on the global benefit plans that we can offer your international workers, please contact us today.

global medical

When should you apply for international health insurance?

Moving abroad is one of the most important and exciting decisions you will ever make. Living abroad, either permanently or temporarily, can be a challenging and rewarding experience. To stay healthy and fit while living and working abroad, there are many health risks that you want to avoid. In fact, to better plan and prepare a safe journey before departure, one of the most important considerations would be an appropriate international health insurance plan. In this article, we will discuss steps that should be taken to apply for international health insurance before or after you have moved abroad.

Start Looking Early

Generally speaking, most insurance companies require health insurance application at least 30 to 45 days prior to departure. You should allow for a week or two for the health insurance underwriters to process your application, but also they need to check whether there is geographical exclusions that may apply depending on level of cover or due to a pre-existing medical condition. It is suggested future expatriates to start research your destination’s health care situation, and contact your employer and find out whether you are covered under employee benefit package.

Yes You Can Apply After You Move Abroad

Note that you can apply if you have already moved abroad – some people will purchase emergency travel medical insurance and then transition to a global health plan. Sometime you may simply want to move to another insurance company. Or you may be striking out on your own and have to leave your employer’s group expat benefit plan.

What to Look For in Global Medical Coverage?

International health insurance provides essential cover for inpatient, day patient care, accommodation costs, cancer care, mental health care, etc. The Cigna Gold and Platinum plans can also provide inpatient maternity care after a waiting period. The earlier you apply, the earlier that waiting period will be removed – which is key if you plan to have children when living abroad Some employee health insurance plans are focused on basic local coverage, and this is not applicable to expats who are internationally mobile. It is important for expatriates to obtain an appropriate international health insurance plan with flexible and comprehensive cover.

Doctor posing with a world globe.

What if You Have a Pre-existing Medical Condition?

There are many chronic medical conditions or pre-existing conditions that expats and their families may suffer from. The top 5 well-known chronic conditions are heart disease, arthritis, HIV, diabetes or depression. If expats with pre-existing medical conditions are travelling in a location where the healthcare facilities are substandard, it is all the more important to have full coverage. An untreated medical problem can quickly become serious. If you have a pre-existing medical condition, it is even more important that you apply as soon as possible. It will often take time to gather previous medical history and tests and the underwriters may have to write to your doctor to obtain additional information. This can all take a lot of time and you may not get a decision from the underwriter before you leave.

In many cases, pre-existing medical conditions should being placed on the group benefit plan prior to the effective date. Individual expatriate health insurance plans will either exclude previous medical condition, decline the application or raise the premium. However, we work global medical insurance companies who can provide full coverage for pre-existing medical conditions on the medical coverage for both the employees and dependents if the employer has more than 25 or 30 global employees – including both expats and local nationals. To learn more, please read our blog article “Expat Benefit Plans – Make sure pre-existing conditions are covered!

Talk to Expat Financial to Discuss Your Global Medical Insurance Needs

It makes sense to obtain a quote and apply as early as possible. It also is critical that you talk to an expatriate insurance expert that can discuss your requirements and provide quotes from a variety of global medical insurance providers based on your unique needs. We offer a variety of excellent global medical plans that can meet almost any need and budget. For more information and to review the plans that we offer, contact our office or visit our international health insurance page. If your organization has a group of two or more expatriate employees, our firm can source international group insurance plans.