Article – “Expatriate Insurance”
By David Tompkins, President, TFG Global Insurance Solutions Ltd.
As appeared in
RELOCATION…2000 Monthly International Relocation Newsletter vol.2, no.12 December 2000
Most expatriates know that they need to obtain their own insurance coverage – but what types of coverage are required? The first coverage most expats think of is health insurance. While the country you are moving to may have a government health plan that you can join, you might want to think twice because state plans are often of poor quality and what happens to your coverage if you move or require treatment back in your home country, such as the USA.
Private health plans are made up of two types of plans, “in-patient” and more comprehensive “in-patient and outpatient” plans. In-patient expenses are primarily incurred while in a hospital-including accommodation and surgeon’s, anesthetist’s and physician’s charges. For those who want more, a comprehensive plan would cover the in-patient care as described above, along with a wide array of outpatient care. Such expenses include: psychiatry, organ transplants, rehabilitation, home nursing, childbirth, home delivery, general practitioner’s consultations, eye & ear specialists, other specialists such as dietetic guidance, vaccinations, lab tests and analysis, x-rays, scans, EKGs, hearing aids, physiotherapy, chiropractors, osteopathy and a certain amount of prescribed drugs.
Common additions to your health plan include dental, vision and evacuation. Medical evacuation is well recommended, especially if you are traveling a lot or are living in a third world country. You also have to decide if you want a plan that will cover pre-existing conditions, how large a deductible you want and if you want to be able to get treatment and coverage for the USA and Canada. Make sure you will be able to maintain your current insurance coverage if you are planning on having children, as all other plans have a twelve-month waiting period for maternity expenses. Expat Financial offers international health plans from many different carriers to meet your own unique needs.
Another coverage expatriates think of is life insurance. Basically, you want to have enough coverage to pay your last expenses (funeral & bills), pay off any mortgage or loans and then have a pool of capital left over that your heirs can live on for a set number of years. Many financial advisors recommend having life insurance equal to seven to ten times your annual earnings. There are many types of coverage. Term insurance is the most popular and least expensive over the short term – your premium remains the same for a set number of years, increases as you age and then cancels around age 60. Some term plans allow you to convert to the more expensive Whole Life and Universal Life plans, which allow you to have coverage for life at an unchanged premium. If you live in a dangerous country or engage in a risky occupation, your premium will be increased or you may not be able to get coverage. Make sure your insurance is with a reputable company and that you can keep the coverage if you return home. Expat Financial offers international life insurance to expatriates around the world from several different carriers.
Finally, it is important to protect your most valuable asset, your ability to earn an income. Disability insurance is the most difficult to underwrite because it is also quite expensive. Expat Financial offers an excellent plan that can cover up to 75% of your income with benefits starting after three or six months and payable to age 65. Only white-collar occupations are covered. For many expatriates, their employer plans may be their only option. Make sure that your plan covers both accident and sickness.
In searching for the right plan, the Internet is the first and easiest way to obtain information on the plans and carriers available. You can also ask your fellow expatriates. Because not all plans are made fo all people, talk to an insurance broker who offers several different plans and carriers. A consultation costs you nothing as the insurance company you choose compensates the broker.
At the end of the day, make sure you have all your insurance bases covered with the plans that fit your needs and budget. Remember, what you are buying is not just protection, but peace of mind.
About the Author: David G. Tompkins, BA, CLU, runs Expat Financial/TFG Global Insurance Solutions Ltd. – an international insurance brokerage. He can be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org or http://expatfinancial.com or 604-628-0426 or in North America at 800-232-9415
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