5 Tips for expats to stay healthy and fit while working and living abroad

For many expatriates, working and living abroad opens the doors to new adventures and challenges. However, it is very important to stay healthy and fit while experiencing your new expat assignment. There are many potential health risks that you will definitely want to avoid, especially in some third world countries. In this article, we will discuss five tips on how to stay healthy while living in a new country.

1. Eat Healthy and Drink Clean Water 

Clean water is critical for staying healthy, whether it is used for food production, drinking or domestic purposes. According to a recent report retrieved from World Health Organization (WHO), contaminated drinking-water is estimated to cause hundreds of thousands of deaths each year. Expatriates living and working abroad should be aware of the potential health risks of contaminated water and should take steps to secure clean water at work and at home. This is especially the case in water-stressed areas where drinking-water without improved sanitation. Contaminated water is a major transmission source of many diseases such as diarrhea, typhoid, dysentery, cholera, etc. It is strongly recommended expatriates to boil water before drinking if you are not 100% sure that the water is safe. In the end, maintaining hydration is critical both home and abroad, especially in hot climates.

According to World Health Organization (WHO), developing a healthy diet helps protect against leading noncommunicable diseases such as diabetes, obesity, heart disease and cancer. Expatriates living and working abroad should avoid fast food or street food stands. Always go to local grocery stores or markets to find some fresh fruits and vegetables – but you should be careful eating raw vegetables in some developed countries. It is suggested to avoid unhealthy weight gain through consuming excess calories, sugar and salt.

2. Build an Exercise Routine

Physical activity has significant benefits for your health while living abroad as an expatriate. It has been reported by the WHO that physical inactivity has been identified as the fourth leading risk factor for mortality causing 3.2 million deaths globally. Expatriates should exercise regularly through cycling, walking or sports while living and working abroad. Some expatriates may find it hard to rebuild an exercising routine in their destination country due to security risks or extreme climates. One suggestion is to purchase an exercise machine at home or join a gym. A healthy exercise routine will help expatriates to stay active and energetic.

3. Obtain International Health Insurance 

In many countries where local public healthcare facilities may not up to western standards, expatriates will want to use private medical care. However, these private facilities are usually very expensive, especially in emergency situations. Without appropriate international health insurance plan, expatriates could end up with receiving large medical bills and putting your financial status at risk. A global medical plan can not only cover large medical expenses, but it can also cover you for preventative health and medical tests that can help you maintain you and your family’s health. This can even include vaccinations and health monitoring.

An international health insurance plan will provide expatriates and their families worldwide coverage (except in the USA unless you add it as optional benefit). It allows you to seek medical care internationally and is critical for expatriates residing in less developed countries where medical care facilities are below standard. Expatriates living and working abroad will benefit from an international insurance plan with day-patient care and full hospital coverage, extensive cancer coverage, dental and vision care, international medical evacuation and repatriation.

4. Be Aware of the Potential Health Risks 

Expatriates living and working abroad may travel frequently. There are many potential health risks such as tropical diseases, respiratory illness, open wounds, etc. These diseases may not make people feel too bad at first, however, they can get deteriorate very fast and become life threatening. If you feel sick in your destination country, seek medical help as soon as possible. Don’t postpone treatment. To stay healthy, it is often important to update routine vaccinations and avoid any potential health risks. Expatriates should always consult a medical professional about vaccination requirements before traveling.

5. Stay Socially Active and Maintain your Mental Health

Expatriates may find not as easy to socialize as they did back in their home country. However, researches have shown that staying socially active can help people maintain good emotional and physical health – especially when you are living abroad and living in a new country and experiencing culture shock. It is important for expatriates to join a group of trusted friends they can socialize with and plan some activities together in their destination country – most cities have active expat social scenes and clubs. These kinds of social interaction offer many benefits to expatriates. For example, global relocation and stresses may have negative impact and cause mental health challenges such as depression. Being socially active will minimize the stress level, monitor signs of depression and prevent other mental health issues.

Also, don’t forget to help your expat spouse and children as their new life abroad can be exciting, but also stressful and isolating. If your spouse is unable to obtain a work permit, maybe he or she can work remotely or volunteer. For expat kids who are experiencing difficulties living abroad, making friends and getting used to the new school – maybe consult a psychologist if required. Many expat health plans will cover mental health and counselling.

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 expats and expat employers worldwide. For expats who may have questions about international medical insurance plans we offer to individual expats or  expatriate group insurance plans, please contact us. We look forward to hearing from you soon.

The impact of noncommunicable chronic diseases for expats

How the Global Impact of Chronic Conditions is Impacting Expatriates

Recently, Cigna has released a study on the global epidemic of noncommunicable chronic diseases and held a seminar for their brokers and clients. The study examined the situation of noncommunicable chronic diseases around the world and provided excellent suggestions for prevention. According to World Health Organization (WHO), a noncommunicable chronic disease is characterized by long duration and generally slow progression – these conditions are becoming more commonplace for local nationals and even expats. The wide spread of chronic diseases are putting expatriates’ health at risk. In this article, we will discuss the main types of chronic diseases based on Cigna’s research and advice for expatriate communities from expatriate health insurance professional perspective.

The Global Epidemic of Chronic Disease is Increasing 

As stated by Cigna’s study, noncommunicable diseases account for six in ten deaths worldwide. Major noncommunicable chronic diseases usually refer to diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and cancer. According to Cigna’s report, approximately 19% of the American have diabetes, the figure rises up to 30% in Middle East; Just over 30% of Chinese have some form of diabetes. This is the leading cause of kidney failure, blindness, heart diseases, stroke and death.

The rates of obesity in adults and children are increasing globally. And in some parts of the world, the situation is getting worse. Obesity is another cause of cardiovascular diseases due to the force of the heart to push around a greater volume of blood, which easily causes high blood pressure. Scientists predict by 2025, one in five of the population will suffer from obesity; 36.5% of adults are considered obese, according to Cigna’s report.

How to Prevent from Noncommunicable Chronic Diseases as an Expat? 

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), most chronic diseases are caused by three major risk factors: an unhealthy diet, lack of exercise and tobacco. Many expats working abroad often do not have the time to eat healthy foods or exercise and may be surrounded by fast food restaurants, vending machines and food trucks. However, building a healthy diet is crucial for your health when living and working abroad. When shopping at grocery stores, make sure to cut the high-sugar and high-carbohydrate food from your shopping list. Replace them with vegetables, fruits, fish, eggs and other healthy choices based on your eating schedule.

Regular exercise is good for your body, both physically and mentally. However, expats may find hard to rebuild an exercise routing when working and living abroad. Many expat may live in cities with few exercise options or in very extreme climates or in areas with bad security. Often the easiest way to start exercising is practicing yoga at home or purchase an exercise machine. Expats should develop a personal exercise routine and live an active lifestyle.

International Health Insurance is Critical for Expats Worldwide 

Most expat employers may not aware of the cost of the treatment of chronic diseases for expatriate employees overseas can be very high. It usually requires a specific plan to cover ongoing health needs. If an expat develops an illness later on it may be recognized as a pre-existing condition when trying to obtain health coverage. A global benefit plan can offer full coverage for pre-existing medical conditions to avoid claims being denied or coverage being restricted for expat employees. 

Expat Financial is able to offer flexible international expat group insurance plans  in most regions around the globe:  Africa, Europe, Asia, Middle East, North America, South America, Caribbean, Oceania, Central America, and all major cities in the world. Expat Financial can also offer international health insurance plans for individual expatriates that may be able to cover some existing chronic conditions depending on their severity and subject to underwriter approval. International health insurance plan provides day-patient care and full hospital coverage, extensive cancer coverage, maternity and baby care (conditions may apply), dental & vision care and international medical evacuation and repatriation. This is especially important for expats going to visit rural area in some less developed countries.

If you have questions about international medical insurance plans we offer to individual expats or your company requires a global expatriate group insurance plan, please contact us or complete the quote form. We look forward to hearing from you soon. 

The benefits of taking an expat mining job in Africa

Expat Mining Assignments in Africa – A Great Opportunity

In the past 10 or 20 years, there has been a mining boom in Africa as more and more global mining firms have been searching for minerals and setting up producing mines, most in very remote regions of the continent. As companies have increased exploration, especially in Central Africa, they have had to recruit expatriate talent from around the world to fill vital management and executive functions at mine exploration and development sites.

According to several reports, in 2015, almost 65% of  international mining companies claimed to increase investment on explosives as the market environment continue to improve. This means a shortage in local mining job market, especially for expat mining professionals.

With the recent improvements in metal prices, especially for gold, we are confident that the mining industry will continue to grow in Africa. There will be benefits for both local nationals and expatriates. In this article, we will discuss the benefits of expat mining jobs in Africa.

Excellent Career Opportunities for Expats in Africa Mining Industry

According to 2016 Ernst & Young Africa Attractiveness Survey, the long term outlook for economic growth & investment in Africa remains positive. Many major and minor mining firms are actively looking experienced and talented people from around the world. Positions such as mine engineering, electrical technicians, structural engineering, geologists are required for various mine operations. Other skilled expat positions in mining are available. Working overseas, especially in remote mine sites, can be quite challenging, but can also boost your mining industry career.

Explore Africa’s Culture

There are 54 countries in Africa today. Each country has a diverse culture, unique art and music representing regions. For example, Ghana, the second biggest producer of gold in Africa, has over 100 ethnic groups residents inside the country. In history, Ghana is the place of the great Ashanti empire during the late 17th century. Kumasi, served as capital of the empire, is one of the most advanced cities in Africa. The Ghanaian people are friendly to expat community. For expatriates working in Africa, Ghana has much to offer. There are also many other countries in Africa that can offer expatriates excellent cultural activities, resorts and tourist spots to explore.

Attractive Expatriate Salaries Available in Africa

Expatriates looking for mining jobs in Africa will find that the remuneration package is usually quite competitive. Many major mining firms will offer excellent accommodations with laundry services, expatriate community facilities such as basketball courts, fitness centre, satellite TV, etc. Mining companies are often willing to provide lucrative expatriate salary to attract and retain mining professionals. This can include schooling for your children posted abroad with families. Expatriates who are proficient in English and a second language are often highly preferred employees. If you have experience in working in Africa, this can be a great asset.

Working in Africa Can be an Adventure 

Africa is a land full of adventures and wonders: safaris, camping, diving, etc. Working in Africa is a way to get a completely different adventurous experience. You are working with local people during day time and spend weekend with them together. You will not only experience adventure travel and outdoor exploration, but also a chance to learn local language and lead an intercultural lifestyle. It is worth noting that some parts of Africa can be unsafe, so you should make sure that you and your employer will be taking steps to insure your safety.

Don’t Forget International Insurance Coverage for Expat Mining Assignments in Africa

Future expatriates need to keep in mind that working & living in Africa will have challenges. For example, the water supply and electricity in some countries is unreliable and there are often danger roads and more exotic illnesses in the region. South Africa, one of the richest country in Africa, has very good medical facilities and many expats working in the region will travel or be evacuated there to receive treatment. However, in some other poor African countries, the healthcare facilities is often far below standard. It is vital that expatriate mining professionals obtain excellent expat insurance coverage from their employer or on their own.

Many mining companies will offer health insurance plans for expat mining staff that they employ. It is crucial for expat employers and employees to obtain international health insurance with global life and accident coverage, dental and long term disability coverage. Some mining executives working in Africa will have to source their own coverage, especially if they are working as consultants – luckily our firm has a wide range of individual plans available. Evacuation coverage is obviously critical for mining employees residing in most Africa countries as more serious illnesses and injuries will often require medical care in another country or even in another continent, such as Europe. Another concern is civil strife, war and terrorism – which can be quite common in certain African nations. Thus, it is critical that your corporate policy for your expats in Africa have full war and terrorism coverage.

If you have questions about our international medical insurance plans or you want to discuss your needs and produce a customized quote, please contact us or complete the quote form.  We have extensive experience in sourcing global mining insurance coverage. For more information, please view our Global Mining Brochure. A quality expat benefit plan is critical if your resource company wants to protect & cover its employees, cover its risks and help retain and and attract the top mining employee talent to operations in Africa. 

How to obtain health insurance when teaching abroad

Teaching overseas is an exiting and rewarding journey for expat teachers around the world. There are many opportunities to teach English and other subjects in both public and private schools abroad. Many younger teachers will gain valuable work experience that will help their career when they come back to their home country. More experienced teachers may choose to work abroad to experience life abroad, especially in a more exotic country.

If you are teaching overseas for a year or more, it is important to consider adequate health insurance to cover both you and any dependents that may come with you. In this article, we will discuss health insurance options for expatriate teachers and introduce the differences between domestic health insurance and international medical coverage.

Why Should I get health insurance while teaching abroad?

Before teaching overseas, it is strongly recommended to do some research about your current health insurance plan and the healthcare situation in particular country where you are moving. Most local health insurance coverage in your destination country is designed to cover you locally it will not allow you to seek medical care overseas. Depending on which country you are going, in some less developed countries, the local medical facilities may not be up to the standard that you are used to. Therefore, obtaining appropriate medical coverage is very important.

 

Group or Personal Plans for Teachers

Many teachers will be offered to join a group plan offered by the school if one exists or is available. Expat Financial can source excellent group medical plans for schools and universities that provide both local and global medical coverage for the teaching and administration staff. Most teachers will naturally join the group plan that is offered. If your school is not offering a plan that you can join, then teachers should obtain an individual health plan to cover their emergency and out-patient medical needs.

Domestic Health Insurance V.S. International Medical Coverage

In most countries, the healthcare system is divided into two options: public medical care and private healthcare. If you are employed by an institution or an organization overseas, you are probably covered by adequate local healthcare system provided by your employer. However, to many expats living and working abroad, the local healthcare system is not the best choice. In Hong Kong, for example, health insurance is considered as part of expats’ benefit package. This is often referred to the public clinics and hospitals. Though the overall standard of public healthcare system is high in Hong Kong, the system is more focused on emergency care, not preventive healthcare. Also, the public medical system does not provide dental care. The private healthcare system is often chosen by many wealthy Hong Kong nationals and expatriates. This is not only because of its excellence in service and medical treatment, but also the flexibility of surgery bookings to many busy expatriates.

The cost of using private medical care is usually very high. Expat teachers living and working overseas who choose to opt for the private healthcare option should obtain international health insurance to cover emergency and/or out-patient medical costs. With an appropriate international medical plan, individual expats and their families are covered worldwide (except in the USA unless you add it as optional benefit). International health insurance plan provides day-patient care and full hospital coverage, extensive cancer coverage, maternity and baby care (conditions may apply), dental & vision care and international medical evacuation and repatriation. This is especially important for expats going to visit rural area in some less developed countries.

How do teachers lower your global medical premiums?

If expatriate teachers want to lower their health premiums, one can include a larger deductible or obtain a plan that will only cover in-patient expenses that are incurred in a hospital. Most global medical plans will offer three levels of coverage, such as Silver, Gold and Platinum with each plan offering a higher level of coverage and policy maximum. Some medical plans will include maternity care after a 12 month waiting period. 

expat healthcare if critical

How to Obtain International Teacher Health Insurance?

Expat Financial can source global medical insurance plans for expatriate teachers that can provide excellent coverage and premiums. We have been offering teachers international health insurance coverage on an individual basis for many years. For more information, please check out our International Teacher Health Insurance page. 

If you are an international education institution and employing expatriates teachers, we can provide group medical plan quote for your teachers. Please click here for International School Insurance Solutions brochure. Contact us for plan details.

Vacation Insurance for Expatriates is Critical

Some expats who live abroad will be covered by their employer expat health plans or by the local government health system. Unfortunately, such plans probably will not cover medical treatment or evacuation coverage when traveling outside their new home country. Everyone knows that medical emergencies can occur when traveling and are almost always unexpected events. Any medical event when traveling can cause a great deal of stress for individuals and families traveling abroad, but also significant medical expenses that can seriously impact an expat’s finances. Evacuation costs when traveling abroad can also be quite large, especially if you are traveling to a country with limited medical assistance and facilities.

Travel Medical for Expat Vacations

If the expatriate living abroad needs emergency travel medical insurance coverage outside their new home country, we can offer a single or multi-trip travel medical insurance plan for most expats living abroad. These travel medical plans will not cover pre-existing medical conditions and are only meant for emergencies while you are outside your country of residence or country of citizenship, depending on the insurer you choose. We offer two main travel medical insurance plans for expatriates living abroad:

  • IMG Patriot Travel Medical  – a great single trip travel medical insurance plan for people traveling outside their country of citizenship. It can even be purchase if you are already traveling or living abroad. It will not generally cover you traveling back to your country of citizenship unless you purchase their Home Country Rider. This travel insurance plan can be quoted and purchased online and all the plan details can be viewed when you are getting a quote.
  • BUPA Global Travel – a more deluxe travel medical insurance policy that can provide single or multi-trip travel medical insurance coverage for many expatriates living abroad. It covers you outside your country of residence, so it can be ideal for expats who may travel back to their country of citizenship. It has a zero deductible and is a very comprehensive policy. You can also obtain a quote and purchase online. This plan does have some non-medical related vacation insurance coverage as an option. It can cover trip cancellation and interruption expenses on a single or multi-trip basis. The multi-trip plan covers annual travel for trips up to 1 month per trip as per their plan terms and conditions.

The Bottom Line

If you are an expat living abroad and going on a short or long term vacation, it is a good idea to obtain a travel medical plan to cover you when you travel for business or pleasure. There are very limited options for expats who want vacation plans that cover baggage, trip cancellation and interruption – so if you want this coverage, you will probably have to search for it locally. Some travel medical insurance plans will have some limited non-medical related coverage in their policies. Really, your main risk that can bankrupt any expat is uninsured medical and evacuation expenses. A lost bag or cancelled trip will be costly and upsetting, but shouldn’t seriously impact your finances.

Global Medical Insurance is a Better Solution for Expats who Travel

If you are living abroad, in our opinion there is a better solution than obtaining travel medical coverage for short or long trips. The best option for most expatriates is to obtain a comprehensive global medical insurance plan that will cover you and your family worldwide, which will mean you won’t require travel medical or evacuation insurance for trips as you care covered locally and globally. You should make sure that the global health plan covers you globally including your country of citizenship and also includes an evacuation rider. Some expat health plans will exclude seeking medical treatment in the USA, but will still cover a limited number of days for emergency care when in the United States.

A great policy that we offer to expatriates is the Cigna Global Health Options plan. You can obtain a quote for this international health plan via our web site.

To learn more or if you have a unique travel medical insurance requirement, please contact our firm today.

Tips on becoming an expat entrepreneur

As an entrepreneur, can you imagine living abroad as an expat while running your business successfully? Starting a business is not easy, especially if you’re running one overseas. In this article, we will share a few tips on how to run a business while living as an expat before you decide to departure.

Know the local business environment

Most of the entrepreneurs are running a business with a local focus before traveling to a new country. Promoting your services or goods to local people can be difficult if you are unfamiliar with local business environment. It is a good idea to join local business networks even if you are running an online business. This way can help you to understand the culture and the local consumer, be that in Asia, Africa or around the world.

Researching online is another good way to guide you to meet the right partners and launch at the right conferences.

Start to learn the local language

Unlike traveling, running a business overseas requires participation in cultural experience every day. Learning the local language is a key step. Although it may sound like challenging, poor language skills are still better than none. Besides, speak the local language will help you meet your partner and customer better. Language skills are important when the market is not native to you. You should also network both locally and internationally. LinkedIn is a great resource for expats.

Get tax and legal advice before and after moving abroad to start your expat business

Local and global tax rules are extremely complex and it makes sense to talk to an expat tax professional that can fully appreciate your expat business plans and it will impact your bottom line. You may want to pick a country with the right tax rules and treaties that will allow you to flourish. Many expats choose jurisdictions with low tax rates. You should also inspect the country if possible first to see if it is a business friendly nation with favorable tax rates and rules. You should also talk to a legal adviser to make sure you are fully compliant with the local laws.

Manage your expat based business online

As an expat entrepreneur running an online business, you will need to mange your team, leads and make sales completely through smart phones or laptops. There are many great communication tools such as Skype, Slack and more to mange team and make sales online. Developing a balanced work and life style is important. Sometimes due to different time zones, you will need to adjust schedules to the clients’ time zone. One of the best things about the internet is that it has enabled the expat entrepreneur lifestyle.

Don’t forget international health insurance considerations for expats 

It is important to choose a quality expat health insurer when you live abroad for your global medical needs. Expat entrepreneurs have a diverse set of roles and can’t rely upon a group expat health plan provided by an employer. Expat Financial offers several different international health insurance plans for expatriates across most parts of the globe, even if you are working on your own or with a few other expat employees. If you have several other expat employees, we may be able to source a group plan that can offer better coverage, terms and premiums. If you have questions about our international medical insurance plans or you want to discuss your needs and produce a customized quote, please contact us or complete the quote form. Also don’t forget to obtain individual life and disability coverage.