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6 Tips on How to Become an Expat

An expatriate, or expat, is a person who lives outside of their native country, according to the definition of  Oxford dictionary. Today, more and more people are willing to leave their home country and experience a brand new job or lifestyle abroad. To better prepare you for life overseas, we will discuss six simple tips on how to become an expatriate.

  • Find a job abroad

If you are interested in living abroad, the first step you would want to take is to find a job in your desired destination country. According to research, one of the reasons why people want to become expat is that expatriate employers often offer relatively higher salaries. Therefore, expat employees are more likely to experience a higher standard of living while working abroad.

In order to succeed in an international job, Expat resource centre offer excellent information on job hunting. Practical suggestions such as prepare CV and research the job market before you move, ensure that you have work permits or visa at hand, etc. to help future expats realize their dreams. To learn more, please view Expat employment – Job hunting tips.

  • Study abroad

Another option to become an expat is through studying abroad. And it is very popular among teens. According to NAFSA study, the number of American students studying abroad  during 2015 grew from 304,467 to 313,415. Studying overseas can be a great way to get a global perspective and the chance to learn a new language. The cost of studying abroad can be expensive, but in some less developed countries the tuition costs can sometimes be lower. However, more and more universities and colleges offer scholarships and bursaries. It is worth the time to research online for tuition funds to support foreign students.

  • Understand your destination’s culture

When moving overseas, one of the most unexpected events would be culture shock. And sometimes it can be quite frustrating depending on where you are moving to. For example, tipping in restaurants is common and considered normal in the U.S. and Canada. You are expected to add a 15% – 20% mark up to the bill in any restaurant; while in China or Japan, tipping in local restaurants is not required and can be considered insulting. There might be exceptions for some high-end western style cafes. However, even in these cafes, tipping is already included in the bill. It is suggested that future expats should do some research about your destination’s culture to avoid any embarrassment. The more research you can do on the customs and practices in your destination country the more successful your expat experience will become.

  • Travel abroad

It is always suggested if you travel to your destination country before relocating for a short trip. Through traveling, you will get to know its culture, food, people, etc. You will have a general idea whether the country that you are moving to will be suitable or not.

If you are traveling abroad for a short term trip up to one year, it is critical to obtain medical coverage for your entire trip that will cover emergency illnesses or injuries abroad. Our firm offers several travel medical plans from various insurers and providers. With IMG Patriot travel insurance coverage, you are covered with trip cancellation, lost baggage, emergency evacuation & repatriation, covering from as short as 15 days to 24 months. To learn more, please view the brochure below. 

  • Retiring Abroad

Retiring overseas is becoming more and more popular for citizens around the world and is a great way to become an expat. Generally speaking, South America, Asia and Europe are among the most popular expat retirement destinations. This is not only because of its favourable weather and beaches, but also its relatively low cost of living. For example, if retiring in Thailand, the cost of living is much lower than in the western countries. It’s possible to buy a one-bedroom home in Chiang Mai for around $50,000, according to several sources. Expats can pay around $500 per month to rent a home in Chiang Mai. According to International Living Magazine, Thailand is a very inexpensive country for expatriates. You will want to obtain tax and legal advice before retiring abroad as this can greatly impact your finances. 

  • Bring International Health Insurance with You

If you want to become an expatriate, it is critical for you to obtain an international health insurance plan that will not only cover medical treatment in your destination country, but also globally. Medical expenses while living abroad can be extremely expensive and local medical care in your new country may not be up to Western standards, especially if you are moving to a developing country. In some Asian countries such as China and Singapore, the cost of medical assistance can be surprisingly expensive for expats living there.

If you are an American citizen, you will want to include cover for the United States as most Americans will want to obtain treatment back home. Expats should make sure that their plan includes medical evacuation and repatriation coveragePlease contact us today for a quote and to discuss your expatriate insurance requirements. We would be delighted to be of assistance as we are expat insurance specialists. 

7 Tips for managing expat finances

For expats, those retiring offshore or even those going abroad for over a year, managing expat finances is critical. For most, moving abroad and working overseas can be one of the most exciting things of your life. However, expats will want to plan ahead to preserve and grow expat finances and investments. It is very important for individuals and families to plan ahead and maximize their expat finances. In this article, we will discuss 7 great tips for managing and protecting expat finances and investment while living and working abroad.

1. Know Your Expat Tax Status 

A common misunderstanding about expat tax is when expats move abroad, they are instantly exempt from their hometown tax system. This is usually not the case. For example, a British expat living abroad who is no longer a UK resident (spend fewer than 16 days in the UK), he or she may still be responsible for tax of the profits of a UK business or property situated in the UK, and UK pension income. Other countries such as Argentina, joint filling income tax is not available. For American expats, the complexity of expat tax can be quite daunting. Expat tax issues can be very complicated and it often makes sense to work with a professional firm. It is important to do research and visit your local tax office before moving overseas to make sure that you know the rules. We often recommend that expatriates talk to an expat tax expert such as Trowbridge.

2. The Cost of Living for Expats

Before accepting a job offer overseas, you should definitely do some detailed research on the cost of living in your destination country. This may include any additional costs you may face: school fees, transportation fees (driving a car and parking fees), rent an apartment or buy a house, leisure and entertainment, etc. The cost of living for expatriates can vary significantly from one place to another and will often be more expensive than what the locals pay. For example, according to Numbeo, in Mexico, rent a 3 bedroom apartment in city centre costs over $500 USD; Whereas in Singapore, a 3 bedroom apartment rent per month could almost $4,000 USD. Knowing the cost of living in your destination country will give you peace of mind and let you plan ahead.

3. Currency Management is Critical for Expats

It is common for expats to exchange currencies from their hometown bank accounts into destination country’s currency. However, banks may charge high flat rates and currency exchange rates which expats will want to avoid. This is especially important for expat families with international payments across countries. Some international banks offer fixed exchange rate for a period of time. Expats should definitely explore different methods of managing currencies as this can save quite a bit of money and time. You can obtain more information on currencies and currency issues on our Foreign Exchange page and you should talk to an exchange expert.

4. Organize your Expat Investment Portfolio

You should organize and take stock of all your current investments before your become an expatriate. You should try to make sure you will be able to manage your various stock, bank and investment properties from abroad or if you will have to sell some of those investments before you go offshore, especially for tax reasons. Many expatriates often sell their homes before living abroad, but when they return they find that they should have retained and rented the home as house values have increased dramatically – this is especially trued for many Canadian and Australian expatriates.

Your risk profile may change because you will be living abroad. Will you have the time and ability to manage your investment portfolio and will your new expat location impact your investment decisions. If you have a private or company pension plan, you should examine how living abroad will impact your retirement savings and taxes. It makes sense to talk to an investment expert before you live abroad.

5. Have You Cancelled Payments in your Hometown?

This is obvious. However, many expats may forget to cancel their orders in hometown and receive penalty charges. Remember to cancel any subscriptions such as phone, internet, magazines, etc before you move abroad.

6. Do you have Adequate Life & Disability Insurance? 

One of the most overlooked parts of protecting you and your family’s financial future is making sure that you have adequate life and disability coverage. While your employer may provide some coverage, more often than not it will be inadequate to fully protect you and your family members from the financial hardships associated with a death or disability. Many expats employers only provide medical coverage and expats are expected to obtain their own life insurance or disability income cover. However, when you are living abroad you may not qualify for local coverage and such life cover may not be desirable or even available in your new home country. Also, expats needs something both global and portable. Note that most expat life and disability plans are not portable back to your country of citizenship and if you have existing coverage, its probably a great idea to see if you can retain the policies as expat plans are usually more expensive.

To learn more about your expat life and disability requirements & the policies available, contact our firm for more information.

6. The Importance of Obtaining International Health Insurance

To many expats living and working abroad, the local healthcare system is usually not the best choice. The cost of using private medical care is usually very high in many parts of the world or you may be living in a country where medical care is inadequate and you may need to see medical care regionally or globally – sometime you may have to be evacuated. Either way, a large medical bill can wipe out your investments and put your financial future in peril.

With an appropriate international medical plan in place, many 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.

Expat Financial offers independent advice, solutions and ongoing service and support to clients around much of the world and we have extensive experience in sourcing medical cover for individual expats and expat employers worldwide. We can source plans from large and secure global insurance companies with excellent global service and support. 

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. 

Is your company employing American expats?

Is Your Company Aware of the Risks for American Expats?

Is your organization or multinational company employing American expats? Are you aware that most American expatriates will want to seek medical treatment in the USA if possible, especially for serious conditions? If so, are you aware of the significant costs associated with medical care in the USA?

We have sources some excellent risk prediction guidelines for expatriate claims in the USA or for American expats who more often than not wish to obtain medical care back in their home country. These medical costs can easily run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars and if not covered, more often than not the employer will have to cover.

Our firm is extremely experienced in sourcing global medical coverage for firms that employ American expatriates and also covering their dependents who are located with the overseas employee or residing back in the USA – otherwise known as trailing dependents. Unfortunately, we often see extremely inadequate medical plans provided for American employees that will often restrict medical care in the States or not cover the USA at all. Even worse, some expat employers will have group insurance plans that don’t cover pre-existing medical conditions for these American expats.

international health insurance for chronic conditions

Annual Medical Costs in the USA

Our firm has gathered a detailed “Risk Prediction Guideline for Expat Claims in the USA” that we are able to share to corporate clients that employ expatriates in the USA or have American expat employees working overseas. Note that the costs can vary widely depending on the state, city, medical provider and of course the nature and severity of the claim. Here are some sample annual medical costs from the report:

Rheumatoid Arthritis: $40,000 to $60,000

Bone Cancer:  $100,000 to $250,000

Lymphoma: $80,000 to $150,000

Diabetes: $30,000 to $40,000

Valve Replacement: $60,000 or more

Transplants: Over $200,000 in most circumstances

Back Disorders: Over $50,000

Complicated Pregnancy & Birth: Easily over $500,000

So, as you can see from the sample medical costs in US dollars, the annual medical treatment costs in the United States can often run in the hundreds of thousands and for many clients one claim can easily exceed the entire medical premium that they would be paying for a group of American expatriates. Many expats or their family members will often suffer from one of these conditions or may in the future. Many expat employers are not aware of the fine print on their global medical coverage are are being served by domestic focused brokers with limited or no understanding of expatriate medical coverage.

Next Step for Expat Employers

Thus, it makes sense to cover these risks with a global benefit plan that will provide superior coverage for your entire expat population, especially American expats or foreign employees located in the USA. To learn more, contact our firm to discuss your global expatriate insurance needs as it pays to work with a specialist firm. You can also visit our corporate expat insurance page for additional details. If our firm is engaged as your expat insurance broker, we would be pleased to share our valuable risk report.

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.

Future Expat Employee Trends for Expatriate Employers

expat employees

Cigna has recently released a detailed study on expatriate trends for global employers with the National Foreign Trade Council Cigna Global Benefits surveyed employees on how they felt about the benefits offered by expat employees – such as housing, income, taxation, education and of course insurance. This is very valuable for global mobility managers because Cigna set up anonymous feedback from the employees for candid feedback from over 100 countries. We wanted to summarize the findings from an expat insurance specialist perspective and provide our insights and opinions for our expat clients and prospective clients around the world.

Global Mobility Changes

Global mobility has been changing over the past 10 years, including how female expats are being supported by expat employers. Many female expats are not feeling well served by their employers. Cigna also noted how the internet has really changed the communication between expats and employers over the past decade. What’s remained consistent is that the number of US expatriates is going down, probably because American expats are considered expensive employees. They are definitely more expensive to insure as they require global coverage including the United States.

Also, more and more expats being sent abroad to developing and third world destinations and less to well developed markets such as Europe. Asia and Africa are key destinations for expats in 2017. This creates more complexity for expat employers when sending people to third world locations such as Lagos or Cambodia.

What do Expat Value? 

In the study, expats noted that before they took on an expat assignment, what they valued the most was:

  • Relocation Services
  • Settlement Services
  • Medical preparedness

When expatriates were going to a location, expats found that overall assignment preparedness was crucial, especially since the cost of a failed assignment can be up to 4 times their salary.

Expat Communication is Critical

The study also found that expat employees had some insights on communications. Many expats felt that employers did not communicate often enough with them before going overseas. Obviously income was a key part of communications, but also moving arrangements and medical benefits when living abroad. Expats wanted to know more about how to live in new location, restaurants, exercise, safety and of course where they can obtain medical assistance. Providing a list of hospitals that the expat medical plan has a direct relationship is something our firm sees as an easy communication to provide as top flight medical providers such as Cigna have this all online for free.

Added Value for Expats is Important

Another suggestion that we find helpful for expats is cross culture training, language courses and even tax assistance. Our firm has many contacts with providers in all these areas. In fact, we work with some excellent expat tax specialists who can assist your expat population. Mentoring from other expats in the new country location is really important for many expatriates. As an expat employer, you want to make your employees as comfortable and settled in their new location so they can hit the road running.

Medical Care

The study also found several items related to medical care that are quite interesting. This includes

  • Over 70% of expat employees use medical care while living abroad regardless of age
  • More expats are becoming comfortable getting medical care locally if its of a high quality and available.
  • Emergency evacuation is still an important concern
  • Having a large medical network and not having to pay out of pocket is quite important for expatriates. In our dealings with expat and their employers, we find this to be the number one concern of expatriates.
  • Expats in North America reported more access to mental illness services

The above observations and trends are often experienced by our expat group clients. The study did not talk about other insurance benefits that are critical for expat employees and employers – such as global life and accident coverage, dental, employee assistance and long term disability insurance. More often than not employers only address the medical insurance component with these other vital services as an after thought. We also find that medical coverage for their partners and children is also a critical concern for most expats, so this should be a factor for employers. Some firms will only provide coverage for the employees and leave the employee to obtain more expensive coverage for his or her dependents, which we feel is an ineffective expat employment strategy.

Our firm believes that if you want to have a higher chance of a successful expat assignment, you need to have a comprehensive and effective global benefit platform that is sourced by an independent expat specialist firm. Claims issues and complaints from expat employees half way around the world can quickly bog down an HR department and lead to failed assignments.

global medical

Balancing Expat Assignment Costs

Expatriates realize that their HR Managers are very concerned about the costs associated with expat assignments, perhaps 3 or 4 times the annual salary when all benefits are worked in, but companies also have to have a benefit plan and compensation package that will both attract and retain valuable global expat talent. We find that global medical premiums often rise approximately 9 to 15% per year assuming normal claiming patterns to keep up with health inflation trends. At renewal the insurers will often present higher deductible and coinsurance options, but these are very difficult to implement in the expat sector as these employees expect global medical plans that are attractive, easy to use and at little or no cost to their pocket books.

Repatriation

Another concern for expats is repatriation, which generally means moving expats back to their home country, next opportunity or another expat country assignment. Most employers have little or no repatriation program for their employees. Reverse culture shock can even be an issue for many employees coming home from countries with radically different cultures.

If your company has expatriates located abroad and would like a second opinion on your global benefit plan, it pays to work with an expatriate insurance specialist firm such as Expat Financial, which is a division of TFG Global Insurance Solutions Ltd.. Contact us today to discuss your expatriate insurance program, provide a detailed analysis and obtain quotes from the market.

 

The Cigna study can be found Cigna global expat trends study.

TFG Global is a valued broker for both individual and group plans from Cigna and our contacts at the company are both extensive and high level. We have worked with Cigna for many years and know their capabilities and plans inside out. For more information on the corporate Cigna plan we offer expats, click HERE. We also offer their individual global health plan.

You can listen to the interview at:

https://www.cignaglobalhealth.com/resources/podcasts/episode-1-globally-vocal.html?__prclt=5A7VZBzf

Or listen below:

2017 Travel Destinations: Best of China for Expats & Visitors

Why international health insurance is critical in Beijing for expats

Beijing is the capital of China and is located in the northern China. It is a city that is well known for its cultural heritage sites such as the Forbidden City, Temple of Heaven, Summer Palace, Ming Tombs and of course the Great Wall. Besides being the economic center in China, this fascinating city is home to many multinationals from abroad and local Chinese companies headquarters. Many firms are willing to bring in new expats from abroad with western education and experience. In this article, we will discuss healthcare in Beijing, why international health insurance is critical for expats and expatriate group insurance plans for international employers if wishing to open a market in Beijing.

Healthcare in Beijing

Generally speaking, the standard of healthcare system in Beijing is higher than in most cities within China. Since Beijing is the capital city of China with a large population, many well-known doctors and medical experts reside there. Many patients travel to Beijing just to see a well-known doctor in one of the many hospitals that are located there. Public hospitals in Beijing are not only serving local residents, but also patients come from all over the places in China. As a result, most public hospitals in Beijing are often overcrowded, with long waiting period and long line-ups. One should also note that the air pollution is a significant concern for both locals and expatriates in China. The health impacts of that pollution will impact the health of expatriates in Beijing and having medical coverage and preventative healthcare is critical.

Private hospitals and clinics are also available in Beijing. These private medical facilities usually have English speaking doctors and medical staff. Some of them are even expatriates from western countries. High end private international clinics such as Beijing United Family Hospital are one of the options for many foreigners. Such private medical firms are able to provide faster medical appointments and urgent medical treatment. Many private international clinics offer direct billing with global insurance companies, which is very convenient for expatriates living and working in Beijing. Therefore, most expats in Beijing would want to choose the city’s private medical centers.

The High Cost of Medical Care in Beijing & the Rest of China

Like most of China, private health treatment has become extremely expensive in Beijing, even rivaling the United States. Even at public hospitals with special foreign or VIP departments, medical costs are rising, according to recent reports. For example, an uncomplicated birthing procedure at private international clinics Beijing United Family Hospital costs between over $13,000 USD. The cost of one standard private hospital room can be thousands US dollar per night. In case of medical emergency, the costs are estimated to double or triple. Without an appropriate medical coverage plan, expatriates could end up with paying tens of thousands of US dollars or even more.

expat healthcare if critical

Why International Health Insurance Is Critical For Expats In Beijing? 

Many expats working in Beijing may qualify for the local public health insurance system. However, the public health insurance plans does not meet most expat needs, especially if you want to get treated at a private facility or outside of China. As noted above, medical treatment fees in Beijing are relatively high and expats may find that they still need to pay a certain amount of co-payment when go to public hospitals.

For expats who prefer private hospitals and clinics, it is critical to obtain an international health insurance plan. A typical international health insurance plan will provide coverage options such as hospital coverageoutpatient treatment, medical emergency evacuation, routine health check-ups, dental & vision care and US coverage options. It will help you maintain your health and avoid financial risks while working and living in Beijing. It is also very important to have an international health insurance plan that provides international emergency evacuation and repatriation coverage. 

International Group Insurance Plans For Expatriate Employees in Beijing

While we can source individual medical plans for expats in Beijing and the rest of China, Expatriate group insurance plans are critical for international employers who wish to open an office in Beijing or already have expat employees there. An international group insurance plan for expats in Asia will usually include life insurance, health insurance, dental, evacuation and disability insurance to expatriate employees and even some key local nationals. It will not only protect expatriate employees in Beijing, but also will protect employer’s business as providing medical coverage is a key fiduciary responsibility. The international expat group insurance plans can be tailored to meet the needs of your employees working in Beijing so that your business objectives can be achieved. It is critical that that a global benefit plan cover pre-existing medical conditions and provide easy access and direct payment to the hospitals in the city and the rest of China. 

Get Insurance From Expat Financial for Beijing Expats

Expat Financial offers independent advice, solutions and ongoing service and support to clients around much of the world and we have extensive experience in sourcing medical cover for individual expats and expat employers in Beijing and the rest of China. We can source plans from large and secure global insurance companies with excellent global service and support. Our firm can offer a wide array of individual expat health insurance plans for expats China and even Chinese expatriates living overseas. If you have questions about our international medical insurance plans and expatriates group insurance plans or you want to discuss your needs and produce a customized quote, please contact us or complete the quote form. We look forward to hearing from you soon.