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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.