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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. 

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.

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: