How expats can work from home – 5 tips for expatriates living abroad

The idea of working from home can be exciting. And many expatriates will decide to work from home while living and travelling abroad. This is especially important for expat spouses who are living with their partner who is employed but are unable to work in the new country for a variety of reasons, such as work visa issues. However, there are many inherent concerns and challenges to working from home. In this article, we will discuss five tips for expats who decide to work from home while living overseas.

Benefits of working from home

It is easy to understand why working from home has become so popular. The freedom to control over your schedule, the flexibility in pursuing personal interests, and keeping down the cost of commuting.  To many people, it is pleasant to begin their day as early as they wish, so they’re working when they are most efficient and alert to perform their jobs.

Working from home opens up more opportunities for career growth and personal satisfaction. Here’s a practical guide to excel under minimal supervision:

Make Sure You Set Goals 

It is essential to set goals if wish to work from home, especially during the change of family dynamics while living abroad. You will want to break goals down into small daily goals and identify what daily expectations must be to achieve them. It is important to concentrate your efforts if you’re going to achieve your goals.

Avoid Distractions

To avoid an infinite number of distractions while working from home, it is critical to set up a professional home-based office to stay focused on your daily tasks. It is ideal to have a reliable computer with quality internet, printer, business phone and general office supplies. All these items will increase your productivity and save your time.

Another suggestion would be a pair of noise-cancelling headphones. All the outside and inside noises can ruin your day. Construction noise, traffic sounds, even the TV sounds are annoying. Therefore, it is wise to choose a pair of noise-cancelling headphones while working from home.

Work and Exercise Balance 

It is important to get out of your home office and do some exercise. Instead of sitting in front of your computer all day long. Take a short walk outside your house during the day or head to the gym for an hour workout. It will make a massive difference to your emotional and physical well being, as you will have the chance to connect with people, or even socialize with other groups of people who work from home.

Update Your Colleagues Often 

Consistently updating your colleagues will help lower your stress level and will you kee you from feeling that you’re falling behind. Many work-from-home professionals know that they don’t have to do it all alone. Using an online file sharing system such as Dropbox, will allow you to update your colleagues or teammates in real-time. It will also eliminate the problem of working with outdated projects.

Don’t Forget International Health Insurance 

For work-from-home professionals living abroad, it is important to note that you will most likely be responsible for obtaining your own international health insurance plans as you might be working for yourself or may not be supported by an employer. Additionally, the country you live in may have little or no medical coverage and may not provide adequate healthcare facilities. However, some expat employers will employ people working abroad, especially in IT roles.

Domestic health plans may not even cover you or will only cover you in that one country, which is not ideal if you wish to travel or obtain health coverage abroad. You will probably lose your current health plan coverage if you live abroad or it may not cover overseas travel. 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 as well if you are a work-from-home professional.

Six social media platforms for expatriates living abroad

If you are an expatriate living abroad these days, it is important to keep in touch with family and friends both online and offline. Many expats turn to social media platforms as a great way to interact with their fellow expatriates and share their experiences online. There are many social media platforms in Asia, Africa, North America, Europe and around the world that expatriates will utilize. From Facebook to Twitter, Instagram to Google+, Weibo to Wechat, finding the most popular social networking media that locals are on can not only ease the difficulties of expanding your business and extending your local networking group but can also strengthen your expat company’s branding. In this article, let’s discuss top 6 social media platforms that expatriates have to consider while working and living abroad, especially those in Asia.

1. Facebook

According to studies, Facebook is the most popular social network in Singapore, Thailand and Indonesia, especially for expats and locals alike. And according to reports, in 2016, 43% of Singaporeans use Facebook every month, comparing all other social media platforms. In Thailand, the statistic shows that around 18.9 million people are using Facebook throughout the day. It is reported that three in four Indonesians who use the internet also use Facebook. Note that Facebook is not available in China. If you are an expat interested in Facebook, we recommend that expatriates check out our Expat Financial Facebook page.

2. Instagram

As of 2016, 63% of Singaporeans are using Instagram. According to a recent study conducted by ConnectedLife, Malaysians are very active on Instagram as results show that users have gone from 59% to 73% in the past year. Another large Instagram usage nation in Asia is Indonesia. According to Instagram’s internal data, Indonesia is the largest market for Instagram in the Asia Pacific, with 45 million users. Unfortunately, Instagram is also banned in China, but some people can access the site via a Virtual Private Network. Don’t forget to visit our Instagram page.

3. YouTube

Research shows that YouTube is the most preferred and popular video platform in Thailand. YouTube Thailand is ranked as top 1 in Southeast Asia and top 10 in the world; 81% of Thais say YouTube is the first place they go for video. Other markets with the highest viewership in Asia are Vietnam, Japan and India. Check out our expat and insurance YouTube channel.

4. WeChat

WeChat is the NO.1 messaging app in China. Users can book cabs on WeChat, send and receive money, shop online, book restaurants, share moments with their friends, and perform daily business communication. Other than emails or phone calls, it is preferred to conduct business communication through WeChat in China now. The mobile application is available in many languages such as Russian, Spanish, Indonesian, Portuguese, Thai, Chinese and Vietnamese. Many expats use this excellent communication and social tool.

5. Weibo

According to data released by Sina in 2016, Weibo has 100 million daily active users around the world. The majority of these users are in China mainland, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan. Weibo is very similar to Twitter in the USA. One of the reasons why Sina Weibo is so popular is because many Chinese celebrities, movie stars, singers, famous business and media organizations joined the platform. The verification system works the same as Twitter for well-known officials and organizations.

6. Pinterest

 Pinterest continues its growth in Asia, and according to recent reports, the site has attracted millions of users in Singapore and Hong Kong. And in Malaysia, Pinterest hit 10 million monthly unique visitors faster than any independent site in history, according to research. Pinterest is also an important platform for businesses to engage potential customers in Asia.

 

Living abroad is an exciting and rewarding experience for expatriates around the world. It will allow you to connect to other expats in your new country location and also keep connected to family and friends back home. Whatever your social media interests, it is important that you stay connected as much as possible both via social networks and also by getting out and about, such as joining a club, attending your work parties and making sure you are meeting new people. Additionally, remember to check out our Social Media page. If you have a teen expat with you, make sure you educate them about the downsides of social media sites and if you can monitor their usage and interactions. Social media can be great, but there are of course dangers that you should watch out for.

We would be remiss if we also did not mention that you should remember to obtain global medical coverage that will include both prevention and medical care that will take care of you and your family while living abroad.

Top 10 common international health insurance mistakes for expats

If you are an expatriate and searching for global health insurance plans, it is critical that you select the right plan for you and your family. Without an appropriate health insurance plan, you may be putting your health and finances at risk. To help you make the best choices, in this article, we will discuss steps to avoid the common health insurance mistakes that expatriates sometimes make. The following common mistakes and advice relate to both individual and corporate expat health plans. Remember, we all make mistakes, but when it comes to expat healthcare, it makes sense to read the points below to help avoid the following:

Mistake #1: Not choosing a plan that can cover a pre-existing medical condition

If you or your family member suffer from a medical condition, one of the most critical questions to ask of any health insurance plan is whether it would cover pre-existing medical conditions. Most of the insurers will exclude pre-existing medical conditions; however, some will charge an additional premium to approve the application, but this depends on the severity of the medical condition. For example, how serious the condition is, how long you have been treatment free and the potential costs of treatment. There is usually an exception for group plans because the risk is spread among healthy and unhealthy people – such group plans can often cover pre-existing medical conditions if the number of employees covered is large enough (usually 10 or 20 employees.)

Expat Financial works with 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. These excellent insurance plans can even provide full coverage for an expat group of only two or three expat employees. This is a significant advantage for any expat employer as almost all employees or dependents, especially older ones, will have at least one medical condition. To learn more, please contact us or obtain a free quote online.

Mistake #2: Obtaining a domestic policy

Some expatriates purchase health insurance plans that don’t provide them with an adequate amount of coverage when living and travelling abroad. Domestic government health plans usually provide coverage to access to private medical facilities. These plans are usually basic and will not allow for treatment outside your home country and are also not portable if you move to a new country. Therefore, expatriates will want to purchase international health insurance plan that covers them locally, regionally and globally. Most international health insurance plans will provide in-patient medical care, outpatient medical care, specialists care, routine scans, etc. If you are relocating to a region with limited medical services, you can select the medical evacuation option. Most of the global medical plans will offer dental and vision options. Finally, don’t overly rely on your health policy back home, as it probably doesn’t cover you abroad.

Mistake #3: Assuming you are young and healthy and don’t require cover

If you assume that you and your family are healthy and don’t need to obtain health insurance, you are putting your health and finance at risk. This is especially true in situations such as maternity care, cancer, accidents and emergency evacuation. Medical expenses in both developing and developed nations can be extremely expensive, and you don’t want to go bankrupt because of uninsured medical fees.

Mistake #4: Not obtaining maternity coverage

Maternity care in private hospitals in many countries can be very expensive. It is vital to obtain maternity coverage if you are planning to become pregnant as an expatriate. Most plans have a 12 month waiting period before maternity related expenses will be covered. We often get calls from expatriates who are currently pregnant and want coverage for that birth, but for individual expatriates this is not possible as you would have to have obtained a global medical plan that covered pregnancy and new child at least 12 months prior to conception. If your child is born with health issues, the baby will have to medically underwritten as a new applicant if maternity coverage was not in force 12 months prior – this can be a huge liability. If you are planning to have children or if there is a possibility that you may become pregnant, it is vital that your global health plan includes maternity care

Mistake #5: Not obtaining evacuation coverage

Emergency evacuation is another critical part of any expatriate’s medical coverage, especially if you are residing in a developing country where local medical facilities are not up to western standards. It will ensure you have access to high-quality medical facilities in the event of a medical emergency. Ambulances, helicopters, planes and travelling medical care can be incredibly high if you are not adequately insured. For many expats in the Caribbean for example, there are some excellent medical facilities, but an expat may have to obtain medical care in the USA for more serious medical conditions.

Mistake #6: Obtaining the cheapest global medical plan

Another mistake that expats sometimes make is choosing a plan based on price alone. If it is a lot cheaper than most plans in the market, there is probably a good reason for this. We are all guilty of looking for a good deal, but selecting the right plan is paramount when it comes to global medical insurance. If you are living or working overseas, you want an insurance plan that is going to be there when you need it. Quality is extremely important. Our most comprehensive policy with excellent service is the Cigna Global plan we offer on our website. We provide the same coverage and price, and you get the benefit of our agency support both before and after you purchase – we are your advocate.

The premiums of expatriate health insurance plan depend on a variety of factors. These factors help the international health insurer determine your initial and renewal premiums. Before picking an international health insurance plan, you should carefully consider co-pays, co-insurance or deductible level, depending on your health care needs. Don’t pick a plan just because of its low premiums. In fact, there are some ways to lower your health insurance premiums while still obtaining first-class access to your desired coverage level. Please read the blog article How to lower your global medical insurance premiums – Five tips for expats to learn more about it. Contact us to discuss your requirements and obtain quotes from the market.

Mistake #7: Not telling the truth on an application

Some expats may suffer from a pre-existing medical condition and not disclose it to the insurer. This is a serious mistake as it will allow the insurer to invalidate all your claims and terminate your insurance policy. Insurers will find out eventually, and it is vital that you provide full disclosure of your health when you complete the application online or offline. Insurers will often write to your doctor to confirm your medical health before or after a policy is taken out, so make sure you tell the truth when applying. If you have a condition, disclose it and provide as much detail as possible along with reports, tests and it is possible that the condition will be covered, depending on the insurer and the condition.

Mistake #8: For Americans, not obtaining a plan that covers treatment in the USA

Some American expats do not obtain a plan that covers medical treatment back home. If you are an American expat, there is a good chance you will want a plan that will allow you medical treatment back in the USA where you have family, friends and other support groups. Yes adding US care to your policy will cost you more, but surprisingly for some plans that cost is quite minimal – especially the Cigna Global Health Options plan we offer online.

expat healthcare if critical

Mistake #9: Not purchasing a plan that covers drugs

If you are an expatriate taking prescription drugs for short-term or under chronic medical conditions, it is vital to obtain prescription drug coverage. Many countries have very expensive drug costs, especially when treating major illness drugs or using a new drug. Many drugs, especially biologics, are extremely expensive so it is essential to purchase a plan with prescription coverage.

Mistake #10: Not checking the fine print

International health insurance is complicated and can be confusing for expats who are living and working abroad. We are all guilty of not reading the fine print or policy coverage details. It is essential when you are purchasing a global medical plan that you carefully read the fine print of the global medical policy. This can also include checking the medical network and administration details of the provider.

Expat Financial offers several global insurance plans that will provide excellent drug coverage for expatriates who are living abroad. Some of the global medical plans we offer can even cover local nationals in select countries. The international health plans from providers such as CignaMSH and IMG can provide prescription drug coverage for most expatriates. You can get a quote online and apply for the individual expat health plans we offer.

 

TFG Global will be exhibiting at Canadian Employee Relocation Council conference

TFG Global Insurance Solutions Ltd. and its division Expat Financial will be exhibiting at the Canadian Employee Relocation Council conference in Calgary that is running from September 10th till 12th, 2017. The CERC is an important membership-based organization that was formed to provide service, leadership and assistance in the relocation of employees both domestically and globally. The CERC has over 600 members in Canada and around the world. David Tompkins noted that “TFG Global is very pleased to be exhibiting at the Calgary conference in 2017 and hope that we will meet members of the relocation service community and global HR managers who assist their employees in relocating overseas.”

David also mentioned that “TFG Global has become a key resource for multinational employers in Canada and also in many parts of the world that require global insurance solutions for their expatriate workforce for short and long-term assignments. We can source global medical, evacuation, life, disability, AD&D, special risk and other related international insurance plans on both a group and individual plan basis.”

David Tompkins will be providing a short presentation titled “Global Benefit Plans 101” that will provide details on the services that our firm can contribute to global employers in the private and public sector. It will also offer some valuable tips for Global HR professionals on how to effectively run an international group insurance program along with ways to reduce expat insurance costs.

TFG Global strongly encourages anyone who manages a global workforce to attend the CERC conference in Calgary, Alberta, Canada and to attend our presentation on global benefit plans. We will also be giving away a $100 Amazon gift card, so please don’t forget to visit our booth and learn more about the international insurance expertise and services we provide.