Road Accidents are a Major Cause of Medical Claims and Evacuations for Expats

The World Health Organization (WHO) recently noted that there were approximately 1.19 million deaths on the world’s roads in 2023. Traveling on the roads of the country you live in is a critical component of an expat assignment or business trip. It is a good idea to investigate and understand the risk factors and, if possible, take steps to protect your safety.

The WHO report also noted that 28 countries have comprehensive road safety laws. It has been further reported that some of the most dangerous road safety stats are in Malaysia, Cambodia and Colombia. Countries such as Norway, the United Kingdom and Sweden have the best traffic safety records, according to the OECD.

Many evacuations are caused by road incidents, especially in third and second-world countries with very lax transportation rules and poor infrastructure. Such accidents are usually the result of poor driving by the local inhabitants or the expat’s unfamiliarity with the country.

Note that the expat health insurance provider must coordinate and approve a medical evacuation. It may take several days or hours to make arrangements as many medical evacuations are very complex and involve a helicopter, plane, visa arrangements, medical personnel and coordination of medical providers in the evac destination country.

A medical evacuation can be very expensive so it is critical that expatriates have this coverage, especially if they are living in a country with limited medical care.

Road Accidents are a Major Cause of Medical Claims and Evacuations for Expats

A nation’s culture and laws can be radically different from the expat employee’s home country. It might be a good idea to source a professional driver and not drive at all. Public transit, if it exists, is another great option.

Any driver should be properly vetted and references checked. Vehicle maintenance is also important and may be lacking in some developing countries.

Top 5 Ways to Reduce Road Accidents When Living Abroad

  • Familiarize yourself with local laws and conditions – When living abroad, it can be very difficult driving or being driven in a foreign environment with totally different rules of the road. Learn about local driving customs and behaviours and be aware of typical road conditions.
  • Stay alert and put down the phone – Just like home, you need to stay alert and avoid distractions such as expat kids and especially your iPhone. We suggest you use your phone’s Google Maps feature, though. Also, watch out for unexpected road conditions.
  • Adapt to Local Conditions – Try to adjust your driving to the local weather conditions, especially in rainy regions where roads may not be up to developed-world standards.
  • Drive defensively – Keep your distance and assume everyone on the road is not. Be especially mindful of cyclists, children and vulnerable people.
  • Maintain your vehicle – Expats should make sure they or a reputable mechanic regularly check the vehicle’s status and condition.
  • Take a reputable taxi or ride-sharing service – Definitely don’t use unlicensed drivers or sketchy rides, as this may lead to unsafe driving and accidents.

Don’t Forget Global Health Coverage

It is a good idea to make sure that your international health insurance will adequately cover road accidents that might occur on the road. A high level of service and support, especially in the event of a road incident, will be critical if medical evacuation is required. So, look both ways before you cross that street abroad and make sure you purchase adequate medical coverage that will cover you both locally and globally.

Updated July 2024