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10 tips on how to keep your expat kids healthy & happy overseas

Here are Some Tips for Expatriate Parents on How to Keep Your Kids Happy and Healthy Overseas

Moving abroad is often a difficult transition for expatriates and their spouses, but often even more so for their children. You want to make sure that the transition to life abroad is as effortless as possible. One of the most important considerations for expat parents is how to keep their expat kids healthy and happy abroad. We have noted several steps that expatriates can take before and after they move overseas to make sure the little ones and even teen expatriates will maintain their emotional and physical health.

1. Adjusting to their new school abroad

While you are trying to welcome your new environment, don’t forget to help your children to choose a school. Picking the right school requires you to do adequate research before moving abroad. It can be vital to the health and happiness of your children. For most children, the transition to a new environment can require sufficient counseling to help them integrate.

2. Make sure they are vaccinated

Obtaining the necessary vaccinations is important if you are moving overseas, but especially for children. Talk to your doctor and make sure they are up to date on their vaccination schedule and also make sure that they are properly vaccinated for diseases that may exist in your new home country abroad. When it comes to vaccinations, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

3. Encourage them to pack their things

Another step you can take to help your children to stay positive is to include them in the packing process. Encourage them to pack their belongings, and choose what they want to take on the plane and what gets shipped. Of course, also make sure they don’t forget their favorite toy or blanket!

Portrait of happy mother and baby girl on street overlooking rooftops of rome on sunset

4. Be mindful of their mental health and adjustment abroad

Moving abroad is a big deal for adults, but even more so for your children. They are moving away from all what they are familiar with – home, friends, cousins etc… Don’t try to avoid their questions and anxieties. As soon as you know there’s going to be a relocation, include your kids in the conversation. Listen properly to their questions and concerns. They have to make new connections in a brand new culture. While they may be excited, it can be quite daunting. If you can see assistance both before and after you go and be very mindful of their mental well-being after you move abroad. Think about having them join a team or club while abroad. Also, maybe include your kids in the process of decorating their rooms. Let them choose their furniture, paint colour and bedsheets.

5. Keep copies of your kids’ medical records

One of the biggest challenges when relocating with children is looking for high-quality medical care. It is always suggested to bring your children’s medical records wherever you go, as well as vaccination updates, and allergy history

6. Research destination illness and health warnings

Many countries are providing diseases and health warnings on their travel websites. Expats should consult these sites before moving abroad. In most cases, children are more vulnerable to infectious diseases. Through adequate research, you should be able to identify the signs and symptoms of some common local diseases. It also helps to take preventive actions such as vaccinations and checkups for your kids before you move.

Expatriate Life Insurance

7. Help your children to keep in touch with home country

Moving abroad will be a landmark event in your children’s lives. It is suggested that you help your children collect all of their friends’ contact information, put them in an address book. Another helpful step would be to create photo albums to preserve their memories from their home country. It will also be a good idea to host an unforgettable goodbye party to celebrate this life-changing decision.

8. Find local expat kids groups

There are local expats groups or communities resources online, through social media or employee networking. Bring your kids to these child-friendly activities. It has been proved that these similarly minded expat parents can help expat children to acclimatize to the new surroundings faster.

9. Learn the language together with your children

It is a good idea to begin a language course before relocation. However, to better help your kids’ transition, you are recommended to take the time to learn the new language with your kids. It will help them to see there is a learning curve for everyone. And if you are enjoying the new language, they will be more likely to also.

An elementary age girl is holding her stuffed animal at the doctors office. Her mother is talking to the doctor in the background.

10. Obtain international health insurance to cover you and your expat kids

It is crucial for every expat family to take the necessary action to ensure that their spouse and children’s health and well-being are protected and provided for via an appropriate level of international health insuranceExpat Financial offers a wide array of excellent global health plans designed specifically for expatriates of most nationalities around much of the world. You should also consider purchasing the expatriate dental coverage option.

If you have questions about our international medical insurance plans or you want to discuss your needs and produce a customized evacuation quote, please contact us or complete the quote form.

A financial checklist is important for expats moving abroad

Make a Financial Checklist if You Are Moving Abroad!

Financial planning is often considered confusing, frustrating and time-consuming, especially for expatriates who are busy enough living and working abroad. However, don’t let it frighten you off. Financial planning aims to help take control of your life and budget, and achieve your financial goals. This is very important for expats living and working overseas. In order to have a clear picture of what you want, it is recommended that you create a simple financial checklist before moving abroad.

Do you want to own a home or rent an apartment?

Expatriates working overseas will have the chance to own a larger amount of disposable income. A clear financial goal is important if you want to make the most of your money. For expatriates aiming to purchase home overseas, it is suggested to look for neighbourhoods with appropriate community services and excellent schools. This will be attractive for future resale value. If you decided to rent an apartment, make sure to check the entire room before signing the lease contract. Rental agreements will vary, you are responsible to read carefully before signing.

Do you have emergency savings?

Any unexpected events or risks could hurt your financial health. Financial professionals suggest holding at least 3-6 months of income as emergency savings. This is especially important for expatriates living overseas in the event of any financial emergencies. It is recommended to establish a monthly budget to cover day-to-day expenses, protecting cash account being invested or overspending.

Do you have a retirement plan?

If you have a retirement plan at hand, you will be clear when making major decisions such as what lifestyle you can afford, how much to save and where you will retire. The earlier you get the retirement plan ready, the more comfortable retirement. A lot of factors will help to design your retirement plan: investment returns, cash flow, country-specific benefits, etc. You should talk to an expat investment expert who may be able to guide you in the right investment plans and investments. Generally, the closer you are to retirement the less risk you may want to take. Expats may want to think about if your investment accounts are consolidated and organized?

There are also many retirement hot spots for expat retirees such as Costa Rica, Mexico, Thailand, etc. There are many reasons why expats choose to retire overseas: lower cost of living compared to western countries, beautiful beaches, cuisine, climate, etc. Check out our Expat Retiree page to read more about international health coverage needs for your current or upcoming retirement plan.

Have you undertaken adequate tax planning and preparations before moving abroad?

Tax issues can be complicated, especially for international citizens. Moving abroad can involve significant tax implications – some positive and some negative. For example, some Canadians become non-residents for tax purposes when they move abroad along with significant tax savings depending on the country they will be residing in. For American expats, it can be quite complex as well. It is recommended to visit your local tax office and consult expat tax experts before moving overseas. We often recommend that expatriates talk to an expat tax expert such as Citizen Abroad Tax Advisors. We also list several other firms on our links page.

Have you made financial arrangements in your new home country?

If possible, it is wise to arrange for a new bank account in your new country of residence and bring adequate ID and financial letters from your home bank. You may also need to transfer money into a new currency – we recommend our foreign exchange associates at OFX and use them ourselves. You should also check into money restrictions and regulations in your existing and new country of residence.

Do you have international health insurance to protect you and your family while living abroad?

Yes, as you can guess global healthcare is near and dear to our heats! We work with many expats who reside where the local healthcare system is usually not the best choice. That local health coverage may not even be available, especially if you are residing in the developing world. You may not even be eligible for local healthcare or it simply may be substandard. The cost of using private medical care is usually very high in many parts of the world, especially in parts of Asia and of course the USA.  It is common that you may be living in a country where medical care is inadequate, and you may need to see medical care regionally or globally. The expense of emergency medical evacuation is also quite expensive. For example, we know of a friend of ours who was charged 75,000 USD for a short evacuation flight from one island to another. A large medical bill can destroy your financial goals and hurt your financial future. If your employer is providing health coverage, make sure it is adequate coverage for both you and your family. Note that some companies do not extend coverage to dependent spouses and children.

With an appropriate international medical plan in place, many individual expats and their families are covered around the globe (except in the USA unless you add it as an optional benefit). International health insurance plan provides day-patient care and full hospital coverage, preventive medical care, 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 the more rural areas in some less developed countries.

How to obtain international health insurance 

Expat Financial can source global medical insurance plans for expatriate families that can provide excellent coverage and premiums. We have been offering international health insurance coverage on an individual basis for many years. For more information, please check out our International Health Insurance page.

Five Tips for Learning a New Language If Living Abroad

5 Tips for Learning a New Language If Moving or Already Living Abroad

Moving to a brand-new country is never easy. Learning a new language can take years. And moving to a brand-new country while attempting to learn a new language can be downright daunting.

For an expat in a non-English speaking country, the question simply becomes: how can I learn the local language fast? While there is no magic pill to learn a new language overnight, there are ways to pick up a language quickly. While this task of learning a foreign language may seem huge, there are ways to make your life a bit smoother – here are five tips to learning a new language, while living abroad:

  1. Understand that learning a new language is difficult! There are multiple ways of learning a new language and not every way will work for you. No one is expecting you to learn a brand-new language perfectly and to be fluent speaker right away, especially if you are learning a language with many complexities like Russian, Mandarin, Arabic, Korean, or Hungarian. The faster you can come to terms with this notion, the faster you can get over any anxiety and embarrassment that may come with learning a new foreign language. Relax, figure out what method works for you, practice, and enjoy the process.
  2. Immerse yourself in the language. Pay attention to the street signs, the advertisements on the sides busses and on billboards, read food labels when grocery shopping; all of this helps (especially when learning a new language alphabet). Celebrate your wins when you recognize what the words or phrases mean. Try ordering your daily cup of coffee at your neighborhood cafe in the local language. Find out the keywords or phrases to get by and say pleasantries like please, thank you, may I, sorry, etc. and use them on a daily basis. They will become automatic and make you more confident.
  3. Self-study. If you like to learn on your own there are many books out there on learning new languages. You can check out local books stores in your new country, many of which will have books on learning English or baby books. Don’t discredit these books, reversing how you view the language may be quite helpful. And there are thousands of YouTube videos, podcasts, and apps to help you self-learn – most of them free. Listen or watch videos on your daily commute or for a few hours a day when possible. Making use of technology can be a lighter and easier way of learning as many apps aim to make the learning process fun and game-like. Talk to the locals who speak English, they can help correct you and guide you. If you don’t know a local who can help, join a learning group.
  4. Join a learning group. This will allow you to be in a structured environment to learn the new language. You will get feedback, be sounded by others from various different countries who are trying to learn the local language and may even receive assignments to test your knowledge. Find fellow expats, but beware of slipping back into your native tongue.
  5. Get creative. Make flashcards, try to write up your work emails or everyday texts in English and the local language, visualize the new language rather than relying on a direct translation. Have fun with friends or family members who are trying to learn the new language, get into a habit of picking a category to talk about ex. “colours” or “foods” and say the examples in the language. Watch the news for articulation and pronunciation. If you are in a big city check out a play, visit museums, and see movies in the language you are trying to learn.

And finally, something thing you might want to consider before choosing a language learning method is what purpose are you looking to achieve by learning a foreign language? Do you need it mostly for writing? Talking? Business? Can you get by without learning too much of the local language? Learning a new language will always assist in ensuring a good quality of life and freedom within your new country. A new language will assist you should you require medical care from a facility or doctor who doesn’t speak your language. A great medical plan will also provide medical insurance support in all of the major languages. Expat Financial offers several different international health insurance plans for expatriates of any nationality across the world who are about to move abroad or already there. If you have any questions regarding international medical insurance plans or you want to discuss your needs as an expat, please contact us or complete the quote form.

Should you retire abroad?

Learn About Retiring Abroad – Determining Your “Expatibility,” or Candidacy, for Retiring Abroad

A lot of us wanted to travel abroad while we were younger or were interested in taking time off work to explore and see more of the world. You may or may not have had the chance to see as much of the world as you wanted. But now you nearing retirement. And you always thought you’d travel once your career was complete. Now you are considering going abroad – and staying abroad permanently as a retired expat.

How do you determine if retiring abroad is right for you?

For one thing, going abroad for retirement is an adventure. Another thing is that it may make total financial sense to leave your native country, with costs of living climbing. And it’s never been easier to pull off expat living – with resources at your fingertips around the clock through the easy facilitation of information-sharing online. You can look up what others have done and read about their experiences online, and even connect with them as well.

Determining your expatibility is the most important step to deciding if you should retire abroad.

Here are two steps you can take in order to determine whether you’re a good candidate for this adventurous expat lifestyle.

Step 1. Take a good look at yourself and profile whether you have the personal disposition to retire abroad.
Retiring abroad takes a desire for adventure, yes. But it also means embracing change, difference and meeting difficulties with an open mind. Do you shy away from obstacles that may arise, like language barriers and a different way of life? You should also consider the following disadvantages of moving abroad:

  1. You will not be able to see your friends and family as much
  2. You may have to sell your house and give up health coverage back home
  3. You will have to give up some activities at home which may not be available in your new location – such as skiing if you are moving from Vancouver to Barbados.
  4. Will you have enough money to last for your life no matter how long you live?

Also, are you ready to immerse yourself in a different culture, including the food, the type of dress you’d be donning? If not, then retiring abroad may not be for you. Or you’re not just yet ready to take the leap into expat life at the moment.

Step 2. Ask yourself what you truly need – what are your necessities in life?

What are some things you absolutely can’t live without? Do you need to be able to speak the local language in your new home country or get away with speaking English? Do you have to have the ability to live with very low costs, or peace and quiet, or a car or internet? Evaluating your needs will help you decide if you’re able to live abroad, and where.

Whether or not you decide to retire abroad, and wherever you go, remember that you’re going to need international health coverage as it’s very likely that your domestic plan will NOT cover you during your retirement abroad. Medical expenses incurred abroad can be extremely expensive and as we all know, our health does not improve with age. It will make sense to lock in a global medical insurance plan when you are living abroad from a well known and respected global insurance company, such as the expat health plan we offer from Cigna.

Finding the right international medical insurer is an extremely complex issue. There are many different levels of healthcare around the world, as well as vastly changing local regulations. Therefore, it’s very important to ensure you’ve selected an international health insurance plan that fully protects you and your family. You should also consider a global health plan that will cover you for life as some plans will termiante after you reach age 70 or 75.

Contact Expat Financial for expert advice and to discuss your international insurance needs and requirements.

How Expats Can Save Money When Moving to the UK

The UK’s rich cultural heritage, vibrant history, and high standard of living have made it one of the most sought-after expat destinations in the world. London’s eminence as a global business center also means that many expat positions there will come with high wages. However, these qualities have also contributed to a high cost of living. The UK is the 12th most expensive country to live in in the world, and its capital, London, is the 5th most expensive city in the world. To help you keep costs down, we at Expat Financial will discuss five ways to save money in the UK.

1. Saving on Flights

As expats move to the United Kingdom from all over the world, they would all love to save a penny or two on their airfare. One of the easiest ways to do this is to book flights well in advance. Airlines tend to hike the price of tickets as your departure date looms closer, so booking at least several months in advance will allow you to avoid this. Additionally, if flying to the UK from your own country proves unusually expensive, you could try booking a flight to another cheaper European destination. This is a valid strategy, as due to the significant presence of low-cost airlines in Europe, once you are in Europe, flying within the continent can become as cheap as the taxi to the airport.

2. Saving on Accommodation

With the average flat price in Central London is an astonishing 1.4 million USD, and the average British citizen spending nearly 40% of their income on housing, it makes sense to share a flat with fellow expats to keep costs down. In addition to helping your pocket, sharing an apartment is also a great way to make new friends. Online platforms such as Gumtree and SpareRoom make it easy for expats to arrange a shared flat. For students in the UK, you can often obtain very inexpensive and basic rooms through your university or private student housing companies like Unite Students.

3. Saving on Food

As a melting pot of different cultures, Britain’s vast offering of diverse cuisines makes it a foodie’s paradise. Although some of this diversity amounts to £300 a head omakase bars, there is still an abundance of cheap eats to be found. Straying from the main tourist and business areas will usually lead to finding low-cost local favourites. Additionally, many restaurants lower their prices both before and after peak hours, so that late night sitting may be saving you money. It is easy to obtain ready made meals from the large food chains and department stores in London and other parts of the UK. If you avoid restaurants in your hotel, the prices can be much more reasobable. We strongly recommend trying the excellent pub food as well.

4. Saving on your Commute

The major cities of Britain are home to some of the best public transit networks in the world, and subsequently, they make owning a car very optional. In London for instance, only 33% of people drive on a daily basis. Utilizing public transit will not only save you money, but it will also save you time, as taking the tube is often faster than driving as city traffic can be agonizingly slow during rush hour. In areas that are not covered by the public transit system, using Uber is often less expensive than hailing a cab.

5. Saving on International Health Insurance in the UK

Traveling to the UK without adequate health care could leave your finances in ruin, especially if you wish to obtain medical care through the private system versus the National Health Service. Unfortunately, the NHS has had some serious problems which include very long waiting lists for treatment. You may also be traveling or want to obtain medical treatment in your home country. Therefore, it makes sense to contact an international healthcare advisor to make sure that you are fully covered. Expat Financial offers many different international health insurance plans for expats moving to the UK for long or extended durations. In addition, we offer group plans for multinational firms with great rates and enhanced coverage. If you have any questions regarding our services or the plans we can provide, please contact us or complete the quote form.

 

 

 

 

 

 

4 Essential (But Easy) Steps to Follow Before Going Abroad

So, you’ve decided to go abroad!

Now what?

You’ve decided to take the leap and perhaps teach abroad for a couple of years, or to travel for a few months, or to retire internationally… Whatever the reason is, your big decision to travel abroad needs to be accompanied by a list of essential to-do items that you should follow through with before leaving.

The key thing for you to remember before going abroad is to prepare yourself as much as possible. There’s nothing better to bring with you on your travels abroad than peace of mind.

Following these three essential (but easy!) steps before you embark will put you more at ease.

Research

Research, research, research. This will make it easier for you to prepare what to pack, what documents you need to complete before going abroad (visas and other documentation can take a few weeks to a few months to process, so you need to account for waiting time), what costs to expect, and what kind of insurance you’ll need while abroad.

Making sure your visa and passports are up to date and registering for your trip with the government, including entering your itinerary, is something that will come up while you do research on your destination. For example, if your destination is a remote country, you’ll be advised to register your trip online so that in the case of an emergency, the government will be able to locate and contact you.

A little effort goes a long way. Research how much to tip in restaurants, what conservative attire you’d need when traveling to conservative countries, and how much entrance and exit fees in certain countries may cost you.

Get international health insurance.

On the note of unexpected emergencies, it’s necessary for you to obtain international health insurance.

It’s very likely that your domestic health insurance won’t cover you while you’re abroad. Though many are aware of this, people often fail to adequately prepare for not having their domestic health insurance at their disposal while they’re travelling internationally.

You absolutely need international health insurance while abroad. Not having international health insurance means failing to protect yourself from potentially pre-paying for medical procedures that can be costly abroad and shouldering a heavy financial burden.

It can be confusing to obtain coverage that adequately meets your requirements and those of your family, but Expat Financial is available to answer any questions you may have and walk you through the process of obtaining adequate international medical coverage. Contact us today to assist you in purchasing a plan that works best for you and your family or to obtain a quote.

Call your bank or credit card provider to let them know you’re travelling.

Many people leave this one essential step forgotten amidst all the other to-do items they have on their list before going abroad. If you don’t inform your bank or credit card provider that you’re going to, say, Paris, when you’re supposedly in New York City, they will turn off your credit card as a security measure.

On that note, always have local cash on you – just in case.

While the logistics and planning of going abroad can be overwhelming and complicating, following these three basic steps before everything else will lessen the burden of having to plan to pack up everything and move across the world.

Remember, your international health insurance coverage is essential and should not be forgotten before you embark on your travels. Contact us today to obtain a quote or answer any questions you may have about the policies we provide through our many international health insurance providers, such as IMGCigna and GeoBlue.

And finally…

Ensure your visa and passport are up to date.

It’s always important to ensure your travel documents are updated. Ideally, your passport will be valid for at least six months before flying abroad, just to be safe.

These four essential steps will help you prepare adequately for your travels abroad and minimize potential risks, so you can have peace of mind before you embark.

Insurance options for companies with only one expat employee

Our firm has worked with many companies and organizations with hundreds and even thousands of employees that have only one or two expatriate employees posted abroad. These firms are not able to adequately cover their expat employee and his or her dependents under their domestic plan and should not try for a variety of reasons. The human resource manager is often faced with a dilemma of where to find adequate insurance for the lone expat employee and may have limited experience or understanding of expat insurance, not to mention no expat insurance contacts. So what is a company or non-profit with only one or two expat employees to do? Let’s learn more.

What to do when you have only one or two expat employees?

Attracting and retaining expat talent for your firm’s global operations is not easy. Finding the right person to help grow your sales or run operations abroad is both challenging and rewarding. If you want to attract the best person for your expat position, it is vital that you offer him or her the best global insurance coverage possible. It may not be easy to match your existing domestic benefit plan coverage for an expat position, but it is possible to gather coverage that will meet your duty of care obligations and adequately cover that employee and any dependents who will also live abroad. There are many insurance coverage requirements if you are hiring an expat employee, but we will deal with the three most important ones: Life, Disability & Global Medical Insurance. Note that all individual policies are medically underwritten, unlike most international group insurance plans, so keep this in mind if you are sending an individual expat abroad. Also, there are significant pitfalls in covering your expat employees on domestic plans in the new country location that we have described in a separate article.

Global Life Insurance for Individual Expat Employees

Your company’s existing domestic benefit plan will most likely offer a multiple of annual income in the local currency, but most expatriates will be paid in USD or Euro and will expect to be covered for 1 or 2 times annual income if he/she should die from an accident or illness. There are not a lot of global life insurance options for individual expats, but our firm does have access to some excellent life insurance plans that can cover most expats around the world. The premiums will, of course, depend on the age, occupation, and location of the employee. An employee being posted to a high-risk country such as Afghanistan will most likely have to obtain Accidental Death & Dismemberment (AD&D) coverage, which may also be an adjunct to the life insurance for some expats in more “safe” countries. The typical plans will exclude war and terrorism, but it may be possible to quote AD&D cover including war risk depending on the location of the policy and employer. Final premiums will depend on the health, age, location, occupation of the employee. Unlike a group plan that we can offer, it is possible that the employee won’t qualify for coverage.

Finally, in regards to that “consultant” that you are hiring or who is only working for you, it may be tempting to have him or her secure insurance coverage on their own, but many companies who employ consultants abroad are taking a risk. That consultant may be viewed as an employee should they only work for your firm and should they become sick, injured, or deseased while being posted abroad, your company may be held responsible regardless.

Expat Disability Insurance for Individual Expat Employees

One of the most important parts of your expat employee responsibilities is securing adequate disability coverage should he or she become sick or have an accident that will make it impossible for him or her to work. However, global disability coverage is often not secured by expat employers, and domestic workers compensation plans will generally not extend beyond the national borders. Unfortunately, the risk of a disability is extremely high for most persons under age 65, and this represents a huge liability and risk for both the employer and employee. Part of your duty of care is to help the employee secure global disability coverage. Expat Financial offers an excellent individual expat disability insurance plan from William Russell that can provide income protection after 3 or 6 months waiting period. The longer the waiting period, the lower the premium. We can secure individual short-term disability, but this can easily be self-insured by most employers. A long-term disability can not.

Individual International Health Insurance Options for Expat Employers

Many expat employers will have their domestic employees covered by private or public health insurance schemes or a combination of the two. However, most human resource professionals and their advisors will have limited, or no experience in the unique challenges associated with covering expat employees posted abroad with or without their family members. Some will keep the employee on the domestic health plan which almost certainly will not adequately cover the employee overseas to save costs or merely a lack of understanding of the domestic policy and requirements for healthcare while living abroad.

That is why it is vital for HR professionals to provide a comprehensive international health insurance coverage that will meet your duty of care and other employment responsibilities. We have seen too many expat employers ask the employee to obtain his or her health coverage on his or her own, but you as the employer will be responsible should that coverage not be adequate. This can lead to a failed expat assignment, large unfunded medical claim or your prospective expat employee seeks a job with another employer. If the expat employer has more than 2 or 3 employees, Expat Financial can probably source a group plan, but under three most expat employers will want to secure an individual plan for that expat employee.

Most global medical insurance plans will cover hospital, out-patient care, wellness and evacuation & repatriation. Some expat employers will also want to secure dental and vision coverage. If the employee has a spouse who may become pregnant, it is vital that you include full maternity coverage – however individual plans will have a 9 or 12 month waiting period. While it may be tempting to obtain the least expensive plan, you do get what you pay for, and we recommend that expat employers secure the best possible coverage with or without a deductible to help lower the premiums. As noted above, the employee or their dependent’s health may impact the approval or coverage that is secured. Rates will depend on the ages, citizenships, health statuses, plan options, deductibles and country location of the expat employee and any dependents. Most American expats will want a plan that adequately covers treatment in the USA, but this will mean a higher premium. If you have an expat employee posted in the USA or a nearby region, you will want to make sure it covers treatment in the United States. We have an excellent global health plan from Cigna where you or your employee can get a quote and even apply or expat health insurance.

Obtaining Individual Expat Insurance for that Lone Expat Employee

While you may want to turn to your domestic consulting firm or broker for the above coverage, it is very likely his or her firm will have insufficient experience in global life, disability, and health insurance – this is even the case with the large insurance consulting houses. Like most things in life, it pays to talk to an expat specialist firm, and that is where Expat Financial and its parent company TFG Global can be of assistance in understanding your organization’s international insurance requirements. Additionally, we do not charge a consulting fee as we are compensated by the insurer with the same rates regardless. We also have long established insurance provider relationships and excellent service and support. We may be able to assist on other insurance matters related to your expat employees, such as kidnap & ransom and even business travel insurance for domestic employees who travel abroad. To learn more, contact us today if you are sending one, two or a hundred expat employees overseas to expand your global fortunes. We look forward to being part of your international relocation efforts.

global medical

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 will want to avoid. In fact, to better plan and prepare a safe journey before departure, one of the most important considerations would be applying for 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 a health insurance application at least 30 to 45 days before departure. You should allow for a week or two for the health insurance underwriters to process your request, but also they need to check whether there are geographical exclusions that may apply depending on the level of cover or due to a pre-existing medical condition. It is suggested for future expatriates to start researching your destination’s health care situation and contact your employer to find out whether you are covered under your employee benefits 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 coverage for inpatient, day patient care, accommodation costs, cancer care, mental health care, and many more. 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 while 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.

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 most well-known chronic conditions are heart disease, arthritis, HIV, diabetes, and 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 more 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 be placed on the group benefit plan before the effective date. Individual expatriate health insurance plans will either exclude previous medical conditions, decline the application or raise the premium. However, we work 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. 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 range 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.

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 moments 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 believe they are instantly exempt from their home nation’s tax system; however, this is usually not the case. For example, a British expat living abroad who is no longer a UK resident, he or she may still be responsible for the tax of the profits of a UK business or property situated in the UK, and UK pension income. With 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 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. 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, renting 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 a fixed exchange rate for a specific period of time. Expats should 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.

4. Organize your Expat Investment Portfolio

You should organize and take stock of all your current investments before you 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 housing 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 coverage may not be desirable or even available in your new home country. Also, expats need 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, it’s 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.

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 CouncilCigna 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 ten years, including how expat employers are supporting female expats. 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. However, 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 in the United States.

Additionally, 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 have also been 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 Expats 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, they found that overall assignment preparedness was crucial, mainly 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. Incomee 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 a 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 to is something our firm sees as a secure 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 important for many expatriates. As an expat employer, you want to make your employees as comfortable and settled as possible 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 it’s of high quality and availability.
  • 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

Our expat group clients often experience the above observations and trends. 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 afterthought. 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 halfway 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 regular 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 pocketbooks.

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 knew their capabilities and plans inside out. For more information on the corporate Cigna plan we offer expats, click HERE. We also offer their 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: