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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.

Learning the local language is crucial for expatriates on overseas assignments

Learning the local language is crucial for expatriates on overseas assignments – Language Tips for Expats

According to a recent survey that was carried out by Rosetta Stone, approximately three-fifths of global mobility experts believe that learning the local language is crucial to a successful expat assignment. Indeed, if an expat employee can communicate with the local business team and partners, then it definitely helps when building the bridge between local business leaders, expats, and the head office. In this article, we will discuss how expats can make learning their host country’s language easier.

Most Spoken Languages in the World

Out of the most popular languages, Chinese Mandarin is often seen as the most important language for expat employees, especially if residing in China, which is one of the largest economies in the world. Other common languages include Spanish, Hindi, Portuguese, French, Arabic, Russian and Japanese. Spanish is the primary language of Central America and South AmericaCuba and parts of the U.S. French is also widely spoken in varies countries, including Canada, Belgium, and Haiti. Arabic is mostly spoken in the Middle East and Egypt. It is the sixth official language of the United Nations. For expatriates planning to live and work abroad, it is recommended to have a working knowledge of your destination’s foreign language. Learning the local language can advance your career by giving you have a much better chance to start a conversation with locals and employees.

How to Learn a Foreign Language

  • Join a language learning group or attend a course: There are usually many language learning groups available in major cities across popular expat host nations. Try to find a local colleague or friend who would be willing to help you learn the language. If you can not find anyone who speaks the language or there are no language learning groups, try to apply and attend a language learning course. Many language learning schools provide modern language teaching techniques and updated learning materials in a small classroom setting. Some of them even offer expat students the chance to take part in local cultural activities. For busy expats, taking private language lessons can be more suitable than taking group lessons. Private language lessons are flexible, with options to specify different fields, such as business communication. Another popular choice is to take an online language learning course, as they are flexible and location independent.
  • Employer-Sponsored: It is recommended that the expat employer provide some language courses both before and during the expat assignment. Even just learning a few words and phrases can help your expat employees better integrate into their new surroundings.
  • Self-studying: Some expats will try to learn a new language themselves by spending a couple of hours each week and using a dictionary to enlarge your vocabulary. According to scientific research, language learning is based on repetition. If you spend some time every day to study the foreign language, you are more likely to grasp it within a few months. A dictionary is a handy tool for you to consult when you are finding the necessary words. Expats can use either an actual dictionary or a translator app. There are also lots of great online courses, such as ones offered by Babel and Rosetta Stone.

  • Immerse yourself in the language: Being immersed in a foreign language means that you are interacting, listening and speaking in the language daily. There are many conversation examples and lessons on Youtube and live stream radio on websites. And these are all free to access. Reading the local language can be very difficult for expats, but try to start with local magazines or newspapers. Read a short article in the beginning, and look up any words that you don’t understand. This will allow you to recognize commonly used words and phrases.
  • Embrace making mistakes: The best way to learn a new language is by practicing. Don’t worry about making mistakes. Focus on the practicing process other than on perfection. The more you speak, the better chance you will get to the ideal level.
  • Learn important vocabulary: One of the most important things about learning a new language is vocabulary. Even if you don’t understand a whole paragraph or a sentence, knowledge about some keywords will help you to understand the general meaning of a conversation. It is better for expats to focus on learning the most common words, and figure out which category of vocabulary is most relevant to you. It is also key to carry the correct vocabulary to assist you in a medical emergency. In the case you do need medical assistance, you want to be able to describe your condition to medical staff.
  • Don’t Forget About Dependents: If you are an expat with a partner or children living abroad, it is also critical to assist them in their new language endeavours. Check if the neighborhood school will provide lessons in the local language, and suggest that your spouse enrolls in some courses as well.

Don’t Forget Your International Health Insurance 

Learning a new language and living abroad is a wonderful experience within reach of you and your family. That 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. In addition, we offer excellent service before and after you purchase your international health insurance plan. If you have any questions regarding 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.

expatriate employee insurance

Top seven global insurance considerations before sending expat employees overseas

More and more multinational companies are opening offices around the world, including in regions such as Asia, Africa, Europe, the Caribbean and South America. While working and living abroad can be an exciting opportunity for expat employees, expat employers have a fiduciary responsibility to provide adequately protect their expat employees and achieve a successful expat assignment – this includes purchasing global medical coverage. In this article, we will discuss the top seven global insurance considerations you should consider before sending employees on overseas assignments.

Coverage – Local or International Coverage

In many countries with limited or no local health insurance coverage or health infrastructure, an expat employer should put their expat employees on an international expat group insurance plan. A local plan is designed for local coverage and does not provide the portability that most expat employees require. A proper international health benefit plan will provide medical coverage each time an expat employee is moved from one country to another without having to change plans, apply for new coverage or satisfy a new waiting period. Furthermore, in some nations where local health benefits coverage may be available, most expatriate employees will want to use a major stable currency instead of local currency when dealing with insurance claims. Therefore, obtaining a global international expat group insurance plan is very important before relocating to a new country or destination. Local plans are great for locals but are typically unsuitable for expats.

Special Risk Insurance 

Many companies are exploring new markets and resources in areas with unstable local governments or conflicts, which are often considered to be high-risk countries. The potential damages and costs caused by acts of war, terrorism and kidnapping are traumatic and can be very high for employers.

If your company or organization is operating in high-risk zones, it is critical to source full coverage for war and terrorism risks, kidnap and ransom insurance for expatriate employees.

Medical Emergency Evacuation

Medical emergency evacuation insurance plan is also critical for any expat employees working abroad, especially if residing in a region with limited medical facilities or health clinics that are not up to western standards. However, even while living in a highly developed country, medical evacuation may also be required. For example, if you are residing in a remote region of the nation and need an air ambulance.

When your employees are posted overseas and experience a medical emergency that can’t be addressed in the host country, it is critical that your organization have a comprehensive evacuation insurance plan. Most expatriate group health insurance plans will provide emergency evacuation and repatriation as an option or include it as a standard benefit. Note that a medical evacuation must be approved and coordinated by the health insurance company. Most group plans will include evacuation as an optional benefit.

Will the Health Insurance Plan Cover Pre-existing Medical Conditions?

A pre-existing medical condition relates to a medical condition that existed before an insurance company takes on the risk of an insured, sometimes known or even unknown to the employee. If an expat develops an illness later on it may be recognized as a pre-existing condition when trying to obtain health coverage. For example, you may have an employee who has high blood pressure, diabetes or a skin disorder.

Most expat employers may not aware of the cost of the treatment of chronic diseases for expatriate employees overseas can be very high. It usually requires medical treatment to cover ongoing health needs. Individual expat health and life insurance plans have to be medically underwritten, and employees who are under separate individual plans may have restricted coverage, exclusions or may even be declined when applying pre-existing medical coverage. On the other hand, a group international benefit plan can usually offer full coverage for pre-existing medical conditions because the risk is shared among healthy and unhealthy employees and their dependents. We will often recommend to our group clients that they purchase a plan that fully covers pre-existing medical conditions.

Health Insurance Plan Administration

A tailored international group insurance plan provides simple administration platform for your HR department. It can provide for the instant communication online between employees, insurance company and HR administrators. This is especially convenient for highly mobile expat employees. It is imperative for your expat employees to move from one country to another without worrying to switch from one local health insurance plan to another. Subsequently, it is essential that HR managers consider a plan that has excellent plan administration when choosing a global medical plan.

Seeking Advice from an Experienced Broker

It never makes sense to obtain global medical coverage for your employees on your own, as your HR manager will not have the necessary experience, training, knowledge or global insurance contacts that are required for your expanding expat population. Expat Financial, a division of TFG Global Insurance Solutions Ltd., can source international group insurance plans from a variety of large and respected insurance companies for multinational companiesNon-government Organizations, non-profits, governments and international schools. We work on your behalf to source the best possible quotes and assist you once a plan is put in place – both at renewal and throughout the life of the policy.

In addition to medical and evac, we can source coverage for disability, AD&D, Life Insurance, EAP and dental. Our company is very used to working with companies and aid groups which operate in high-risk countries such as Democratic Republic of CongoIraqAfghanistanNigeriaSouth SudanEritreaSomalia and Yemen. The plans that we can source can provide full coverage for war and terrorism risks.

Individual Plans for your Expat Employees

For companies with less than three expatriate employees or individual expatriates, we can also source individual International Health Insurance Protection as well as individual expat life and disability plans. Note that individual plans have to be medically underwritten, so final coverage, rates and coverage will be subject to medical underwriters at the insurance company. To find out more, contact Expat Financial to discuss your organization’s requirements and obtain quotes from the market. Read more about our group expat insurance plans on our corporate page.

 

The impact of noncommunicable chronic diseases for expats

How the Global Impact of Chronic Conditions is Impacting Expatriates

Recently, Cigna has released a study on the global epidemic of noncommunicable chronic diseases and held a seminar for their brokers and clients. The study examined the situation of noncommunicable chronic diseases around the world and provided excellent suggestions for prevention. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), a noncommunicable chronic disease is characterized by a long duration and generally slow progression. These conditions are becoming more commonplace for local nationals and even expats. The widespread nature of chronic diseases is putting expatriates’ health at risk. In this article, we will discuss the main types of chronic diseases based on Cigna’s research and advice for expatriate communities from expatriate health insurance professional perspective.

The Global Epidemic of Chronic Disease is Increasing 

As stated by Cigna’s study, noncommunicable diseases account for six in ten deaths worldwide. Major noncommunicable chronic diseases usually refer to diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and cancer. According to Cigna’s report, approximately 19% of the American have diabetes, and the figure rises up to 30% in the Middle East, while just over 30% of Chinese have some form of diabetes. This is the leading cause of kidney failure, blindness, heart diseases, stroke and death.

The rates of obesity in adults and children are increasing globally. And in some parts of the world, the situation is getting worse. Obesity is another cause of cardiovascular diseases due to the force of the heart to push around a greater volume of blood, which easily causes high blood pressure. Scientists predict by 2025, one in five of the population will suffer from obesity; 36.5% of adults are considered obese, according to Cigna’s report.

How to Prevent from Noncommunicable Chronic Diseases as an Expat? 

According to the WHO), most chronic diseases are caused by three major risk factors: an unhealthy diet, lack of exercise and use of tobacco. Many expats working abroad often do not have the time to eat healthy foods or exercise and may be surrounded by fast food restaurants, vending machines and food trucks. However, building a healthy diet is crucial for your health when living and working abroad. When shopping at grocery stores, make sure to cut the high-sugar and high-carbohydrate food from your shopping list. Replace them with vegetables, fruits, fish, eggs and other healthy choices based on your eating schedule.

Regular exercise is good for your body, both physically and mentally. However, expats may find hard to rebuild an exercise routine when working and living abroad. Many expats may live in cities with few exercise options or very extreme climates or in areas with bad security. Often the easiest way to start exercising is practicing yoga at home or purchasing an exercise machine. Expats should develop a personal exercise routine and live an active lifestyle.

International Health Insurance is Critical for Expats Worldwide 

Most expat employers may not aware that the cost to treat chronic diseases for expatriate employees overseas can be very high. It usually requires a specific plan to cover ongoing health needs. If an expat develops an illness later on it may be recognized as a pre-existing condition when trying to obtain health coverage. A global benefit plan can offer full coverage for pre-existing medical conditions to avoid claims being denied or coverage being restricted for expat employees.

Expat Financial is able to offer flexible international expat group insurance plans in most regions around the globe:  Africa, Europe, Asia, Middle East, North America, South America, Caribbean, Oceania, Central America, and all major cities in the world. Expat Financial can also offer international health insurance plans for individual expatriates that may be able to cover some existing chronic conditions depending on their severity and subject to underwriter approval. Our 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 areas in some less developed countries.

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.

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: