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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.

Top 10 Questions to Ask Your International Health Insurance Provider

Important Questions to Ask Your Global Insurance Broker & Insurance Company

Choosing global health coverage can be very difficult and one of the many things you have to do if you are moving abroad or already living overseas. Obtaining excellent international health insurance is vital if you and your family are expatriates. A major illness or injury could put your health at risk if you can’t access adequate medical care, but also your finances.

Most experts will agree that it makes sense to work with an expat insurance specialist firm such as ours. To help you in your global journey, we have put together 10 questions that you should ask before purchasing international health insurance broker

Question #1: Does your company cover expats for life?

Many people are moving abroad for long time periods or when they are older, so obtaining a global health plan that will cover them for life is vital. This is especially important for those planning to retire abroad. We often get requests from senior expats who want to retire in the Caribbean or in Asia. There are many international health care plans out there which will not cover you past a certain age or restrict benefits once you reach 65. Therefore, it is important that you ask if the plan can keep you and your partner covered for life. Of course, premiums will increase with age, but no-one wants to get kicked off a plan when they need coverage the most.

Question #2: Are there doctors in my city and country that I can access?

The size and quality of an international health insurance company’s medical network for direct reimbursement is critical, so it makes sense to ask your potential insurer or broker for a list of medical providers in your new country or region. Most expats want to be able to show a card and not have to pay out of pocket for medical expenses at a hospital or if they are in the USA, most clinics, hospitals, doctors and pharmacies. Most quality insurers will be able to give you a list of doctors and hospitals that you can work with.

Question #3: Is there a free choice of hospitals and doctors in the plan?

When picking a global health plan for you and your family, it is important to get a plan that will allow you to choose whichever medical doctor or hospital that you wish to utilize. That hospital may not be in the provider network mentioned above, but you can at least get treated there, pay out of pocket and get reimbursed by the insurance company. Note that in some countries and cities, you may not be able to find a hospital in the insurers network and some facilities simply do not want to work with an international insurer.

Question #4: Can the insurer provide a guarantee of payment to the hospital if outside of the network?

For large medical expenses incurred at a hospital overseas that is not in the medical network, it makes sense to deal with an insurance company that has 24/7 claims support with the ability to give the hospital a guarantee of payment if required. This should allow you to receive medical treatment without having to pay out of pocket as the hospital can call the insurer and make sure that they will receive payment for approved medical procedures. You can also get a medical second opinion at the same time.

Question #5: Can the insurance company cover my pre-existing medical condition?

We often get this question for expats or those about to venture abroad. A previous illness or injury or ongoing pre-existing ailment has to be disclosed when you apply for international health insurance. All individual expat health plans are medically underwritten and the insurer will either decline, accept, ask for extra premium or exclude the condition. People often get angry when their condition is excluded but can ask us to advocate on their behalf and supply more information to the insurer, especially from the doctor. If the insurer still excludes the condition, we can give you a rough idea of how other insurers will view the condition. It usually makes sense to take the policy, especially if the condition will not cause to much financial harm if not covered.

Question #6: Should I add coverage for the USA and how much will it cost?

Most global health plans will give you worldwide medical treatment excluding the USA or the ability to add treatment there for an extra fee. If you are an American expat, it almost always makes sense to add this coverage option as you will probably want to return home for medical treatment where your regular doctors and family reside. Adding a US coverage option can increase your premium dramatically, but not necessarily too much for American expatriates with the Cigna plan that we offer online. If you are an expatriate living near the USA, it is often a good idea to include care in the USA as your local country may not be able to properly treat you there.

Question # 7: How much will I save if I pay annually versus monthly?

Most expat insurance partners that we work with will offer a 7 to 10% savings if you pay for your premiums on an annual basis verus monthly. For my son who recently move abroad to study, I took this option because the savings were simply too large to ignore. If you can afford it, we definitely recommend paying annually.

Question #8: When can I apply?

We often get requests from people who are thinking about moving abroad in 6 to 12 months, but most insurers will not allow you to apply for coverage until you are 30 to 45 days out from leaving your country of residence. If you are already living abroad, you can usually request an effective date the very next day – assuming you are approved. Apply today for our most popular global health plan from Cigna.

Question #9: Does the plan cover maternity expenses?

If you are planning to add to your expat family or have children for the first time, it is a good idea to check if your international health plan will cover maternity and newborn expenses. Some plans will exclude maternity fully while others will include it with a fee or as part of the insurers more deluxe coverage. All individual health plans have a 9 or 12 month waiting period before maternity expenses will be reimbursed. Some group expat health plans will cover maternity expenses without a waiting period. It is critical to have your maternity coverage if you will be having a child abroad as the costs can be quite enormous.

Question  #10: How much will the premium cost for international health insurance?

Perhaps the most obvious and important question to ask your global insurance broker and insurance provider is how much a global health policy will cost. The cost of any international health plan will depend on a variety of factors, such as your age, occupation, gender, occupation, citizenship, where you reside, deductible level, the options you choose and much more. There are so many different options to choose from, such as getting outpatient care, evacuation, maternity coverage, dental and if you want access to medical care in the USA. It makes sense to talk to our expat insurance expert advisors at Expat Financial and discuss your requirements. It is very easy to examine all the options and obtain a quote online from one of our many international health insurance providers, such as IMG, Cigna and GeoBlue. Note that premiums will increase as you age an also if you add your partner or dependent children to a policy. Please contact us today to discuss your global insurance requirements and answer your international health insurance questions today. The above article primarily relates to individual policies but is also relevant to the group expat medical plans that we offer multinational employers.

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.

Six tips for planning an international relocation

Moving abroad requires a great deal of preparation, especially for those who are planning for a long-term assignment, travel or retiring abroad. If you are planning an international move, you will find the process can longer than you think it will. To better assist you during the transition, we will discuss six quick tips on how to plan an international relocation for future expatriates.

  • Making Decision and Check All Important Documentations

It is critical that future expatriates should make a decision as early as possible. Once you have firmly decided to relocate overseas, you can move forward and make plans. Getting started a year or 10 months in advance will provide you with enough time to plan and react.

Another important reason for making an early decision is due to the processing time of work permit or visas required in your destination country. In some countries, it can take up to a year to process and approve a visa. Therefore, it is suggested that future expatriates apply and submit the required documentation as soon as possible. Make sure that your official documents, such as passport, birth certificate, ID card, driver’s license, etc… are all valid. Please check to see if your family member’s documents are in order as well if they are moving with you. In general, entry into any countries for tourism or business trip requires that your passport be valid for at least three months. If you are planning a long-term relocation abroad, it is better to have your passport with at least six months’ validity remaining.

Obtain other required documentation such as your children’s school report card, which is vital if enrolling in a new school in your destination country; and all legal documents that you plan to take with you: birth certificate, marriage certificate, medical records, bank drafts, medical insurance documents, etc.

  • Arrange for Necessary Vaccinations 

As international travellers, they may face many potential health risks and diseases. According to a new study published recently in the Annals of Internal Medicine, more than half of the international travellers in the USA did not get vaccinated between 2009 and 2014. This may result in severe infection in countries where many diseases are prevalent. It is critical to arrange for necessary vaccinations before departure. For example, if you are moving to Hong Kong, suggested vaccines to consider are: Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Influenza, Japanese encephalitis, Measles and Yellow Fever.

It is important to note that each country may have different vaccination entry requirements. It is recommended that future expatriates contact their doctors to verify additional vaccinations requirements of the destination country or region.

  • Job Search 

Another consideration is obtaining a job overseas. Most expats will want to start researching employment opportunities in your destination country long before leaving. It is essential to know whether you need any additional certifications or training, such as TOEFL/IELTS certification of English proficiency, research abstract (for early-stage researchers), teaching portfolio, a complete list of publications, second language skills, etc. We encourage future expatriates to apply for a job as soon as possible due to the processing time of work permit application.

For younger people who haven’t found a job but decided to move abroad, many countries offer a special programme to provide them with work opportunities. For example, in Canada, The International Experience Canada provides young people aged 18 – 35 from all over the world to work and travel in Canada. Future expatriates should try to do research and participate in this kind of programs and gain valuable working experience. Please keep in mind that in some countries there might be age restrictions. Please check carefully before you apply.

  • Financial Assessment

Before moving overseas, it is suggested that expats have a full financial accounting and take into account the cost of living in your destination country, including apartment rental rates, property purchase cost, school tuition fees, meals and more. Try not to forget any moving expenses such as boxes and packing materials fees, transportation of furniture. If you are lucky, your employer may provide some assistance and subsidies for your expat assignment. All future expats should also look into your expat tax obligations in both your home country and your destination country. Check out our links page for some great expat tax accountants. Contact your bank and get a global account for internet banking. If you have mortgage or loan payments in your home country, please also set up a direct payment account with your bank while you are away.

  • Language Training 

Communication is crucial for expatriates who want to live and work overseas. If expats are relocating to a destination country with language barriers, the interaction could be complicated for their integration and even career. This is especially true if expats are in dangerous situations or medical emergencies. Therefore, it is recommended that future expats receive basic local language training before departure. It will also accelerate the adjustment of foreign expatriates.

expat healthcare if critical

  • Obtain International Health Insurance 

International health insurance coverage is a necessity and should be the top consideration of future expats. Make sure you and your family are covered by a comprehensive medical plan in your destination country. Expat Financial offers a wide range of expatriate health insurance plans designed specifically for any expatriates of any nationality around much of the world. With expat health insurance plans, you and your family’s health are protected through an appropriate level of expat insurance. It is quite easy for expats to obtain a quote for one of our comprehensive international health plans. For more information and to review the plans that we offer, contact our office or visit our international health insurance page. You can still purchase global medical coverage if you have already moved abroad.

5 Tips for expats to stay healthy and fit while working and living abroad

For many expatriates, working and living abroad opens the doors to new adventures and challenges. However, it is imperative to stay healthy and fit while experiencing your new expat assignment. There are many potential health risks that you will want to avoid, especially in some third world countries. In this article, we will discuss five tips on how to stay healthy while living in a new country.

1. Eat Healthy and Drink Clean Water 

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), developing a healthy diet helps protect against leading noncommunicable diseases such as diabetes, obesity, heart disease, and cancer. Expatriates living and working abroad should avoid fast food or street food stands. Always go to local grocery stores or markets to find some fresh fruits and vegetables – but you should be careful about eating raw vegetables in some developed countries. It is suggested to avoid unhealthy weight gain through consuming excess calories, sugar and salt.

Clean water is critical for staying healthy, whether it is used for food production, drinking or domestic purposes. According to a recent report retrieved from World Health Organization (WHO), contaminated drinking water is estimated to cause hundreds of thousands of deaths each year. Expatriates living and working abroad should be aware of the potential health risks of contaminated water and should take steps to secure clean water at work and home. Contaminated water is a major transmission source of many diseases such as diarrhea, typhoid, dysentery, and cholera. It is strongly recommended for expatriates to boil water before drinking if you are not 100% sure that the water is safe. In the end, maintaining hydration is critical both at home and abroad, especially in hot climates.

 

2. Build an Exercise Routine

Physical activity has significant benefits for your health while living abroad as an expatriate. It has been reported by the WHO that physical inactivity has been identified as the fourth leading risk factor for mortality causing 3.2 million deaths globally. Expatriates should exercise regularly through cycling, walking or sports while living and working abroad. Some expatriates may find it hard to rebuild an exercising routine in their destination country due to security risks or extreme climates. One suggestion is to purchase an exercise machine at home or join a gym. A healthy exercise routine will help expatriates to stay active and energetic.

3. Obtain International Health Insurance 

In many countries where local public healthcare facilities may not up to western standards, expatriates will want to use private medical care. However, these private facilities are usually very expensive, especially in emergency situations. Without an appropriate international health insurance plan, expatriates could end up with receiving large medical bills,  putting your financial status at risk. A global medical plan can not only cover large medical expenses, but it can also cover you for preventative health and medical tests that can help you maintain you and your family’s health. This can even include vaccinations and health monitoring.

An international health insurance plan will provide expatriates and their families with worldwide coverage (except in the USA unless you add it as an optional benefit). It allows you to seek medical care internationally and it is critical for expatriates residing in less developed countries where medical care facilities are substandard. Expatriates living and working abroad will benefit from an international insurance plan with day-patient care and full hospital coverage, extensive cancer coverage, dental and vision care, international medical evacuation, and repatriation.

4. Be Aware of the Potential Health Risks 

Expatriates living and working abroad may travel frequently. There are many potential health risks such as tropical diseases, respiratory illness, and open wounds. These diseases may not make people feel too bad at first, however, they can deteriorate and quickly become life threatening. If you feel sick in your destination country, seek medical help as soon as possible. Don’t postpone treatment. To stay healthy, it is often important to update routine vaccinations and avoid any potential health risks. Expatriates should always consult a medical professional about vaccination requirements before traveling.

5. Stay Socially Active and Maintain your Mental Health

Expatriates may find it harder to socialize than they did back in their home country. However, researches have shown that staying socially active can help people maintain good emotional and physical health – especially when you are living abroad and living in a new country and experiencing culture shock. It is important for expatriates to join a group of trusted friends that they can socialize with and plan some activities together in their destination country – most cities have active expat social scenes and clubs. These kinds of social interaction offer many benefits to expatriates. For example, global relocation and stresses may have a negative impact and cause mental health challenges such as depression. Being socially active will minimize the stress level, monitor signs of depression and prevent other mental health issues.

Also, don’t forget to help your expat spouse and children as their new life abroad can be exciting, but also stressful and isolating. If your spouse is unable to obtain a work permit, maybe he or she can work remotely or volunteer. For expat kids who are experiencing difficulties living abroad, making friends and getting used to the new school – maybe consult a psychologist if required. Many expat health plans will cover mental health and counselling.

Expat Financial offers independent advice, solutions and excellent service and support to clients around the world and we have extensive experience in sourcing medical cover for individual expats and expat employers worldwide. For expats who may have questions about international medical insurance plans we offer to individual expats or  expatriate group insurance plans, please contact us. We look forward to hearing from you soon.