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Global Nomads

9 Questions To Ask Before You Become An Expat

9 Important Questions To Ask Before You Become An Expat

Planning to kick-start your journey as an expatriate? Still confused about deciding to settle abroad? Moving to a foreign country on a short-term or long-term basis is in no way an easy choice to make. Your international assignment is a big step in your career, life or even retirement. You may even be going abroad for a few years for extended travel. To make the most of your days on foreign soil, asking yourself a few questions will certainly help. Here are 9 questions to ask before you become an expat living abroad, or even if you have already moved offshore to your dream destination:

1. Where do you want to move to?

Similar to purchasing property, location is a major factor when you are planning to move abroad. Your research about a particular place should help you ascertain whether your expectations as an expat are reasonable. Check out various expat guides online or read what the expats have to say about a particular destination in the bulletin boards. Embracing a career opportunity in a place that doesn’t suit your lifestyle or health may pose several challenges during your stay there.

2. What is motivating you to go abroad?

Some of the reasons why you are motivated to move abroad may include career and financial growth, better lifestyle, lower cost of living, suitable weather, etc. As an expat, you would be investing a lot of time and money, so make sure that you get good returns on all your efforts.

Leaving Abroad

3. Can you communicate in the local language?

If you can’t speak in the local language, learning a few key phrases to at least exchange pleasantries in first-time interactions before you reach your destination can be helpful. After arriving, you can go the whole hog for language classes. Imagine mingling with the locals by speaking their native language. You will surely feel accepted in a new location which you can call your second home once you learn that language well enough.

4. What will be your tax liabilities when living abroad?

Knowing the accurate taxation policies of your expat destination will help you to be better prepared to manage your finances. For instance, a professional in Japan have to pay up to 45% of his salary as tax. Taxation policies may vary from country to country. However, US citizens will have to pay tax no matter where they live and work. It is important to talk to an expat tax advisor if you are moving abroad to discuss your global tax requirements.

Health Insurance

5. Did you purchase International Health Insurance?

OK, we are a bit biased when it comes to the importance of international health insurance. We can’t overstate how critical it is to get global healthcare if you are living abroad. The news and internet are littered with stories about people who moved or traveling abroad without health coverage and were stuck with large medical expenses.

6. Are you capable of handling any emergency, including a sudden move back home?

Your stay abroad should be planned carefully and wisely. Having sufficient money during your overseas visit will help you enjoy a hassle-free time in a foreign country. You can leave some cash in your native place and use it as a financial lifeline to fall back on if required. You can also rent or lease out your property until you are sure about settling abroad forever.

7. How do you motivate your partner and/or children to migrate?

Living life as an expat may be exciting and fruitful for you. However, your family members may not share the same enthusiasm and be motivated enough to relocate. Let them know the positives of being an expat and help them strike a rapport with diverse communities that suit their interests. Learn more about expat kids.

8. Are local healthcare services reliable or do you need private insurance?

Many countries offer excellent healthcare to expatriates, while others offer nothing at all. You would need international health insurance to ensure that you are fit and healthy in a foreign land. Check out the cost of obtaining a new global health insurance plan and see whether it is affordable after your new salary package.

9. How will you deal with common obstacles to moving abroad?

There can be many obstacles in your path of being a global nomad. Obvious obstacles include money crunch, work permits, visa, certifications, etc. The hurdles may seem tough to overcome, but proper planning will help you handle every challenging situation. Reach out to people who you feel can bail you out of difficult times.

Next Steps for Expats

After going through these 9 Questions to ask before you become an expat and if you have convincing answers to the questions above, you can plan a nomadic lifestyle in your dream destination. Expat life may not be glamorous for everyone. However, basic steps like going for international health insurance may ensure a happy expat life. Expat Financial can help you make your experience memorable as an expat.

USA Flag

Health Insurance for Canadians in the USA

Health Insurance Options for Canadian Expats in the USA

Our company is contacted almost every day by Canadians living in the USA or about to live in the United States who are not eligible for local healthcare. More often than not, it is the parent of a student living in the USA who is calling us to find a high-quality expat health plan for their Canadian son or daughter. They all know the cost of medical care in the USA is extremely expensive – some expenses can easily reach into the hundreds of thousands. For example, here are some sample medical conditions and the expected claims costs in USD:

  • Pancreatic Cancer – $100K to $150K
  • Valve Repair – $60K
  • Complicated Pregnancy: Hundreds of thousands
  • MS – $80K
  • ICU Stay – Such a claim could be huge depending on the condition and length of stay.

Health Insurance

That is why it makes sense for Canadians in the USA to purchase a global health plan if they are not eligible for local coverage by themselves or through an employer. If a Canadian is maintaining provincial coverage and will be spending a few months in the USA, then most will obtain emergency only travel medical insurance coverage from one of our Canadian suppliers such as Tugo. However, if the Canadian is becoming an expatriate in the USA by spending a lot of time living, retiring or working in the USA and most likely losing their provincial medical coverage, an international health plan for the USA is vital.

Most Canadians are not aware of the true cost of their provincial medical plan because they pay little or nothing towards it as the costs are all paid by general tax revenue. We have all heard the stories of how expensive medical care is in the USA, especially in the news where someone forgets to purchase travel medical insurance when traveling abroad. If you are a Canadian expat in the USA and not eligible for local plans, then you will have to purchase an international health plan. Note that when you apply, there will be some medical questions and you may or may not be approved or there may be an exclusion. Also remember that individual expat health plans are not HIPAA, COBRA or PPACA compliant.

Most global health plans for expats in the USA will offer in-patient care with options to add wellness, out-patient medical and evacuation insurance. Dental and visioncare is also available. Some will choose a large deductible, but this is a personal choice. Most Americans are used to having very large deductibles and co-insurance while the Canucks are not.

For more information, give us a call or email today as we are very experienced in covering expats around the world. The best plan we can offer expats in the USA is the Cigna Global Health Options plan. You can even get a quote and apply online. Another potential option is the GeoBlue plan.

 

International Health Insurance

How to save money on your international health insurance premiums

Living overseas is often an expensive endeavour for individuals and families who plan to work, retire or travel abroad for over one year. Perhaps the most important decision before you live abroad or even if you are already an expat is what global health insurance you should obtain, the insurer you will choose and the plan coverage options. There are lots of expat health insurance companies and providers to choose from and endless insurance options that can be very confusing for expatriates. As an international insurance brokerage firm with extensive experience and knowledge in this domain, we have put together six ways expatriates can save on their international health insurance premiums & coverage. It should be noted that these tips apply equally to both group and individual global health insurance premiums.

#1. Choose a Larger Deductible

A deductible is what you pay before the insurance company pays a claim. Generally, the deductible is per policy year, or you may have a small co-pay for each claim. For expatriates wanting to save on their global health costs, the easiest and most effective way to save on global health premiums is to select a larger deductible. The larger the deductible the lower the premium and vice versa. Some expats that we work with will select a $5K or $10K deductible as they do not think they will ever claim or live in a country with low medical costs.

#2. Exclude Coverage in the USA

Plans that include full medical care in the USA are almost always more expensive than plans that exclude the USA. Most American expatriates will want a plan to include care in the United States as they will want to receive care there for any serious medical claims. However, excluding care in the USA can save an expat somewhere between 40% or 50% in their medical premiums for some expats. If you do not wish to be able to seek medical care in the States, it makes sense not to choose the USA coverage option. If you are living in a country close to the USA, it may be wise to add the option as you may want to see medical care there, especially in the case of an evacuation.

#3. Pay your Premium Annually

We find that most expatriates like to pay their premiums monthly as annual premiums can be quite large, but if you can afford to pay annually, you can often save between 5% to 10% per year on your global health premiums. You can also pay semi-annually for additional savings over paying monthly.

Healthcare

#4. Self-insure Out-patient Care

Most global health plans will include a base policy that covers claims related to hospital care. You will have the option to choose to add out-patient care for an additional fee. Out-patient medical will cover medical claims that are incurred outside a hospital admission – such as doctors visits & consults, medicine, physiotherapy, psychology, wellness, medical tests and scans, dental accidents, vaccinations and more. However, many expatriates live in countries and regions where medical care is quite inexpensive, especially for out-patient claims like doctors’ visits. Excluding out-patient modules can save an expatriate many hundreds of dollars in premiums per month and is certainly something to consider.

#5. Add Coinsurance to your Plan

In addition to having a larger deductible, some plans will allow you to add coinsurance to your plan. Coinsurance is the percentage that you as the insured member pays in the event of a claim. The higher the coinsurance level, the less risk you are taking and the higher the premium. For example, if you have a coinsurance level of 80%, you would be responsible for paying 20% of claims – usually up to a maximum out of pocket amount. A 90% coinsurance level would be more expensive, and if you are covered at 100%, you don’t have to pay a portion of the approved claim. The coinsurance is active after the deductible has been satisfied.

medical insurance

#6. Choose a Lower Level of Coverage from the Insurer

Most expat health plans will have 3 or 5 different levels of coverage with varying degrees of care maximums and services covered. For example, the Cigna Global Health Options plan that we offer have three levels: Silver, Gold or Platinum. As you would guess, the least expensive plan would be the Silver plan, which will have much lower levels of care without maternity coverage.

Things to Consider When Choosing Your Insurance plan?

Are there more ways to save money on your international health insurance? Yes, but these generally involve you taking on a lot more risk with minimal premium savings. We recommend that you purchase the best possible global health insurance plan that you can afford. In the end, you generally get what you pay for. To learn more about the global health plans that we can offer individual expatriates, please contact us or get a quote online today. We would love to discuss your international health insurance needs and the ways that you can save on your health insurance costs.