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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 Employees

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.

Expat Disability

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 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.

Health Insurance Coverage

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.

American Expats

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.

Risk profile

Expat Employers – Obtain a free country risk profile report

TFG Global and its division Expat Financial is now offering a complimentary country risk report to global HR managers who allow our firm to examine their global benefit plan and obtain quotes from the market. Such international group insurance plans can include vital health, evacuation an/or life insurance for their expatriate employee population.

If you are sending your employees abroad, it is vital that your organization live up to its duty of care as failure to do so will expose management, employees and the company to legal and financial liabilities. As we all know, it is a very chaotic and dangerous world out there, and civil unrest, crime, war, and terrorism can strike wherever your expatriates are posted, especially in high-risk countries. Our firm has extensive experience in covering expatriates in high-risk regions. We have had to work with clients who have unfortunately been impacted by terrorist attacks, kidnappings and civil unrest – our level-headed and quick action was invaluable for our clients and their employees.

We are pleased to extend this offer to companies willing to work with a specialist firm such as ours. These incredibly detailed and valuable country risk profiles will provide essential insights for your company and expats. It will also allow management to plan for more eventualities and minimize risks. For our kidnap and risk insurance clients, they will receive complimentary online access to this information that is updated continuously and highly detailed.

The country risk report and travel guide reports will provide the following information that will enable you to make more informed decisions when sending employees overseas on long and short-term assignments:

  • Destination country’s risk score – from stable to terminal threat
  • Areas of concern
  • Travel safety and pre-trip recommendations
  • Risk projections
  • Analysis of security – including crime & terrorism risks
  • Security recommendations
  • Political risk profile
  • Details on specific regions of the country where precautions are recommended
  • Medical profile
  • Kidnap & ransom profile number on a scale from 1 to 4
  • Details on recent incidents.

We can obtain a risk overview & travel safety report for up to 180 countries and 400+ cities. To receive a report and talk to us about the insurance for your expat population, please contact us today. If our company is assigned as your broker of record for your existing or new global benefit plan, the above reports will be available for any country that you are sending employees to upon request.

 

Legal Notice Regarding this Offer: The above offer can be withdrawn at any time without notice. We can only release one country report to companies or organizations who have 2 or more expatriates employees which allow us to obtain quotes from the market for their global expat insurance program after releasing the current plan contract, premiums, reports, and expat employee census information that is vital for us to obtain accurate quotes and provide our report and recommendations. The above offer is not available to expat employers based in the USA and other select countries. We reserve the right not to quote or offer this report to your company. The reports are not available to individuals.

Is your company meeting it’s “Duty of Care” obligations to its expat employees?

An Expat Employer’s Fiduciary Duty of Care for Expats

Sending employees abroad is a significant financial, moral and legal responsibility for expatriate employers. Many professionals are constantly talking about the importance of providing a “duty of care” for expat employees sent to work abroad and even when sending employees for long or short term assignments and meetings. A duty of care means that the global employer needs to take all steps required to safeguard and prepare for the safety, well being and health of their employees. It is the fiduciary responsibility that experienced global mobility managers realize is important regardless of the legal implications. It is a basic moral responsibility. This is especially true today in a world where conflict and terrorism can strike almost anywhere. It makes sense to plan for what your employees may face abroad.

Employers Should Examine Their Obligations

It is critical that expat employers meet the overseas obligations of their employees, whom can find themselves in new and sometimes hazardous regions and countries that they may not they may not be be adequately prepared for. It is vital that HR managers carefully read over employment contracts to make sure that the company is fulfilling its obligations to their employees. This means that employers should examine their employees needs and location to prepare for contingencies. Our firm has access to detailed country information packages that can provide global mobility managers with key insights for each destination, including security reports.

Examine Organizations

Expat Employers Should Identify Risks

When your HR department is sending employees overseas, it often makes sense to identify risk and to adopt preventive measures. You can’t account for all of the risks that your employees and their dependents may face while working or travelling abroad, but you can take steps now to plan and mitigate those risks. We recently had an employer who agreed to implement a comprehensive kidnap and ransom program with security evacuation, and in the first year of the policy it was used after a group of employees were kidnapped by bandits. Luckily, with the assistance of on-sight negotiators paid by the insurer, a ransom was negotiated, and the hostages were released unharmed.

Identifying Risks

Inadequate Insurance Coverage for Expats

A recent report from Cigna mentioned that 50% of expatriate employees feel that their expat employers are not meeting their duty of care requirements for the global assignments that they are on. Furthermore, three quarters felt that they did not have sufficient funds to support their healthcare expenses. We often run into situations where new and even existing expat employers will send employees and their dependents on overseas assignments with inadequate planning and insurance coverage. With more and more companies and non-profit organizations sending employees for short or long term assignments to high risk countries such as Iraq & Afghanistan, the requirement to provide a secure and safe work location is vital. Our firm has extensive experience in working with employers operating in such areas where civil strife and conflict are commonplace.

Common Expat Insurance Deficiencies We Have Observed

Here is a list of deficiencies that we often encounter:

  • No coverage for pre-existing medical conditions
  • No coverage for pregnancy or a 12 month waiting period
  • Many expat employers have no disability coverage in place
  • Coverage is placed with insurers that can’t meet the needs of expats
  • Lack of adequate evacuation coverage that is not fully insured
  • No war or terrorism coverage for employees residing in high-risk countries
  • The inability of expats to find medical centers that can receive medical payment directly from the insurer

Medical Coverage plan

How Expat Insurance Coverage Can Help Your Company Meet Its Duty of Care

A group expat plan that is properly designed and sourced can provide a high level of global insurance coverage that will fully meet the duty of care for your expatriate workforce stationed around the world. We can source the following coverage for our group expatriate clients:

It is critical that your global mobility department fully commit to the duty of care philosophy and provide global coverage for your employees that exceed what is required no matter where they are posted. Our firm can source plans for individuals and groups. For more information on the global benefit plans that we can offer your international workers, please contact us today.

6 Tips on How to Become an Expat

Medical Plan

Is your company employing American expats?

Is Your Company Aware of the Risks for American Expats?

Is your organization or multinational company employing American expats? Are you aware that most American expatriates will want to seek medical treatment in the USA if possible, especially for serious conditions? If so, are you aware of the significant costs associated with medical care in the USA?

We have sourced some excellent risk prediction guidelines for expatriate claims in the USA or for American expats who more often than not wish to obtain medical care back in their home country. These medical costs can easily run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars, and more often than not the employer will have to cover.

Our firm is highly experienced in both sourcing global medical coverage for firms that employ American expatriates and covering their dependents who are located with the overseas employee or residing back in the USA. Unfortunately, we often see extremely inadequate medical plans provided for American employees that will often restrict medical care in the States or not cover the USA at all. Even worse, some expat employers will have group insurance plans that don’t cover pre-existing medical conditions for these American expats.

international health insurance for chronic conditions

Annual Medical Costs in the USA

Our firm has gathered a detailed “Risk Prediction Guideline for Expat Claims in the USA” that we are able to share to corporate clients that employ expatriates in the USA or have American expat employees working overseas. Note that the costs can vary widely depending on the state, city, medical provider and of course the nature and severity of the claim. Here are some sample annual medical costs from the report:

Rheumatoid Arthritis: $40,000 to $60,000

Bone Cancer:  $100,000 to $250,000

Lymphoma: $80,000 to $150,000

Diabetes: $30,000 to $40,000

Valve Replacement: $60,000 or more

Transplants: Over $200,000 in most circumstances

Back Disorders: Over $50,000

Complicated Pregnancy & Birth: Easily over $500,000

So, as you can see from the sample of medical costs in US dollars, the annual medical treatment costs in the United States can often run in the hundreds of thousands and for many clients, one claim can easily exceed the entire medical premium that they would be paying for a group of American expatriates. Many expats or their family members will often suffer from one of these conditions or may in the future. Many expat employers are not aware of the fine print on their global medical coverage are being served by domestic-focused brokers with limited or no understanding of expatriate medical coverage.

Next Step for Expat Employers

It makes sense to cover these risks with a global benefit plan that will provide superior coverage for your entire expat population, especially American expats or foreign employees located in the USA. To learn more, contact our firm to discuss your global expatriate insurance needs as it pays to work with a specialist firm. You can also visit our corporate expat insurance page for additional details. If our firm is engaged as your expat insurance broker, we would be pleased to share our valuable risk report.

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:

Medical Condition

Expat Benefit Plans – Make sure pre-existing conditions are covered!

Sending expatriate employees overseas is a massive undertaking for any company or organization, and this task usually falls to the global mobility or human resources manager. An expatriate assignment is an enormous investment, and the costs of a failed expat move can be quite significant. One of the most important considerations for HR managers is setting up an international benefit plan that will cover life, AD&D, disability, dental, evacuation and especially international health insurance. However, one of the most important questions to ask of any benefit plan is will it cover pre-existing medical conditions.

What is a Pre-existing Medical Condition?

A pre-existing medical condition relates to a medical condition that existed before an insurance company taking on the risk of an insured, sometimes known or even unknown to the employee. In our example, it would mean before being placed on the group benefit plan. An example would be someone who takes heart medication or saw a doctor in the past for a heart ailment and suffers a stroke or heart attack. The insurance company will then ask and check if that condition existed before insuring this person and if pre-existing conditions are not covered, the claim will be declined. In fact, pre-existing medical conditions are the number one way an insurer gets out of paying a claim.

How do Health Insurers Work with Pre-existing Medical Conditions

All individual expat health insurance plans will either exclude a previous medical condition, ask for an additional premium or decline the application. The same is true for life and disability plans. For a group plan, because the risk is spread among healthy and unhealthy people, they can often cover pre-existing medical conditions if the number of employees covered is large enough – usually 10 or 20 employees. 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. These excellent insurance plans can even provide full coverage for an expat group of only two or three expat employees. This is a significant advantage for any expat employer as almost all employees or dependents, especially older ones, will have at least one medical condition.

Case Study

An expat employer approached us with only six expat employees, one of which was not able to be covered because of an existing medical condition and he was declined coverage. The other employees were covered by the expat benefit plan, but if a claim occurred and the insurer found out that the large medical bill was caused by a pre-existing illness, that claim would probably be denied. Because the employer had over 30 global employees, we were able to secure a much better benefit plan for their expat employees that fully covered all six expats, including the employee with the illness. We also obtained Long Term Disability insurance, dental and evacuation coverage. Suffice to say, the employer was pleased and proceeded with the international group insurance policy.

Conclusions

The above case study illustrates the need for employers to obtain an expat benefit plan that can fully cover pre-existing medical conditions if possible. The advantages of such a program will not only save money and potential significant losses from a denied claim, but also allow the expatriate employer to both retain and attract employees and move them from one expat assignment to another under one cohesive global insurance program. For more information on how our firm can be of service and obtain quotes from the market, please contact us today. It always makes sense to work with an expat specialist firm.