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Top 10 common international health insurance mistakes for expats

If you are an expatriate and searching for global health insurance plans, it is critical that you select the right plan for you and your family. Without an appropriate health insurance plan, you may be putting your health and finances at risk. To help you make the best choices, in this article, we will discuss steps to avoid the common health insurance mistakes that expatriates sometimes make. The following mistakes and advice we provide below relate to both individual and corporate expat health plans.  Remember, we all make mistakes, but when it comes to expat healthcare, it makes sense to read the points below to help avoid the following:

Mistake #1: Not choosing a plan that can cover a pre-existing medical condition

If you or your family member suffer from a medical condition, one of the most important questions to ask of any health insurance plan is whether it would cover pre-existing medical conditions. Most of the insurers will exclude pre-existing medical conditions, however, some will charge an additional premium to approve the application, but this depends on the severity of the medical condition. For example, how serious the condition is, how long you have been treatment free and the potential costs of treatment. There is usually an exception for group plans because the risk is spread among healthy and unhealthy people – such group plans can often cover pre-existing medical conditions if the number of employees covered is large enough – usually 10 or 20 employees.

Expat Financial works 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. To learn more, please contact us or obtain a free quote online

Mistake #2: Obtaining a domestic policy

Some expatriates purchase health insurance plans that don’t provide them with adequate amount of coverage when living and traveling abroad. Domestic government health plans usually provide coverage to access to private medical facilities. These plans are usually basic and will not allow for treatment outside your home country and are also not portable if you move to a new country. Therefore, expatriates will want to purchase international health insurance plan that covers them locally, regionally and globally. Most international health insurance plans will provide in-patient medical care, out-patient medical care, specialists care, routine scans, etc. If you are relocating to a region with limited medical services, you can select the medical evacuation option. Most of the global medical plans will offer dental and vision options. Finally, don’t rely on your health policy back home, it probably doesn’t cover you abroad.

Mistake #3: Assuming you are young and healthy and don’t require cover

If you assume that you and your family are healthy and don’t need to obtain health insurance, you are definitely putting your health and finance at risk. This is especially true in situations such as maternity care, cancer, accidents and emergency evacuation. Medical expenses in both developing and developed nations can be extremely expensive and you don’t want to go bankrupt because of uninsured medical fees.

Mistake #4: Not obtaining maternity coverage

Maternity care in private hospitals among many countries can be very expensive. It is important to obtain maternity coverage if you are planning to become pregnant as an expatriate. Most plans have a 12 month waiting period before maternity related expenses will be covered. We often get calls from expatriates who are currently pregnant and want coverage for that birth, but for individual expatriates this is not possible as you would have to have obtained a global medical plan that covered pregnancy and new child at least 12 months prior to conception. If your child is born with health issues, the baby will have to medically underwritten as a new applicant if maternity coverage was not in force 12 months prior – this can be a huge liability. If you are planning to have children or if there is a possibility that you may become pregnant, it is vital that your global health plan include maternity care

Mistake #5: Not obtaining evacuation coverage

Emergency evacuation is another critical part of any expatriate’s medical coverage, especially if you are residing in a developing country where local medical facilities are not up to western standards. It will ensure you have access to high quality medical facilities in the event of an medical emergency. Ambulances, helicopters, planes and travelling medical care can be incredibly high if you are not properly insured. For many expats in the Caribbean for example, there are some excellent medical facilities, but an expat may have to obtain medical care in the USA for more serious medical conditions, such as obtaining treatment in Miami. 

Mistake #6: Obtaining the cheapest global medical plan

A very common mistake that expats sometime make is choosing a plan based on price alone. If it is a lot cheaper than most plans in the market, there is probably a good reason for this. We are all guilty of looking for a good deal, but try not to when it comes to global medical insurance. If you are living or working overseas, you want an insurance plan that is going to be there when you need it. Quality is extremely important. Our most comprehensive policy with excellent service is the Cigna Global plan we offer on our web site. We offer the same coverage and price and you get the benefit of our agency support both before and after you purchase – we are your advocate.

The premiums of expatriate health insurance plan depends on a variety of factors: age, gender, citizenship, geographic area of coverage, deductible level, etc. These factors help the international health insurer determine your initial and renewal premiums. Before picking an international health insurance plan, you should carefully consider co-pays, co-insurance or deductible level, depending on your health care needs. Don’t pick a plan just because of its low premiums. In fact, there are some ways to lower your health insurance premiums while still obtaining first class access to your desired coverage level. Please read blog article How to lower your global medical insurance premiums – Five tips for expats to learn more about it. Contact us to discuss your requirements and obtain quotes from the market.

Mistake #7: Not telling the truth on application

Some expats may suffer from a pre-existing medical condition and not disclose it to the insurer. This is a serious mistake as it will allow the insurer to invalidate all your claims and terminate your insurance policy. Insurers will find out eventually and it is vital that you provide full disclosure of your health when you complete the application online or offline. Insurers will often write your doctor to confirm your medical health before or after a policy is taken out, so make sure you tell the truth when applying. If you have a condition, disclose it and provide as much detail as possible along with reports, tests and it is possible that the condition will be covered, depending on the insurer and the condition.

Mistake #8: For Americans, not obtaining a plan that covers treatment in the USA

Some American expats do not obtain a plan that covers medical treatment back home. If you are an American expat, there is a good chance you will want a plan that will allow you medical treatment back in the USA where you have family, friends and other support groups. Yes adding US care to your policy will cost you more, but surprisingly for some plans that cost is quite minimal – especially the Cigna Global Health Options plan we offer online.

expat healthcare if critical

Mistake #9: Not purchasing a plan that covers drugs

If you are an expatriate taking prescription drugs for short term or under chronic medical conditions, it is vital to obtain prescription drug coverage. Many countries have very expensive drug costs, especially when taking major illness drugs or new drug. Many drugs, especially biologics, are extremely expensive so it is important to purchase a plan with prescription cover.

Mistake #10: Not checking the fine print

International health insurance is complex and can be confusing for expats who are living and working abroad. We are all guilty of not reading the fine print or policy coverage details. If is important when you are purchasing a global medical plan that you carefully read the fine print of the global medical policy. This can also include checking the medical network and administration details of the provider.

Expat Financial offers several global insurance plans that will provide excellent drug coverage for expatriates who living abroad. Some of the global medical plans we offer can even cover local nationals in select countries. The international health plans from providers such as CignaMSH and IMG can provide prescription drug coverage for most expatriates. You can get a quote online and apply for the individual expat health plans we offer.

 

The importance of dental coverage for expat employees

Working overseas is an exciting and rewarding journey for expat employees around the world. Most expat consider obtaining global medical care as a priority, but many expatriates forget about their dental health, which is not only important for your teeth and appearance, but also critical for your overall health. Dental treatment abroad can be very expensive and is almost certainly private. Expat dental insurance is one of the top priorities in your organization’s global benefit plan. In this article, we will discuss the importance of dental coverage and how to obtain dental insurance for expat employees working and living abroad.

Why Visit the Dentist? 

This may seem obvious, but according to recent findings presented by the International Association for Dental Research (IADR), periodontal disease and tooth decay are the two major threats to dental health among adults. And according to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are approximately 64.7 million people aged 30 or older have periodontitis, which is a more serious and destructive forms of gum disease. Furthermore, several researches have shown that gum disease and complications could lead to heart disease and diabetes. Professional dental care is important to oral health and overall health.

An Ounce of Prevention is Worth a Pound of Cure

With preventive dental care, your dentist can examine your teeth for cavities when they are still minor conditions. For people who smoke or with pre-existing dental problems, this is especially important. A dentist can examine your mouth for any irregularities before they become worse. If expat employees are relocating abroad with family and children, dental coverage is one of your top consideration along with international health insurance. Prevention is key and can help keep dental costs low and also help with employee productivity.

The Cost of Dental Care Abroad

The cost of dental care abroad will often vary greatly based on your expat country of assignment. Some countries or areas offer excellent dental care and facilities, often charge at a higher price. The overall dental cost can vary dramatically in different regions around the world. For example, in Singapore and Hong Kong, dental practices are 100% private and incredibly costly. Many third world countries will offer dental care a fraction of the costs in North America.

Finding Expat Dental Care

Your global benefit plan may provide a list of dental clinics which will be able to direct bill the dentist overseas, but most will want to have the employee pay the bill directly and then have the expat obtain reimbursement from the insurer. The other expat employees in the country may also be able to refer your new employees to a reputable dentist. One should always examine the facility before obtaining dental care to look for credentials and see if the clinic is practicing proper hygiene practices. Some expats may prefer a Western trained dentist, but most country’s dentists will be properly trained and regulated.

Expats Prefer Private Dental Care

For those countries with a public dental healthcare system, expatriates may still want to use the private dental care system. This is not only because they can avoid the long waits for medical appointments in public medical care system, but also the access to English speaking dentist and medical staff. An appropriate international health insurance plan with dental coverage affords you the option of choosing private dentist, standard routine check-ups, and a higher level of dental treatment such as scaling and repairs. Therefore, taking out an international health insurance plan is essential if wishing to receive treatment from a private dentist as an expat employee.

expat healthcare if critical

Standard Dental Care Coverage for Expats

There are usually three types of dental plan covered by insurers:

1. Regular Dental Care

  • Emergency care
  • X-rays
  • Root canals
  • Regular anesthesia
  • Tooth cleaning
  • Consultations and examinations
  • Occlusion bar
  • Simple fillings

2. Large Dental Operations – Restorative

  • Root scaling
  • Tooth adjustment
  • Periodontists care
  • Membrane care
  • Bridgework and repairs
  • Gingivitis care
  • Temporary crowns, porcelain crowns and gold jackets

3. Orthodontics

  • Ortho expenses for dependent children, usually up to a $1500 lifetime maximum.

For people with pre-existing dental issues, after a certain waiting period, insurers may cover pre-existing dental issues depending on the policy provider. Most plans will have a waiting period for orthodontics. 

How to Obtain Dental Coverage for Expat Employees

Expat Financial can source group insurance benefit plans that provide both local and global medical coverage for expat employees, including dental care. We are not able to source dental only expat plans – the coverage must be part of of a group global medical plan. The plan designs for dental can include coinsurance and deductibles to help lower the costs. In most instances, dental rates for expats will be below what is seen for domestic employees in Canada or the USA. The rates will of course depend on the expat population demographics – such as age and country location. We can also source dental coverage as part of a global medical plan for individual expatriates when needed. 

If you are interested in learning more, have questions or would like a quotation, please contact Expat Financial via email or visit our Quote Request page.

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 a very exiting 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 an global international expat group insurance plan is very important prior to relocating to a new country or destination. Local plans are great for locals, not usually good 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 countriesThe potential damages and costs caused by acts of war, terrorism and kidnapping are quite tramatic 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 residing in a highly developed country, medical evacuation may also be required – for example, if they are residing in a remote region of the country or require 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 planMost 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 prior to an insurance company taking on the risk of an insured, sometimes known or even unknown by 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 even be declined when applying pre-existing medical coverage. Whereas 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 very important for your expat employees to move from one country to another without worrying to switch from one local health insurance plan to another. It is important 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 – 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 companies, Non-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 3 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.

 

5 Tips for first time expatriates living abroad

For many first-time expatriates relocating abroad or doing an expat assignment, the first few months of living abroad could be either exciting or overwhelming. To help expatriates adjust to living in another culture, in this article, we will discuss 5 tips for your first months abroad so that you will overcome the negative feeling of culture shock and make your first move successful.

  • Go Out and Meet the Local People 

The most common feeling that expats will face in their first month is isolation. It is strongly encouraged that expats go out and engage locals and other expatriates alike. This kind of interaction will immerse yourself in local living, the earlier you start, the quicker you will eliminate the uncomfortable feeling about an unfamiliar country.

  • Eat Local Food

When you are in a new country, it is vital to maintain healthy eating habits, especially during your first few months. Try to eat local food that you’ve never had before will provide you with active thinking patterns, and building a new healthy patterns will give you the feeling of exploration. It is recommended that you try to give your body a few days to adjust to the new place, then you’re good to explore. From Cairo to Bangkok, there are lots of great food choices for expatriates.

  • Keep Your Own Pace When You Move Abroad

Lack of language skills, making mistakes when taking local public transit and getting lost are all common experiences for first time expats in your new country, so try not to feel embarrassed at the beginning. Things will gradually gets better , so we encourage expatriates to embrace all the imperfections during their first few months. It is a way to throw yourself out of your comfort zone and learn.

  • Try Something New

It is also suggested for expatriates to do something new in their destination country such as mountain hiking, dancing, dragon boating, etc. You will not only develop a new hobby, but you might meet amazing new friends. For expats will busy working schedules and don’t have time to attend these exercise classes, it is also encouraged to join gym during weekends.

  • Don’t Rush

Give yourself some time to settle in and don’t blame yourself on feeling lonely and missing home. It takes time to integrate in your new country. Accept your colleagues and neighbors’ invitation will help you ease the transition process. Many expat employers will have programs in place to help you and your expat spouse an children ease into your new life abroad.

Don’t Forget International Health Insurance 

Moving abroad for the first time is both exciting and sometime unnerving. Don’t let unexpected medical costs abroad worry you of your family when you make the big jump. It is important to choose a quality insurer when you live abroad for your global medical needs. Expat Financial offers many different international health insurance plans for expatriates across the world from large and respected insurers. We also offer excellent service before and after you purchase your international health insurance plan. Our firm is also very experienced in sourcing group plans for multinational firms with 2 or more expats.  If you have questions about our international medical insurance plans or you want to discuss your unique needs and produce a customized expat quote, please contact us or complete the quote form

Digital nomad career options while living abroad as an expat

Digital nomads are often referred to as people who earn income remotely and mostly online, rather than from a physical permanent office. Today, digital nomads can be found in many industries such as writing, IT, media, tutoring, medical service, blog writer, consulting and more. For expatriates living and traveling abroad, the flexibility and freedom of a digital nomad is the ultimate global lifestyle. In this article, we will discuss why expats are becoming digital nomads along with the careers that are ideal for this exciting lifestyle.

Why So Many People Are Eager to Become Digital Nomads – A Freelance Career in a Globalized Economy

One of the most advantages of the digital nomad life is the freedom to travel and live in new places without restrictions. This is especially attractive to expatriates who are already living overseas. Expatriates working as digital nomad can earn money as they travel and may be open to more career opportunities. For expat spouses living abroad with their employed expat partners, a digital nomad career is often a perfect solution for not having permission to work in the new destination country.

Another reason  why people become digital nomads would be differences in currency values and cost of living. For example, if you are earning US dollar but living in Thailand, you will benefit from the currency conversion as $1 USD equals to $34 Thai Baht. Therefore, your income could lead you to a better quality of life and let you have more time for leisure. As would be expected, the cost of living in many developed and third world countries can be a fraction of the costs in North America or Europe.

Digital Nomad Career Options for Expats

We have compiled a list of you will need to acquire the right skills & contacts. Please check the list of skills & careers that are ideally suited for expatriates living abroad:

  • Computer Based Expats: As online businesses are growing much faster than traditional retail stores, eCommerce website platforms are in great need. learning computer skills doesn’t mean you have to become a programmer. If you start to learn the basics in web page design, you will be able to develop a website for clients in a few weeks. You don’t need to know how to code, there are many website templates available. Lastly, you will need a laptop with fast internet access, not dial-up.
  • Travel Writer: To write well about travel requires passion and local friends. Travel writing is not just includes destination tour guides or hotel recommendations, it is all about the stories and experiences during your stay. Many travel writers start their writing a blog site. From there, some of them get offers of book publishing and may even be offered free travel. It is recommended to use social media such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to connect with your potential readers and editors.
  • Writer – copy-writing: To become an online freelance copywriter requires proven similar work that you’ve done before and identify your ideal clientele that may be scattered around the globe. Search engine optimization (SEO) is a much sought after skill, so there is great demand for online content copywriters, such as website copy-writing, SEO copy-writing, and other forms of social media writing. Make sure to find out what type of copywriter you want to be and understand the role you are applying for, then pitch yourself to an ideal client.

  • Consultants: If you are knowledgeable and experienced on a particular subject, then to become an online freelance consultant would be a good choice for digital expats. Popular industries and sectors of online consultants including education, music, marketing, accountancy, security, engineering, human resources, science and finance. In some industries, a consultant may be required to develop customized report and presentation online. To become an external online consultant, you may to acquire the certain certifications and qualifications, and choose your target market wisely.
  • Social Media Expert: Nowadays, almost every company is realizing that they need social media specialists for content marketing and multi media management. If you know social media channels and campaigns, such as Facebook campaigns, email marketing, social advertising, etc., you may be able get a job as a freelancer while living overseas. Many clients won’t mind that you are a digital nomad.
  • App Developer: This type of work requires solid software development skills and knowledge such as SQL, JavaScript, C# or C++, Python, etc., no matter you are building mobile Apps for either the Android platform or Apple’s IOS system. There are short intense programs to teach future programmers skills and knowledge in as short as 8 to 12 weeks, however, to become an App developer requires constant and long hours of effort. Some of the most popular careers in App developing include IOS for creative enterprises and mobile cloud computing with Android.

  • Translator: If you speak at least two languages including your native language, a career in online translator might just for you. There are many kinds of translation works such as novel translation, movie translation, legal documents translation and conference/specialized material translation. One of the first steps to become an online translator is to get accreditation or certification. If you have specialty in fields like electronic engineering, computer science, or biology, then you may even have the advantage of translating technical documents.
  • Web Site Development: SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and SEM (Search Engine Marketing) specialist careers are ideally suited to digital nomad experiences – it is a often viewed as a great self-employed business to run from almost anywhere. In addition to web and computer knowledge, you will also need analytical skills to deliver the results.
  • Graphic Design: Using a wide range of  media and software such as Photoshop, Illustrator, etc. to design visual layouts and corporate magazines can make you a digital nomad and work anywhere you want, especially you have proven graphic designing experience. It’s a job that can easily be completed anywhere in the world with good internet access.
  • Online Teaching: As the English teaching market is growing, it is a great way to travel and become an expat English teacher. Compared to traditional in-classroom teaching, online teaching has many advantages such as flexible and efficient. Online teaching allows you to teach from anywhere. Learning English is very popular in Asia. If you are a native English speaker, the possibilities are endless.

 

Don’t forget International Health Insurance if you are a digital nomad

For digital nomads living abroad, it is important to note that you will be responsible for obtaining your own international health insurance plans as you won’t be supported by an employer and the country you live in may have little or no medical coverage or even adequate healthcare facilities. Domestic plans may not even cover you or will only cover you in that one country, which is not ideal if you wish to travel or obtain health coverage abroad. You will probably lose your current health plan coverage if you live abroad or it may not cover overseas travel. If you have questions about 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. Also don’t forget to obtain individual life and disability coverage as well if you are a digital nomad. 

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

An Expat Employer’s Fiduciary Duty of Care for Expats

Sending employees abroad is a big 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. What does this mean? In my view, it basically 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 so important regardless of the legal implications – its a 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 be adequately prepared for. It is vital that HR managers carefully read over the 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 country location to prepare for contingencies. Our firm has access to very detailed country information that can provide global mobility managers with key insights for each destination, including security reports. 

Expat Employers Should Identify Risks

When your HR department is sending employees overseas, it often make sense to ID risk and adopt prevention measures and train employees. You can’t hope that nothing terrible will happen. You can’t account for all the risks that your employees and their dependents may face working or traveling abroad, but you can take steps now to plan and mitigate those situations. We recently had an employer who finally 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 employers were kidnapped by bandits. Luckily with the assistance of on-sight negotiators paid by the insurer and a ransom being negotiated, the hostages were released unharmed.

heart rate monitor and doctors in an emergency room

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 (spouse & children) on overseas assignments with inadequate planning and especially insurance coverage. With more an 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 are a list of deficiencies that we often encounter:

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

What Expat Insurance Coverage Can Help Your Company Meet It’s 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 are able to 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 exceeds 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.

global medical

When should you apply for international health insurance?

Moving abroad is one of the most important and exciting decisions you will ever make. Living abroad, either permanently or temporarily, can be a challenging and rewarding experience. To stay healthy and fit while living and working abroad, there are many health risks that you want to avoid. In fact, to better plan and prepare a safe journey before departure, one of the most important considerations would be an appropriate international health insurance plan. In this article, we will discuss steps that should be taken to apply for international health insurance before or after you have moved abroad.

Start Looking Early

Generally speaking, most insurance companies require health insurance application at least 30 to 45 days prior to departure. You should allow for a week or two for the health insurance underwriters to process your application, but also they need to check whether there is geographical exclusions that may apply depending on level of cover or due to a pre-existing medical condition. It is suggested future expatriates to start research your destination’s health care situation, and contact your employer and find out whether you are covered under employee benefit package.

Yes You Can Apply After You Move Abroad

Note that you can apply if you have already moved abroad – some people will purchase emergency travel medical insurance and then transition to a global health plan. Sometime you may simply want to move to another insurance company. Or you may be striking out on your own and have to leave your employer’s group expat benefit plan.

What to Look For in Global Medical Coverage?

International health insurance provides essential cover for inpatient, day patient care, accommodation costs, cancer care, mental health care, etc. The Cigna Gold and Platinum plans can also provide inpatient maternity care after a waiting period. The earlier you apply, the earlier that waiting period will be removed – which is key if you plan to have children when living abroad Some employee health insurance plans are focused on basic local coverage, and this is not applicable to expats who are internationally mobile. It is important for expatriates to obtain an appropriate international health insurance plan with flexible and comprehensive cover.

Doctor posing with a world globe.

What if You Have a Pre-existing Medical Condition?

There are many chronic medical conditions or pre-existing conditions that expats and their families may suffer from. The top 5 well-known chronic conditions are heart disease, arthritis, HIV, diabetes or depression. If expats with pre-existing medical conditions are travelling in a location where the healthcare facilities are substandard, it is all the more important to have full coverage. An untreated medical problem can quickly become serious. If you have a pre-existing medical condition, it is even more important that you apply as soon as possible. It will often take time to gather previous medical history and tests and the underwriters may have to write to your doctor to obtain additional information. This can all take a lot of time and you may not get a decision from the underwriter before you leave.

In many cases, pre-existing medical conditions should being placed on the group benefit plan prior to the effective date. Individual expatriate health insurance plans will either exclude previous medical condition, decline the application or raise the premium. However, we work global medical insurance companies who can provide full coverage for pre-existing medical conditions on the medical coverage for both the employees and dependents if the employer has more than 25 or 30 global employees – including both expats and local nationals. To learn more, please read our blog article “Expat Benefit Plans – Make sure pre-existing conditions are covered!

Talk to Expat Financial to Discuss Your Global Medical Insurance Needs

It makes sense to obtain a quote and apply as early as possible. It also is critical that you talk to an expatriate insurance expert that can discuss your requirements and provide quotes from a variety of global medical insurance providers based on your unique needs. We offer a variety of excellent global medical plans that can meet almost any need and budget. For more information and to review the plans that we offer, contact our office or visit our international health insurance page. If your organization has a group of two or more expatriate employees, our firm can source international group insurance plans.

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 very important to stay healthy and fit while experiencing your new expat assignment. There are many potential health risks that you will definitely 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 

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 at home. This is especially the case in water-stressed areas where drinking-water without improved sanitation. Contaminated water is a major transmission source of many diseases such as diarrhea, typhoid, dysentery, cholera, etc. It is strongly recommended 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 home and abroad, especially in hot climates.

According to 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 eating raw vegetables in some developed countries. It is suggested to avoid unhealthy weight gain through consuming excess calories, sugar and salt.

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 appropriate international health insurance plan, expatriates could end up with receiving large medical bills and 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 worldwide coverage (except in the USA unless you add it as optional benefit). It allows you to seek medical care internationally and is critical for expatriates residing in less developed countries where medical care facilities are below standard. 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, open wounds, etc. These diseases may not make people feel too bad at first, however, they can get deteriorate very fast and 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 not as easy to socialize as 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 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 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.

The benefits of taking an expat mining job in Africa

Expat Mining Assignments in Africa – A Great Opportunity

In the past 10 or 20 years, there has been a mining boom in Africa as more and more global mining firms have been searching for minerals and setting up producing mines, most in very remote regions of the continent. As companies have increased exploration, especially in Central Africa, they have had to recruit expatriate talent from around the world to fill vital management and executive functions at mine exploration and development sites.

According to several reports, in 2015, almost 65% of  international mining companies claimed to increase investment on explosives as the market environment continue to improve. This means a shortage in local mining job market, especially for expat mining professionals.

With the recent improvements in metal prices, especially for gold, we are confident that the mining industry will continue to grow in Africa. There will be benefits for both local nationals and expatriates. In this article, we will discuss the benefits of expat mining jobs in Africa.

Excellent Career Opportunities for Expats in Africa Mining Industry

According to 2016 Ernst & Young Africa Attractiveness Survey, the long term outlook for economic growth & investment in Africa remains positive. Many major and minor mining firms are actively looking experienced and talented people from around the world. Positions such as mine engineering, electrical technicians, structural engineering, geologists are required for various mine operations. Other skilled expat positions in mining are available. Working overseas, especially in remote mine sites, can be quite challenging, but can also boost your mining industry career.

Explore Africa’s Culture

There are 54 countries in Africa today. Each country has a diverse culture, unique art and music representing regions. For example, Ghana, the second biggest producer of gold in Africa, has over 100 ethnic groups residents inside the country. In history, Ghana is the place of the great Ashanti empire during the late 17th century. Kumasi, served as capital of the empire, is one of the most advanced cities in Africa. The Ghanaian people are friendly to expat community. For expatriates working in Africa, Ghana has much to offer. There are also many other countries in Africa that can offer expatriates excellent cultural activities, resorts and tourist spots to explore.

Attractive Expatriate Salaries Available in Africa

Expatriates looking for mining jobs in Africa will find that the remuneration package is usually quite competitive. Many major mining firms will offer excellent accommodations with laundry services, expatriate community facilities such as basketball courts, fitness centre, satellite TV, etc. Mining companies are often willing to provide lucrative expatriate salary to attract and retain mining professionals. This can include schooling for your children posted abroad with families. Expatriates who are proficient in English and a second language are often highly preferred employees. If you have experience in working in Africa, this can be a great asset.

Working in Africa Can be an Adventure 

Africa is a land full of adventures and wonders: safaris, camping, diving, etc. Working in Africa is a way to get a completely different adventurous experience. You are working with local people during day time and spend weekend with them together. You will not only experience adventure travel and outdoor exploration, but also a chance to learn local language and lead an intercultural lifestyle. It is worth noting that some parts of Africa can be unsafe, so you should make sure that you and your employer will be taking steps to insure your safety.

Don’t Forget International Insurance Coverage for Expat Mining Assignments in Africa

Future expatriates need to keep in mind that working & living in Africa will have challenges. For example, the water supply and electricity in some countries is unreliable and there are often danger roads and more exotic illnesses in the region. South Africa, one of the richest country in Africa, has very good medical facilities and many expats working in the region will travel or be evacuated there to receive treatment. However, in some other poor African countries, the healthcare facilities is often far below standard. It is vital that expatriate mining professionals obtain excellent expat insurance coverage from their employer or on their own.

Many mining companies will offer health insurance plans for expat mining staff that they employ. It is crucial for expat employers and employees to obtain international health insurance with global life and accident coverage, dental and long term disability coverage. Some mining executives working in Africa will have to source their own coverage, especially if they are working as consultants – luckily our firm has a wide range of individual plans available. Evacuation coverage is obviously critical for mining employees residing in most Africa countries as more serious illnesses and injuries will often require medical care in another country or even in another continent, such as Europe. Another concern is civil strife, war and terrorism – which can be quite common in certain African nations. Thus, it is critical that your corporate policy for your expats in Africa have full war and terrorism coverage.

If you have questions about 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.  We have extensive experience in sourcing global mining insurance coverage. For more information, please view our Global Mining Brochure. A quality expat benefit plan is critical if your resource company wants to protect & cover its employees, cover its risks and help retain and and attract the top mining employee talent to operations in Africa. 

7 Tips for managing expat finances

For expats, those retiring offshore or even those going abroad for over a year, managing expat finances is critical. For most, moving abroad and working overseas can be one of the most exciting things of your life. However, expats will want to plan ahead to preserve and grow expat finances and investments. It is very important for individuals and families to plan ahead and maximize their expat finances. In this article, we will discuss 7 great tips for managing and protecting expat finances and investment while living and working abroad.

1. Know Your Expat Tax Status 

A common misunderstanding about expat tax is when expats move abroad, they are instantly exempt from their hometown tax system. This is usually not the case. For example, a British expat living abroad who is no longer a UK resident (spend fewer than 16 days in the UK), he or she may still be responsible for tax of the profits of a UK business or property situated in the UK, and UK pension income. Other countries such as Argentina, joint filling income tax is not available. For American expats, the complexity of expat tax can be quite daunting. Expat tax issues can be very complicated and it often makes sense to work with a professional firm. It is important to do research and visit your local tax office before moving overseas to make sure that you know the rules. We often recommend that expatriates talk to an expat tax expert such as Trowbridge.

2. The Cost of Living for Expats

Before accepting a job offer overseas, you should definitely do some detailed research on the cost of living in your destination country. This may include any additional costs you may face: school fees, transportation fees (driving a car and parking fees), rent an apartment or buy a house, leisure and entertainment, etc. The cost of living for expatriates can vary significantly from one place to another and will often be more expensive than what the locals pay. For example, according to Numbeo, in Mexico, rent a 3 bedroom apartment in city centre costs over $500 USD; Whereas in Singapore, a 3 bedroom apartment rent per month could almost $4,000 USD. Knowing the cost of living in your destination country will give you peace of mind and let you plan ahead.

3. Currency Management is Critical for Expats

It is common for expats to exchange currencies from their hometown bank accounts into destination country’s currency. However, banks may charge high flat rates and currency exchange rates which expats will want to avoid. This is especially important for expat families with international payments across countries. Some international banks offer fixed exchange rate for a period of time. Expats should definitely explore different methods of managing currencies as this can save quite a bit of money and time. You can obtain more information on currencies and currency issues on our Foreign Exchange page and you should talk to an exchange expert.

4. Organize your Expat Investment Portfolio

You should organize and take stock of all your current investments before your become an expatriate. You should try to make sure you will be able to manage your various stock, bank and investment properties from abroad or if you will have to sell some of those investments before you go offshore, especially for tax reasons. Many expatriates often sell their homes before living abroad, but when they return they find that they should have retained and rented the home as house values have increased dramatically – this is especially trued for many Canadian and Australian expatriates.

Your risk profile may change because you will be living abroad. Will you have the time and ability to manage your investment portfolio and will your new expat location impact your investment decisions. If you have a private or company pension plan, you should examine how living abroad will impact your retirement savings and taxes. It makes sense to talk to an investment expert before you live abroad.

5. Have You Cancelled Payments in your Hometown?

This is obvious. However, many expats may forget to cancel their orders in hometown and receive penalty charges. Remember to cancel any subscriptions such as phone, internet, magazines, etc before you move abroad.

6. Do you have Adequate Life & Disability Insurance? 

One of the most overlooked parts of protecting you and your family’s financial future is making sure that you have adequate life and disability coverage. While your employer may provide some coverage, more often than not it will be inadequate to fully protect you and your family members from the financial hardships associated with a death or disability. Many expats employers only provide medical coverage and expats are expected to obtain their own life insurance or disability income cover. However, when you are living abroad you may not qualify for local coverage and such life cover may not be desirable or even available in your new home country. Also, expats needs something both global and portable. Note that most expat life and disability plans are not portable back to your country of citizenship and if you have existing coverage, its probably a great idea to see if you can retain the policies as expat plans are usually more expensive.

To learn more about your expat life and disability requirements & the policies available, contact our firm for more information.

6. The Importance of Obtaining International Health Insurance

To many expats living and working abroad, the local healthcare system is usually not the best choice. The cost of using private medical care is usually very high in many parts of the world or you may be living in a country where medical care is inadequate and you may need to see medical care regionally or globally – sometime you may have to be evacuated. Either way, a large medical bill can wipe out your investments and put your financial future in peril.

With an appropriate international medical plan in place, many individual expats and their families are covered worldwide (except in the USA unless you add it as optional benefit). International health insurance plan provides day-patient care and full hospital coverage, extensive cancer coverage, maternity and baby care (conditions may apply), dental & vision care and international medical evacuation and repatriation. This is especially important for expats going to visit rural area in some less developed countries.

Expat Financial offers independent advice, solutions and ongoing service and support to clients around much of the world and we have extensive experience in sourcing medical cover for individual expats and expat employers worldwide. We can source plans from large and secure global insurance companies with excellent global service and support. 

If you have questions about international medical insurance plans we offer to individual expats or your company requires a global expatriate group insurance plan, please contact us or complete the quote form. We look forward to hearing from you soon.