More and more multinational companies are opening offices around the world, including in regions such as Asia, Africa, Europe, the Caribbean and South America. While working and living abroad can be an exciting opportunity for expat employees, expat employers have a fiduciary responsibility to provide adequately protect their expat employees and achieve a successful expat assignment – this includes purchasing global medical coverage. In this article, we will discuss the top seven global insurance considerations you should consider before sending employees on overseas assignments.
Coverage – Local or International Coverage
In many countries with limited or no local health insurance coverage or health infrastructure, an expat employer should put their expat employees on an international expat group insurance plan. A local plan is designed for local coverage and does not provide the portability that most expat employees require. A proper international health benefit plan will provide medical coverage each time an expat employee is moved from one country to another without having to change plans, apply for new coverage or satisfy a new waiting period.
Furthermore, in some nations where local health benefits coverage may be available, most expatriate employees will want to use a major stable currency instead of local currency when dealing with insurance claims. Therefore, obtaining a global international expat group insurance plan is very important before relocating to a new country or destination. Local plans are great for locals but are typically unsuitable for expats.
Special Risk Insurance
Many companies are exploring new markets and resources in areas with unstable local governments or conflicts, which are often considered to be high-risk countries. The potential damages and costs caused by acts of war, terrorism and kidnapping are traumatic and can be very high for employers.
Medical Emergency Evacuation
Medical emergency evacuation insurance plan is also critical for any expat employees working abroad, especially if residing in a region with limited medical facilities or health clinics that are not up to western standards. However, even while living in a highly developed country, medical evacuation may also be required. For example, if you are residing in a remote region of the nation and need an air ambulance.
When your employees are posted overseas and experience a medical emergency that can’t be addressed in the host country, it is critical that your organization have a comprehensive evacuation insurance plan. Most expatriate group health insurance plans will provide emergency evacuation and repatriation as an option or include it as a standard benefit. Note that a medical evacuation must be approved and coordinated by the health insurance company. Most group plans will include evacuation as an optional benefit.
Will the Health Insurance Plan Cover Pre-existing Medical Conditions?
A pre-existing medical condition relates to a medical condition that existed before an insurance company takes on the risk of an insured, sometimes known or even unknown to the employee. If an expat develops an illness later on it may be recognized as a pre-existing condition when trying to obtain health coverage. For example, you may have an employee who has high blood pressure, diabetes or a skin disorder.
Most expat employers may not aware of the cost of the treatment of chronic diseases for expatriate employees overseas can be very high. It usually requires medical treatment to cover ongoing health needs. Individual expat health and life insurance plans have to be medically underwritten, and employees who are under separate individual plans may have restricted coverage, exclusions or may even be declined when applying pre-existing medical coverage. On the other hand, a group international benefit plan can usually offer full coverage for pre-existing medical conditions because the risk is shared among healthy and unhealthy employees and their dependents. We will often recommend to our group clients that they purchase a plan that fully covers pre-existing medical conditions.
Health Insurance Plan Administration
A tailored international group insurance plan provides simple administration platform for your HR department. It can provide for the instant communication online between employees, insurance company and HR administrators. This is especially convenient for highly mobile expat employees. It is imperative for your expat employees to move from one country to another without worrying to switch from one local health insurance plan to another. Subsequently, it is essential that HR managers consider a plan that has excellent plan administration when choosing a global medical plan.
Seeking Advice from an Experienced Broker
It never makes sense to obtain global medical coverage for your employees on your own, as your HR manager will not have the necessary experience, training, knowledge or global insurance contacts that are required for your expanding expat population. Expat Financial, a division of TFG Global Insurance Solutions Ltd., can source international group insurance plans from a variety of large and respected insurance companies for multinational 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 Congo, Iraq, Afghanistan, Nigeria, South Sudan, Eritrea, Somalia and Yemen. The plans that we can source can provide full coverage for war and terrorism risks.
Individual Plans for your Expat Employees
For companies with less than three expatriate employees or individual expatriates, we can also source individual International Health Insurance Protection as well as individual expat life and disability plans. Note that individual plans have to be medically underwritten, so final coverage, rates and coverage will be subject to medical underwriters at the insurance company. To find out more, contact Expat Financial to discuss your organization’s requirements and obtain quotes from the market. Read more about our group expat insurance plans on our corporate page.