Expat insurance offers security to anyone taking a chance on starting a new life in a country outside the UK and benefitting from all the opportunities that brings.
There are many kinds of insurance products available for expats to choose — from travel to health, vehicle, critical injury, and even pet cover. These policies are specifically designed to help expats protect every aspect of their lives while living abroad.
With so much expat insurance available, deciding on which policy to go for can be challenging. However, for the millions of Britons who call countries outside the UK their home, looking after financial health can be as important as physical and mental wellbeing, particularly if they want to enjoy a full and happy life abroad.
With the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and the uncertainty caused by Brexit, it is hard to predict what the future might bring for expats, so getting the right kind of insurance is more important than ever.
Recent research from international health benefits provider, Aetna International, revealed that a quarter of expats have invested in new health insurance plans to cover family members during the Covid-19 pandemic. More than a third have added family members to their current cover, demonstrating how insurance has become an increasing priority following the events of the last year.
If you are an expat, then it’s certainly a sensible decision to invest in insurance to protect you and your family against the unknown. Let’s investigate the five things you must do to find the best deal on expat insurance.
1. Do your research around expat insurance
Before making any decisions, you must do your research and investigate your insurance options. It sounds obvious but with so much choice available, it can mean you might have to dedicate a lot of time scouring the web for the best deals to suit you and your circumstances. Look online for consumer reviews of insurance products, read the small print, and remember there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach. Every individual is different, with specific needs unique to them, so way the options.
Your expat insurance needs will often depend on the country you might be heading to. For example, with healthcare, many countries offering a greatly varying price range for health services. Added to that, expats may also not be able to access certain subsidies or treatments; in Hong Kong, those with Hong Kong Identity Cards are entitled to access more affordable healthcare than those without them. You should conduct a thorough investigation into what you need so you can avoid being financially stung later.
2. Don’t rely on domestic insurance to cover you for life abroad
It’s unlikely that any insurance policy you take out in the UK ahead of your journey will protect you in your new country of residence.
When you move overseas, most companies responsible for moving your belongings will provide some insurance to cover them while in transit. However, it is recommended that specific insurance is also taken out to protect these goods. In event of anything being damaged or lost, it can be difficult to work out who is responsible and which party to claim from.
While you can get specific travel insurance to cover you, your family and your belongings on your journey, this will usually end within 24 hours of you arriving at your destination. From this point on, you will need to invest in a new type of insurance to ensure you are protected in your new country of residence.
3. Make sure you are covered
In order to settle down in a new country there are often many administrative hurdles to overcome, including assessing the adequate level of insurance cover for you as an expat. Ahead of moving abroad, you need to calculate what levels you and your family might need to ensure you are completely covered for every eventuality. If you are working then it might be worth investing in income protection cover to make sure you can remain financially stable even if you are made redundant or your contract unexpectedly ends.
If you are investigating your healthcare needs, make sure your insurance covers you, particularly if you have specific medical concerns. Unexpected medical and health bills can end up being very costly, especially as a non-resident in a new country.
4. Choose local or international insurance policies
The most suitable expat insurance policies can depend on what your movements will be once you have left the UK. If you are going to be moving between different destinations for work or recreational travel, it might be best and more cost-effective for you to invest in international insurance. International plans offer coverage beyond borders, meaning you can enjoy health coverage at almost any medical facility in the world.
If your plans are to stay in one country then a local healthcare insurance plan can be the most appropriate option. The premiums for these expat insurance policies are usually less than catch-all international policies but there are certain things to be aware of. If you do travel to a different country, you will need to arrange separate cover every time you head abroad. Your cover will be limited to your newly adopted home country and a specific network of hospitals. If you develop a serious condition during your policy period, it is possible that you will need to find an alternative insurance plan, as many are not lifetime renewable.
5. Communication and claims
You may be living abroad in a new country but as an expat you will need to be able to communicate effectively with your insurance provider, especially if you are forced to submit a complicated claim.
Before investing in an expat insurance policy, you should check how you can communicate with a company, whether this is via phone, email, or live chat and if their support team is available 24/7. If the company’s claim team is based in your new home then translation services might be useful for you, especially if you cannot speak the country’s native language.
You should also check the claims policy of a company before investing in a policy to see the duration it takes between a claim being made and it is paid out. If it takes some time and they do not offer services in a language you are familiar with, it could be worth looking for an insurance policy with a different provider.
Living as an expat can be a brilliant way of embracing new cultures and experiencing a different way of life. But, although this can be an exciting opportunity, it is important to remember that living abroad can be very different from that in the UK. Many of the things you might take for granted back home may not be the same in your new residence, requiring more paperwork, permits and administration. So do your research and shop around to make sure you find the best expat insurance policy for you.
With so many expat insurance options now available, choosing the best policies to suit you and your lifestyle is crucial to ensure you stay protected. ExpatRoute is here to provide you with the necessary information to take advantage of the best policies for you. Contact a financial adviser today for more information based on your personal circumstances.