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How To Find The Best Health Insurance As An Expat

Moving abroad is always challenging. Administrative tasks in your home country can be difficult, let alone those in a foreign one. And regarding health and travel insurance for expats, it can be even more complicated.

But don’t worry, we’re here to help. In this post, we’ll explain everything you need to know about finding the best travel insurance for expats living abroad – and how you can get a quote for expat health insurance today.

When I started traveling abroad and moved to New Zealand, I assumed I was invincible. I was staying in hostels while looking for a room to rent and setting up all the administrative tasks that come when first immigrating somewhere new. How silly I was!

Next thing you know, I caught a stomach virus from the hostel I was staying in and unfortunately did not have the immediate means to pay for medical treatment as I would in my home country. This is why travel insurance when living abroad is crucial for expats.

Accidents happen- and we get that! No one can predict the future and the implications that can arise. We are working to find the best expat health insurance plan for those unexpected, uncontrolled moments when you think, “it really was better to be safe than be sorry.”

It’s like having car insurance. You could be the best driver in the world, but sometimes you never know when you will get rear-ended. We like to think of expat travel insurance as the same.

You could be the healthiest person in the world, taking all the precautions to keep yourself healthy and out of trouble – but who knows what kind of water your last salad was washed in? Ultimately, we cannot control the world around us, which is exactly why we should have a backup plan for whatever gets thrown at us.

Do I really need to be Insured?

Absolutely! Whether traveling for leisure or business, it is always a good idea to have travel insurance, which means it’s especially good if you’re an expat. No one knows when an emergency might happen, and it’s always better to be safe than sorry. In the long run, it will save you a lot of money and hassle if something goes go wrong.

If you’re an expat, finding the best travel insurance is essential. When living in a foreign country, you never know what could happen. That’s why it’s important to have preventive care for any health emergencies.

Keep reading as we discuss the best health insurance for expats, including how to choose the right plan for your needs and the medical care coverage suitable for the country you plan to live in.

Different Types of Medical Coverage to Know

Before we look into finding the best travel medical insurance, see what type of health coverage your new home offers. In Europe, most countries offer some form of free healthcare through their government system.

Living in France or the UK means you’ll likely take advantage of the country’s free healthcare system, which provides basic medical coverage for all residents (and the threshold for being a “resident” in both nations is pretty low).

On the other hand, if you move to a country like Switzerland, which doesn’t have free healthcare, you’ll need to purchase private health insurance.

Public Healthcare

Patients Wearing Facemask

As mentioned, some countries offer a public healthcare provider, usually funded by taxes. Suppose you’re a citizen of that country or a legal resident. In that case, you’ll likely be able to enroll in the public healthcare system. In most cases, public healthcare will cover basic medical needs such as doctor’s visits, hospital stays, and prescriptions.

Although some countries offer public healthcare systems they will not always cover 100 percent of the costs. In France again, for example, full-time workers must have a mutuelle, a third-party insurance covering the costs that public healthcare won’t. If your social security covers 75 percent of an operation, the mutuelle will pay 25 percent.

See Related: Best Health Insurance for Travel Nurses

Private Healthcare

Doctor Vaccinating a Senior

If you don’t have access to public healthcare or want additional coverage, you can purchase private health insurance. Private health insurance plans vary depending on your country, but they typically offer more comprehensive coverage than public healthcare. For example, private health insurance in Switzerland often covers dental and vision care, not typically covered by public healthcare.

Additionally, some employers will offer health insurance as a benefit to employees. If your new job offers health insurance, determine what coverage it includes and whether it’s sufficient for your needs. For example, some employer-sponsored health insurance plans may only cover basic expenses, while others may also provide coverage for major medical assistance.

Suppose a government health care plan or an employer-sponsored health insurance plan does not cover you. In that case, you’ll need to purchase travel insurance. When looking for travel insurance, it’s crucial to find a policy that covers medical and travel-related costs like lost luggage or travel delays.

Whether you need a top-up for what is already covered or looking for private funding, we recommend using a reputable, international brand that offers comprehensive plans specific to travelers. For example, the Cigna Global Health Benefits plan provides comprehensive coverage for medical expenses, including doctor’s visits, hospital stays, and prescriptions. The plan also covers travel-related costs like lost luggage and travel delays.

What is the Difference Between Travel and Health Insurance?

Travel insurance is designed to cover you while traveling, which is essential for all the digital nomads trotting the globe out there. It can cover medical emergencies, trip cancellations, and lost or stolen luggage.

Health insurance is designed to provide coverage solely for your health care needs. It can cover doctor’s visits, hospital stays, and prescriptions.

Still confused? Let’s break it down:

What Are The Benefits of Travel Insurance?

There are many benefits of travel insurance, including coverage for the following:

  • Medical emergencies
  • Trip cancellations
  • Lost or stolen luggage
  • Travel delays
  • Missed connections

What Are The Benefits of Health Insurance?

Having health insurance coverage also has many wonderful benefits, including covering:

  • Doctor’s visits
  • Hospital stays
  • Prescriptions
  • Mental health services
  • Vision and dental care

A little clearer? Now that we’ve looked at the different types of options available to expats and travelers let’s take a look at some of the perks of combining the two types of international travel medical insurance.

See Related: Best Health Insurance for Visitors to USA

Types of Travel Health Insurance Abroad

Insurance Concept

First and foremost, what actually is expat travel insurance? Expat insurance is a type of travel insurance that is specifically designed for people who are living in a foreign or new country. This type of insurance typically covers medical expenses, trip cancellation, lost or stolen belongings, and other travel-related emergencies.

While their home country’s health insurance may cover some expats, it is important to check if this coverage extends to your new country of residence. If not, you will need to purchase a plan that covers you while you are living abroad.

Other types of popular health insurance for citizens abroad options include:

Emergency Travel Insurance

Emergency Respondents

This type of insurance is designed to cover you in the event of a medical emergency while traveling. It can provide coverage for health coverage, evacuation, and repatriation.

Annual Travel Insurance

Travel Insurance Form and Travel Documents

Annual travel insurance plans are designed for expats who travel frequently. They can provide coverage for multiple trips throughout the year and can be customized to your specific needs.

Student Travel Insurance

Female Teen Student

Student travel insurance plans are designed for students who are studying abroad. These plans can provide coverage for medical fees, evacuation, and repatriation.

Missionary Travel Insurance

Missionaries in Kenya

Missionary travel insurance plans are designed for individuals traveling for missionary work. They can provide coverage for medical costs, evacuation, and repatriation.

How to Choose the Best Expat Health Insurance

Insurance Umbrella

Now, our official step-by-step guide for choosing your health insurance abroad. As we’ve covered the basics and looked at some of the best travel insurance plans on the market, it’s time to start looking for a plan that suits your needs.

Here’s our step-by-step guide for choosing the best health insurance for those living abroad:

Determine your Health Insurance needs

The first step is to determine your health insurance needs. Do you need coverage for medical emergencies, trip cancellations, or lost or stolen luggage? If so, you’ll want to purchase a travel insurance policy. You’ll want to purchase a health insurance policy if you need coverage for your health care needs.

Before purchasing a travel insurance policy, evaluating your health needs is important. Are you generally healthy, or do you have a chronic illness that requires regular medication? Do you have any pre-existing medical conditions? These factors will affect the type of insurance policy you need.

A basic travel insurance policy may be sufficient if you’re generally healthy. However, suppose you have a pre-existing medical condition or require regular medication. In that case, you must purchase a policy covering these expenses.

Choose a Policy with Comprehensive Travel or Medical Coverage

When choosing a travel insurance policy, it’s important to make sure that it offers comprehensive coverage. The policy should cover medical expenses, travel delays, lost baggage, and more.

Compare Plans and Prices

Once you know what type of insurance you need, you can compare plans and prices. Be sure to compare each plan’s coverage levels, deductibles, and co-payments. Deductible prices can vary significantly, so it’s important to choose a plan with a deductible that you can afford.

Choose the Plan that Best Suits Your Needs

Once you’ve compared the plans and prices, choose the one that best suits your needs. Be sure to read the fine print before purchasing a policy. This will help you understand what your policy does not cover. For example, some policies may not cover pre-existing medical conditions.

Choose a Policy With Comprehensive Coverage

When choosing a travel insurance policy, it’s important to make sure that it offers comprehensive coverage. The policy should cover medical expenses, travel delays, lost baggage, and more. 

Check which countries are covered

You should keep a few things in mind when looking for travel insurance as an expat. First, you’ll want to ensure that your travel insurance policy covers you for the country or countries you’ll be traveling to.

Will you be staying in one country solely? Or do you want to be insured for weekend trips away? This is important to consider when choosing your travel insurance policy.

Consider your Budget

When choosing a travel insurance policy, it’s essential to consider your budget. Travel insurance policies vary in price, so it’s important to find one that fits your needs and budget. 

Check which activities are covered

Next, you’ll want to ensure that your policy covers the activities you’ll be doing while abroad. For example, suppose you’re planning to do extreme sports or activities. In that case, you’ll want to make sure your plan covers you for those activities. Maybe you won’t be going skydiving every day, but it’s still crucial to check that you are covered just in case.

Check the deductibles and coverage limits

You’ll also want to check the deductible and coverage limits when looking at travel insurance policies. The deductible is the amount you must pay out-of-pocket before your policy kicks in. And the coverage limit is the maximum amount of money your provider will pay out for a covered event.

Check if pre-existing conditions are covered

If you have a pre-existing medical condition, you’ll want to make sure your travel insurance policy covers you for that condition. Some travel insurance policies will cover pre-existing conditions, while others won’t. So it’s important to check the policy details before you buy.

Choose how long you want coverage for

Finally, you’ll want to ensure that your travel insurance policy covers you for the time you’ll be abroad. Some travel insurance policies have limits on how long they will cover you, so it’s essential to make sure your policy covers you for the entire time you’ll be away.

And finally…

Purchase your Policy!

Once you’ve chosen a plan, you can purchase your policy online or through a travel agent. Be sure to keep your policy information safe to reference it if you need to make a claim.

We recommend always having a physical, printed copy readily available. We love to rely on technology, but sometimes in a foreign country without your WiFi set up, you never know!

See Related: Best Travel Insurance for Children

Important Considerations When Purchasing Expat Insurance

Purchasing expat health insurance is critical in preparing for a move overseas. When looking for a policy, it’s important to consider the destination country’s healthcare system and how it will compare to your current coverage, but that’s not there are still other important factors to consider:

Does your policy cover alternative therapies?

These include things like acupuncture, homeopathy, and chiropractic care. Travel insurance policies typically cover you for traditional medical treatments but may not cover you for alternative therapies. So if you plan on using alternative therapies while you live abroad, it’s important to check with your travel insurance provider to see if they are covered.

Do you need 24/7 support?

When choosing travel insurance, one thing to consider is whether or not you need 24/7 support. Some travel insurance policies come with 24/7 support, while others don’t. If you think you might need help while you’re away, it’s important to choose a policy that comes with 24/7 support.

What is not included when making a claim?

Knowing what is not included when making a travel insurance claim is important. Generally, travel insurance policies will not cover you for:

  • Canceled or lost travel plans
  • Lost or stolen belongings
  • Civil unrest or political evacuation

Suppose you’re concerned about any of these things. In that case, it’s important to purchase a travel insurance policy that covers you for them.

When should you buy travel insurance?

Ideally, you should purchase travel insurance as soon as you book your trip. This way, you’ll be covered in case anything happens between the time you book your trip and the time you travel. For example, if you book a trip and then have to cancel it, you’ll be covered if you have travel insurance.

But even if you don’t purchase travel insurance immediately, it’s still a good idea to get it before you travel. This way, you’ll be covered if anything happens while you’re on your trip.

How much does Expat insurance cost?

This can vary entirely on the country you are moving to. Travel insurance is usually quite affordable for US citizens in other countries. For example, for a one-time trip of up to 30 days to Mexico, the average policy costs about $48.

But, of course, prices vary depending on your trip length, age, and health. It’s always a good idea to gather quotes from multiple carriers well before your travels, whether you’re leaving for a week or for a year.

Nowadays, there are more insurance carriers than anyone could fathom, from low-cost and minimal coverage plans through new internet-based companies to comprehensive, well-written plans that offer coverage for nearly any scenario you can imagine. Many travelers choose to secure their policies with internationally known companies that have been around for quite some time, like one of our favorites, Cigna Global.

Cigna got its start in 1792, and they bring more than 200 years of insurance experience to the table. Take some time to browse their expat health insurance plan options, and see if Cigna fits your travel insurance needs.

Get a quote and save 10% off of your policy, making Cigna a great choice for penny-pinching travelers who don’t want to skimp on comprehensive, trustworthy coverage Happy, healthy travels!

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