This document is brought to you by Xact Expat, and serves as a guide to expat health
Xact Expat are independent specialists in international health insurance options for
This guide will walk you through an overview on international health insurance, including a
general overview on expat health insurance, key factors that will affect your policy premiums
and things to watch out for when buying, switching or renewing your policy.
For any additional information you need, but is not contained within this guide, or for personal
independent advice on expat and international health insurance please feel free to contact
Xact Expat, or visit www.xactexpat.com, for free no-obligation help and advice or quote.
What is Expat Health Insurance?
Expat health insurance is a very specific type of international medical insurance that is
designed to meet the needs of the expat lifestyle.
An expatriate, or expat, is an individual who resides and/or works in a ‘foreign’ country that is
often different to their primary upbringing (usually the country of their citizenship). As the
global economy expands, barriers to international business are removed and so more
businesses, business owners and individuals (and their families), choose to operate on an
Naturally, with businesses moving overseas some of their employees will also be moving
overseas. In many cases businesses will have a mixture of both local nationals and expatriate
staff. Additionally, with business locations spanning the globe there has also been an increase
in executive travel and long-term assignments between international locations and clients.
There are very few countries around the world that operate a national health system – in most
countries you will have to pay to access healthcare services. Where national healthcare
systems do exit they are usually only available to citizens and permanent residents. It is
important to note that even when there is ‘free’ healthcare available to foreigners there is no
guarantee that the care you receive will be to the standards you are use to in your home
country, and in many cases there could be a long waiting list before you can be treated.
There are varying levels of expat health insurance available, from plans that cover you just in
the case of emergencies, or that will simply evacuate you home, to plans that cover everything
from maternity to dental costs. One of the most important features to expat health insurance is
that if the medical care you need is not available locally you will be re-located to a facility
elsewhere that can provide the necessary care, even if that means flying you back to your
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Protecting Your Health and Your Bank Account
Expat health insurance is designed to meet the specific needs of expats and protect their
health, wellbeing and wallet in the event of an unforeseen accident or illness.
Moving to, and living in, a foreign country can be exciting but also can be very stressful.
Cultural differences can make receiving medical treatment stressful as there can be
differences in the medical facilities and treatment available, not to mention overcoming any
In addition to ensuring access to necessary medical facilities and treatment, expat health
insurance also serves to protect you financially as well. Medical costs are on the rise around
the world, and unexpected illness, or accidents, can often end up costing a lot of money if you
don’t have the right insurance in place. Even a basic operation can run into the $10,000s and
a life saving international emergency air ambulance evacuation can cost as must as $50100,000.
Having the right expat health insurance in place brings the comfort of knowing your health and
bank account are protected from the unexpected. In many situations you will find that expat
health insurance can be very flexible and designed to reflect the type of health insurance plan
you and your family would be accustomed to back in your home country.
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Who Needs Expat Health Insurance?
Individuals – Plans are available for individuals working and/or living in a foreign country. In
many cases cover can also include treatment in your home country (not just as an expat).
Families – If you are moving to a foreign country as a family there are plans specifically
designed to meet your needs. These plans often give discounts, or even free coverage, to
children under certain ages. Cover can often continue even when you move back home too.
Groups – If you are en employer relocating staff to a foreign location then often a group plan
can offer better benefit options and price than buying individual plans for all employees. Group
plans can be put in place with as little as 2 employees in the group. You can also choose to
extend cover to their families and dependents if you wish. The larger the group the more
underwriting discretion is available and more customization options for plans to meet your
group’s specific needs.
Students – If you are a student studying abroad, at an approved accredited academic
institution, then there are specialized international health insurance plans designed to meet the
needs of students. These plans will be slightly different to a standard individual expat health
insurance plan as they will be more geared towards the student lifestyle. For example, an
international student health insurance plan will typically include cover for various sporting
activities typical of a student that would not usually be available on a standard expat health
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Primary Factors Influencing Your Premium:
Number of Individuals Insured – The number of individuals insured under a policy plays a
role in your policy premium. For example, with families, you will find that sometimes children
under a certain age are included at no additional charge for the first year of coverage. For
businesses, the number of employees insured on a group plan can play a big role in your
Age – Growing older is a natural part of life, and unfortunately the older we get the more likely
we will need medical treatment. So naturally, your premiums will increase as you get older.
Generally premiums are determined with ‘age bands’, for example 25-29 might be one age
band and then 30-34 would be the next and your premiums would increase as you move into
the next age band.
Location – Medical costs vary greatly around the globe and your premium will reflect the
medical costs associated with your location. For example, the USA has some of the most
expensive medical costs in the world and your expat health insurance premium will reflect that
compared to countries with lower medical costs. Often you can even reduce your expat health
insurance premium if you choose to exclude certain geographic areas such as the USA.
Duration of Cover – The shorter the length of cover the less likely you will experience an
accident or illness. And if your duration of stay will be longer, or permanent, then you will want
cover to reflect more long term illness and care options.
Claims History – There are some international medical insurance providers that offer
premium discounts for a no-claims or low-claims history on your policy or at your renewal. If
you are a medium to large group, then often your premium will take into account your groups
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Benefits – Obviously the more benefits and cover you choose to include on your policy the
higher your premium. So make sure you are only being insured for what you need. Adding
benefits like dental and maternity cover can have a big impact on your premium.
Deductibles/Excess – If you are willing to pay a portion of your own medical expenses out of
pocket, in the form of a deductible or excess, then you will receive a discount on your
premiums. These discounts can often be quite substantial and a growing number of individuals
and families are choosing higher excesses, paying themselves for low-cost care and reaping
major savings on their medical insurance premiums – whilst still knowing they are protected
against a sudden and unexpected major medical bill.
Payment Plans – You can save money on your premium by paying for you policy in one
annual payment instead of breaking the payment out into instalments. As a general rule of
thumb the more instalments you pay the higher your total premium payable over the period. In
many situations even if you make the one annual payment with a credit card, even with the
interest, it can still workout cheaper than paying in instalments.
Your Broker – Did you know there are very few brokers around the world with the necessary
experience to provide you with appropriate personal and independent advice. In many cases
they don’t have the global understanding or the wide number of relationships with all the key
quality international medical insurance providers. Bad or insufficient advice can leave you and
your family with the wrong or sometimes no cover, or paying for cover you don’t need or simply
paying too much for cover that could be obtained elsewhere.
With XactExpat you can rest assured we provide no-obligation impartial advice and help find a
plan to meets your needs and budget.
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Things To Watch Out For:
Pre-existing Medical Conditions – Most international medical insurance providers will not
cover pre-existing medical conditions. This is because most plans are designed to meet the
cost of sudden and unexpected medical expenses. We can often obtain varying degrees of
cover for pre-existing medical conditions. For example, some will cover certain declared and
accepted pre-existing medical conditions after a qualifying period (wait period) for no additional
premium but in these cases it is usually up to a limited sum insured. Some will provide higher
coverage for pre-existing medical conditions, although this can be expensive. In many cases it
can work out cheaper and more cost effective for you to cover your own cost of treatment and
medication for a pre-existing medical condition rather than pay a premium to an insurance
company. If you have a pre-existing medical condition contact Xact Expat so we can talk about
your situation and advise the most appropriate cover for you.
Waiting Periods – There are some benefits that may require a waiting period before you can
claim. For example maternity cover and routine dental care will typically have a waiting period
before you can use those benefits.
Premium increases – Most premium increases will be due to getting older. Talk with Xact
Expat today to find our a fair indication of how your premiums could rise according to age for
the different international medical insurance providers. Some plans are better designed for
short-medium durations, others for longer durations.
Exclusions – All health insurance plans contain exclusions of what the plan will not pay claims
for. Your expat health insurance policy will contain a document that goes over what your policy
will and will not cover. Make sure you know the policy exclusions before you commit to a
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