Whether you have specific health concerns or want to be protected for the future, purchasing expat insurance is an important part of your healthcare strategy. With the Covid-19 pandemic, it is quite clear that no one can predict when a health crisis might arise. It is necessary to plan ahead so you don’t have to delay service or treatment at the time you most need it.

Expat Insurance

What is Expat Health Insurance?

Expat insurance, sometimes called expat medical insurance or international private medical insurance, is coverage for those who will be living abroad for an extended amount of time. Think of this as the type of coverage you would have at home to cover day to day occurrences. 

Expat insurance can protect you and your dependents from the cost of healthcare abroad. Expat insurance is generally portable and can be used wherever you go. It will allow you to have coverage in multiple countries, as by nature expats tend to move around.

Why Should You Consider Expat Health Insurance?

If you intend on living in another country for more than six months, you may want to consider expat insurance as opposed to travel insurance. Some countries will require that you have proof of medical coverage before they can issue you the appropriate visa or work permit.

Even though you’re abroad, your health needs are not going to abate. You may still need regular visits as well as treatment for any kind of health issues that arise. In addition, you want to have protection in the event a health emergency comes up. There’s a good chance that your home insurance coverage may not work abroad and you will need a service that works internationally. Like your coverage at home, expat insurance may include in-patient or out-patient treatment, wellness, emergency/evacuation services as well as dental and vision treatment.

If your employer is not providing health coverage or you are self-employed, you want to consider finding the right plan for you.

What Should I Look For in a Global Insurance Plan?

Perhaps, it goes without saying, but you need to identify a provider that has the expertise and knowledge to support expat clients. You need to review plans to make sure they provide the coverage that might be relevant for you in your situations. This can include maternity care, dental visits and an extensive list of medical professionals. You also need to verify that the plan is available for your host country. There are some plans that exclude specific countries.


Key factors to keep in mind when selecting your expat insurance:

          -Services available for use in your host country

          -Extensive range of healthcare benefits

          -Emergency and repatriation assistance

          -Record of delivering health care worldwide

          -Easy access to healthcare professionals globally

          -Access to healthcare services 24/7

How Much Does Expat Health Insurance Cost?

This is going to depend on a variety of factors, such as the company you select, the type of plan, the number of dependents as well as the host country you will be residing in. However, according to International Insurance, costs can range from $500 to upwards of $8,000 a year.

What Do Expat Insurance Plans Typically Cover?

Most expat insurance plans will provides the following:

         -Routine check-ups and visits

         -Hospital stays and treatment

         -Pre-existing conditions

         -Treatment for ongoing health conditions

         -Selection list of medical providers

It is important to compare shop as you find plans, because you might find that one company may have the coverage you need that may not be found in others.


Where Can I Find Expat Health Insurance?

If you’re looking for a plan, you may want to start with some major companies below: 

Aetna Expat Health Insurance

Cigna Global

Geo Blue (Blue Cross Blue Shield)



What if I Am Moving to a Country with Universal Health Care? Do I Still Need Coverage?

The short answer… it depends. Universal healthcare means that citizens/residents of a country have access to healthcare. This doesn’t necessarily imply that it’s free, although, depending on the system, a country may offer discounted or free services to their citizens. That said, universal healthcare might be available to you depending on your host country. You need to research if you qualify. Each country will have its own requirements. But even beyond that, you may still want additional coverage in case you are not satisfied or comfortable with the public health care system.

Black Woman with open suitcase with travel items, passport and Covid-19 declaration form
Image: Stock

Travel Insurance

How Does Travel Insurance Differ From Expat Insurance?

Travel insurance is generally for people who are just, well, travelling, as opposed to settling in a new country. Generally, it covers people for anywhere for a year or less, but you can find some options that are longer.

The focus tends to be on medical emergencies, disasters and unforeseen circumstances that happen while you’re travelling. For example, coverage may include a trip to the hospital due to a major illness or an evacuation. It may also protect you if your trip has to be cancelled or your travel luggage is lost or damaged.

What it generally doesn’t cover is preventative care. In other words, those routine visits that you make to the doctor’s office for checkups. Some plans also do not cover pre-existing conditions, that is a medical condition that was diagnosed before you received medical coverage.

Why Should You Have Travel Insurance?

Life happens and you don’t know when you may need medical care, or events may change your travel plans. By having travel insurance, you might be able to recoup the cost of a cancelled trip or deal with a medical emergency.

Travel Insurance coverage usually includes:

           -Medical/Illness Emergencies (including short-term medical treatment)

            -Medical Evacuations

            -Trip Interruptions

            -Loss of Luggage

Black Man Getting A Vaccination
Image: Stock

Where Can I Find Travel Insurance?

If you have a credit card, you might find that travel insurance is part of your card benefits. Check with your card issuer to find out if insurance is included and what exactly is covered. You can also purchase a plan from one of the companies below.



World Nomads

Regardless of whether you are going abroad for a few weeks or for the next few years, you need to ensure that you are protected and your health needs are covered. Just make sure you conduct the appropriate research to find the right plan for you

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