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The top 5 mistakes made when buying international health insurance

Living and working abroad is an exciting and rewarding experience. But when trying to immerse yourself in a foreign culture, get to grips with a different job role, or start a family away from home, the last thing you want to worry about is whether you can afford care if any health issues arise. 

Having an international health plan is the best way to ensure that you can afford healthcare around the world, and thus is essential for expats. However, understanding which plan is right for you can be tricky, whether you’ve just moved to a new country or have worked abroad for years.

Therefore, we’ve listed below the most common mistakes that expats make when purchasing health insurance, to help you make the right decisions.

1. Taking your chances without cover

The worst mistake you can make as an expat is thinking that you don’t need health cover. Healthcare around the world can be extremely expensive and you can’t always foresee when you will need treatment. You might be young and fit, but taking chances with your health could leave you paying out-of-pocket for huge medical expenses.

2. Not disclosing your medical history

Unfortunately, during the enrolment process, some expats decide to not disclose details of their medical history, in fear that their application won’t be accepted.

Hiding information from an insurer is considered fraud and will result in future claims being rejected, meaning any treatment you need won’t be covered. In addition, non-disclosure could potentially stop you getting health cover in the future, even with a different provider.

Therefore, don’t take any chances and be honest and upfront in your application from the beginning, as it will save you money, and your reputation, in the long-term.

3. Ignoring your pre-existing conditions

Disclosing your pre-existing conditions is always the right thing to do. But another mistake expats commonly make is deciding not to cover them in their policy.

If you or anyone insured under your plan has a pre-existing condition that needs cover, it’s generally worth paying the additional premium to protect yourself for the future. The amount you pay will depend on the nature and severity of the condition. However, this figure will very likely be less than the amount you would pay to treat that condition, were you uninsured.

Some plans will cover pre-existing conditions and some don’t, so you need to find this out before enrolment.

4. Not planning ahead with maternity benefits

If there’s a possibility that you could have a child within two years of purchasing your plan, it’s definitely worth including maternity cover. This is because most insurers have a twelve month waiting limit on maternity benefits before the policy holder is able to claim for them.

Maternity treatment, including newborn cover and delivery complications, can be hugely expensive around the world, so coverage is essential for families – regardless of where you’re living. Plan ahead and you won’t be caught out uninsured.

5. Not balancing benefits with cost

Many health insurance providers offer cheap plans with low premiums. However, the reason these plans are cheap is that they don’t include comprehensive benefits, or involve a large payment on the side of the plan holder.

Health plans shouldn’t just cover hospitalisation and certain outpatient benefits and should support members with all aspects of their wellbeing, including mental health, security, emergency evacuation, chronic conditions and life cover.

Don’t settle for a plan that is cheap, as you’ll likely end up spending more on health treatment yourself, than you would have on a good quality plan in the first instance. You don’t know which benefits you’ll need until you need them, so a policy with comprehensive benefits is the best option for peace of mind.

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