Protecting what matters as an expat

Having the right protection in place is an aspect of financial planning that is often overlooked. While insurance could be more complex and costly when living abroad, it could protect you and your loved ones in the event of the unexpected occurring.

Adequate protection - or insurance cover - can provide peace of mind for you and your family. It means you can safeguard a desired quality of life for your loved ones and help avoid any financial hardship if long-term plans change through becoming unemployed, ill health or loss of life.

Types of cover

There are various types of personal protection policies available. In general, it's always important to ensure the cover you have is adequate for your circumstances and your family members know the details of what you have in place.

The type of protection available includes:

  • Income protection insurance - this kind of protection can provide an ongoing income if you are no longer able to work. This usually kicks in after a deferred period of time, and your premiums will usually depend on the length of the deferment period.
  • Private health insurance - depending on your circumstance e.g. your home and host country, you may be eligible to free or subsidised healthcare. The extent of this provision and the quality of local healthcare services are likely to be key factors in deciding whether to have private health cover or not. If healthcare is not state provided or subsidised, the costs of even minor or routine medical treatment can quickly mount up over time. When arranging cover, check whether the whole family is covered for investigations, outpatient and inpatient fees, hospital stays, transport to a specialist unit and repatriation. Such policies can be very expensive, so you may decide to pay a voluntary excess to keep premiums down.
  • Critical illness insurance - this will provide cover, within set criteria, in the event of a permanent disability or diagnosis of a specified, serious illness. Depending on the level of cover - which again can be altered if required - this could help to pay living expenses and the costs of moving if illness means you have to retire early.
  • Life insurance - these policies are designed to pay a lump sum if you die. You can choose how much cover you need, how long you want it to last, and change the amount and policy duration at any time, subject to the terms and conditions within it.

If your circumstances change, such as a move to an area with higher risk, it may be that existing cover isn't sufficient. Whilst some policies pay a cash sum if cancelled, others will not.

Equally, if you're relocating abroad with a company that provides insurance, read the small print carefully to check that cover is adequate and for which eventualities. If not, you may need to supplement it with your own policy.

Insurance provides a vital protection against the impact of unexpected events and should be tailor-made to reflect you and your family's needs and circumstances.

Global cover

Having the right level of cover is vital, so get an insurance assessment carried out. Over-insurance means that you are spending more than you need to on premiums, while being under-insured could lead to a reduced pay-out in the event of a claim.

Everybody has a set of individual circumstances that are clearly unique, and your cover will need to reflect this. For example, an accident in the family may result in higher medical costs for non-nationals depending on where you are, as will extras, such as an interpreter, if required.

For expats, it is likely to be important to arrange insurance policies that have international coverage. Always inform your insurance company if you move to a posting in a new country as the rate, level and type of cover may need adjusting. In effect, this could mean changing or updating your policy every time you move.

An easier solution could be to take out a portable policy that can move with you, wherever you are in the world.

Insurance provides a vital protection against the impact of unexpected events and should be tailor-made to reflect you and your family's needs and circumstances.

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