Expatriate or travel health insurance?

It is important to know what your status is in the eyes of an international health insurer. The consequences can be severe.

1-What are the differences and why

A traveler (or tourist) is a person who temporarily travels to a foreign country.

The local health insurance of his country of citizenship does not cover him abroad, so he must purchase international travel medical insurance. Travel insurances are special solutions, adapted to international, an insurance policy issued in English, the insurer has a team of multilingual consultants, agreements with international hospitals, it is possible to arrange direct billing and is able to organize a repatriation from other part of the world.

These insurances are often not expensive for the following main reasons:

-it is signed only for the duration of the stay.

  • in the event of a serious medical problem, the insurer repatriates the insured to his country, where the local insurance he should have will take over. The international insurer therefore does not assume the risk of having to cover the cost of treatment over a long period (with rare exceptions).
  • finally, once the insured has returned or returned, the insurance policy expires. If the policyholder wishes to re-subscribe, for a new trip, all medical problems that he has had will no longer be covered.

-offers coverage for medical expenses for illness and injury only. Sometimes it only covers emergencies or even emergency hospitalization.

  • the maximum coverage is often quite low.

An expat is a person who lives abroad. He needs resident health insurance, often called expat insurance.

There are countless different contracts and insurers. Overall, here’s what characterizes them:

  • the contract is annual and renewable automatically (with exceptions depending on the insurers). The insurer therefore undertakes to cover the insured as long as the latter renews his contract every year. The insurer undertakes to cover all medical problems from the signing of the contract, and knowing that some contracts are for life, ie without time limits.
  • it is possible to find very large and very high coverage, including dental, maternity and health examinations.
  • the maximum coverage can be up to several million dollars, to cover the higher hospital costs.

-insurers can offer extended services, such as online portal for the management of accounts and claims, mobile app, telemedicine, second medical opinion, direct billing, insurance card, etc.

-You can benefit from much more personalized and quality customer service.

2-What is the problem

Most people who go to live abroad have well-defined situations regarding their status. But some situations are ambiguous. This is the case when a person lives in a foreign country for most of the year but maintains important links with their country of origin and travels there regularly. In these circumstances it happens that some people do not consider themselves expatriates. They continue to benefit from health coverage in their country of citizenship and are satisfied with travel insurance during their stays abroad. This is a risky situation. For example, expensive hospitalization abroad occurs. The insurer may decide to investigate and discover that the person is, in fact, resident in the foreign country, not a tourist, therefore not eligible for the travel insurance stipulated, and cancels the insurance. There have been several cases in the past 10 years alone.

This situation must be avoided because even if the insured finally succeeds in proving and convincing the insurer that his residence is still in his country of citizenship, he will probably have to anticipate all medical expenses and manage his repatriation himself before being possibly refunded.

To avoid this situation, I simply recommend choosing expat health insurance when the person lives most of the time in a foreign country. Therefore, the possibilities of litigation are excluded and in the event of serious medical problems the insured is better protected.