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9 things you should know before taking out Expat Health Insurance

expat health insurance for australian expats

Whether it’s for work, family, or a new adventure, moving overseas can be a daunting experience, so having the peace-of-mind knowing that you’ll receive the same level of health care in your destination country goes a long way in making the move that little bit easier.

Wherever your travels take you, you can rest assured that you’ll always have the comfort of a familiar face and simple, expert advice with nib – so here are nine things you should know before taking out expat health insurance.

1. Where you’ll be covered

Expat health insurance policies will have restrictions on the countries in which you can claim for medical treatment. It’s common to be offered two options – worldwide cover including the USA, and worldwide cover excluding the USA –  so, the first and most obvious consideration is whether you require health insurance coverage in the USA.

One of the significant benefits when taking out an expat health insurance policy is that as long as your policy isn’t country-specific, you’ll have coverage wherever you go – whether it’s your new country of residence or a country you are travelling to.

2. Provider network and reputation

Expat health insurance companies will have a network of health providers that you can use; so when considering which policy is best for you, consider how reputable the insurance company is and how extensive the insurance company’s provider network is for the country or countries you’ll be residing in.

3. Continuous cover

Medical emergencies can happen at any time, making it so important to ensure you have continuous coverage with your health insurance coverage – even during the move abroad.

One way to make sure you’re always covered is to transfer your nib private health insurance into expat insurance. Existing private health insurance customers of nib in Australia can ensure continuity of cover by moving their Australian private health insurance across to nib’s expatriate health insurance policy – that way you’ll receive full credit for any waiting periods you’ve already served on your policy.

If you’re relying on government provided health care in your new country of residence, you may find that you will have limited or no access to subsidised medical care.

If you are planning on taking out local private health insurance, you may not be able to apply for it until you arrive in the country and are registered with the government (eg. have a health care or tax file number).   This means you may also need to serve out various waiting periods before being able to make a claim on certain treatments.

4. Medical evacuation

If you could be living or spending a significant amount of time in a region that has limited medical facilities, you may want to consider taking out an expat health insurance policy that includes medical evacuation.  ‘Medical evacuation’ means you’ll be covered for your evacuation to the nearest hospital where appropriate treatment can be given if it is unavailable at the location where you incurred the injury; however, it’s generally classified as an optional extra in many expat health insurance policies.

And, it’s not just relevant for those living in developed nations. If you will be spending time in remote parts of a country, it might be worth your while to consider medical evacuation as part of your expat health insurance.

5. Excess levels

Just like with private health insurance in Australia, with expat health insurance you may be able to adjust your premiums depending on the excess level you choose.  Your excess is the amount you contribute to any claim that you make (similar to how it works for your car or house insurance in Australia).  The higher the level of your contribution or excess, the lower the cost of your expat health insurance.

6. Extras cover

Whilst most standard expat health insurance policies only cover you for hospital in-patient treatment and emergency treatment, nib offers insurance for the Extras that many of us use regularly to stay healthy.  These Extras might include physiotherapy, dental, optical, preventative health screening, GP visits or vaccinations.

Because Extras don’t necessarily come as standard for expat health insurance, it’s important to review your policy wording and make sure you understand what you are and aren’t covered for.

7. Pre-existing medical conditions

A pre-existing medical condition relates to a medical condition that existed prior to taking out the expat health insurance policy.  Pre-existing medical conditions could include such things as diabetes, bad back, or even pregnancy and they may affect what you can get covered for – you might even have to pay an extra charge to get covered for pre-existing medical conditions.

Make sure you’re open with your insurer about any pre-existing conditions you have, because not disclosing the condition could impact your ability to make a claim.

At nib we assess your pre-existing conditions to determine whether you will be covered up front. This way you will have peace of mind knowing exactly what you are covered for.

8. Waiting periods

Health insurance companies require you to serve a waiting period when you take out a policy or increase your level of cover.  Waiting periods are common for treatments relating to maternity, pre-existing illnesses, or major dental work (if you have dental coverage).

9. Planning to have a family

If you have plans to start or grow your family whilst living abroad, make sure you take a close look at the maternity coverage of the expat health insurance policy. It’s important to be aware that if you or your spouse is pregnant at the time of taking out the policy, this may be classified as a pre-existing condition.

Most policies will required that you serve a waiting period before being able to make any pregnancy-related claims on the policy.

However, Australians that hold private health insurance with nib can roll over their private health insurance onto nib’s expat health insurance policy and get full recognition for any waiting periods served on their private health insurance, including for maternity cover.

You deserve the best. We will help you deal with the worry of unexpected medical bills so you can focus on your new experience abroad. Visit www.nib.com.au/expat-health for a personalised quote.

This article was sponsored by nib.  nib Expatriate Health Insurance provides international health insurance for Australian residents living and working overseas. It’s designed to give you the same peace of mind you get from Australian health insurance, so you can enjoy your new home without worrying about what would happen if you need medical treatment.

nib has partnered with the global insurer AXA. Through nib and AXA’s combined experience in providing reliable cover to millions of people in more than 80 countries across the world, you will gain access to a network of health providers wherever you are living and working in the world.

About the author


This article has been sponsored. Details of the sponsor of the article is contained within the article. The views expressed in the article are of the Sponsor and may not reflect the views of The Australian Expat Investor.

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