Last updated 1 August 2016

Travel Insurance – Why Expatriates Need It Too

Travel PathAs a group, expatriates have more need for comprehensive travel insurance than many other groups of people. Here’s a look at why, and at the factors, which should determine your choice in a travel insurance policy.

Expatriate Explorers

Many of those who live overseas also travel considerably- not only to explore their new home, but also neighbouring countries. Consider those expatriates from the U.S. coming to Europe, used to having to travel vast distances to see any sight outside their homeland, suddenly have an array of countries on their doorstep. Living as an expatriate very often goes hand in hand with exploration of the region and expatriates want to make the most of a posting overseas by travelling as much as possible in a new area. 

In addition to exploring adjacent lands, people travel more when they are living overseas because they make regular trips back to their home country to see friends and family. They are also keen to show friends and family the sights of their new home when loved ones come to visit, and for those living near borders this can mean regular trips to other countries. 

National Health Insurance

When you relocate overseas, the healthcare system invariably differs from your base country. As a result, you need to have an international healthcare insurance policy to cover any medical treatment and healthcare expenses whilst you are living overseas, or your employer can cover you under their scheme. Either way, it is usually a national policy and crossing over a country border generally means that you can no longer rely on your existing health insurance to cover your total costs in the event of a medical incident. 

It is a good idea to check the restrictions of your existing international health insurance scheme to ascertain what, if any, medical expenses the policy covers outside of your host country before you finalise your travel insurance policy.
The Importance of Duration, Danger and Destination
The travel insurance cover you need depends on many factors. A primary factor is the length of your trip; travel insurance for a two-week holiday abroad is different from the policy you need if you are off on a vacation overseas for months at a time.
Another important factor is your destination. Some countries have a Reciprocal Health Care Agreement in place. EU member countries are entitled to treatment anywhere in the EU, Australia and New Zealand have a reciprocal agreement and there are many other possible options.
Aside from reciprocal agreements, the destination is also important in determining the level and elements of travel insurance you need. The more remote your destination is, the stronger the advice is to ensure you for emergency evacuation and air ambulance costs. Check before you travel if medical facilities are easily accessible in your destination.
You should also consider the nature of your holiday. The more adventure and action you have planned during your break, the higher the risk is of an accident occurring and the fewer insurers there are to choose from. Think about the particular risks associated with your chosen holiday location and activities and tailor your insurance policy accordingly.
Arm yourself in advance with information about your destination, potential dangers in your travel zone, and determine how the duration of your holiday influences your insurance needs.
Travel Preparation
To ensure you have the right insurance policy for your trips, take time to research the health risks associated with your destination. You can visit your embassy, consular or foreign office website for up to date advice about travel to your chosen destination.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) also lists health and travel risks, precautions you should take, infectious diseases and information about the health system for every country. The WHO is a good resource to start your research to ascertain the items and levels of cover you need in your travel insurance policy, as well as things you can do to reduce the risk of a medical incident whilst you are travelling. 


Related expat articles