How Expatriate Insurance Services can help expats living abroad

Anyone who has spent time living or working overseas is well aware of the need for health insurance to cover all those unexpected eventualities which can occur at any time. Most large insurance companies provide all manner of insurance policies which will cover expats, but it is better to go via a specialist insurance broker whose core business is in expatriate health insurance rather than in home, business or motor cover. Of course you may never have to claim on your policies, but if you do, Expatriate Insurance Services have a wide range of services and products to help.

Knowledge

The benefits of dealing with a specialist company like Expatriate Insurance Services are many, but one of the main benefits is that the company really knows what it is talking to when it comes to expat health insurance. The company directors have  been expats themselves and they work with a wide range of different insurers to make the very best policies available, whatever the situation and the country. When phoning a large general insurer to discuss the detail of a policy or to make a claim, it can be difficult to get through to the experts in that field. However, at Expatriate Insurance Services the nature of the business means that all staff are experts in the field and the knowledge is there at the end of the phone. The team are also aware of the different sorts of policies which may be appropriate at various ages, and can always find the very best cover.

Range of Cover

There are many different policies which expats require, from standard health and medical cover to more unusual policies such as kidnap and ransom insurance. Expatriate Insurance Services offer all sorts of policies for both individuals and corporations, so the company is a one stop shop for all insurance needs. Being able to have a dedicated team looking after your insurance requirements is far more efficient and less time-consuming than working with several companies at the same time.

Global Reach

Unlike many other insurance companies who cover certain geographical or market sectors only, Expatriate Insurance Services offers truly global perspective from a wide range of health insurers. Cover can be provided to expats wherever they live in the world, and however long they plan to be overseas. Obviously risk varies hugely depending on where expats are planning to live, but there are no regions of the world which Expatriate Insurance Services products cannot cover.

 

 

Why Health Insurance is important for British Expats in Spain

Spain has long been one of the most popular destinations for British people of all ages looking for a warmer and more relaxed way of life. It is estimated that around 750,000 British people are now permanently resident in Spain, and recent surveys have found that many are unaware of how to access state medical care, or are not properly covered with their own medical insurance.

State System

In many areas of Spain, the state provision is excellent, especially in the emergency medicine sector. Care can be offered free of charge to British people who are permanently resident in Spain as long as they have registered with the local authorities and have a “tarjeta sanitaria” or Health Card (also known in the UK as the European Health Insurance Card,  EHIC). The main barrier to being able to get this card is a linguistic one as all of the forms will have to be completed in Spanish, and many expats simply do not get round to completing the process. This card gives you the same rights as a Spanish citizen but not the same rights as with the NHS; you will have to pay for things like prescriptions which you may get for free in the UK.

Longer Term Care

The main way in which the State medical system in Spain differs from the UK system is in longer term care. The concept of the extended family in Spain still holds strong, and elderly people with complex conditions such as Alzheimer’s are more likely to be cared for by family than in the UK. There are not as many nursing homes or care homes, and services such as home helps or home carers just do not exist. These issues may mainly affect the elderly, but also can affect people recuperating from a major operation or with any other long-term condition. Also, many routine, non-emergency procedures such as hip replacement or cataract removal may not be covered under the Spanish state system.

Choice

Having private medical insurance in Spain gives you far more choice over where you are treated, who you are treated by and which services you can access. Private patients can choose to see a doctor who speaks English fluently, or to be treated in a hospital of their choosing rather than going to the nearest one. Misdiagnosis due to language barriers has been identified as a growing issue in the British expat community, so it is of critical importance that expats can access doctors who they can communicate easily with.

Repatriation

If health deteriorates to the stage where the expat wishes to return home to be closer to family for care, travel is not covered in any state system. As with travel insurance, private medical insurance can be used to cover the costs of an air ambulance back to the UK, or for other ongoing care such as carers or physiotherapy until the expat is well enough to travel home alone.

What Are The Pitfalls of Travelling Without Insurance?

Insurance is usually seen as one of those necessary evils that we spend as little time as possible thinking about. When money is tight, the temptation to scrimp on travel insurance or even go abroad with no insurance can be huge. However, when you think about the sort of things which people claim for every day of the year, it’s easy to see just why travel insurance is so important.

Medical Cover

Even within Europe, comprehensive medical insurance is a must. Should you be involved in an accident or fall ill overseas, the insurance company will take care of all of your medical expenses, including arranging for you to be flown home if necessary. Without proper insurance, travellers face either a huge bill for their medical treatment, or even worse, not being able to access medical treatment at all.

Cancellation and Curtailment

Holidays are one of the few things we pay for in full before we actually start to travel. A typical family will have paid thousands of pounds for flights, accommodation, car hire or a package holiday, and an accident, bereavement or illness can leave people severely out of pocket if they have to cancel their holiday. Holiday insurance can help to refund this money. Travel insurance can also help people out when they have to cut their holiday short to return home in an emergency situation.

Baggage

Airlines are keen to stress that you are less likely than ever to lose your bag, but this is scant comfort if you are one of the unlucky ones who lands on foreign shores with only the clothes you are wearing. Most travel insurance policies will provide funds to purchase the basics needed to get you through the few days until your bag finally turns up.

Emergency Helplines

Being the victim of crime overseas or being stuck in a foreign hospital can be scary and bewildering, especially when you don’t speak the language. All travel insurers will have a helpline open 24 hours a day which will allow you to speak to someone in the UK who can help you. Insurance staff can help put you in touch with local English-speaking lawyers or medical staff, and can make a very stressful situation easier to cope with.

Dangerous Sports

Most people who take out travel insurance are planning nothing more strenuous than lying on the beach, but if holiday plans involve skiing or rock climbing, the risks of injuring yourself are far higher than on a more relaxing holiday. Travellers who are planning on having a “risky” holiday but do not take out the correct cover, or any cover at all, are taking a major gamble with their health and wellbeing.

Why Wealthy Expats Should Opt for Kidnap and Ransom Insurance

Most British expats who move overseas live in established destinations such as Spain, France or Australia where the crime levels are broadly similar to the UK and there is no particular risk associated with living there. However, as companies expand their business globally and start to operate in high-risk countries, there is the possibility that staff could be sent to work anywhere in Asia, the Middle East or Africa, where crime levels can be higher and kidnap of Western workers is a real risk. For these companies and their employees, kidnap and ransom insurance is a must.

Where is considered risky?

Around 20,000 kidnappings are reported every year, and it is probably fair to say that the number unreported is higher still. Many areas of the world are considered very high risk for kidnapping, including post-war areas like Afghanistan or Iraq, but many other areas such as Eastern Europe, the Caribbean and South America have relatively high kidnap rates too. Anyone who is planning on travelling through these areas for business or pleasure, or living there permanently is well advised to take out a kidnap and ransom policy. Certain industries are more likely to suffer kidnap attempts than others, partly because they have employees who are better paid than average and partly because they often operate in high risk areas. These industries can include mining, construction, oil and gas or financial services but no company or industry is completely exempt from having their employees falling prey to kidnappers.

Individual or Business

Many businesses operating in these high-risk areas have corporate policies which cover employees, whether they are visiting short term or there for a longer period. In addition, many wealthy expats feel more secure with their own policy to protect them and their families. It should be remembered that someone who is not considered particularly wealthy by UK standards may find themselves a huge target when local standards of living are taken into account. Many large providers of expatriate or travel insurance have specific kidnap and ransom policies and these should be compared carefully before any decisions are made.

What Policies Cover

In basic terms, a kidnap and ransom policy covers the policyholder for any loss associated with being held hostage for ransom. The policy will typically cover any payments to the kidnappers, as well as compensation for any loss due to disruption of business, evacuation and transport home and protection for family members. In addition, having a kidnap and ransom policy gives the policyholders access to expert advice and negotiators, so should the worst happen, the family have a crisis response team on the end of the telephone or on the ground immediately. Insurers who are experts in this areas use specialist companies who can give advice on risk reduction strategies, and can work more effectively than individuals to have the kidnap victim released as quickly as possible.

 

Why Should Expats Return Back to the UK

The old saying is that the grass is always greener on the other side, and despite the fact that most expats are more than happy with the move abroad, a small percentage every year will return to the UK. Also, there are many people who are only abroad temporarily and whose intention always was to return after a couple of years. There are many good reasons for returning to the UK, although the exact factors will be different in every case.

Relatives

One of the main reasons for returning to the UK permanently is because of relatives. Sometimes it is simply homesickness, with expats finding it difficult to adjust to life overseas and not seeing relatives on a regular basis. Many families who move abroad discover that as their own parents age and develop health problems that they have no alternative but to sell up and move back to be closer in order to help out with day to day care.

Economic Insecurity

European countries which have historically attracted large numbers of expats are some of those which have been hit hardest by the economic downturn. Portgual, Greece and Spain are going through a period of huge uncertainty, rising taxes and plummeting property prices, and many expats have taken the view that they would far rather be back in the UK where things are altogether more stable, even if this means taking a loss on their foreign property and investments.

Health

Most of us make the move abroad when we are fit and healthy, and we don’t pay much attention to healthcare when deciding where to settle. Although the healthcare systems in countries like Spain and France is as good as here in the UK, being diagnosed with a serious condition can throw life into sharp focus and makes many expats reconsider their decision to live far from friends and family. Language barriers may mean also that expats prefer to return to their UK roots and have their treatment here.

Pensions

Gone are the days when the pound sterling was worth as much as 1.50 euros. Now we are lucky to get 1.2 euros to the pound, and for retired expats who are reliant on a pension paid in sterling, this is affecting their cost of living to the extent where they are forced to sell up and come home.

How Can Expat Insurance Help British People Living in Spain?

Living abroad isn’t all endless parties and lying on the beach. Although most people who move abroad do so for a better lifestyle that they can get in the UK, that doesn’t mean that all the day to day boring things like managing your finances can simply be forgotten. In order to make things a little easier, specialist firms offering expat insurance have sprung up in any place where there is a high concentration of foreign residents, such as the south of Spain.

Language Skills

Dealing with insurance can be complex and confusing enough in English, but when you are trying to compare policies in a foreign language it can be totally baffling. A specific expat insurance product or company can either offer policies written in English, or can explain and translate policies written in Spanish. If you ever need to claim on your policy, you will be able to deal with English speaking staff throughout the process.

Differences

An expat insurance company or underwriter will be staffed by people in exactly the same position as you. They will know the ins and outs of the Spanish legal system, and how it compares to that of the UK. They will be able to advise on what level of cover to purchase, and how best to protect yourself and your assets against things like fire, theft or even ill health.

Home Insurance

Many expats own a home in Spain and also have other properties which they rent out, or manage on behalf of others. There is special holiday rental insurance available through the expat insurance market which is specifically designed to cover houses which are let over the holiday period and this cover is essential for anyone involved in this market.

Car Insurance

Most expats living in Spain will take their UK registered car with them when they move, and only buy a Spanish vehicle later. Getting insurance on a UK registered vehicle can be very difficult unless you go to a broker working in the expat community, and they can also help get competitive insurance quotes when the time comes to buy the first Spanish vehicle.