How to buy international health insurance – which company suits you best?

How to buy international health insurance – which company suits you best?

1st June, 2013

Choosing the best international health insurance provider

No matter where you’re moving in the world, international health insurance is a vital part of your plans. It deserves a place right at the top of your shopping list. But there’s a wide choice of  providers offering various levels of cover. How do you make sure the company you choose offers the right protection for your needs and can be trusted to protect your health and well-being if something goes wrong?

Identify the kind of cover you need

Your first step is to figure out what you actually need. You might want cover for just yourself or you and your family or if you have been given a local health insurance plan with work, then you might just want access to international healthcare for big health events.

We have found the simplest way to get to finding out what you might need is asking yourself four sensible questions you will likely already know the answers to:

  1. Do I need worldwide cover so I can access medical care anywhere in the world, including my home country, my new country and anywhere else I might want to seek treatment?
  2. Do I need outpatient cover, for example for GP or physiotherapy services?
  3. What about cover for dental procedures like checkups and fillings?
  4. Will I need access to routine maternity care?

The answers to these questions will help you pin down the kind of cover you want and the key benefits that’ll suit your circumstances best.  This means you can cut out suppliers who don’t offer what you want and focus on the ones who do.

Find out about the supplier’s service track record

A provider’s health insurance products might be exactly what you need, but a policy is only as good as the service you get when you make an enquiry or have to claim. It’s important to know about their customer service record. Do they respond quickly to enquiries? Do they offer service guarantees, so you can be sure they will get back to you and make decisions within a reasonable timescale? And how quickly do they pay claims?

International health insurance is a competitive sector and good providers are usually proud of their service records, which are one of their main selling points. You should be able to find out about service guarantees on their websites and if not, via email or telephone.

Establish whether you can manage your cover online once you’ve bought it

Many of our expat customers travel a lot, which makes online policy management very important. If that’s you, look out for providers who offer an online claims tracking service so you can check the status of your claim anywhere with an internet connection.

Check the insurer is financially secure

It’s always a good idea to check an insurance company’s financial strength and stability, and one way to do it is to find out who insures their business. It also helps to ask them how much experience they have in the international health insurance market, since some have a great deal more than others.

International credit rating agencies like Standard and Poors are also a useful source of information about an provider’s financial stability, and many are regulated by regulatory bodies, for example Financial Conduct Authority in the UK, the Dubai Financial Services Authority in the UAE or the CIRC in China.  It may not seem like an important point but regulators are there to ensure providers protect consumers.

Discover our expat country guides

Would you like to know more about expat living? Our free eBook, The New Expat, is full of useful information about the medical side of expat life, family matters, accommodation, financial arrangements and more. We also release specific Country Guides each month, full of the fine details you need to help you make the best decision and make the most of your new life.

Join the conversation

Do you have any questions about choosing the best health insurance provider? Just ask! You can leave a comment below or connect with us on Twitter: @now_health or on the Now Health Facebook page so we can share them with our readers.


Image source: BuzzNews Trends

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Alison Massey

Group Marketing Director

Now Health International

Alison Massey is a 15-year digital marketing veteran, who has spent the last seven years using social media to help expats and soon to be expats find out what to expect from a life overseas. An expat living in Hong Kong herself, Alison is the Group Marketing Director of Now Health, the award-winning international health insurance provider.

Contact Alison Massey

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