Your step-by-step guide to getting the best expat health insurance plan
Health insurance policies are never one-size-fits-all and life circumstances have a habit of changing. The Local spoke to an expert from leading insurance broker ASN to help you get the best value bespoke insurance policy.
Many factors affect whether your current health insurance plan is still right for you. Moving to a new country, for example, could mean that your policy is no longer compliant. Even things that seem insignificant, like joining a football team, may require you to renegotiate your coverage.
We spoke to ASN’s Françoise Villoz to make sure you know the basics before taking out or renewing your health insurance policy.
Step 1: Take stock of yourself
Before negotiating your new policy, take note of any changes in your recent health status along with any other factors that might impact your insurance profile. These factors not only include illness or injuries but whether you’ve taken up a risky new hobby like bungee jumping or if you travel regularly to dangerous regions for work. Furthermore, if you have a medical condition for which you have been paying an extra fee as part of your insurance you might be able to get your health loading or medical exclusion dropped.
“If you have recovered fully from a serious skiing accident that happened ten years ago and have not required any treatment since recovering, then your insurance company might be willing to take the loading out of your contract,” advises Françoise.
It might go without saying, but before you get into the thick of the negotiation process, it is a useful exercise to ask yourself whether you are satisfied with your current provider. Delayed or partial (or too administratively complicated) reimbursement of claims, for example, might be reasons for you to consider looking for a new insurance provider partner. Similarly, if your premium has increased year on year, you may want to shop around.
Step 2: Research your options thoroughly
If you are satisfied with your current insurance provider (or don’t have time to trawl through all the other insurance providers out there), then the best way to renew your current plan is to call your current provider. If there’s been no change in your circumstances in the past year, then the renewal should be straightforward. However, if your current insurance provider doesn’t – or won’t – live up to your expectations, (or you simply want to find a better insurance provider for your specific situation), then you will need to do a little digging.
Françoise points out that insurance companies usually have specialist areas and coverage expertise, and while your provider can usually not refuse you a renewal, it might not be able to update your insurance to cater to your new circumstances. For this reason, a rule of thumb in the research process is to first check whether a company offers comprehensive and favourable coverage for all of your needs in each area of your life. If not, then it’s time to jump ship.
“If you have taken up a sport such as football or tennis you need to make sure when you do your research that your chosen insurance provider covers not only sports in general but your sport in particular,” warns Françoise.
Lastly, even if you are a picture of health and your life circumstances have stayed roughly the same, if you have moved to a new country, you must acquaint yourself with the rules and regulations of your new home. If you don’t, you might find out the hard way that your insurance is not compliant, and that you need to get an additional local insurance.
Step 3: Before you ring
Before you pick up the phone to start negotiating your new policy, there are a few things to be mindful of. No new provider will insure you if you’re pregnant (if you are, there is normally a ten- to twelve-month waiting period). Likewise, if you have cancer, you seldom have an option but to stay with your current insurance provider. Secondly, if you have a new medical condition, make sure to have all the details on the table in front of you, and be prepared to negotiate hard if you are looking to upgrade your policy. Before you begin browsing for a new insurance provider, be prepared that your options may be limited in certain countries – including the U.S. – and that, if you have relocated, your current provider might not have coverage in your new country of residence.
If your medical condition is severe – or if you have been refused an upgrade by both your current and prospective health insurance providers – you might want to consider consulting an insurance broker such as ASN International Insurance. Since brokers usually have strong partnerships with many of the major providers, in certain cases, this can mean the difference between getting a better bespoke policy or not.
“We have a big portfolio with many clients as well as strategic partnerships with many of the key insurance companies,” says Françoise. “Since it is in their best interest to maintain good relations with us, insurance companies are often more cooperative when clients with serious conditions are represented by one of ASN’s experts.”
When you receive your insurance proposals, make sure to carefully read both the general conditions (do double-check the cancellation terms!) and the small print of your contract. No-one’s trying to pull the wool over your eyes but you always need to be cautious when changing providers.
“Even if you have found a new insurance provider and you are sure they will take you on, you should never cancel your current contract before you have received final confirmation that your new provider will cover you as per the agreement,” says Françoise.
If you’re short on time but want a bespoke health insurance policy at the best price, consider getting in touch with an insurance broker like Françoise at ASN International Insurance. ASN does all the heavy lifting for you and will send your custom-built top three policy offers within two weeks.
This article was produced by The Local Creative Studio and sponsored by ASN.
This content was paid for by an advertiser and produced by The Local's Creative Studio.