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Can private medical insurance mean the difference for a successful overseas placement?

Sponsored by APRIL International UK
30 January, 2013

While social, emotional and cultural factors are likely to be of central importance in determining the success or failure of an expatriate placement, access to comprehensive international medical insurance is also a key factor for many overseas postings. It can be vitally important to establish confidence that the expatriate worker abroad is well protected in the event of a medical emergency and as a result that he or she feels valued.

Overseas medical Insurance cover by definition only needs to be used in an emergency, so for the user, the most important factors are always the depth and breadth of the benefit schedules, how easy the policy is to use, i.e. to receive treatment, the quality of the support while an employee is abroad and how quickly medical bills are reimbursed.

Corporate international health insurance buyers now expect to be able to negotiate bespoke international group schemes for staff abroad such that differing levels of care and features are available in different locations for company staff so that costs can be minimised by tailoring cover to fit around and enhance local facilities. Group schemes are also expected to accommodate medical history disregarded options wherever possible.

For the corporate buyer of international private medical insurance services, these negotiations will be handled centrally, but for the contractor or freelance specialist requiring private medical cover, other factors come into play. Top of the list for many will be how easy it is to purchase cover. Clients will expect to be able to buy online and quickly, so organisations such as APRIL International UK have responded with a fast multi-currency online buying facility which shows quotes and levels of cover before offering online buying.

For families, overseas maternity and post maternity cover can often be the prime concern, with cover in place for both straightforward and complicated pregnancies, childhood vaccinations etc. For others, prevention is the priority, with the availability of pre-emptive facilities such as Wellness tests a requirement.

One area where insurers can offer significantly varying levels of cover is for chronic care conditions. Such conditions by definition require insurers to potentially pay out for the cost of treatment on a long term basis and many will try to cap this exposure. For the potential policy buyer therefore this is an important area to check policy small print.

Both individual buyers and companies are focussed on cost, particularly in the current market. Research illustrates frequently a need for cost reduction schemes, the most popular of which tends to be an option to co-insure or accept a variable excess payment, rather than to reduce cover. Premiums can be influenced by the level of cover taken or the geography coverage.  APRIL International UK policy premiums can be reduced by up to 50% through a range of voluntary excess options.

After scope of cover and cost, users of private medical insurance will want to know about service quality.  This might mean the speed with which claims are settled and refunded or it could be the ability to speak to trained medical support staff in your native tongue wherever you are in the world, whilst for others it may be the level of general support and advice available on the country where you are intending live. Insurers have now learned that all these softer service aspects are in fact an essential part of the overall buying decision.

For details of APRIL International UK's International health insurance plans visit http://en.april-international.com/united-kingdom



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With over 25 years' experience of supporting the international business community worldwide and clients from 86 nationalities in 114 countries, Medicare International - website www.medicare.co.uk - is a major provider of health insurance for expats across the world.

For details of MediCare's International health insurance plans visit www.medicare.co.uk, email medicare@medicare.co.uk or call 44 (0) 20 7204 3700.