Buying a private, global, quality policy to cover your family and yourself can seem daunting and confusing for expatriates. Others may see it as a hassle, or as an extra expense. Whatever your perspective, I will tell you why you need coverage (catastrophic or not) and the 7 lifesaving secrets you should know before you buy a private global policy.
1) Do your research on the financial strength and claims-paying ability ratings of companies you are considering. Never choose a company that has a rating below A (excellent) from Standard & Poor’s.
2) The Broker/Client relationship has been my greatest asset since 1992. It has saved the lives of many clients. Even with automated online applications and quotes, where the client may not know who their representative is, I always call or email my clients to introduce myself to them and let them understand that I am here to help during any event. This includes helping to coordinate air evacuations, answering any questions, and following up on any claims reimbursements. Example: A client I worked with lived in Venezuela’s oil fields. He was not near a hospital but closer to clinics. John, my client, suffered a major heart attack. He needed immediate help to save his life and to provide him with a quality life. His wife panicked and called me on my personal phone. He could not help but tell her to fly him to the USA for life-saving bypass surgery. I called my insurance company to arrange the air evacuation roundevue. Within 24 hours, the plane was on the ground and medics were able stabilize John and fly him directly to Houston, where they performed a quadruple bypass. 26 months later, John is still in great shape. He plays 18 holes of golf per week, and just recently told me that he will be dove hunting. John paid $ 5,000 USD for his deductible and the insurance company paid all the rest. Oh! It is important that you have a broker who is available to help when you need it. Your chances of survival depend on it.
3) Select a plan that gives you freedom to choose a doctor or hospital worldwide. Some plans limit your choices and pay only claims if you visit a doctor or hospital within the company’s network. A client may want to travel to John Hopkins, the USA, or Assistance Publique Hopitaux de Paris, France. While some plans offer extensive networks of hospitals within the USA and Europe, you will need to pay an additional co-insurance if you choose to travel outside the network. However, you still have the option and you are not bound by one.
4) Expats who are living in or traveling from their original country of citizenship should consider purchasing a policy that includes evacuation.
In today’s world, clients must be proactive about understanding the exclusions and benefits of their Private Global Medical Policy. You must see yourself as an insurance company partner. This includes not filing fraudulent claims and informing them ahead of time when you will need to have future procedures or surgeries. It is your responsibility to understand the benefits for life and the maximums for any other benefits. You can also take advantage of the $ 150 USD-$ 500 USD annual check-up benefit that most insurance companies reimburse starting at the first dollar. You will be able to make the most of these programs if you take the time to review them. It is illegal to walk into a hospital or specialist office without informing your insurer. Over the 16 years, I have seen some borderline criminal malpractice in various parts of the globe. One time, a client suffered a small tear in their ACL. The doctor wanted to do reconstructive surgery right away. Another client was suffering from lumbar herniated disc. Pre-certification is when you inform the insurance company that you have requested surgery. If you are involved in an accident, the insurance company doesn’t need to approve it. However, for procedures you know about in advance, you can avoid heavy penalties for paying or getting reimbursed. To understand the policy you don’t need to be a lawyer. Ask your agent to explain the basics and what the policy details say.
6) Complete the application correctly. It is not a good idea to discover that your doctor has prescribed immunodeficiency medication one year after activation. Once the insurance company finds out that you have been to the doctor 3 years prior (by asking for past medical history), they will deny your claim. Your agent should be consulted about any medication you are taking or pre-existing medical conditions. My company represents many quality insurance carriers. I know from experience which company is best suited to insure my client, regardless of their medical condition.
7) Policies that include USA coverage. As I said, Latin America and Caribbean are wonderful places to live…but I don’t want to die or be treated for serious illnesses there. You should ensure that your policy covers all areas within the USA. However, if you’re a resident of another country and have never traveled for pleasure or business to the USA, then USA coverage might not be necessary. You can purchase temporary travel medical coverage that covers you inside the USA if you travel to the USA on business or pleasure.
Let me conclude by saying that there are many options available for expatriates. These include local plans that promise global benefits and newly established, low-financed companies that offer policies I wouldn’t want my dog to adopt.