Things To Consider When Choosing An International Health Insurance Plan – Part 1

Most will agree that Insurance Contract can be a pretty complex document to comprehend and when it comes to Health Insurance things can get even more confusing with terms like Deductible, Coinsurance, Pre-existing Conditions Limitations, Exclusions, Waiting Period, Limits Per Claim, Limits Per Year, Limits Per Lifetime, etc.

The following are, in our opinion, some of the key features to be considered when choosing an International Health Insurance plan.

Insurer’s Financial Strength

There is no point having an insurance policy that covers “everything under the sun” but when it comes to paying claim the insurer can not meet her obligation. So, the first thing you should look for when choosing an International Health Insurance plan is the financial strength of the insurance company underwriting the risk.

You want to look for an insurer that has a credit rating of at least A or A- assigned by AM Best Rating Agency which means the insurer has “Excellent” financial strength.

Administrator’s Track Record

Unlike traditional health insurance plan that provides you coverage within your home country, International Health Insurance needs to cater you with worldwide protection wherever you are and whenever you need it. Hence, you want to make sure your plan administrator has the experience in covering worldwide travelers and able to provide worldwide assistance on 24/7/365 (24 hours a day, 7 days a week and 365 days a year) basis.

Here are some of the indicators for you to gauge your Plan Administrator:

  • The number of Members covered,
  • The number of Countries covered,
  • Foreign language capability of their Customer Service Team,
  • Availability of medical professional and
  • Last but not least, testimonials from satisfied customers.

Worldwide Assistance

When you are in a foreign land, you are facing the risks of:

  • Not knowing where to go or who to turn to when you have a medical situation in a foreign country;
  • Exposing yourself or your loved ones to sub-standard medical care that may further exacerbate your pain and suffering and putting your life at risk;
  • Emergency medical situations that may require you to be evacuated to save your life;
  • Emergency situations that develop due to act of war, terrorism or natural disaster

So, being able to speak to someone that speaks your language when you are in any of the above situations can be reassuring and in the case of emergency it can mean live or dead.

Ideally, your plan administrator should also provide a worldwide toll-free number for you to call for assistance from anywhere around the world.

Geographical Coverage

Due to the high medical costs in the North America, typical International Health Insurance will have 2 separate plans; one covers USA & Canada and the other excludes. Obviously, plans that cover USA & Canada cost more than those that don’t. So, choose a plan that has the geographical coverage that matches your overseas itinerary.

It is important to point out that if you are a US citizen living abroad, traditional sources of US private health insurance will not meet your needs. Geographical exclusions and provider limitations common to these policies will restrict or even eliminate the coverage available to you while you are outside the US.

If you are a non-US citizen, you may need an international medical insurance policy to supplement the coverage available to you through a plan sponsored by your government or to provide coverage while you are outside your home country. Or you may wish to have access to health care in other countries, including the US, in the event you become seriously ill.

In essence, if your lifestyle knows no geographic limits, you need an international health insurance that knows no boundaries.