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International travel insurance for expats: what you need to know

Aug 30, 2021 by Monica Garcia

Just as living abroad, travelling around the world is an incredible experience that you will forever remember. It also exposes you to new people, places, cultures, food, and much more. However, no matter where you choose to travel to, it’s good to consider taking out international travel insurance to ensure you are protected from unfortunate events that might happen. International travel insurance is a perfect way to stay safe during a trip, whether you need to cover your personal belongings or your own health.

Group of men in the nature during a trip

What is international travel insurance and why is it important?

By definition, international travel insurance offers cover for unexpected accidents or mishaps when travelling outside your country of residence for a short time. This insurance can protect you from certain minor losses, such as a delayed suitcase, to significant ones like a last-minute trip cancellation. We recommend ensuring international travel insurance right after you have completed your travel arrangements because you might have to cancel your holidays after booking but before actually leaving (for example, if you fall ill). During your trip, make sure you have the details of your insurance policy with you, including the policy number and the emergency assistance telephone number provided by your insurer. 

There are different types of international travel insurance, depending on the characteristics of the trip, where you are travelling to (Europe / worldwide), and the flexibility you might desire:

  • One-way travel insurance: particularly designed for expats that need to cover their trip to their new country. Once you arrived, you will have a specific amount of time to seek alternative cover.
  • Single trip travel insurance: protects you on a specific trip. 
  • Annual travel insurance: designed for those that frequently travel throughout the year and need more flexibility and freedom. 

As an expat, be aware that international travel insurance is meant to cover you while travelling, not when living in your new country of residence. If you are moving abroad, this kind of insurance might only cover your one-way trip and won’t work in the medium or long term (instead, you need to take out international healthcare insurance).

What does it cover?

Although the details of international travel insurance can differ between plans and insurance companies, most of them cover main eventualities such as emergency medical treatments, legal costs, loss or theft of belongings, and disruptions (delays/cancellations/evacuations/repatriations).  Most insurance companies also offer you the possibility to customize your plan by adding extra benefits to ensure that all your needs are covered. You probably have sport or business equipment to protect, or you will practice climbing or other activity that might be excluded in a standard plan. 

Be aware of exclusions

It is highly recommended to read in detail every policy to check what is included and excluded. It's the best way to know what will be covered during your trip. Most insurance companies in general exclude: lost/theft of unattended or non-well protected belongings, undeclared pre-existing medical conditions, risky activities, injuries from reckless behaviour, travelling to a location against governmental recommendations, or change of heart (cancellation of the trip because you aren't enjoying your holidays or don't feel like going anymore). 

Your international travel insurance and the EHIC card

As a citizen of the European Union, you are entitled to apply for the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) in the EU country you have settled your residence. This card gives you access to state-provided healthcare during a temporary stay in EU/EEA and Switzerland under the same conditions as people insured in that country. However, the EHIC is not an alternative to your international travel insurance, as it doesn’t cover any private healthcare or any costs arising from other accidents or mishaps. 

Girl sitting on a hammock

How to choose international travel insurance

As said, there are endless possibilities when it comes to international travel insurance. When choosing one, you need to take into account different factors besides your budget to ensure enough protection for your travel needs: 

  • How often you travel and for how long: as an expat, you may consider travelling more than once a year. This means that a single trip policy won’t be the most cost-effective in your situation. Moreover, some annual policies may include limits for the number of days you travel over the year. 
  • Where you are travelling to: some plans only cover destinations within Europe, and some others include worldwide coverage. 
  • What you will be doing: as mentioned, certain leisure activities might need an add-on in your policy. 
  • What you are taking with you: check that the policy limits and excesses* are appropriate for the value of possessions you are taking on holiday (including your documentation). In case of loss or theft, you should report this to the police before making your claim. 
  • People you are travelling with: you may be able to include the people you are travelling with in your insurance policy, even though this might affect the final price or policy terms. 
  • The cost of cancellation: Read through the circumstances where cancellation cover is provided, check that it meets the total cost of your holiday, and look for any excesses.

Other factors such as 24/7 assistance in your language, the claim policy, or documentation needed are worth checking and reading carefully before taking out your international travel insurance. 

How much does international travel insurance approximately cost?

The cost of your international travel insurance is determined by the factors mentioned above, including your age and your pre-existing medical conditions. For this reason, it isn’t easy to estimate an average amount that could fit all cases. 

However, one of the factors you need to check about the cost of your insurance policy is the excess or deductible. This excess refers to the amount that will be deducted from any claims that are paid out. For example, if you make a successful claim of €500 because your baggage got stolen and your policy excess is €100, then €400 will be paid out, as you are responsible for the first €100 (your excess). 

woman travelling with a motorcycle

International travel insurance and Covid-19

After the WHO declared the Coronavirus a global pandemic in February 2020, many insurance companies said they wouldn't cover COVID-19-related claims. However, this has currently changed in 2021, and it is possible to find insurances that cover medical expenses for COVID-19-related incidents (within a plan or as an add-on), with some exceptions (for example, non-essential travel)

Therefore, most insurance companies won't cover you if you plan to travel for leisure against governmental recommendations. If your country removes your destination from the approved list after your booking or while you are on holiday (and got the insurance beforehand), your policy should still stand. Moreover, your policy may get extended if you are forced to stay at your destination due to reasons out of your control (if you are required unexpectedly to quarantine). In any case, it's unlikely that the policy covers other COVID-related issues that are not related to medical care or repatriation (like your flight or hotel cancellations). 

However, Workwide Recruit recommends checking how different insurance companies are currently handling this situation before taking out the insurance. The situation varies from day to day, and insurance companies modify their plans and packages depending on what currently happens in the world. 

Workwide Recruit’s selection - International travel insurance from Expatriate Group

Travel insurance is one of the aspects that we often overlook when we plan our holidays, despite being one of the most important things! In the same way that you wouldn’t drive your car without car insurance, you wouldn’t take the risk of travelling overseas without international travel insurance. Not only for saving you tons of money but also for avoiding feeling lost if an emergency or mishap happens. 

For someone living abroad that frequently travels, the international travel insurance from Expatriate Group could be a great option to consider. Whether you want to be covered throughout the year to visit your family, a single trip to your new destination, or just for those well-deserved holidays, their international travel insurance will cover emergencies and medical treatments while you’re abroad. The key benefits of their policies are:

  • Emergency Medical Evacuation
  • Emergency & Accidental Medical Treatment
  • Enhanced Protection
  • Cancellation & Curtailment Cover

You can also tailor your travel insurance according to your needs by adding extra features like ski or golf equipment protection. Expatriate Group is right by your side, keeping you safe so that you can travel overseas in peace without worrying too much about what might happen wherever your travels take you! Get a quote today to know which plan fits your travel needs better!