Health Insurance needs for Americans Living Abroad

When you move overseas you leave more than friends and family behind; your domestic health insurance policy stays behind too. At least a month before you leave on your trip, you need to secure a traveler’s or overseas policy that is renewable up to the amount of time you plan on staying abroad.

Different travel insurance companies focus on different types of overseas travel. Some companies only insure short vacation stays, such as seven to fourteen days. Other companies will insure shorter stays with options of renewing up a certain threshold, such as three months. Finally, there are companies that specialize in stays six months or longer. Of this latter category, there are three main insurers specializing in covering Americans living overseas: HTH Worldwide, International Medical Group, and MultiNational Underwriters.

Why not look into companies based and operating in the country your emigrating to? If you plan on moving permanently, then that might be a good decision. However, if your stay is not permanent, then insuring with an American travel insurance company has distinct advantages. First, U.S. law regulates the company, which is stronger than insurance law in many other countries. Second, there won’t be any translation issues or cultural gaps to worry about. Third, if you visit the U.S., your foreign policy won’t cover you (as discussed below, your U.S. traveler’s policy may cover you to a limited extent when you return “home”). Fourth, if you will still be paying taxes in the U.S., your overseas insurance policy might be tax-deductible.

If you plan on returning to the U.S. after moving, you may want to consider keeping your domestic policy too. The reason is that U.S. based travel policies will cover you while you’re living overseas, but if you come back on business or to visit family, you might not be fully covered. Ironic, but true. Some policies will cover you in the U.S., but only for a certain number of days. Like most things, the devil is in the detail of your policy and you need to read it carefully to make sure you know the in, outs, and loopholes.

A person in their thirties should expect to pay around $300 per month for an overseas policy. Add $100 for each ten years of age over thirty up to age seventy-four. If you are moving for business, your company should be able to secure business traveler’s insurance. Check with the company’s benefits office. A policy through your business will likely result in substantial savings.

Moving overseas can be daunting. You can take some of the stress out of the equation by securing insurance before you leave. By choosing a U.S. based overseas insurer, you are picking a partner who has experience helping Americans in foreign countries. You might not know much about your new home, but they will.