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Updated 29 Sep 2021

What is international health insurance?

Anyone moving or working abroad should consider investing in good-quality international health insurance for themselves and their family. Most international health insurance providers cover treatment for emergency healthcare as well everyday medical requirements, such as routine check-ups, dental care, maternity care, hospital visits and out-patient treatment.

International health insurance plans generally provide a better level of cover than domestic health insurance. Most policies will also include repatriation and evacuation where medical treatment is not available locally. The best insurance companies also offer on-the-ground support teams who can help you find your way around the local healthcare system and recommend English-speaking doctors and consultants in your host country.

Top things to consider when buying global health insurance

How large is the insurer's medical network?

You should choose an insurer that has a global network of medical providers that you can use without having to pay upfront. This insures quick access to care when using a hospital or surgery that is part of the insurer's global network of recommended providers. Well-respected insurers such as Cigna and Aetna give policy holders access to their global network of hospitals, clinics, doctors and consultants. 

Does your insurer offer 24/7 emergency support?

The best global health insurers offer telephone support 24/7, in English. Not only will this offer peace of mind, it’s also essential for emergency situations. 

Will you need cover in more than one country?

Many expats move from country to country, whether for work or leisure, and the best health insurance policies will cover you wherever you travel. That said, you must notify your insurer if your country of residence changes.

It’s usually best to use a global health insurer, rather than a local provider

There are good local health insurers in many countries, but as you repatriate or move from country to country, they will no longer be able to insure you and cover an ongoing illness.

Will a pre-existing medical condition be covered?

It is imperative that you declare any pre-existing medical condition when you take out a policy, or it won’t be covered and the policy may be void. Some insurers may decline to cover you or may exclude the condition, or ask for an additional premium.

Do you need emergency coverage, or a more comprehensive policy?

Some expats choose to self-insure their out-patient claims to save money on their policy, particularly in countries where these costs are minimal. This is not advised in developing countries, where your policy should cover medical evacuation. There are also some countries, such as the US, where out-patient costs can be exorbitant. 

Are you moving to the US?

We strongly recommend that expats moving to the United States get medical insurance before they arrive in the US. Including medical coverage for the US will increase your premiums, but it is considered essential by most expats. 

Request a free quote from Cigna Global, our recommended insurance provider to see how much you could save

If you're moving abroad, you should take out the best health coverage possible to insure you and your family are well taken care of. Cigna is one of the most respected providers of international health insurance. Visit their website to get a better idea of their global medical insurance plans. Cigna offers comprehensive worldwide health insurance tailored to the needs of expatriates and global nomads. They also offer round-the-clock support for you and your family, emergency assistance and the most extensive network of doctors and health care facilities. 

  • Global network of trusted hospitals, clinics and doctors
  • 24/7 member care
  • Plan tailored to suit individual needs
  • Eligible for all nationalities and all ages
  • Worldwide healthcare coverage available
  • High-quality international health plans for expats