Health Insurance (International)

The term ‘international’ when applied to health insurance generally means a plan with an administration in the US/Europe and with a focus on providing cover to expatriates. Some plans are very expatriate-focused and will stop cover if you return to live in your home country, most especially if this is the US, Canada or Germany.

In the market, there are basically 2 kinds of international plans, namely those plans provided through:

* a managing agent with the responsibility for marketing, underwriting claims etc, with an underwriter contracted to provide cover for perhaps a 3 year period. An example would be ‘Aetna Global Benefits’, formerly ‘Goodhealth’, which acts as a HK managing agent for a French company, ‘Gan Assurances IARD’. Other similar examples include ‘BUPA International’ ‘William Russell’ and ALC (a la Carte)... all of which are technically intermediaries, rather than insurers in their own rights.

* an insurance company directly or via an intermediary working alongside the insurer.

Normally you will not be able to get a guarantee of renewal from companies like referred to in ‘1’, because they are not the insurers and because they cannot predict the fortunes of their portfolio and whether in the next round of negotiations with an insurer, they will actually be able to agree renewal terms. The second group of providers whose contract can be relied upon whether the intermediary who sold the plan is still serving them or not. This style of company is normally more prepared to issue a renewal guarantee, because everything is under their control.

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