One in four companies sending expats overseas are selling them short on medical cover, according to a new study.
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Although employers understand adequate private health cover is a priority for expats, many are failing to arrange comprehensive medical insurance.
And 16% of companies believed arranging travel insurance would safeguard their employees.
The research, by medical insurance firm Expacare, explains the difference between travel insurance and private health insurance for expats.
Travel insurance generally applies to tourists and last for a short period – often 30 days or less – and typically covers immediate costs of treatment and repatriation. An expat on a long assignment could face an insurer voiding the policy and a hefty bill for ongoing medical care for taking inadequate cover.
Health care benefits
Private health policies run for 12 months and are renewable, subject to terms and conditions.
Travel insurance costs less than private health cover, which is one of the reasons 25% of companies say they opt for the policy.
The risk of failing to arrange adequate cover affects any sick or injured expat and can come with a high price tag.
More than a quarter of companies (27%) confirmed they had to arrange medical evacuation for expats who could not find local treatment for their condition.
A similar number of companies had called an emergency medical helpline for assistance.
Although most companies realised their private medical insurance for expats should include 24-hour assistance, medical evacuation and a choice of hospitals and doctors, many were willing to pay more to include these factors in their cover.
Expat health at risk
Expacare also quizzed employers about general benefits packages for expats.
Around 33% considered relocation allowances were important, together with private schooling.
Managing director Beverly Cook said:
“Businesses know expanding overseas is important, but many lack the knowledge to arrange the right medical cover for their staff. This is a key factor for expats and travel insurance or relying on reciprocal treatment arrangement in the European Union just do not work if the expat falls sick or suffers an injury.
“Good health cover is vital and expats should not have to worry about the consequences of a long term condition once they leave the UK on assignment. Businesses need to read policy small print and look more carefully at the features of health cover they are arranging for staff because in many cases, they are falling well short of what is required.”
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