5 insurance essentials for expats

By David Seagon

Most expats are a dab hand at being resourceful, adapting to new situations and blending in to new cultures. But when it comes to finding the right insurance, they often come unstuck.

Part of the problem is that there is so much choice. The products, benefits and monetary limits can all leave you with more questions than answers. And if you think learning a foreign language is difficult, you want to try getting to grips with insurance jargon. Unless you know your shortfalls from your liabilities and your regulators from your ombudsmen, you can soon end up scratching your head.

As with any new purchase, the trick is knowing where to begin. So, to help you get up and running, we’ve put together five insurance essentials that we think every expat should consider.

1. Keep it simple

Insurance is all about protecting the things you care about and regardless of whether you’re looking to protect yourself, your family or your business, it generally falls into five main categories:

Health insurance – Private medical insurance
Life insurance – Critical illness cover, income protection and life cover
General insurance – Home insurance and car insurance
Travel insurance – Holiday cover and annual travel plans
Special risk insurance – Cover for everything from kidnap, ransom and terrorist attacks, to industrial espionage, suspicious death and false arrest.

By thinking about your needs, location and budget in these five areas, you can soon work out your insurance priorities.

2. Get in touch with a reputable broker

You may be used to sourcing your own insurance at home, but every country is different. So rather than taking an unnecessary gamble, it’s worth getting advice from an independent expert who understands the market, has genuine insight on different products and is prepared to negotiate hard on your behalf. With the right support, you’re likely to find the process quicker, easier and much more cost-effective.

3. Choose your insurer carefully

When you’re faced with a long list of insurers, it makes sense to go with a well-established local brand or an internationally recognised one, rather than an unknown alternative. For Medical Insurance, International providers offer a good level of cover and a strong service proposition to match, but for other insurances, don’t ignore local options that come with a recommendation, because they can also give you added value in terms of price, benefits and coverage.

4. Remember, one size doesn’t fit all

With so many products in today’s market, it’s important to choose a solution that’s right for you. Always match the benefits to your individual needs. For example, as an expat, you probably need international health insurance because it includes must-have benefits like repatriation cover. But when it comes to motor insurance you may be better off with a local provider.

Exclusions are an important consideration too. So, make sure you check the small print before you sign on the dotted line because some policies are more transparent than others. It’s also better to avoid cheap products with high excesses – the price may look good on paper, but they often come back to bite you when it’s time to make a claim.

5. Beware of the dangers of being under-insured or over-insured

It sounds obvious, but whatever you do, don’t pick your insurance policy based solely on price. Cheap insurance is a waste of money if it doesn’t cover what you need. So be sure to consider your options carefully or you could end up as the next insurance shortfall horror story!

Similarly, there’s no point paying for benefits you won’t use or having monetary limits that go way beyond your requirements. Being over-insured is a common mistake with people who are worried they may leave themselves short. But you simply end up paying more than you need to. Ideally you should be looking for a balance that gives you genuine value for money.

If you find these tips useful and want to know more about the different insurance options available to you as an expat, we’d love to hear from you. Get in touch with JWS today on +254 (0)709 455 000 or email talk2us@jwseagon.com