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Health insurance for expats: What employers need to know

28 November 2018 - 12:04pm

Expanding your company overseas is one of the most exciting moments in the career of anyone in business. 

However, sending your staff to work in other countries presents some unique challenges - most importantly keeping them safe

This article will provide you with vital information on providing private health insurance for Australian expat employees, and how to avoid common pitfalls.


Health insurance allows your to protect your staff while they work overseas.Sending your staff to work overseas is exciting, but you need to be sure that their health is protected.

1. Health standards around the world differ greatly

Australia is a great place for foreign workers to come in terms of medical facilities, ranking 4th for health care experiences in the global HSBC Expat Explorer survey. This is ahead of many well developed business-friendly countries including the United Kingdom, the United States and the United Arab Emirates. 

 However, the same should not be expected by your workers when they head abroad.

The standards and the costs associated with requiring medical assistance vary hugely depending where in the world your staff go. For example, in the United States a three-day stay in hospital costs around USD $30,000 on average for an individual without cover, according to federal government website HealthCare.gov. While public health systems as we understand them don't exist at all in some destinations, or are of much lower quality. 

A three-day stay in a U.S. hospital costs on average USD $30,000 for an uninsured individual.

Add to this knowledge the distress that accompanies falling ill or having an accident abroad, and you can understand why your staff would feel uncomfortable getting on a plane without a solid insurance plan behind them.
In the most serious cases you also need to consider the expense of getting your employee back to Australia for further treatment. At short notice, and given that the individual will likely require care while in transit, the costs can be astronomical.
For this reason many countries, such as those in the so-called Schengen group in Europe, require an appropriate level of health insurance cover before granting work visas. Having this knowledge, and getting comprehensive cover in place from the outset can, therefore, prevent costly delays further down the line.

2. You have a lot of choice for insuring your employees

There are approximately one million Australians working and living abroad at any given time, according to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. With such great demand, it's no surprise that insurers have developed a wide range of insurance policies to choose from.

While having options is useful, it can also make it difficult to identify the policy that's most suited to your business and employees. This is exacerbated by the fact that policy terms can diverge greatly between providers, adding to the complexity of making valid comparisons. 

This is where an independent broker like HICA can help. We have specialised in expatriate health insurance for many years and understand the complications that can arise.

Our service includes a free, no-obligation consultation which enables us to discover the unique needs of your company, and present you with options that meet your requirements. By doing this you save the resources and time that it would take to do this research yourself, and benefit from our team's expertise.

With a large directory of underwriters at our fingertips, and a knowledge of the common terms and conditions that often catch employers out, you know that the cover choices we provide will meet your needs.


There are many options when it comes to insuring Australian employees overseas.An independent broker like HICA can help you sift through the wide variety of options for expatriate insurance.

3. Think about how you plan to manage claims

Perhaps the biggest challenge that comes with buying health insurance for expatriate employees is managing claims. 

Navigating the minefield of insurance claims can be nightmarishly complicated even for incidents that occur on domestic soil. However, when you add in the middlemen associated with an overseas setting, this issue evolves into an entirely different beast.

Claims management is one of the most complicated elements of insuring expat employees.

As well as your concerns, and those of the individual worker, you also need to coordinate efforts with both the insurance company and the foreign medical provider. 

This involves establishing whether the injury or illness is covered by the insurance policy, what assistance was provided, and a firm idea of the costs of this assistance. With the addition of time differences and language barriers, this process can quickly become complex and time consuming.

Managing claims in instances such as this is one of the most important services offered by a competent broker. At HICA we take responsibility for making the above processes as straightforward as possible, liaising with the relevant parties to ensure resolution is reached smoothly and effectively.

4. How can you get the best insurance for overseas staff?

The single most important step for Australian employers looking to insure overseas employees is seeking professional advice.

While it's possible to do your own research and purchase a policy, if due care isn't taken you can create all kinds of headaches for yourself further down the road. 

For more information on how HICA can provide unbiased, expert help on the best course of action for your business, get in touch with our team today.