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Insurance requirements to consider when you’re sending employees overseas
Posted on May 12, 2017 by Luther
There is a lot to think about when sending employees on overseas assignments. From travel arrangements to accommodation, office space and insurance requirements. It’s a great opportunity for both your employee and your company; they’ll get to experience a foreign land whilst your operations in the country will get a boost from their expertise and skills. However, there’s a great responsibility on your company to keep them safe when abroad.
A recent UK-based survey in the International Travel & Health Insurance Journal noted that only 7.8 percent of business owners were actually aware of the relevant insurance requirements involved in sending staff to work abroad. A majority of respondents, 67.3 percent, said they did not know what insurance requirements would be required while a smaller 24.9 percent said they weren’t entirely sure.
This week, we’re going to try and clear up some of the uncertainty around what you should consider about health insurance when sending your staff overseas.
Check regional insurance requirements
The first thing to check is whether insurance coverage is mandatory where your employee is headed, like it is in Abu Dhabi, Dubai and the US. If not, it can still be a good idea to consider what type of coverage might be essential for an expatriate staying in the country. An employee falling ill or injured can be disrupting to your business, but if they’re unable to pay for medical treatment when they need it - that can be worse!
A good source of information on a country’s laws can be their embassy in your country, or by contacting the department in charge of your embassies in foreign nations. Not only can they provide you with an idea of what foreign health insurance requirements might be, you might also find out whether or not your country has any reciprocal agreements with other nations that might grant your employee better access to care.
Assess the local healthcare system
Foreign health systems can be a mixed bag; some governments depend heavily on private, for-profit organizations to provide care whilst others may have hugely subsidized public systems that offer low cost treatments to different categories of patients. Common healthcare system examples include:
- NHS in the UK: A system that offers extremely low cost, state-funded health cover for a vast majority of individuals, which can include visiting expats with a legitimate right of abode in the UK.
- Couverture Maladie Universelle (CMU) in France: Expats in France are eligible to apply for the French national health insurance scheme, CMU, which provides coverage for around 80% of medical treatment costs, paid through local wages.
- European Health Insurance Cards (EHIC) in Europe: Citizens of the European Economic Area have access to the EHIC; identification that allows foreign nationals to receive medical care as a local would in other European Union countries.
- Reciprocal agreements, e.g. Australia: Some countries have reciprocal healthcare agreements that allow residents to receive essential medical care whilst in a host nation. Australia, for example, has agreements with 11 countries.
Beyond understanding the system of healthcare where your employee is heading, it’s also worth investigating just what they’ll be entitled to seek out treatment-wise and whether there might be other costs. Sometimes relying on local healthcare systems may not actually be enough to ensure your employee is healthy and able to carry out their duties abroad. This may be because of a short-term stay, visa restrictions or because of a poor standard of care in the host country.
As a result, UAE Medical Insurance would recommend securing an international group health plan that can help you meet your insurance requirements to your employee and the country they’re visiting.
Weighing up travel vs international insurance
Another option to consider is whether your employee should take a travel insurance policy, or whether a more comprehensive option might be necessary. Travel plans are generally for short-term stays of between 3 to 6 months, with some extending out to a full 12 months. They provide travel-related coverage too, for lost passports and luggage, but generally healthcare benefits are really only designed to see a patient well enough to fly home.
International plans, however, are extremely comprehensive and portable. They act as a health insurance policy might in your home country, but their coverage can extend to multiple countries or regions. If you have a requirement that your employee travel around a particular region, then an international health insurance plan can also help cut down on the admin required for taking out separate policies for each country they visit.
Does your company’s liability policy cover staff operating overseas?
Employer’s Liability Insurance is a must when a company takes on staff, but did you know that it may also cover employees undertaking duties whilst abroad? This is not true of every such policy but it is an option that some major insurers offer. There are policies available in the UAE that offer extended coverage to GCC nations as well, so it could save you money to check your policy to see what is covered.
The important thing to note is that your Employer’s Liability Insurance will act like it does in your country of residence; the policy acts to protect the company from liability for any accidents, injuries or legal issues that occur as part of your business. So an employee injured carrying out duties for your company overseas might have to bring action against your company for liability in order to seek compensation for any medical fees incurred with their care.
For this reason, we would still highly recommend securing health insurance for your employees travelling overseas. If not just for an easier reimbursement process, then at least to protect your integrity as an employer and not have the care and compensation of your staff dragged into legal disputes in order to continue your business as usual.
Seek insurance requirements advice from an experienced broker
If you’re still unsure about your obligations or you’d feel more comfortable with some expert advice, the team at UAE Medical Insurance can help you navigate the ins and outs of health insurance in any country. Their local team of advisors have more than 15 years’ experience in providing robust and affordable insurance solutions for individuals, families and businesses, while their international parent company, Pacific Prime, extends their capabilities worldwide through its seven global offices.
Your overseas insurance requirements won’t need to be massive undertaking if you use the right broker. Contact UAE Medical Insurance today for advice or a free quote for your staff working abroad.