International Private Medical Insurance or ‘iPMI’ is a subject that I have discussed here in previous articles. As you might imagine when you travel to live or work outside of the United Kingdom a major concern will almost always be safeguarding the health and well being of yourself and your family and regardless of whether the cover is paid for by you or an employer, iPMI is literally an essential purchase. When abroad on a long term basis there is no option to ‘fall back’ on the good old British National Health Service, and add to that the concerns about language and cultural differences then your health is really something that you need to have 100% peace of mind on.
In this article I will run through one of the key elements of iPMI cover – the Repatriation Benefit. This is the part of the plan that will pay for you to be moved from the country in which you are living or working, either back to the UK for required treatment or alternatively to the nearest location with access to effective, speedy treatment for you.
The repatriation cover is such an important part of your cover because although your iPMI plan is designed (with the proper initial advice from an intermediary like Premier Choice) to provide you with the very best range of health benefits to suit you in your current situation and locale, it is not always possible to predict how your health may go. Should you develop a condition that is more serious or complicated your local private healthcare treatment providers may not be the best place for you to receive your treatment. For example, I have a friend who is a US citizen who runs a busy IT business across the world and spends a lot of time working in Sub-Saharan Africa and Asia. He acknowledges that as a Westerner his basic healthcare needs could usually be met in most large cities in Africa but anything more complex or urgent and he would need (and prefer) to travel to either Western Europe or the USA fairly urgently. It is therefore vital that his (and your) medical insurance plan covers this key ability to move you from your domiciled country/location to the place to receive the right treatment if necessary on top of the standard core iPMI benefits.
So when taking out an iPMI plan it is most important to take this repatriation factor into account. As per my example above, although it is not a core medical insurance benefit as such, it is vital to know that if relevant cover is not available in your country of domicile that the insurer will cover the necessary travel and treatment costs for you. Imagine if you will for a moment you are struck down and appropriate treatment isn’t available locally and you have no repatriation cover – this kind of scenario really does not bear thinking about.
It is also worth considering two additional factors. Firstly, does the repatriation cover provide for a move back to the UK for required treatment or just to the nearest appropriate country ? Either option is preferable to having no repatriation cover at all but many UK citizens would prefer to come home rather than just the nearest country with adequate treatment facilities.
Secondly (and perhaps slightly more morbidly) it is also worth checking out what cover is available if you or someone covered on a plan dies whilst overseas. Most plans will cover the return of mortal remains to the United Kingdom but it is always worth checking that this is included. Covering the costs of returning a loved ones body back to the UK could be a terrible financial liability to the family at a truly stressful time if not covered by your insurance (several thousand pounds at least).
International PMI can be a complex product area, with more technical issues to consider for clients than standard UK PMI (which can itself be perplexingly complicated for the layperson). Premier Choice Healthcare has specially trained consultants qualified to provide specialist advice to clients world wide. Before you travel overseas, or if you think your current iPMI cover needs a sanity check please get in touch and we will ensure you have the best plan and the peace of mind where ever you are in the world.