In the past few weeks, we have had a lot of enquiries from clients and prospective clients asking us if international health insurance would cover them in the event that they contract the coronavirus Covid-19. In a nutshell, the answer is yes. But the situation is a bit more complex. What happens, for example, with the travel restrictions currently in place? Living abroad as an expat in these exceptional times raises a lot of questions around medical cover. We will try to cover them in this post.
- Will my international health insurance cover me if I’m diagnosed with coronavirus?
All international health insurance companies Expat Assure has a partnership with cover the costs of treatment for Covid-19 in the same way as they would any other viral infection.
The conditions vary from insurer to insurer and you should read your policy for more details. For example, if you need out-patient care, you’ll need to have out-patient cover included on your policy.
It’s also important to note that you might not be covered depending on your medical history and any exclusions in place on your policy.
Other insurers may have exclusions in place for pandemics which would exclude Covid-19. Whichever health insurance contract you have, it’s important to read their general conditions to see if your plan will cover you for this pandemic and any future ones.
- I have Covid-19, but I’m not insured. Can I get health insurance to cover my treatment?
If you are presently infected with Covid-19 and you don’t have any health insurance in place, then you will not be able to purchase a plan that covers your current condition. If you had Covid-19 and are now clear of the virus, the likeliness to be covered for it or have an exclusion will depend on each insurer’s terms and conditions but also on how severely you have suffered from Covid-19. Like with other medical conditions, insurers don’t have a blanket approach and your application will be studied on a case-by-case basis.
- Do health insurance plans cover for COVID-19 testing?
First of all, if your expat health insurance policy includes cover for routine screenings, the cost of a Covid-19 test you’ve had may be eligible for reimbursement from this benefit. However, some insurance plans don’t include this benefit. If your policy does not cover routine health screenings, then a Covid-19 test will only be covered by your international health insurance plan if you have symptoms.
- Are masks and protective equipment covered by private health insurance plans?
No, private medical insurance plans do not cover costs for items such as gloves, masks and sanitiser.
- Can I have a video doctor’s appointment with my international health insurance policy?
As face-to-face consultations are currently not recommended due to the risk of propagating the virus, many international health insurance companies are now reimbursing tele-consultations. However, it is important to note that certain insurers are only covering tele-consultations via an approved mobile app service, so it is important to check your cover in advance.
- I live abroad. Am I able to use the evacuation and repatriation benefit if I become ill with coronavirus?
In theory, if you are covered for medical evacuations, this would be arranged if suitable treatment is not available locally. Regarding COVID-19, it could be, for example, a real difficulty in breathing, in a country without well-equipped intensive care units. In practice however, the benefits for evacuation and repatriation might be affected by the international measures put in place to contain the pandemic, such as closure of borders and travel restrictions. Some local governments may also insist on local treatment, within their quarantine framework.
To support their customers during this difficult time, some insurance companies have exceptionally extended their emergency medical cover for their members who are in in a country outside their area of cover and can’t travel due to the pandemic.
Please note that if you’ve travelled to a country against the advice of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), you will not be covered for any treatment of Covid-19.
International health insurance companies also don’t cover non-medical evacuations and repatriations for expats who want to go back to their home countries during the pandemic.
Here is a list of useful websites for information on the coronavirus outbreak, and information from international expatriate health insurance companies and UK private medical insurance companies.
Specific Covid-19 information from international health insurance companies:
UK Private Medical Insurance companies Coronavirus information:
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We build partnerships with reputable insurance companies who are long-established in the expatriate insurance industry. All the international insurance companies we work with have both individual and corporate plans. Find out more about our partners here.
- An immigration health surcharge for long stays in the UK - Visitors staying for more than 6 months in the UK must pay an 'Immigration Health Surcharge'. Since Brexit, European citizens are also included.