Sally Hart: International PMI has its challenges

An expatriate assignment is a substantial investment for the employer and a significant life change for the employee, so it is critical to get things right, and health insurance is a key factor in the reward package.

Employers must balance cost and benefits. International health insurance is expensive, and costs can be managed by introducing individual excess amounts or by limiting cover where appropriate.

Size matters to providers. Organisations with more than a few expatriates may be able to have medical history disregarded; those with more than 100 may be able to create a customised package. But those with only one or two expats may find it hard to find a provider.

Clear communication is key. An expat needs the peace of mind to know exactly what is covered, and a good plan should provide a 24/7 support line in the expat’s own language.

Local knowledge is critical. Most providers package insurance by region, but it is vital to review the actual facilities available in each country the assignee will visit. Good local advice will ensure a high standard of care and all regulatory requirements are met.

Sally Hart is executive director of the International Benefits Network