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Expat travel insurance


08 May, 2019 By Crystal Moran

Living overseas can be a fantastic adventure, and more and more Australians are doing it every year. Are you looking for expat travel insurance? Expats living overseas can risk huge medical bills by choosing invalid travel insurance policies over proper expat health cover.

Understanding the differences between travel insurance and medical insurance can help save expats and their families a huge burden down the track.

Do you need travel, already overseas or expat insurance?

Travel insurance is for if you are going on holiday - usually for between one and 365 days, but sometimes longer - and plan to come home to Australia.

If you do reside in Australia, but you're already overseas and forgot travel insurance (or you had a policy which has expired), you're looking for Already Overseas travel insurance.

If you're an Australian but you don't normally reside here, then you're probably looking for expat medical/health insurance, also known as international health cover. Unless you normally reside in Australia, most travel insurance policies simply won't cover you. Even if you successfully buy a policy online, it is likely to be invalid as the policyholder doesn't normally reside in Australia.

Reports from insurers suggest that expat haven and road-accident hotspot Bali is notorious for expats buying the wrong type of policy; lying in a hospital after a motorbike accident is a terrible time to discover you aren't covered. 

Travel and expat insurance differences

If you live permanently overseas, most travel insurance policies will be invalid. The medical component of travel cover only covers for unexpected medical emergencies for people on holiday. Often insurers may also evacuate travellers back to Australia if they believe the medical care will be better or less expensive - which can be a problem if you don't live there anymore! Comprehensive travel insurance also covers for trip cancellations and luggage cover. 

Expat health insurance not only covers for unexpected medical emergencies, but also often includes cover for regular check-ups, medication, and you can often add cover if you'd like to add dental or maternity care, or the option for medical evacuation back to Australia.

Who offers expat health insurance?

General Advice Warning: The contents of this article were accurate at the time of writing. Insurers change their policies from time to time, so some information may have changed. You should always read the Product Disclosure Statement of your chosen insurer to understand what is covered and what isn't. The information provided is of a general nature only and does not take into account any personal objectives, financial situation or needs.

Beware of bad advice online 

Insurers tell us that many Australians living overseas are buying travel insurance, rather than long-term expat health insurance. Often, expats cite recommendations from friends, social media, and travel forums, as well as the far too common practice of not reading the policy documentation as the principle reasons for buying these invalid policies. 

What happens if my policy is invalid?

Insurers are increasingly using immigration information, social media posts, and even utility bills to determine whether travellers live in Australia, or if they have a policy fraudulently. If you have purchased a travel insurance policy but live overseas, your policy will be invalid, and your insurer will have the right to decline your claim. Don't risk eyewatering medical bills - check the Product Disclosure Statement and make sure the product is right for you.


Contributor Crystal Moran

Crystal Moran

With a research and journalism background, and certified in Tier 2 General Insurance General Advice, Crystal is passionate about investigating customers’ tricky travel questions and helping them find the answers they’re looking for. A writer and filmmaker whose favourite trips have been to film festivals in Cuba and South Korea, and campervanning around the USA, she loves getting to know new people and seeing a glimpse of the world through their eyes.

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