• published on 6/12/2023
  • 5min

How to Choose the Right International Health Insurance

There are many details to consider when moving abroad, one of which is international private medical insurance (IPMI). This is designed to cover you for medical treatment when you’re living, working, and studying overseas, but it can be hard to know which provider to go with.

How to Choose the Right International Health Insurance

It’s important to find the right cover for your individual needs, so make sure you research things like out-of-pocket costs, whether the provider has a network of hospitals, and what additional services they include as part of their policies.

Think about the necessities

There are many IPMI policies on the market, so reflect on your priorities when looking at the particulars of a policy, as this will help you make an informed decision.

Some key considerations when selecting an insurance plan are:

  • Do you want access to a doctor or a specialist consultation?

  • Is maternity or dental cover important to you?

  • Are you travelling alone or with family?

  • Do you require a long-term policy? Or is short-term cover enough so you can save money on an annual policy?

Area of cover

Should you travel a lot, the area of cover included in your insurance plan could be important when choosing a provider. Some insurers can give you options on different cover areas depending on your individual needs.

Selecting a specific region for cover can make the insurance premium cheaper. For example, excluding cover in countries like the United States can mean you pay less, as treatment costs here tend to be very high. Discuss this with the insurer to see what options are available to you.

Visa requirements

Some countries stipulate that you must have international health insurance to obtain a residency visa. If this is applicable to you, it’s essential you ensure your potential policy meets the regulatory requirements of the desired country.

Consider out-of-pocket costs

Depending on what options you choose, you could face out-of-pocket costs for medical treatment. For example, the policy could contain an excess, which is a contribution you’ll need to pay towards your insurance claim.

This option could be suitable for you if you want to reduce the cost of your premium. The terms for paying the excess will depend on the insurance company, with some requiring it per condition and others per claim.

There could also be limits to the cover, so you would have to pay for some things yourself, such as out-patient prescription costs that might not be included in your policy.

Other amounts could involve the insurance company only paying a certain percentage towards the cost of your claim, with you responsible for the rest. This is a common scenario with optical and dental, so it is vital to check these details prior to choosing a provider.

Take your time when selecting an insurer, as missing out information could mean you won’t be covered if something goes wrong. To find out more about the cost of international health insurance, check out our blog.

Insurer reputation

Reputation is also vital when deciding on an insurer. Have a look at reviews for an insight into their customer service standards, as it is important the provider offers you a good experience and resolves issues promptly.

Claims processing times will vary, ranging from a few days to over a month in some cases. If convenience and quickness are a priority for you, check how long it would take for you to be reimbursed for medical costs.

Also, research how easily you can get in touch with them, checking if they have 24/7 accessibility, or what communication methods they use. Digital solutions are common in insurance companies now, with plenty of providers having apps to make processes smoother.

Network of hospitals

Lots of insurers have agreements with hospitals across the world to allow their policyholders to receive treatment with ease. Look through their website carefully for information about their hospital networks.

If you’re thinking of moving to a particular place, then finding an insurer that has partnerships with medical facilities in the area could be a deciding factor. Try and find out if they have local offices internationally too, as this could ensure the route to accessing treatment is easier.

However, other insurers may not place a limit on the hospitals you can use, which could be beneficial if you travel round a lot or live in a remote location. Ask the insurer to provide you with further information.

For more details on the benefits of international health insurance, have a look at our blog.

Additional benefits

Another thing to take into consideration is additional benefits that may be included as part of your cover. This can incorporate health assessments, vaccinations and out of area cover to name but a few.

Preventative medical care, such as health assessments, can spot health problems early, often comprising of checks like blood tests or measuring your blood pressure. Vaccination cover could also be useful if you’re likely to travel to countries where certain immunisations are a pre-requisite.

Other popular benefits include telehealth services, where you can get access to remote GP consultations from the comfort of your home. This could be particularly advantageous for expats living in remote areas of the globe.

Providers might also offer emergency and non-emergency medical evacuation, which is beneficial in locations where natural disasters or inclement weather are common. This would give you reassurance that you would be rescued in a potentially life-threatening situation.


There might also be some exclusions to be mindful of. Insurers will detail this vital information, like pre-existing conditions or treatment not deemed medically necessary, so be sure to read through everything carefully.  

Most insurers do not provide cover for pre-existing health conditions, but there are some underwriting options that could work for you. For example, if you’re moving to a different provider, you could sometimes choose to be covered under Continued Medical Exclusions (CME). This allows you to retain your underwriting and continue to be covered for the same conditions.

To find out more about our international health insurance solutions, click here.