Insurance For Moving Abroad
Upping sticks for a new home in a new country is a move that’s bound to bring numerous rewards but it’s also a brave decision. Such a big change in one’s life necessarily comes with a considerable amount of stress and anxiety, whether you’re making the move by yourself or with your loved ones. One way to counter some of this anxiety is by arranging appropriate insurance – a safety net to protect against the worst when things go wrong (and to give you peace of mind even if they don’t).
There are several types of insurance of interest to international movers: medical insurance, life insurance, home insurance, car insurance and shipping insurance.
We cover shipping insurance – which protects against the eventuality of your belongings getting lost or damaged – in this guide.
The necessity and availability of the other types of insurance vary from country to country so here we’ll tackle our 5 most popular destinations in turn.
Insurance in the USA
Insurance companies in the US are regulated at both state and federal level. Because regulations differ among states most large insurers are groups of insurance companies with different companies operating in different territories.
Health insurance is possibly the most important form of insurance in the US since healthcare is almost completely a private affair. Many US residents will be covered by the group health insurance scheme of their employer but, where this is not available, it’s necessary to take out an individual or family health insurance policy.
The five largest health insurance providers are:
1. Unitedhealth Group
2. Wellpoint Inc. Group
3. Kaiser Foundation Group
4. Humana Group
5. Aetna Group
But the largest companies don’t necessarily offer the best policies. Comparison sites exist to compare policies. You should pay particular attention to the amount of coverage offered and treatments for which you’d have to pay extra.
Life insurance premiums are not deductible against income tax in the US but neither are any payouts subject to income tax. The largest life insurers are MetLife, Prudential and Lincoln National but, again, big doesn’t necessarily mean better so be sure to shop around.
As in the UK taking out homeowner’s insurance is normally insisted on by mortgage lenders. Unlike in the UK, US home insurance doesn’t usually cover subsidence. Home contents insurance is not mandatory.
Car insurance in the US is mandatory in all but 3 states – Virginia, New Hampshire and Mississippi.
Each state where insurance is mandatory has its own minimum insurance requirements. In addition, some states allow you to take out ‘no-fault’ insurance where insurers pay the cost of all minor injuries resulting from an accident regardless of whose fault it was.
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Insurance in the UAE
The status of certain types of insurance within Islam is hotly debated and so you’ll find that most of the largest insurance providers in the UAE are Western companies.
Private medical cover is a condition of entry to Abu Dhabi and the other Emirates are fast approaching a compulsory health insurance model. Once you’ve purchased your health insurance you can apply to the Health Ministry for a health card which allows you access to the state system in an emergency. For non-emergency care, you’ll be restricted to using private facilities.
Established insurers in the UAE include Nexus, Al Nabooda and Daman.
Buildings insurance will normally be a condition of mortgage borrowing. Contents insurance is not mandatory but an increasing prevalence of fires and burst water pipes in some of the more hastily erected apartment buildings of Abu Dhabi and Dubai might make it a smart choice.
Car insurance is mandatory throughout the UAE.
Insurance in Australia
In Australia, the markets for life insurance, property/auto insurance and health insurance are almost distinct.
The Australian government provides basic universal health coverage but middle to high-income earners are encouraged to take out private medical insurance. If you earn over $75k and don’t have private insurance you’ll have to pay an additional 1% Medicare levy (on top of the standard 1.5%).
Three large life insurance companies are AIA Australia, AAMI Life and AMP Limited but the comparison website market is pretty mature, providing ample opportunity to shop around.
Insurance Australia Group, Suncorp and QBE Insurance are the major players. Again, comparing quotes online is recommended.
In New South Wales, the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory Compulsory Third Party Insurance, from one of five licensed providers, is mandatory. It’s also mandatory in Queensland but you can buy insurance from any provider.
In South Australia, Western Australia and Victoria third party insurance is included in the vehicle registration fee.
Insurance in South Africa
Due to the relatively high crime rate in South Africa insurance of all types tends to be more expensive. The insurance market is mature with a lot of competition so it’s easy enough to shop around for the best policies.
An oversubscribed public healthcare system means that private health insurance is very much recommended for expats. The standard of care in private medical facilities far outstrips that of the public system. Discovery Health is the major local health insurance provider while Bupa International provides the lion’s share of expat policies.
Insurance comparison websites can help you find the best policy.
Again contents insurance is more expensive than elsewhere due to the high crime rate. Extra security features like alarms, safety gates and burglar bars can lead to lower premiums.
Car insurance is not compulsory in South Africa so a large proportion of cars on the roads are uninsured. The government has a Road Accident Fund for third parties injured in motor vehicle accidents but expats are advised to take out comprehensive insurance policies.
Insurance in France
Many forms of insurance are compulsory in France: home, vehicle and health to name but three.
Universal public health insurance will take care of most people’s health care requirements but top-up cover is available for special types of care (usually called a Mutuelle).
France has a mature market with comparison websites for comparing quotes and policies. Taking out a large home loan will normally carry the condition of taking out life insurance. Here as well it is advisable to shop around rather than just taking the lender’s offered policy.
Home insurance (assurance habitation) is compulsory for both rented and owned accommodation and must be secured before moving in for full compliance with the law. The mandatory part covers damage to adjoining properties as a result of an accident in yours. Contents cover is optional.
All cars must be insured under French law. Your green certificat d'assurance should be visible through the windshield.
It takes 13 years to build up a full fifty percent no claims discount which prompts many drivers to offer cash payments in the event of an accident rather than losing their clean record. Beware: accepting such a payment will leave you with no recourse for making a claim.