Britain is a marvelous destination and a fantastic experience for expats from any background. Its diverse society, rich in history and culture, has occupied a beautiful land for centuries. The motherland of the Commonwealth has given the world a great many things; Shakespeare, Churchill, the Beatles, Sean Connery, Harry Potter, as well as David Beckham’s left and right feet. It is also home to one of the most substantial public health care system’s in the world.

Getting care in Britain can be fairly straightforward. The public NHS system provides universal health services to both British citizens, as well as to a wide category of people residing in the UK. While it is a generous system, it is not without it’s faults – long waiting times, financial woes, and patchwork levels of coverage depending on whether you are in England, Scotland, or Wales.

If you’re moving to the UK, then maybe you’ll be looking for health insurance to gain you and your family access to Britain’s private medical sector. Insurance broker Pacific Prime has these handy tips for finding affordable and comprehensive expat insurance coverage in the UK.

Tip 1: Know what sort of coverage you need

For most, if not all expats, health insurance is an essential purchase that many find difficult to organise. There’s different sorts of policies and coverage options, e.g. inpatient, outpatient, dental, and maternity. Getting a quote from an insurer or a broker can be simple, but getting a quote for the right sort of coverage for you can be trickier if you’re not prepared to convey what your health needs are. Before seeking out insurance, have a think about what sort of coverage you want while in the UK.

Americans travelling to the UK who are still required to pay US taxes will also need to consider your stateside healthcare obligations under the Affordable Care Act. For more information about how this might apply to you, and what your international solutions might be, check out this page.

Tip 2: Think about how you will use your insurance

Are you spending all of your time in the UK, or will you be looking to branch out across Europe during your stay? While Britain did vote to leave the European Union (EU) by referendum in mid-2016, it still currently remains a member until such time as the British Parliament and EU work out the particulars for the UK’s withdrawal. What does this mean for expats in Britain?

British citizens currently still have access to a European Health Insurance Card that grants them access to healthcare in other EU countries, while expats will still have to look after their own coverage while travelling Europe. If you do intend to travel a bit, you may want to look into getting international medical insurance rather than purchasing separate travel policies each and every time you travel.

Tip 3: Decide how much you can afford to pay

Not just for your premium, but also for any deductible, excess or co-pay levels that the policy might include. What are these? A deductible is the amount you pay out of pocket for care before your insurance will kick in. An excess is a payment you may be able to make for care that is beyond what your policy normal entails, and the co-pay is the split you agree to play for your care after your deductible is paid (e.g. you pay 20% and your insurer pays 80%).

Tip 4: Be healthy!

We all know that insurers consider your health when setting your premiums, but did you know they’re also rewarding those of you who stay fit too! Some insurers in the UK will offer discounts on renewal prices if you’re fit and healthy, while others will reward you with cash back incentives as a reason to exercise and eat well.

Tip 5: Shop around using a broker

Shopping around is generally the best tip you can get with insurance, however how you shop around makes a big difference. Many still believe that approaching insurers directly will provide them with the best prices around, while more still have been opting to use online comparison websites. Both options can be effective, but will require you to put a lot of your own effort into finding and understanding your quoted options.

Here’s where a broker helps; they can leverage their long standing relationships with some of Britain and the world’s best insurance companies, as well as sifting through them to find the policies that best meet your coverage needs at a budget you’re looking for. They’ll put in all the effort so that you can spend your time preparing for your UK trip!

What are my options in the UK?

Those of you heading away on long term stays to Britain may want to consider either local (UK) insurance, or international insurance options. Local plans provide care and access to the private hospital sector in the UK, however travelling out of the UK on holiday will require you to purchase separate travel-type policies instead. International insurance goes with you wherever in the world you go, and ACA compliant plans have recently been released as well!

If you’re visiting the UK for 3 months or less, then travel insurance might be a better option for you. While such policies cover travel related issues (such as cancelled flights or lost luggage and travel documents), the health coverage is often fairly limited. Allowing for emergency care and medical evacuation/repatriation, the healthcare side of these policies are simply designed to get you back home again.

Whatever your needs are, there are plenty of appropriate options for expat insurance in the UK. Following these tips can help ensure that you don’t pay anymore than you need to for insurance.