Putting expat safety first

Working together, we provide industry-leading services to help your expat employees feel safe and protected when they are working abroad.  

If Insurance provides coverage to many thousands of expatriates and their families on behalf of our client companies, providing support and protection while working and living abroad. The total number of family members insured is even greater than the number of expats themselves.

Annually, If Insurance receives thousands of claims from expats working abroad, since there is also insurance cover for healthcare issues, dental treatment, or physical check-ups. Expatriate insurance is valid 24/7, including during business trips and private holidays. As a result, it can provide wide coverage, such as protection against travel cancellations or delayed luggage. 

Regardless of the destination, all expats may be exposed to both health and safety risks. Countries vary in their risks, and you need to be well-prepared for these risks, even when going to a modern Western country. Before leaving, it is important to look at the risks at the destination, such as the current political situation or common local diseases. Being prepared for any issues in an expatriate destination is necessary. 

Health and safety risks may include limited or low quality local medical facilities, a prevalence of infectious diseases, medication shortages, political instability, economic volatility, natural disasters, as well as terrorism and crime. 

More than just knowing the risks

Ensuring expatriate safety involves more than just knowing the risks; it also involves taking practical steps. It is important for expats to familiarise themselves with the insurance coverage, manage their medicines and vaccinations, carry a record of their blood group and any important medical information, and to keep a list of local emergency contact details. 

Prioritising personal well-being and consulting healthcare providers before departure is also essential. You should travel only when you feel healthy and fit. Before going to an assignment, expats should go through a physical examination provided by the employer’s health partner to find out if there are any pre-existing illnesses or conditions that need continuous treatment in the expat location. It is also recommended that the health of family members should be checked. 

Respecting local cultures, customs, and habits is also important for expats to integrate into their new environment. Being mindful of their surroundings and exercising common sense can increase their safety and overall experience. 

Tiina Isoniemi photo.
Tiina Isoniemi, Claims Manager, Finland

If experience in expat safety  

According to Tiina Isoniemi, Claims Manager at If Insurance, “Expats usually suffer the same kind of illnesses as they do in their home country. The most common claims are for normal colds and flus, eye infections, rashes, as well as back and knee pains.

However, we also handle some more unusual and potentially even life-threatening claims like severe traffic accidents, serious illnesses such as cancer, and evacuations due to natural catastrophes such as hurricanes.

These situations can lead to a long period of sick leave and may even interrupt the assignment permanently if the expat is transferred back to their homeland for follow-up care.” 

The top three things every expat should know: 

  • If’s travel care partner helps you 24/7 wherever you are in the world, in case of medical need or other issues.  
  • Familiarise yourself with the content and potential restrictions of your expatriate insurance in advance. 
  • Be aware of the cultural, social, and climate differences in your expat location to avoid any negative surprises. 

Tips and tricks for an expat assignment: 

  • Find out in advance which clinics to use for medical care. 
  • If you need continuous medication, find out where these medicines are available. 
  • Get the European Health Insurance Card from your local officials for your assignment in the EU to cover the treatment costs in public healthcare.  
  • Download your expat insurance card – this way you always have your insurance policy number and important contact information with you. 

Contact If to learn more about expatriate insurance and what is best for your specific company requirements. 

Written by

Vilma Torkko, If