Employees working overseas, even for a short period, are at risk of potentially high medical costs. Travel insurance may have limitations, either on the trip duration or the types of treatment covered, so the well-known solution is an international medical insurance plan. But you may not be aware of the flexible and cost-effective options available through a small group ‘iPMI’ scheme.
ALC Health has many years’ experience in this area, and have long developed their products and processes to offer imaginative solutions tailored to the ever-changing world of international assignments.
One question they are often asked is: ‘what is your smallest group size?’ The surprising answer is a single employee. This offers real flexibility to start-ups or for established companies which are new to the international arena.
How does this work in practice?
For example, one person is going abroad to set up an office, and one or two others may also go out later in the year if things work out. One or more of this group may return home once their project is finished, at which point they will no longer need cover. Each member expects to be abroad for 6 or 9 months – far too long for travel insurance cover – and if they do fall ill they will want treatment in the country where they are working, rather than being sent home to the UK.
In this case, the company can start by setting up a group international medical scheme – even with only one member. As each new employee goes overseas they can join the group. They will each pay a pro rata premium for just the amount of time they are in the group.
If at some point everyone returns home, the group can even reduce to zero employees during the year, and the insurance contract will continue to run (for no further premium) until the end of the certificate year (i.e. one year after the original start date). If any further employees go overseas before the end of that year then they can join the group just as their colleagues did earlier. The group will be offered renewal terms as long as at least one member is on cover at the renewal date.
If things go well, and the group expands to a larger number of employees then the group will qualify for discounts for group size. They can even opt for Medical History Disregarded underwriting once there are at least 5 employees in the group. The group members do not need to all have the exact same benefits, but can select the options best suited to their individual circumstances.
This highly flexible arrangement is designed to help your clients as they grow, and make the most of their opportunities in overseas markets. It matches the cover to their needs and controls costs. The renewal premiums, by the way, will not take into account the group’s personal claims history.
As with any Insurance Plan, there are some limitations to bear in mind:
- Some benefits have a limit on the value of cover, or a ‘wait period’ before the benefit can be used.
- There are general exclusions which mean not all potential medical costs will be provided.
- In addition, with medical insurance specifically, there is a question of whether the cover is only for newly arising medical conditions or if it is also for medical conditions one has had in the past (which are therefore classed as ‘pre-existing).
- Finally, for an insurance policy which is international in scope, there can sometimes be relevant regulations in the country where the client is living (or relocating to). It is not possible to offer cover to clients living in certain countries.
These are all important topics which ALC Health will be glad to discuss in further detail to understand your business requirements.
This article was written by Clive-Westwood Dunkley, Business Development Manager at ALC Global Health Insurance.