How to choose the best international health insurance plans

How To Choose The Best International Health Insurance Plan for You

Healthcare is essential: from the United Kingdom to Canada or anywhere else you may touch down. Remember – there’s no place like home, which means each country may have different requirements and benefits compared to what you’re used to.

Choosing health insurance can be an incredible convenience and can ensure you get access to the best medical care in your chosen country. In some cases, it may even go beyond protecting your health and be a legal requirement for residency.

Below, you’ll discover some of our best tips on how to choose the best health insurance for you and your family.

What is international health insurance?

Relocation means more than a long stay, whether for work, study or play. That’s why travel insurance just won’t cut it when it comes to moving abroad. International health insurance can ensure your new stay is safe and comfortable.

By choosing an international health insurance plan that suits your new lifestyle and country, you can secure the right healthcare when you need it. That means you’re covered by a plan intended for expats who have relocated from their home country for a sustained period.


In some countries, this may be an optional choice to secure a better, faster quality of treatment. In others, it may be a requirement. Choosing a health insurance plan to suit your relocation doesn’t have to be a headache though.

Before you select a healthcare option, it’s important to understand how to choose health insurance by understanding the different policy types on offer. Read on to learn more.

Understanding the types of health insurance for expats

Learning how to choose a health insurance plan starts with understanding the options available to you. Depending on your circumstances some options may benefit you more. Here are some of the common health insurance policies for expats.

Local health insurance

Local health insurance is an expat healthcare plan unique to that country. Usually, this is done through a local supplier. For example – if you move to France, it could cover you while you’re in France but nowhere else.

With a regional health insurance plan there are usually options to select your level of cover. Countries like the UK, New Zealand and Italy have a public healthcare service meaning access to the healthcare is usually free of charge. However, there are still private options for a higher quality of care.

Travel insurance

Travel insurance is an ideal solution for short-term trips. If you’re planning a holiday, backpacking, or are a travelling digital nomad then this could be suitable. It may not be suited for periods over six months, however.

Travel insurance can help with things outside of medical issues too, such as flight delays or lost baggage.

There are even specialist policies that cover certain activities such as winter sports. Most insurers won’t cover cosmetic procedures and are only active for a set, short time - so consider how long you intend to be away.

Global health insurance

Global health insurance is long-term, global healthcare that provides access to the best medical coverage across the world. This can be suitable for expats, students, or retirees abroad, as well as long-term digital nomads.

With global health insurance you can get quality, private healthcare designed with expats in mind. This comprehensive cover is a long-term solution to medical care but won’t cover things like flight issues.

If you regularly move around, global health insurance can also be a big benefit compared to region-restricted cover.

Things to consider when choosing international health insurance

Choosing the right international health insurance plan for you requires more than just knowing what’s available. Here are some key things to consider when you’re looking for cover in a new country.

Consider your country and your needs

Every country is different – that’s half of the joy of relocating. It also means things function in unique ways. Before choosing a health insurance plan, consider what your country may or may not offer on a state basis. For example:

  • Is healthcare a legal requirement?

  • What is the standard of healthcare?

  • Is there a national healthcare service?

  • What is the speed of service?

  • Do they have facilities for any existing conditions?

  • How far away are the services in your new home country?

Answering these questions can help you decide on the benefit of international health insurance.

Make sure there are no gaps

Before you commit to a particular policy, ensure there are no gaps. There are some things worth looking out for:

  • Check the start and the end date of your policy so that you know when you are covered from.

  • Confirm the conditions of your cover to ensure you know what is and isn’t protected.

  • Ensure that pre-existing conditions are considered or understand if they’re not. You don’t want to be hit with sudden surprises.

If you are going to a country with free healthcare, you may want to consider what gaps there are in that system. Confirm any exemptions and consider if international cover could benefit you.

Find out if your employer offers coverage

Workplace benefits are great, but they can vary from company to company. Employers may offer coverage for international or local workers so it’s always worth checking your benefit options. They may have deals with specific providers or could cover partial fees. You won’t know until you check – but remember, ensure any coverage works for you by answering the questions above.

Think what’s best for you; national or international

This answer entirely depends on your lifestyle. Understand the limitations and benefits of each to ensure you’re getting the cover you need. The main benefit of international insurance is the ability to get cover in more than one local location. Remember that national insurance will only cover you while in your specified country.

Also, consider if there are any services an international policy may cover that a national one won’t. For example – international insurance policies may offer access to repatriation to your home country for further treatment.

Find a flexible plan

Flexibility is important – Selecting a plan that fits your needs can benefit you both financially and logistically. The more options you have the more likely you can craft a healthcare plan that benefits you and your family’s personal circumstances.

For example – some plans may offer add-ons for existing healthcare issues, offer repatriation or even cover travel costs to visit critically ill family members. Additionally, certain plans may offer a wider network of potential healthcare specialists, which could be convenient.

Consider the cost

Costs can vary between policies – each one is unique and so are your circumstances. Prices can rise based on several factors such as:

  • Your country of residence.

  • Personal details, such as age.

  • Type and level of cover.

  • Existing health conditions.

  • Deductibles.

Remember: there are ways to reduce (or increase) the cost of a plan. It will entirely depend on your background and your requirements.

When comparing plans, ensure you’re getting the same deal for a similar price to compare the value more accurately.

Check out reviews

Providers can claim to do a lot of things, but personal experience counts for a lot. While that experience can vary from person-to-person it could give you insight on what sort of service a provider offers. This could include how easy they are to contact, what the claims process is like, or any issues users bumped into along the way.

Want to learn more? Dive deeper and discover more about expat health insurance with the Cigna Healthcare blog .


Expat health insurance cover can vary depending on your own personal policy. Some things you can expect include:

  • Medical expenses

  • Preventative care

  • Repatriation

  • Long-term cover

The only way to know what a policy offers for certain is to get a quote.

Yes. Choosing a health insurance plan can give you access to healthcare while living abroad. While policies may vary, they often come in two forms: international or local healthcare. Depending on the length of your stay and if you intend to travel back to your home country, or to others, either one could be more suited.

You can cover yourself and your family with international healthcare cover. There are flexible plans for expats and their families so you can rest assured when you move abroad.

Choosing an expat health insurance plan means you are covered long-term in your new country of residence. It’s designed to go wherever life takes you. Just ensure that when you select a policy, it corresponds to your new country and lifestyle.