Ameya is a software engineer working with an MNC and living in Bangalore with his wife, Ketki. He wanted to buy a health insurance plan that adequately covered him and his wife. To ensure he picked the right medical insurance plan, he extensively researched the product and its features, compared it with other plans and calculated the estimated premium using a health insurance premium calculator. After thorough consideration, he purchased a plan as per his need and budget.
However, after six months, he was offered to go on-site to Canada with his family. The opportunity was something he had been waiting for a long time. Amongst various other things that he had to settle before moving abroad, Ameya was worried whether his existing policy would stay valid in a foreign country. Like Ameya, if you are planning to relocate to another country and wondering what happens to your existing medical policy, read on.
Geographical Limitation of Health Insurance Policy
Health insurance has become one of the integral parts of a sound financial plan. By purchasing good health insurance online, you aim to cover your healthcare expenses in case of any medical emergencies. As the plan takes care of the financial aspect during medical needs, it helps you to concentrate on treatment and recovery.
Most medical policies in India are designed to offer coverage for domestic treatments only. This means they can cover your medical expenses if you reside and fall sick within the country’s geographical boundaries. Typically, these policies offer financial protection from hospitalisation expenses, consumables benefits, day care procedures, OPD and home care treatment costs etc., at healthcare facilities within India.
If you travel abroad, your healthcare plan will not bear the cost of your medical needs. For example, suppose you are travelling abroad and fall sick, which requires you to get hospitalised in a foreign country. In that case, your insurance provider will not reimburse you for the medical expenses incurred off-shore (unless you have also purchased a travel insurance policy). You would have to bear the cost yourself.
The Concept of Global Coverage in Health Insurance Policy
Health insurance providers have realised that policyholders these days look for overall coverage. Additionally, to overcome the above issue, many insurance companies now offer health insurance plans with global coverage. Under this feature, the insurance provider will also bear medical expenses incurred on foreign land. However, this coverage sometimes only applies if you travel specifically for treatment. For example, Tata AIG’s Medicare Plan offers global coverage, wherein, if you are diagnosed with an illness in India and would like to go abroad specifically to obtain treatment, the plan covers your medical expenses.
Many personal accident plans also include global coverage under which if you meet with an accident which leads to injury, disability or death, regardless of the location, the policy will cover the costs.
Validity of Health Insurance When You Relocate Abroad
Opting for global coverage becomes a valid health insurance policy even in a foreign country. However, if your policy does include global coverage, you may not enjoy its benefits abroad. Thus, if you have a regular plan without global coverage, it is best to cancel the policy before your shift abroad since you won’t be able to raise any claim against this policy, and you may pay the premiums for nothing. Alternatively, if you have a global cover, consider continuing it until you have an insurance cover as per the foreign country’s requirements.
Another consideration is that some benefit-based plans, like critical illness of certain insurance providers, may remain valid even if you move abroad. Critical illness covers offer a lump sum amount to the insured on the diagnosis of any mentioned critical ailments. These plans have provisions to raise a claim even when you are abroad. However, it is best to check the terms and conditions of the policy or get in touch with our insurer to know if it is valid in a foreign country.
The geographical limitation would vary depending on the type of health insurance policy you opt for. In most cases, the health plan purchased in India covers treatment costs incurred within the country’s boundaries. However, there are plans, like those mentioned in the above article, which may offer international health coverage. Hence, it is always advisable to learn about the policy coverage, exclusions and terms and conditions before making any decision. Only after you have considered all these aspects can you decide to cancel or continue with the plan.