The Devil In The Small Print

Understanding IHI
We provide transparency of information about international health insurance by giving you tools and personalised recommendations making shopping for expatriate health insurance simple. IHI Plans Find your plan

So you’re in the market for some International Health Insurance. Plans and their price all look similar? Or there’s a big difference in the price but not sure why? What should you be looking out for that’s maybe not so easy to grasp from the nice glossy marketing material?


Here are some key points to check and make sure are included within your insurance coverage if important to you:


  • Pre-existing conditions – current or previous illnesses or conditions related to these are either usually excluded or cover being reduced cover for these is standard with most insurers. Some insurers can cover certain such conditions so if coverage is important for an illness in this category then you need to make sure your broker knows you want these included. They should then work on your behalf to try and find an insurer and plan that will do this for you;

  • Chronic conditions – if applying for new insurance many insurers will exclude these from coverage. If, however, you only develop such a condition after having been insured the level of cover provided for chronic conditions again varies a great deal by insurer – on-going costs can add up to be quite a large sum so make sure you know what you’re covered for;

  • Waiting Periods – if you want cover for Vaccinations, Routine Maternity, Well- Being/Annual Health Checks, or Routine Dental then most plans will have a waiting period of 10-12 months before the benefit becomes covered. The more of these sorts of benefits you want included the higher the premiums are for these plans;

  • Area of Coverage – Are you covered world-wide? Most plans will not provide cover in the United States unless you request this and the cost is going to be a lot more. Some plans will provide accident and emergency cover in the US subject to your trip not lasting over a certain period of time – you need to know what this is if you plan to spend any time in the US. Also some plans may only provide you with cover in certain geographical regions – such as Europe only or specific Asian countries so make sure your area of coverage gives you the right amount of protection;

  • Benefit Limits – the overall annual plan benefit tends to be quite high across insurers unless you are buying a low cost plan, however, some insurers may not provide as much cover in specific areas. These difference may be in terms of how much cover if any they provide for HIV/Aids treatment, Medical Aids, Psychiatry, Physiotherapy, Alternative Medicine, Organ Transplants, Private Room or Semi-Private room coverage, is Evacuation or Repatriation covered and so on. Read the full breakdown of what you are covered for to ensure no nasty surprises;

  • In-Patient Only or In-Patient & Out-Patient Cover – the cost difference between the two can be very significant. If you choose In Patient only then this in most circumstances will only cover you when you have been hospitalised and that hospitalisation requires at least one overnight stay. 


Once you have paid the premium for the insurance plan you have purchased you will then shortly there-after receive your insurance certificate. Always check this document to make sure you have been provided with the exact cover you have applied for and no specific exclusions have been added into the policy. Some insurers are better than others at highlighting any exclusion or special conditions which have been applied to your coverage during the application and underwriting stages.


Even at renewal around your plan anniversary always check your new insurance certificate and policy documentation as insurers can apply new exclusions at this point – although this doesn’t happen very often if it can – you or your broker need to check.



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