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Monday, June 8, 2009

Expatriate Insurance and HIPAA

If an expatriate searches the web, there may be hundreds of different providers for individual international medical insurance and small group expatriate health insurance programs. Buyer beware, many of these plans are not considered HIPAA plans and are not HIPAA compliant.

What exactly does this mean? It means that employees and individual expatriates working abroad as international assignees that are under a foreign international health insurance scheme like BUPA international for example, may have a problem when returning to the U.S. if the program was not HIPAA compliant.

If an expatriate developed a pre-existing condition during the expatriate assignment, they may find they have no coverage when they return to the U.S. because health insurers can impose pre-existing condition limitations on those attempting to enroll in U.S. plans coming from plans that are not HIPAA compliant. Foreign plans and offshore insurance plans are not HIPAA plans.

Employers using non-HIPAA plans to cover U.S. expatriates are taking a big risk. Employees that return to the U.S. and are shocked to learn they cannot find healthcare that will cover the pre-existing condition will file a lawsuit against the employer.

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Saturday, May 2, 2009

Do Not Rely on State Farm if Living Abroad

If keeping a house back in the home country while working or living abroad, never assume that the home country homeowners insurance policy will provide any protection at all for international property insurance and international liability insurance.  In fact, if the home is empty or vacant for more than 60 days do not assume the traditional homeowners insurance company will cover a vacant home either.

We have seen people take expatriate assignments abroad and take over $50,000 of international personal property including $5,000 wedding rings, and assume companies like State Farm or Allstate are still providing the coverage even though they are living in Russia or Germany!  This is almost never the case if one has taken up residence abroad.

Yes, if you are traveling internationally on vacation for example, homeowners policies can offer some degree of protection but not if you are living abroad for say.. six months or longer.  In all cases these people need expatriate property insurance (a form of international property insurance) as well as international liability insurance.  In many cases they will need expatriate vacant home insurance coverage as well. 

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Monday, April 27, 2009

International Liability Insurance More Important Than Personal Effects Coverage

In a recent survey of expatriates we find that for those that looking into international property insurance and international liability insurance, it's protecting their property that made them investigate insurance solutions.  Most expatriates seem to ignore the global liability protection?

At International Property Insurance Group we feel that international liability is far more important than protecting international personal effects, although of course we feel both are important.  What's more, international liability insurance is very inexpensive.

No one wants to have a $40,000 uninsured loss to property because of fire or smoke damage, or because there was a fire in the neighboring apartment but this loss does not have the potential to ruin your life.  A $1,000,000 lawsuit where you carry no international liability insurance on you and your family can bring financial ruin.  

Again, do not expect your employer can step in and pay a personal claim, no matter how important your expat assignment is.  Even if you flee the country to avoid the suit, and there may be no way the "judgement" can find you back in your home country, this could cost you your job and your career.  Employers expect employees to properly protect themselves and their families for overseas property insurance and global liability.

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Thursday, April 16, 2009

Why International Liability Insurance is Essential for Expatriates

When people move abroad to live or work in another country, one of the very last things they think about is personal liability insurance. Before we explore why we think this may be the last thing on people's minds, let's examine why international liability insurance is absolutely essential for anyone with an established net worth. This coverage is not just for the rich expatriates on high profile assignments.

International liability insurance would cover claims against the insured or the insured's family related to lawsuit or damage awards due to negligence (the the judge or local magistrate deems you or a family member negligent, whether you were or not!) A lawsuit can happen anywhere, it's not just something that happens in the U.S. or the home country. In many countries it's not a lawsuit as most would picture, but a damage award. Here is what would happen in many countries; You or a family member causes harm or financial loss to a local national in your host country. You are brought before a judge or local magistrate. The judge hears the evidence and orders you to pay the defendant $200,000. No 4 month trial... no appeal... bang. What do you do? Are you carrying global liability insurance? At $5 a month to protect the entire family, why not?

Again, we interview many with the false assumption of "I work for a large multinational company and they must have insurance for me in this area." This is almost never the case. They have no corporate or commercial liability policies that can cover your personal claims.

What happens when someone does not carry international liability insurance, the company has no insurance to assist, and a large damage award needs to be paid? Well, the options are few all all are not good for the career of the expatriate.

  • The person does not pay and is either jailed, has items seized, or is forced in some way to leave the country.
  • The person pays the entire personal liability claim out of his/her own pocket perhaps writing a $50,000 check.
  • The employer is in some way, dragged into the claim either to assist in paying the claim or because the defendant is not carrying any personal liability insurance as an expatriate, the employer's legal entity is named and attached in the lawsuit.

Again, an expatriate that takes the arrogant attitude of "my company would pay it for me" has certainly not even attempted to think through the issues of why this is very unpleasant, if not impossible. Our next post will be about just that.

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Friday, April 10, 2009

Vacant Home Insurance U.K., Canada, U.S. or any other home country

A potentially catastrophic problem for people that move overseas to live or work, has to do with leaving a house back in the home country that becomes empty or vacant. 90% of people that have a home that becomes vacant do not understand the provisions of their current homeowners insurance policy. In other words, they do not understand that coverage is quickly lost or removed if the house becomes empty or vacant for over 60 days. International vacant homeowners insurance is essential.

So what we have is potentially thousands of people around the world that still own a house back in the home country, and the house may be uninsured because it is empty or unoccupied. In fact, if you expect your home will be unoccupied for just 30 days you should look into a vacant home insurance policy. Here are a few facts that may be shocking:
  • Even if your homeowners insurance is fully paid up, you may have no coverage
  • Insurers can refund premium and then deny catastrophic claims on vacant homes
  • Coverage can be lost under a homeowners insurance policy, especially for vandalism, in 30 days or less.
  • If you had a renter in the house, and the renter leaves you need to remember to switch the policy over to a vacant homeowners insurance policy or risk losing everything.

Outside of the United States, Lloyd's of London is a carrier that can provide vacant home insurance in the U.K., and vacant homeowners insurance in China and 50 other countries.

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Thursday, April 9, 2009

Overseas on Work Assignment, Don't Assume Employer is Covering Your International Personal Effects

Another major mistake that expatriates make when relocating internationally to work is assuming their employer has all of the following issues covered and they need to do nothing. In fact, the bigger (and more all-powerful) the employer, the more these individuals assume they don't need to take personal responsibility for the following:

  • International Personal Property Insurance (to protect clothes, furniture, electronics, rings)
  • International Liability Insurance (to protect personal net worth from lawsuit)
  • International Renters Insurance (which is a global property and liability package policy)

Here are the facts. 95% of employers have no insurance policies that will cover the personal losses of an expatriate on foreign assignment. Whether this be a claim for a fire loss, theft, or a damage award from a local magistrate for $50,000, there is no coverage via commercial policies. There are legal and tax reasons why an employer cannot step in to bail out an expatriate's losses.

Surveys from International Property Insurance Group indicate this as the # 1 reason expatriates don't proactively look for these lines of insurance on their own.

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Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Taking Valuable Articles Into Your International Assignment

When people leave their home country to live internationally, or take an expatriate assignment for a few years, the last thing they think about is insuring their personal effects with the proper international property insurance policy, and protecting their valuable articles in the new location. The most common valuable people need to protect is a diamond wedding ring.

When people arrive in their host country, and when they get around to looking for insurance for their property and valuables, they may find all of the following:

  • There is no recognizable insurance market in the host country. What are my options?
  • Insurance companies will not work with "foreigners" in the local country.
  • An insurance market exists, but the level of coverage and the reputation of the insurer is impossible to determine. What am I buying and what will happen at the time of claim?
The good news is there are insurance companies and brokerages that specifically work with people that are living away from their home country. International Property Insurance Group works with expatriates in 80 countries and all of them need sound international personal effects insurance with a strong global liability policy.

Just like in the home country, valuable articles need to be scheduled and named in the insurance policy, insured up to their true value. However, once secured, the insurance should work worldwide. For example, a theft of a diamond ring in the host country, home country, or even while traveling to a third country would be fully covered if the item was properly scheduled with the insurance company before-hand.

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