Expats warned to deal only with experts re medical cover

Published:  17 Apr at 6 PM
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Professionals in the field of expat medical insurance are again warning that expats should only seek advice from financial advisers qualified in the speciality.

Arranging adequate medical insurance as a part of migrating to a new country can be a problem for retirees with existing heath conditions or those settling outside the safety net of the EU member states. In farther-flung locations, medical care, especially in emergencies, can be expensive, and FAs may not be qualified to research for the right packages at the right prices.

The risks are similar to those faced by many inexperienced expat investors, with FAs preferring to just introduce the client to one of a number of insurance companies dealing with overseas medical insurance. The FA, of course, collects a hefty commission on the sale for a simple referral, and may even collect more after the policy’s first renewal.

It’s not until a claim is made that the client realises he’s not as well-covered as he believed. According to the niche magazine Health Insurance, 45 per cent commissions offered to general FAs are a growing trend, with leaders in the field such as AXA PPP, Bupa, Prime Health and others happy to join in.

According to MediSearch MD Martin Howell, the consumer has no idea whether or not his FA deals with high-commission paying insurers or has any complaints lodged against him with the Financial Ombudsman. Exeter Family Friendly and Aviva, neither of which pay FA referral commissions, believe customers should get advice from an independent, specialist FA before deciding on a policy.
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