The impact of the Internet, budgetary pressures and the rapid growth in communication systems have all combined to reduce the duration of many expat assignments. Historically, the typical assignment lasted between three and five years, but now the picture is very different.
According to Expatfocus, one of the largest expat community websites, driven by budgets and new approaches to doing business abroad, assignments now tend to be less than a year long and some are as short as three months. As a result, the international health insurance industry has had to adapt the policies it sells to companies sending expatriates abroad, as cheaper and more focused cover becomes the norm.
Joe Thomas, business development director of APRIL International UK, a private international medical insurance provider with clients in 120 countries, said: “We noticed the growing importance of the short-term expatriate placement alongside the traditional longer-term expat market and launched our short-term product two years ago to meet this requirement. Today, the product is one of our most successful insurance solutions with new business numbers growing month on month.” This kind of health insurance is designed for multiple short trips or longer stays away for any period of up to a year, with an additional six-month extension available. The cost of such cover is far lower than traditional long-term expat international health insurance policies, as it is designed to focus on the core essentials, whilst at the same time giving access to the best local private healthcare.
Another innovation recently launched by APRIL is their bolt-on for pre-existing conditions – customers purchasing cover for periods of three months or more will be covered for emergency hospital care, if this is needed in the treatment of two pre-existing conditions.