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International Coverage in Health Insurance

With a rise in the number of travellers visiting international locations, there is an increasing demand for international coverage in health insurance plans. The Insurance Laws (Amendment) Act, 2015, made it mandatory for insurers to provide international health plans with comprehensive coverage, including hospitalization and diagnosis charges apart from the regular travel insurance that covers sudden sickness while travelling abroad. While some travellers opt for such international health cover for their safety, many high-net-worth (HNI) individuals prefer the sophistication associated with healthcare facilities offered by developed nations.

Overseas insurance extends a domestic health insurance plan beyond international boundaries. Obtaining medical assistance abroad can be relatively expensive considering the currency fluctuations involved and higher medical costs in general.

International health insurance is often confused with travel insurance, however, there is a fine line that separates the two. Travel insurance covers medical emergencies arising during your travels outside of your home country. Not only that, it also covers the loss of baggage, documents, trip cancellations, and the like during the period of travel.

International coverage as a part of your health insurance, on the other hand, provides you with the benefit of availing medical facilities across the globe, subject to terms and conditions. It covers specific critical illness insurance as listed in the information brochure along with the list of countries where one can avail the necessary treatment. Such policies have a limit set on the expenditure which they cover along with the payout details. Most policies offer an upfront payment in the foreign currency in the range of 10-20% and the balance as a means of reimbursement.

However, the premiums charged for such policies are almost three to four times dearer than the same amount of fixed sum assured available in the domestic regions. One must also remember that these policies do not include pre- and post-hospitalization expenses and the expenses incurred at OPD. If one wants to avail such added benefits, the premium on such policies would increase further.

You could look at the terms and conditions that have an impact on claims made in the past when availing such international cover to gain better insight. Some policies specifically exclude particular nations or charge extra to include them in the cover. Often, treatment for terminal and life-threatening illnesses are sought in foreign nations and that is when one opts for international coverage as part of their health policy. It is always good to have added medical coverage but it is also prudent to be aware of the stringent terms and conditions attached to these coverages. Choose wisely!

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