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Is corporate health insurance valid for an overseas work trip?

22 January 2020 - 9:42am

Does your employer routinely send you overseas for work? Are you wondering if your corporate health cover is designed to follow you out of Australia? This guide to corporate health insurance and corporate travel insurance can help you determine whether or not you may be covered for health care outside of the country, and what questions to ask your employer about your coverage.

Corporate insurance basics

Your employer may offer you any of the following three options when it comes to corporate health insurance:

  • Fully funded: With fully funded corporate health cover, your employer pays for your health insurance as a benefit of employment.
  • Partially funded: With partially funded corporate health cover, the cost of health insurance is shared by yourself and your employer.
  • Voluntary: With voluntary health cover, your employer will present a health fund to you which you can choose to join and pay for if you so wish.

You may be offered or allowed to chose between hospital cover only, which covers the cost of in-hospital treatments and services, extras insurance only, which covers non-medical services outside of hospital such as dental, physiotherapy, chiropractic etc, or both.

Coverage overseas for work trips

Your corporate health insurance cannot provide coverage for medical services performed overseas. You will not be able to depend on corporate health for overseas work trip coverage. Your coverage overseas will largely depend on:

Corporate travel insurance

If your employer has invested in corporate travel insurance, you may be covered adequately through the company plan. Make certain you obtain all information about the travel health care cover before you leave, as additional insurance can be difficult to obtain once you have already departed.

Expatriate insurance

If your employer assigns you to work and reside overseas for long periods of time, expatriate insurance may be provided. Health standards around the globe can vary significantly, and by providing you with this type of coverage your employer can ensure you will be treated in case of emergency and evacuated back to Australia promptly if need be.

Reciprocal Health Care Agreements

If country you are working in has a Reciprocal Health Care Agreement with Australia, you may have some Medicare coverage benefits that extend to your work location. Benefits vary from country to country and may have strict limits both on the total value of care which can be accessed and the types of care that can be received.

Private travel insurance

If your employer doesn't provide corporate cover to adequately protect you against health risks on an overseas work trip, you may wish to purchase travel insurance for yourself. This type of insurance can help fill gaps left by corporate cover, or give you protection during a working holiday.

Depending on your insurance provider, you can receive any or all of the following as part of a travel cover package:

Health insurance

This coverage can be purchased for yourself as an individual, for a couple, or as an entire family, including persons of mature age. This can be convenient if you aren't going to be travelling alone on your work trip, or if you are going to be stationed abroad for a considerable amount of time, and don't want to be separated from loved ones.

This type of health cover can be used for overseas medical and hospital expenses. You may also be covered for daily expenses, accommodation, or return to Australia for medical reasons. You can purchase coverage for international single or multiple destinations.

Travel issues

Your travel coverage may also include protection against travel related incidents, like cancelled flights, or delays. Unlimited cover for cancellation and travel delays can help defray costs incurred because of schedules being overturned, and some travel insurance will even provide for reimbursement of frequent flyer points lost.

Loss of luggage or cash money can also be covered. This can provide protection if personal luggage is misplaced by an airline or lost completely. Cover can be extended for high value items with the payment of a slightly increased premium, covering electronics, photography equipment, or sporting equipment (convenient if you plan to mix work and pleasure on an overseas trip.)

Emergency situations

Ask if your cover provides 24 hour access to emergency assistance, and what the coverage is in case of an accident that results in an inability to work or a permanent disability. Home health and loss of income may be covered depending on circumstances. You may also have expanded cover in case of an accident in a rental car or the theft thereof.
When purchasing your own private travel cover for corporate health on an overseas trip, first find out what your employer offers, then seek supplemental cover privately to ensure your needs are met. Most travel cover has a 14 day cooling off period to protect you in case your trip does not come to fruition, so you have nothing to lose by exploring all of your options.

If you're unsure, or want to find out what might be best for you, call HICA now for a free consultation