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Insurance requirements for Singapore employees abroad: What companies and workers should know

You’re proud of your company, no doubt. You’ve taken the time and put forth the effort to make it a successful operation that Is not only profitable, but also the source of employment and livelihood for stakeholders and employees alike. Perhaps you feel like this is a real feather in your cap if you are the kind of person that has always wanted to do good for others, and you recognized that your business is providing for a number of families. You go out of your way to provide excellent benefits too. Everything is going great and you are now sending Singapore employees abroad in order to examine opportunities outside the city-state. So, what are you forgetting? Well, if you have a normal group medical insurance policy for your staff and their families, they may be at risk. Not only this, your business may be opening new doors to risks that you may not have considered! Fear not, though. Pacific Prime Singapore is providing you with this article about the insurance needs that businesses spreading its roots outside of Singapore should know about.

Covered locally. Exposed globally.

According to a survey conducted in the UK, under 8% of employers there were aware of what their obligations would be for Singapore employees abroad when it came to risk and insurance. The first one of these issues that we would like to highlight for you is the geographic restriction that can be found on most health insurance policies. In Singapore, if you are purchasing health insurance – whether it be group health insurance or a private individual medical insurance plan – odds are that the policy documentation will explicitly state that coverage only applies inside of Singapore. This means that if you need medical treatment while traveling abroad for business or pleasure, it is highly likely that you will have to pay out of pocket for the care. What’s more, if you cannot produce proof of insurance coverage in some countries, obtaining the care you need can become difficult. Obviously, nobody wants their employees hung out to dry, especially when they’re in a foreign country where they will not have a proper support network and communication with doctors can be difficult outside of major international health centers.

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This is why companies should take care of Singapore employees abroad by obtaining international health insurance plans for them. With these plans, medical insurance coverage is provided in virtually any country in the world. Additionally, the insured has the ability to choose any hospital or doctor of their choosing without having to worry about staying within a network of medical facilities outlined by the insurance company. This is a key feature for many, as the last thing one wants to worry about in a medical emergency is which particular hospitals they will be able to seek treatment in so as to avoid burdensome medical debt.

Singapore employees abroad in the short or long term?

Some people may look at the previous section of this article and think, “This isn’t a problem for me. I make sure that my Singapore employees abroad always have a travel insurance policy in place for any trip they take.” While travel insurance plans are relatively inexpensive and can be helpful for travelers, there are key differences between travel insurance policies and international health insurance policies that you should be aware of.

First, and perhaps most importantly, the medical care attached to travel insurance policies is strictly for emergencies and will only go so far as ensuring that the insured is well enough to get home, at which point the insurance will no longer cover medical conditions and local health insurance may not provide for ongoing care for a condition that occurred outside of Singapore. However, with an international health insurance policy, a person need not wait for an emergency to arise before they can get medical coverage. Even out-patient procedures can be arranged and covered while travelling.

Secondly, travel insurance is also referred to as short term insurance for a reason. These plans often have a limit of up to six months or less when it comes to how long the policy can last, and will need a specific account of where you will be and when before they the policy will be issued. Then, if the insured finds themselves needing care outside of this specific criteria, they will not be covered. The advantage of international health insurance is that the policy need not be purchased on a ‘per-trip’ basis, and ongoing coverage can be maintained that allows for continuous coverage for chronic conditions or ailments that would be deemed pre-existing conditions otherwise.

There are advantages to securing travel insurance, though. Chief among these is that travel insurance provides coverage for lost or damaged property, delayed travel, unused accommodations and other items that are outside the scope of the average medical insurance plan.

Consider your liability

Liability insurance for businesses is something that many Singapore employees abroad may take for granted. This type of insurance plan protects businesses and their employees from costs related to litigation that could result through damaged or destroyed property, lost income, negligence or any other number of problems that would be considered a loss for a third party. By taking care of court costs and money for said losses, liability insurance protects businesses from litigation, allowing them to stay in business. This results in continued employment for staff, as well as adds an umbrella over them that can lessen the chance of a third party going after them personally for damages.

Here, again, we run into an issue where insurance policies may have a geographic restriction. Meaning that if damages to a third party occur in Singapore, liability insurance will cover it, but you have to be diligent in examining your current policy to ensure that damages occurring outside of Singapore are covered as well. When you start doing business internationally, there is no end to the list of things that can go wrong, and even small errors can lead to major business disruptions, no matter how careful you or your employees are.

Know your new locales

Perhaps your business has expanded to the point that you are ready to open offices in other countries. Just a word of warning here: Make sure you take the time to learn about the specific medical insurance requirements of any place you are considering expanding into. Some countries, like Singapore and many European countries, will provide those living in the country with public healthcare (although, note that expats sometimes are not eligible for these benefits, and employees frequently desire to have access to private facilities). Other countries will not have any publicly subsidized healthcare, and an insurance policy will be needed to address costs. Still other countries will require residents to purchase private medical insurance, and there are usually certain levels of care that need to be met with such policies.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help! There are helpful people out there, like the knowledgeable and experienced agents at Pacific Prime Singapore, that can familiarize you with just about any country. As a licensed insurance broker in Singapore with multiple offices throughout Asia and the Middle East, and experience providing insurance in countries worldwide, we are uniquely positioned to not only provide you with answers to all of your questions, but also to source insurance policies that are ideal for your needs and budget. Contact us today for a free quote!

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