International travel insurance requirements: What employers need to know

international travel insurance article

In an increasingly globalized marketplace, placing employees in assignments across international locations has become an essential part of doing business. Sending staff overseas, however, can be a fairly complex and involved task. Beyond organizing employee accommodation and travel arrangements, it is also imperative to arrange adequate international travel insurance coverage to safeguard the health and safety of your staff, as well as ensure that the trip runs smoothly.

While the importance of meeting insurance obligations is clear, many employers struggle to thoroughly consider the requirements of sending their staff overseas. Should employers have an international travel insurance policy in place? Are there any mandatory insurance requirements employers should be aware of? These are big questions, and if left unaddressed employers could face costly outcomes both legally and to the business.

To help clear up some of the uncertainty around international travel insurance requirements, today’s article looks at the travel insurance requirements in key locations, what employers should be aware of when purchasing travel insurance for employees, and further discusses the differences between travel and international health insurance.

Knowing the international travel insurance requirements of your employee’s destination

Recent news about Thai officials calling for mandatory travel insurance has highlighted the importance of ensuring that employees have adequate international travel insurance coverage when going abroad.

Due to skyrocketing medical costs, uninsured visitors can be a large liability for state healthcare systems, which is why an increasing number of locations have already made or are in the process of making travel insurance compulsory.

Here, we’ve identified some of the countries that have already implemented mandatory international travel insurance regulations:

Schengen countries

The Schengen area covers the majority of European countries except for the UK, as well as a few other countries such as Bulgaria and Croatia. One of the documents required to apply for a Schengen visa is proof of insurance that covers “any medical emergency with hospital care and travel back to one’s native country due to medical motives”. The travel insurance policy must also have a minimum medical coverage limit of EUR 30,000, and should be valid within the whole Schengen region and for the full duration of travel.

schengen italy
The UAE

Travel health insurance is mandatory for anyone applying for a UAE visit or tourist visa. Insurance policies must cover inpatient accident and emergency expenses incurred while the visitor is in the UAE, with a minimum coverage limit of AED 150,000. Repatriation of remains must also be covered.

It must also be noted here that employers are legally required to secure compliant medical insurance coverage for foreign workers in Abu Dhabi and Dubai. Employers who fail to adhere to the respective Emirate’s specific minimum coverage requirements will be charged hefty fines, and employees who do not have adequate insurance will not be granted new or renewed visas.

Ecuador

As addressed in our recent article on Ecuador visa requirements, those staying longer than 90 days in Ecuador must secure and show proof of having either international travel insurance or a health insurance policy that will cover the visitor for their entire stay in the country. Foreigners granted a Temporary Residency or Permanent Residency Visa must either show proof of having private health insurance or be affiliated with Ecuador’s social security system.

ecuador

Cuba

Visitors to Cuba must show proof of travel health insurance to immigration before they are granted entry. Policies must at the very least cover medical emergencies, medical evacuation, and repatriation of remains.

cuba

In addition to the above countries, other locations that have recently introduced mandatory travel insurance regulations include Turkey, South Africa, Saudi Arabia and Russia. As mentioned above, Thailand is also deliberating over a proposal requiring all foreign visitors to obtain international travel insurance before entering the country.

Things to be aware of when purchasing travel insurance for employees

One thing to be aware of when purchasing travel insurance is that the cheapest plan is in most cases not the most optimal and best value policy. Some travel insurance companies may issue very basic travel insurance for visa application/ entry purposes, but usually offer only very basic coverage with low limits and an extensive list of exclusions. Therefore, it can pay to search around for a travel insurance plan that offers higher levels of protection for all sorts of health and business travel related contingencies.

Please note here that even if you’re sending staff to a country that does not legally require insurance coverage, it’s still a good idea to consider what type of insurance coverage might be essential, since the employer is ultimately responsible for the health and safety of their employees. An ill or injured employee can be disruptive to your business, but one that can’t pay for care can represent a bigger problem.

Travel or international health insurance?

While travel insurance can be the best option for employees going away on short international assignments or visiting conferences, it’s likely not the best option for employees on mid-to-long term secondments or expatriation. Travel plans are generally of a short term nature intended for stays of between three to six months, and while they offer travel-related benefits such as emergency evacuation, as well as lost baggage and delay coverage, its health benefits are often limited to emergencies only.

International insurance plans, on the other hand, offer far more extensive medical coverage in both the employee’s home country and abroad. They provide coverage benefits in virtually every country and hospital in the world, and are also specifically designed to cater to the healthcare needs of globally mobile expats. They also often feature the option of including added benefits like dental, maternity, vision and other wellness benefits.

Get in touch with Pacific Prime today

Insurance can be a very complex market and trying to work out the travel health insurance requirements for your employees at the same time can be daunting. If you have any more questions or are unsure about your insurance obligations as an employer, the experienced corporate team at Pacific Prime can guide you through your options and specific requirements to ensure that your company and staff are protected at home and abroad.

To discuss your insurance requirements, contact the corporate team at Pacific Prime today!

New Ecuador visa requirements: Expats must show proof of health insurance

Ecuador visa requirements blog article

New Ecuador visa requirements have now made it mandatory for all long term tourists, temporary residents, and permanent residents including expats to have health insurance that covers them for the entire duration of their stay in the country. It is therefore essential for anyone visiting or moving to Ecuador to be aware of the recent changes to their visa entry requirements in order to avoid having their visas/ entry denied. Read on to find out whether the new Ecuador visa requirements apply to you.

What exactly are the new Ecuador visa requirements?

As of the time of writing this article, those visiting Ecuador as a tourist for less than 90 days during any given year do not need to show proof of travel or health insurance. Visitors from most countries do not require a visa to enter Ecuador for up to 90 days, with some notable country exceptions including Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Cuba, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, Somalia, and Senegal. Nationals of the following countries can stay in Ecuador for up to 180 days as a tourist: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Uruguay and Venezuela.

The new Ecuador visa requirements only applies to tourists who want to extend their stay in Ecuador, temporary residents, and permanent residents. Below are the new Ecuador visa requirements for each visa category:

Tourist Visa Extension

If tourists want to stay in Ecuador for longer than 90 days, they may do so by applying for a Tourist Visa Extension, which will allow them to stay in the country for an additional 90 days. Tourists may also apply to extend their stay for a maximum period of one year by sending a special request to the Human Mobility Authority. This special extension can only be granted once every five years.

Please note here that anyone who wants to apply for a Tourist Visa Extension must secure and show proof of having either a health insurance policy or travel insurance that will cover them for their entire stay in Ecuador.

Temporary Residency Visa

Foreigners who are granted a Temporary Residency Visa will be allowed to stay in Ecuador for up to two years. During this period of time, those with a Temporary Residency Visa in Ecuador are allowed to leave the country up to 90 days in the first year, and again up to 90 days in the second year. Temporary Residency Visas are subject to cancellation if the visa holder fails to comply to the 90 day requirement, in which case they will need to either re-enter Ecuador with a new Temporary Residency Visa and/or new Tourist Visa, depending on their circumstances.

There are thirteen categories under this type of migration status:

  • Worker
  • Independent means
  • Pensioner
  • Investor
  • Scientist, researcher or academic
  • Athlete, artist or cultural agent
  • Religious or religious volunteer
  • Volunteer
  • Student
  • Professional, technician, technologist or master craftsman
  • International convention
  • Dependent (i.e. children, spouse or common law partner, etc.)
  • International protection

Those applying for a Temporary Residency Visa must show proof of having private health insurance or must be affiliated with Ecuador’s social security system, commonly known as the IESS or Instituto Ecuatoriano de Seguridad Social. Please note here that the Temporary Residency Visa can only be renewed once.

Permanent Residency Visa

Permanent Residency Visas allow a foreign citizen to remain in Ecuador for an indefinite period of time. To obtain permanent residence status, applicants must meet the following criteria:

  • Have stayed in Ecuador for at least 21 months;
  • Have married or formed a legally recognized civil union with an Ecuadorian person;
  • Be a minor or a disabled person who depends on an Ecuadorian person or foreigner with permanent resident status;
  • Be related to an Ecuadorian person or permanent resident of Ecuador.

For the first two years from the date the visa is granted, those with a Permanent Residency Visa are not allowed to be out of the country for more than 180 days each year. Those who fail to comply with this requirement will be charged a hefty fine.

As with the Temporary Residency Visa health insurance requirements, those applying for a Permanent Residency Visa must also show proof of having private health insurance or be affiliated with the IESS.

Private health insurance or the IESS?

If you’re applying for a Temporary or Permanent Residency Visa, there are two health insurance options available:

  • Membership in the IESS
  • Obtain private health insurance

Here, we provide an overview of the two options:

IESS

Expats can choose to enroll in the IESS, which is paid for through contributions either by yourself, or by your employer (if you are employed). The cost is 17.6% of your income, and an additional 3.41% for your spouse or common law partner, as long as they have a cedula (national identification) number for registration. These percentages, for many expats, can be a considerable amount.

Public medical care is 100% free if you’re enrolled in the IESS, as long as you visit facilities that are contracted with the IESS. That said, sometimes IESS pharmacies may not have the medications that you require, meaning you may have to go to a non-IESS facility to purchase them.

What’s more, the quality of medical care provided by IESS facilities can vary significantly in Ecuador, with most high quality facilities located in large cities like Guayaquil. Healthcare standards in smaller towns and rural areas are often very poor. Combine this with the fact that the IESS can be restrictive for foreigners to be able to afford or utilize (not being Ecuadorian citizens themselves), and it is easy to see why so many expats prefer having private health insurance.

Private health insurance

Those looking for private health insurance can choose to obtain either a local or international policy. If you’re on a tight budget and rarely travel, a local plan may be the best option for you. Local plans are often much cheaper than international health insurance, primarily because it covers a lot less geographically. That said, expats and frequent travellers often prefer international health insurance to benefit from much greater flexibility and freedom in choosing where they can seek care. The cost of international health insurance in Ecuador can range from as little as USD 66 for a basic plan, to USD 942 for a more comprehensive plan with added benefits such as dental and maternity cover.

Looking for more information on Ecuador visa requirements?

To learn more about the new Ecuador visa requirements and your health insurance options, contact the helpful advisors at Pacific Prime today. Also feel free to have a look at our Ecuador page here for in-depth information on healthcare and health insurance in Ecuador.

Medical Tourism: What You Need to Know Before You Go

Medical tourism

For the most part, travellers are trying to stay out of a hospital whilst they’re on holidays. But across the world there is an emerging class of voyagers crossing international borders with the sole purpose of obtaining affordable medical services which can range from dental work to liposuction. The proliferation of affordable air travel, skyrocketing costs of healthcare in developed countries, extended waiting lists and strains on health services due to aging populations have all contributed to global expansion in medical tourism across the past decade. And business is booming. It’s not difficult to see why: the cost of heart bypass surgery is around $70,000 in the United States whilst the same surgery will cost just $7,000 in India — a saving of a staggering 90 percent. With rising costs of health care in developed countries, there are more and more people electing to have procedures completed abroad. But it’s not simply major invasive surgeries like gastric bypass or orthopedic operations being sought by medical tourists. There are equal numbers of people simply keen to regain their pearly white smile through laser whitening or seeking cheaper alternatives to some dermatological conditions. Here, we take a look through some of the considerations you should take into account if you are planning to hop on a plane for a nip or a tuck. Continue Reading…

How to Do Europe in Two Weeks or Less

europe

The fact is you can’t do Europe in two weeks. You can only be in Europe for two weeks, which, though it may not carry as much weight on a bucket list, is as good a way as any to spend a vacation.

And besides, vacations are for enjoying, not for checking things off lists. So before you book that Eurorail pass and start planning 15 countries in 14 days, just take a moment and think about how much fun you’re actually planning to have on this trip. Continue Reading…

Travel Insurance Vs. Health Insurance: What’s the Difference?

travel insurance

It’s important to be insured while away from your home country. (See our article on travel insurance for more on this). But, travel insurance and health insurance aren’t the same thing – in fact, they’re very different. Which one should you buy before starting your journey? Read on to find out more. Continue Reading…