In a word, yes. If you incur medical expenses while you are living or working overseas without the protection of expat travel insurance, you will be personally responsible for covering these costs. The government will not pay for medical expenses overseas, nor will any domestic health insurance cover you.

The government’s Smart Traveller website states that travel insurance is as essential as your passport, regardless of your destination. If you can’t afford travel insurance then you can’t afford to travel.

If you are a resident in a country outside Australia you should be thorough when browsing for the right expat travel insurance. Some companies provide cover for people residing in over 150 countries around the world, enabling online claims and the ability to extend coverage while still overseas.

As an expat shopping around for insurance, you should focus on a few key areas, including:

  • The level of cover, focusing on the high-cost areas like medical cover, repatriation, cancellation, loss of baggage and personal liability;
  • The overall cost of cover; and
  • The size and reputation of the insurance company.

To put things into perspective, the Australian Government claims it handles an estimated 20,000 cases of Australians in difficulty every year, including 700 hospitalisations, 600 deaths and 100 evacuations of Australian citizens for medical purposes.

The cost of medical evacuations from the United States, for example, reportedly starts at $75,000 and often rises to $300,000 or more. Even medical evacuations from the relatively local destination of Bali have been known to exceed $60,000.

It’s already a reasonably expensive exercise to travel or forge a new life overseas without being plagued by exorbitant medical expenses. The last thing expats need is to be further out of pocket.

This is general advice only and does not take into account your individual needs, objectives or financial situation. Before you buy any policy, make sure you read the product disclosure statement.

For more information see:

1. Where

2. When

3. Who

Your children go free
This means your dependent children or grandchildren under the age of 21 at the date of policy issue who are travelling with you.