Last Updated on by Rodrigo @ OutofYourComfortZone
Heading off to live in Europe (either within the European Union or the United Kingdom) as an expat or an immigrant? Want to know more about the cheapest health insurance available to you in your new home? Then take a look below for all the details – including the best companies to choose from, how to make your decision & more!
The decision to move overseas is never easy. There may be fear, anxiety, instability…but all of this is normal. Because, at the end of the day, moving to Europe means you’ll have to adapt to a new culture, new customs, and often even a new language!
Because of this, it’s important that you take some time to research and take care of items that will be necessary for your arrival on the new continent before you leave home.
One of these items to take care of is international health insurance. And with this in mind, I created this list with the 7 best options for international health insurance for immigrants that can cover you and your family in Europe (including in the United Kingdom and thus England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland).
Take a look at what each of these insurance companies has to offer below to find the coverage and best choice for you and your family!
Why is it important to have international health insurance if you’re living in Europe?
First things first, it’s important to know that getting an insurance policy before you leave home will make a big difference. Beyond making sure you’re covered against potential accidents, insurance will also guarantee your entrance to Europe and may even be a requirement to get your student/work visas or permanent residence!
So, here are 3 reasons in more detail to make sure you get your policy before leaving home.
1. You’re required to have health insurance to enter the Schengen Zone
This first reason can get a little tricky. Because it’s not all countries in Europe – such as the United Kingdom – that will require you to have health insurance to enter.
However, in much of Europe (including countries like France, Germany, and Portugal), having health insurance, even if you’re only visiting as a tourist, is technically a requirement.
More specifically, health insurance is a requirement for all the countries (which is most of Europe) that are part of the Schengen Agreement.
We’ll talk about what the Schengen Zone is in a minute. But here’s what you should know: although they don’t always ask, it is possible that you will be asked to show proof of insurance at immigration when you land. So you don’t want to be caught without it!
You just need to make sure that whatever health insurance policy you have is one that covers the country you’re moving to. And luckily, the international health insurance companies I’ll recommend below cover most countries of the world!
What is the Schengen Agreement?
Also called the Schengen Zone or Schengen Treaty, this is an agreement that guarantees the free movement of people between participating countries. In other words, there’s no border control to get from one country to another.
It’s worth pointing out that, although the majority of countries in the European Union are also members of the Schengen Zone, not all of them are (such as Ireland, Croatia, Bulgaria, and Romania).
Citizens of certain countries are required to have a Schengen Visa to enter any country in the Schengen Zone, while citizens of many others (such as the United States, Australia, or Canada) can enter freely without one.
But whether you need a visa or not, you are still required to have health insurance that provides coverage of at least 30,000 euros.
What is the United Kingdom?
Before Brexit (the name given to the UK’s departure from the European Union), those with citizenship from any other European Union country were free to live, work, and study in the UK (and vice versa). But now, visas are required if you’re going to live there. And to get those visas, you’ll have to show proof of health insurance as well.
But no need to worry here, because the insurance providers I share below will give you coverage both in countries within the European Union as well as outside of it like the United Kingdom. However, it is always a good idea to do a final check with immigration before you go.
2. You may need health insurance to apply and qualify for your residence visa
Although many European countries have a public health system, most will still require anyone requesting a residence visa to show proof of valid health insurance with their application.
They do this because, in most cases, you’ll only be covered by the public health system after you have your residence card in hand. In some countries, you’ll also have to be registered in their local “social security” system first.
Because of this, make sure to do some research on the public health system and see if health insurance is a requirement to get a visa. Also check and see the average wait time between application and approval so you can know how long of an insurance policy you need before you can access the public system.
3. An international health insurance policy will guarantee you have coverage and help while overseas
At the end of the day, the biggest advantage of having an international health insurance plan is that it guarantees your health and safety.
The truth is that we all hope we never have to use our insurance. But it can give some serious peace of mind knowing that we are covered in case something does happen…especially when we are moving overseas and don’t exactly know how the local health system works.
So, be sure to choose an insurance provider with good customer support as this is what you’ll count on in an emergency. In fact, it’s often the insurance provider themselves who will let you know in an emergency which hospitals are closest to you and which are covered under your plan.
I always recommend that you get an online quote from all the companies below. Yes, I know it might take some time… But honestly, the amount you can save with just good research is staggering!
Who do these international health insurance services cover?
For these citizens who live in Europe and the UK as expatriates or immigrants:
- British people
- New Zealanders
And for citizens of almost every other country
In addition to expatriates/immigrants residing in Europe and the United Kingdom, these insurances are for residents living in:
- China (and Hong Kong)
And for expats living in almost any other country in the world
In short, these international health plans basically serve any citizen in almost every country in the world as they are a global service.
What are the 7 best international health insurance providers for immigrants to Europe?
It’s time to get to know the best international health insurance and what I consider to be positive and negative about each of them. The list is:
- Foyer Global Health
- Global Underwriters
And after the list, I talk more specifically about each coverage in the comparative table, so keep reading!
The first insurance provider on our list today is Cigna, an American company that’s also present throughout Europe. They are, without a doubt, one of the best options out there for anyone in search of international medical coverage.
After being in the business for more than 60 years, they’ve offered plans to more than 170 million clients around the world. Nikki was even one of them herself when she needed a health insurance plan to get her residence card in Sweden!
Cigna has a wide variety of plans that work for anyone moving to Europe (or most other places in the world as well). You can choose from individual or family plans, and can personalize and add benefits based on exactly what you need covered.
When you get your quote, you can choose from the Silver, Gold, or Platinum plan. These plans will give you coverage in more than 200 countries and territories around the world (though they don’t offer coverage in the United States thanks to its high healthcare costs).
If you’re looking for a cheaper plan, you can also choose “Close Care,” which is valid only in your origin country and the country you’re going to be moving to.
Pros of an international health insurance plan with Cigna:
- They have 24/7 customer service
- They offer Covid-19 coverage if requested by a doctor, including PCR tests
- In most cases, you don’t pay the healthcare provider directly (Cigna pays them directly for your consultation so you don’t have to request reimbursement)
- Clients have access to an online portal where they can see the nearest hospitals that they have coverage at
- They have tailored and flexible plans
- It’s easy to get a personalized quote (no need to input a ton of personal info)
Cons of an international health insurance plan with Cigna:
- Not all of their plans cover maternity care
IMG is another large provider of international health insurance. With more than 25 years of experience, they currently operate with 3 subsidiaries around the world. In fact, this is one point that IMG highlights on their website: they offer 24/7 customer support in 18 languages!
When it comes to their plans, you have several options available…whether you’re moving alone or with a family. They have a number of plans created around specific reasons for travel, such as for immigrants and expats.
These particular plans are long-term with a 1-year minimum and can be renewed. However, you can also select shorter plans that still cover all you need.
You can easily see your options on their website by filtering according to the dates and plan length you’re looking for, your age, your reason for travel, your country of origin, and your destination country.
You can also add in info about your family so you can see plan prices for everyone.
One recommendation is to carefully read the specifications of each plan, since IMG doesn’t have plans for all ages.
Pros of an international health insurance plan with IMG:
- Multilingual 24/7 customer service
- Their network includes more than 17,000 doctors around the world
- Ability to adjust your plan benefits based on what you need for coverage (with 5 plans in total for you to choose from)
- They provide coverage for COVID-19 as for any other illness and injury
Cons of an international health insurance plan with IMG:
- They don’t offer plans for travelers above 75
3. Aetna (acquired by Allianz)
As the winner of awards like “Best International Provider for Private Health Insurance,” Aetna is another trustworthy insurance option to consider before your move to Europe.
While they don’t offer as many plan options as the others on this list, the plans they do offer are high-quality and include coverage up to 5 million dollars! Their plans are also flexible and allow you to add in extra services (like dental treatments) as necessary.
Medical evacuations and repatriations are always included, and they offer family plans as well.
For those moving to Europe, one of the most common Aetna plans chosen is Aetna Pioneer, which offers a minimum coverage of 1.75 million dollars. However, you can fill out the form on their website to get more info and see pricing for their other plans.
Pros of an international health insurance plan with Aetna:
- 24/7 customer service
- They offer pre-trip support to individuals who are pregnant, have a disability, or have a chronic illness (you can also use this support to ask questions about regularly-used medications)
- You can choose from short- or long-term plans
- They include maternal care expenses
- You can see the providers closest to you directly on the Aetna app
Cons of an international health insurance plan with Aetna:
- Honestly, Aetna doesn’t have many downsides. But I can point out the smaller number of available plans and the higher price when compared to other insurance companies on this list
GeoBlue is another big name in international health insurance. For more than 20 years, what has made GeoBlue different is its digital health services.
However, it is worth pointing out that you cannot purchase GeoBlue health insurance if you are a citizen of New York or Washington. So, if that’s the case for you, I recommend moving on to the next nomination on our list.
Either way, GeoBlue has various plans to choose from based on your reason for travel, such as immigration. In which case, the best option is Xplorer Essential, which is a long-term plan that offers unlimited coverage and includes pre-existing conditions. Or if you’d rather have a short-term plan, Voyager is another option.
If you want to learn more about the plans and see detailed pricing for GeoBlue, you’ll have to fill out the form online and wait to be contacted by a consultant, which isn’t the most convenient…
Pros of an international health insurance plan with GeoBlue:
- Some plans offer unlimited coverage plus coverage for pre-existing conditions
- 24/7 customer support
- You’ll also get access to their app and various other online tools, such as telemedicine
Cons of an international health insurance plan with GeoBlue:
- The contracting of the plans cannot be done by citizens of New York or Washington
- You need to speak directly with an insurance consultant to get a quote
- Their plans aren’t very flexible
For anyone who travels often (or happens to be a digital nomad), you’ve probably heard of SafetyWing – an insurance company known for their insurance plans for companies as well as for remote workers.
Because of this, the company’s style comes across as quite distinct from the others on this list (and you’ll see that quite quickly when you land on their website!).
SafetyWing’s plan offerings include some budget-friendly options that even allow you to include children under 10 on your plan for free. But generally, pricing varies based on your age group.
The cheapest plan you’ll find offers coverage up to 250,000 USD, though it doesn’t include pre-existing conditions. Though you can add this type of coverage for an extra fee.
One of the biggest benefits of SafetyWing is that for every 90 days you pay for coverage overseas, you’ll get 30 days of coverage for free in your home country.
Pros of an international health insurance plan with SafetyWing:
- The website is very intuitive and it’s easy to find all the information you need
- 24/7 customer service
- They offer coverage for Covid-19 treatment if requested by a doctor
- You get 30 days of free coverage in your home country for every 90 days of your plan that you spend overseas
Cons of an international health insurance plan with SafetyWing:
- Their plans aren’t quite as complete as the others on this list
- The prices you see on their website don’t include taxes and fees (you’ll have to create an account and fill out your info if you want an exact quote)
Beyond being a safe and trustworthy company, Foyer Global Health also stands out for offering the greatest variety of plans for travelers and clients of all kinds.
Pros of an international health insurance plan with Foyer Global Health:
- 24/7 customer service by email and phone
- They offer evacuation and repatriation services
- All of their plans cover dental surgeries, appointments, and treatments
- They offer medical support and advice before your trip with vaccinations and the preparation of a first aid kit
Cons of an international health insurance plan with Foyer Global Health:
- Their website doesn’t make their coverage limit very clear
Global Underwriters offer international health insurance plans for a variety of travelers, including students, expats, and even digital nomads that are adventuring in a new country.
The most recommended plans for immigrants in Europe are Diplomat Long Term and Diplomat International.
Pros of an international health insurance plan with Global Underwriters:
- Up to USD $1,000,000 available in medical coverage in the plans cited above, beyond USD $1,000,000 in coverage for accidental death and dismemberment
- 24/7 customer support
- The Diplomat Long Term and the Diplomat International plans offer coverage for medical evacuations, emergency dental care, and repatriation of mortal remains
Cons of an international health insurance plan with Global Underwriters:
- The Diplomat Long Term plan doesn’t cover trips to Iran, Afghanistan, or Cuba
- They don’t offer coverage to residents of Australia, Iran, New York, Maryland, or South Dakota
- The Diplomat International plan doesn’t offer coverage for Covid-19 treatment
Comparative table of the 7 best international health insurance for immigrants in Europe
To facilitate your choice, check the table with a comparison of the international health insurances mentioned above.
In this way, it is possible to better visualize the advantages and disadvantages of each company and how they fit your profile.
Worldwide Medical Insurance / Comparison Chart*
Part of the table courtesy of Tokio Marine HCC
*Note: this table is just for informational purposes and subject to change. It was accurate as of the time we wrote it here, but please check each company’s individual website for updated info.
How to choose the best international health insurance policy as an immigrant/expat moving to Europe
Now that you know the best international health insurance providers out there, you probably have a few favorites in mind. But how do you make the right choice?
Well, here are 3 topics that I recommend you analyze before purchasing any policy:
- Coverage amount
- Type of coverage
- Cost vs benefit
1. Coverage amount
The first point I recommend you look at closely is the coverage amount each plan offers.
As I said at the beginning, the countries that are a part of the Schengen Agreement require a minimum coverage of 30 thousand euros.
So, if you’re going to be immigrating to a Schengen Zone country, make sure you get a plan that offers at least this much coverage. To give you a general idea, a coverage of 30 thousand euros is ideal for someone that is healthy and has no pre-existing conditions.
2. Type of coverage
Beyond knowing how much you’ll have covered in medical expenses, you also want to take a look at what type of coverage is actually offered.
As I said above, young healthy travelers often choose more basic plans with the minimum coverage. However, there’s a bit more to consider before making your decision.
Covid-19 is a good example because initially few insurance companies offered coverage for the illness. But today, more plans do now include medical expenses related to the illness and the transfer of the body, but not all do.
Another detail to look at is the age group as some plans only serve travelers 60 years of age or less and charge more for broader coverage. So if you need access to any additional medical services, are pregnant, or are over 60, make sure your plan covers everything you need.
Many insurance companies also have the option to customize plans based on exactly on your coverage requirements, which can help.
3. Cost vs benefit
Finally, you’ll want to look at which plan gives you the best cost vs benefit.
Take a look at the coverage, see what reviews say about the customer service…
But do make sure you don’t choose your plan purely based on what’s cheapest. Instead, choose based on the combination of all that each plan offers. And yes, it is possible to find good plans with good coverage for a good price!
Once again, here’s our list of the best international health insurance providers for anyone to moving to Europe:
- Foyer Global Health
- Global Underwriters
Moving to a new country always involves a lot of research and planning. And one decision that you don’t want to forget to make before you leave is on your health insurance. So, the more you can know about the best insurance providers, policies, and how to make your decision…the better!
Let me know in the comments area below what you thought of this list and if you’ve ever worked with any of these insurance companies before.
And, of course, if you have any questions add them below and I’ll get back to you!