Comparison sites battle international health insurance brokers

health insurance brokers

With online comparison sites, will expats still use insurance brokers?

With so many comparison websites available why should expats looking for international health insurance use a broker? According to the annual Plimsoll report, over half of the top 1,000 brokerage companies in this sector are at risk or a target for takeovers. In this Internet driven age many expats find it easier to compare policies and prices online, but at least one brokerage is fighting back.

Private expatriate health insurance is a voluntary purchase, and therefore has no statutory minimum levels of coverage, as with car insurance for example. The result is a very wide range of choice. One way in which comparison site struggle with this industry is the sheer complexity of the products. No two insurers have the same level of cover over the same country, and every provider will want to look at their clients differently: assess medical history, pre-existing conditions and so on.

A typical expat, particularly one from the UK with its free National Health Service, may well have little idea of the cost of medical care abroad. Chances are he may risk not buying insurance before he moves abroad, a very poor but common decision, according to Robin Pegg, CEO of Medibroker.

“Medical costs overseas are very expensive and even something as mundane as an injury sustained in a car accident can cost thousands of pounds to treat, making a premium look very good value indeed. Yet, believe it or not, around half of expatriates have no insurance and risk running up bills of, for example, £12,000 to treat a fractured ankle in Hong Kong.”

Confusing choices

The reason many people are put off buying international medical insurance is the confusing choices. Once they find a simple search on a comparison site isn’t going to give them all the answers they give up.

That’s why Medibroker is sure the comparison industry isn’t going to sink medical brokers. In the UK, brokers offer impartial advice on a wide range of insurance plans from 30 different providers, and importantly, they are regulated. Wherever you are in the world, your broker will shop around and do the legwork for you.

Why use a medical insurance broker?

International private medical insurance general pays for treatment of acute conditions, ie. those which are short term and curable. These conditions must be unforeseen when the policy is taken out. Some policies also cover screening, maternity care, medical evacuation and chronic or long-term illnesses.

The cost of a policy depends on gender, age, health and where you live. The smart expat will therefore tailor the cover they buy to complement what is available locally in the country they move to. This kind of specialised approach is only really available through a highly personalized service, another reason brokers are preferred over comparison sites.

Steve Nelson, International Sales Manager from Newcastle based Medibroker says, “We will look at what a company may be offering, what facilities exist locally and critically whether there is any history of a pre-existing condition.

“Very often, we can still secure insurance cover on good terms, even where there is a medical history, something that is often overlooked and frequently given as a reason for not taking cover. The idea that because you may have hypertension therefore you are uninsurable is simple not true.”