Know How A Serious Illness Can Leave You Stranded Without Insurance Cover And What To Do About it, Now!

Tuesday, 5 February, 2019

what if you were uninsurable?


I’m sure you’ve all thought “Ohh! I need to sort out my life insurance cover” and then something else more important comes along.
Or it may have been health insurance that you needed to set up…
Either way the point is something else has taken priority!
And you know what…
When you really think about it whatever it was probably isn’t anywhere as important
Don’t thinks so, well by the end of this we’re sure that you’ll have changed your mind
We all know we need to sort out our insurance!
Though it’s a chore, boring and hey you’ve always got time!
The answer to that is who knows…

what gets us moving

The amount of times that someone asked us to help them get insurance…
After they’ve had some kind of health scare, simply beggars belief
All too often though you only start acting after it’s too late.
We recently wrote a post about expats being underinsured
Prompted by an article we read saying that 60% of people in the UK who should have life insurance, didn’t
And even after they’d had a trigger event such as the birth of a child or buying a house…
They still didn’t get any insurance
Though these aren’t really the triggers that will make you act 
The things that will really get you moving are serious illnesses or a major health scare
These are what shake you up and gives you the kick up the backside that you need.
Before we take a look at these though…
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the cost of delaying getting our insurance cover

You’ve had your health scare and it’s made you realise that you have to sort out that insurance.
So, you get the ball rolling and start filling out the insurance application forms.
What you’re going to find out is shocking and can leave you feeling helpless and exposed.
We say this a lot “you don’t buy insurance with your wallet, you buy it with your health”
Now you’re going to find out how true this is!
What you may come to realise at this point is that actually you’ve left things too late
So if you haven’t sorted out your life or health insurance and you keep putting it off
What’s the cost of getting sick?
What’s the impact on the cost or even your ability to get insurance cover?

heart attack

So you’ve heard the saying “about as serious as a heart attack” (sorry we had to)
Though in all seriousness if you’ve had one then you’ll know just how vulnerable it makes you feel.
If you haven’t then take our word for it or ask anyone who has
A sudden sense of mortality makes you want to act and get things sorted out for our loved ones.
So if you apply for insurance after having a heart attack what are you going to find out?
When it comes to life insurance…
You’ll find that you’re going to pay a loading of at least 225%.
And this is a best case scenario assuming that you’ve had a good recovery and got things under control.
What does this mean in reality?
Well, if the normal premium for the cover you want was £100 per month
Then your best outcome is to be paying £325 for the same amount of life cover.
If you haven’t made good progress and there’s some complications
Then you’re looking at an even bigger loading or even a decline of cover.
If the loading gets over 300% then this will lead to an automatic refusal.
As for health insurance at the very best…
You’re looking at a complete exclusion of the cardiovascular system.
Though more than likely you’ll be looking at a refusal of cover.
As an expat then this means you’re funding your care out of your own pocket
Whilst you may have cover from your employer now
Change company and you may struggle to get added to the new scheme

angioplasty or stent

If you’ve had a diagnosis of atherosclerosis (hardening or narrowing of the arteries).
Then you may have undergone angioplasty or had a stent implanted.
Again this is another prompter for you to apply for insurance
What’s the impact of waiting going to be on your application?
Again assuming that everything has gone without a hitch
You’re maintaining a healthy lifestyle and have no ongoing symptoms…
For life insurance you’re looking at a 200% premium loading
So what would have cost you £100 pre-diagnosis is going to cost £300 now
If things aren’t so positive you’re looking at a larger loading or a simple decline
As for health insurance..
Again at best it will be a complete exclusion of the cardiovascular system
This is an enormous one, making the viability of a policy questionable.
If there are complications then your application could be declined.

a cautionary tale

One of our clients worked for a global cosmetic company in Singapore.
He wasn’t interested in health insurance because he had his company plan.
Very common with expat employees…
Given the stature of his employer he assumed the scheme was comprehensive
And it would cover any medical situation that he or his family were going to encounter
What he didn’t realise was that this plan didn’t cover day patient procedures.
When he got the diagnosis of atherosclerosis he was happy to undergo the angioplasty procedure to correct the issue.
He contacted HR to find out how to arrange it through the company health insurance
Imagine his shock when he found out that it wasn’t covered
That’s because it’s classified as a day patient procedure
As medical care improves more procedures get included as outpatient care
On some policies cataract surgery won’t be payable on an impatient only policy
What was the upshot of this for him?
He had to pay a bill of SGD19,000 and that was over 10 years ago
So imagine the bill today
Though that’s not the worst of it for him
When he came to us to ask if we could set up a health insurance policy for him
He found out he had an even bigger issue and he’d acted too late.
We applied for him and he was given an exclusion on the policy
He’d pay the same premium as anyone else of his age
And yet the policy wouldn’t cover any condition connected with the cardiovascular system.
This made the policy unviable and meant that he’d be paying for his own healthcare in future


This one is a bit more tricky to give any clear definitions of the impact it’s going to have on getting life insurance…
The types and degrees of severity are much broader than the conditions we’ve looked at so far
One thing that’s different is how long ago did you have it.
The longer you’ve been healthy the better and your chances of getting accepted increase
Though for certain it’s still going to effect your ability to get life insurance
And if you can then it’s definitely going to be more expensive
What we can tell you is this…
Whenever we’ve submitted an application for a cancer survivor
The applications always gotten declined!
We talked to numerous international insurers whilst researching this article.
And at the time of writing not one had a client on risk who had a history with cancer.
Each one said they’d assess every case on an individual basis.
Though the experiences that we’ve had are the harsh reality.
If you’ve had cancer and got through it getting life insurance is going to be a challenge.
As for health insurance it’s a pretty similar story.
Whatever you’ve had in the past will result in an exclusion.
Irrespective of how long ago that was, they won’t cover it
Though the likelihood is they’re not going to accept your application.

a stitch in time...

A guy came to us wanting advice on setting up health insurance for when he retired
He’d been an expat for the past 25 years
He was still working and expected to continue for the next 3 years or so
This meant that he was still covered under his company scheme
When he retired he wanted to spend 3-4 months back in his home country and the rest of the time somewhere in Asia
He wouldn’t have access to a state health care system for 8 months of the year
And the visa that he was going to get required him to provide for his health care…
So he would need to have some health insurance
He’d been very healthy and didn’t have any significant health issues for his age
A big thumbs up in his favour!
Our initial advice was to point him in the direction of his current company scheme
Ask his employer if it was possible for him to remain on that scheme after he retired
He just takes over paying the premiums
This may sound crazy…
Some insurance provide this option to employers who in turn select it for employees
The benefit for you as an employee is you’re not going to have to deal with pre-existing conditions
And you get the discounts that come with a group scheme
Unfortunately this wasn’t an option on his company scheme
So when he left the company his cover was going to end
Our second suggestion was to set up a personal policy now
He could do it with a higher excess to reduce the premium he’d pay
Later on he could reduce the excess (as long as he remained healthy) and pay a higher premium
As and when he came to rely on the policy fully for his healthcare
The reason for doing this now…
He was healthy so he’d get full coverage
If he did get ill he’d still be covered on the policy though claims would be at the higher excess level
Not ideal, yet better than an exclusion or cover being declined
We gave him several options, basic emergency health insurance to more comprehensive policies
In the end he said that he’d rather wait…
He didn’t want to be paying for something that he didn’t need, after all he’d got the company insurance
Instead he’d get a policy nearer the time
Unfortunately a year before he was due to retire he was diagnosed with cancer.
It was treatable!
He had surgery and a course of radiation therapy
They’d caught it in time, the treatment was successful
Unfortunately, it had a massive impact on his retirement plans
He could no longer get health insurance
He tried and there wasn’t a company that would accept him
The visa that he needed required him to have health insurance
So this was no longer an option
After he left his company his cover would end.

multiple Sclerosis (MS)

We’ve had several clients who have had an MS diagnosis over the years
One in particular springs to mind
Because they took critical illness cover on their policy
At a very difficult time this was a shining light that helped them come to terms with the changes ahead of them
It took away the financial worries and allowed them to focus on what they needed to do to fight it
What if you don’t have cover?
Again we went straight to the source and asked the insurance companies
If someone had MS what were their chances of getting life insurance and at what cost?
What we got back was that having MS didn’t automatically mean they’d get declined
Once again it depended on severity and type
They went on to say that if the application was accepted then there was loading of at least 200%.
In all likelihood it’s safe to assume that there are more applications that don’t get accepted than do.
As for health insurance things are pretty clear
You’re NOT going to get accepted for cover
Type and severity don’t matter in this instance it’s going to be a straight up decline
Insurers say that there are just too many associated complications for a policy to be viable

crohn's disease

Crohn’s disease is something that has become more and more common over the past 20 -30 years
It can develop at any age though it most commonly occurs before 30.
There is no cure though management of the condition through medication is possible.
There are fatalities from Crohn’s disease though they are not common.
Due to the fatalities life insurers insist applicants with Crohn’s are medically assessed.
If acceptable then there is likely to be a loading though this will depend on each individual case.
It’s reasonable to assume that your premium will double.
If it is severe enough then the insurer will decline cover.
As for health insurance then Crohn’s won’t lead to an exclusion only a decline. 
The issue is that symptoms can be quite wide ranging.


Living overseas as an expat can mean you get exposure to some serious air pollution.
Prolonged exposure can lead to people developing asthma.
So if you’ve developed asthma and you need to apply for life insurance what can you expect?
Once again this will depend on each individual case…
Factors that are considered would be history of attacks, response to treatment
Other considerations would also be environmental conditions
Where you live will make a difference
If you’re living somewhere with heavy pollution
Then this is only going to aggravate your situation
It will also vary greatly from one insurance company to another
We’ve had applicants who’ve received a loading with one company and then been offered standard terms with another
If you’re getting a loading then it would usually start at around 100%
In very rare situations then there could be a decline for life insurance
If you’re applying for health insurance…
Then you will get an exclusion applied to the policy
You’ll pay the same premium as everyone else though any condition of the respiratory system won’t be covered
Lets be frank that’s a pretty big one!

other influencers on insurance

There are other illnesses and conditions that’ll impact your life insurance application.
There are even more that will effect an application for health insurance.
We’re not going to go into them all.
Though what you can safely expect is this…
It’s almost certain that you’re going to pay more for your life insurance
There’s a good possibility that you won’t be able to get any at all…
That’s you “Uninsurable”
As for health insurance you’re definitely looking at an exclusion
They really don’t like pre-existing conditions
Most likely you can expect to have cover declined
Though this can depend on how you apply for your cover

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a false sense of security

Life insurance is generally medically underwritten, so you know exactly where you stand.
You’re either accepted on standard terms, receiving a loading or getting declined
This isn’t always the case when it comes to health insurance…
Many insurers will insure on a moratorium basis or fully underwritten.
With moratorium underwriting all pre-existing conditions from the past five years get excluded.
If there’s no recurrence of symptoms then the insurer could extend cover.
You won’t know if you have cover for something until you make a claim.
At that point they’ll either honour the claim or refuse to pay.
Unfortunately, this can mean that claims are slow because they have to review its merits.
When you’re facing an emergency this isn’t what you want
This isn’t what you want in the case of an emergency.
If you do experience sypmptoms in that probation period then you start over again
So, the likelihood of you having a chronic condition covered is pretty much zero.
With an underwritten policy there’s a full assessment of your medical history.
Any serious pre-existing condition is likely to get an exclusion.
Though this isn’t always certain and a condition could receive cover straight away.
The good thing is you’ve got complete transparency
You know what you can claim for before you pay the first premium
As a result claims get approved far quicker
More and more companies seem to go for the moratorium application basis as standard
We would always recommend that your application is fully underwritten
You’ll know exactly where you stand
If you have suffered from something in the past a while ago and have no recurrence
Then you can always make a case for cover
If you do want your policy to be underwritten then make sure you request this before you apply
The application forms will be different
In our experience a policy written on a moratorium basis often disappoint.
Because there’s an expectation that you’re covered and when it turns out that you’re not…
Though there may be circumstances where it would work better for your circumstances.

caveat emptor

Not all insurers are equal!
Quite often as an expat it can be tempting to look towards the local insurance market as a solution.
Even more so if your partner is local
Policies can appear to be cheap and hassle free to set up.
Though what are you getting?
If you’re paying for something and not getting anything in return then what’s the point…
If your insurer hasn’t mentioned exclusions it doesn’t mean they’re not there.

getting let down

We knew someone who took out a policy with Malaysia’s oldest insurance company.
They completed the medical questionnaire in detail and with complete honesty.
They stated that his wife had had some benign fatty cysts removed from her breasts several years ago.
It wasn’t anything uncommon and there had been no further treatment required.
The policy had been running for about five years, premiums never missed
Now, they’d received some devastating news
The wife had breast cancer
They submitted a claim on the policy to claim for her treatment
The insurance company DECLINED!!!
Their reason was that this was a pre-existing condition
There had been no mention of exclusions when the policy was set up
They went to their physician who provided clear evidence that the two were unrelated
The insurance company still refused
The only option legal action

happy wondering

It really isn’t unusual for an expat to move from one country to another every 3-5 years.
If you don’t have insurance that moves with you…
Then you’re going to have to set up new policies.
And the thing is a domestic policy isn’t going to do this
Whether it’s one from back home or the country where you currently live
When you move cover is going to end
It’s that simple!
As we’ve seen above, a change in your health can have a significant impact on your ability to get insurance.
Don’t think that you have a choice in this either.
If you keep a domestic policy and keep paying premiums…
The insurance company will keep taking them
They just won’t honour any claims when you or your family make them
We’ve got more financial tips for you in our “Expat Life Insurance Series”
Find out what it takes to become a financially successful expat
And the common mistakes others make which come with a heavy cost
Click below!!


So if you haven’t update your insurance since you became an expat then stop putting it off.
A local policy isn’t going to cut the mustard either
Think that you’re not moving…
Think again
Shit happens, circumstances change people move on!
Being healthy makes getting insurance much easier and cheaper.
None of us know what’s around the corner and it doesn’t matter how fit we appear to be.
People still get sick!
If you’re living overseas then international insurance is your best option.
In fact it’s your ONLY viable option
Because it guarantees that you’ve got continuous cover.
Get sick…
Doesn’t matter, you’re already covered
Your premiums don’t go up and claims will get paid!
You won’t get left high and dry
When it comes to health insurance then this is even more important!
You may need to get treatment in another country
A local policy won’t let you do that an international one will
You get it, Right?

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