Insurance Checklist for Expats

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Moving to Singapore for work...?  

Whether you are on your way, have recently arrived or been living in Singapore for a few years, you may know that the island state is renowned as one of the safest places in the world to live.  

**Article first published here by ExpatChoice.Asia

With this safety and the international expats' sense of safekeeping, many expats relax at the idea of buying insurance or believe that their company is covering them for everything.

Expats should be aware, however, that Singapore has no social welfare system protection or government subsidised assistance for foreigners.

Unlike in Australia or New Zealand, Singapore does not offer any coverage or discount for medical or dental expenses, accidents, loss of income, and personal/financial Liabilities. 

You should also be aware that most employers either provide no insurance protection or provide inadequate levels of protection for their employees. 

Simple surgeries in a private hospital such as an anterior cruciate ligament sprain or tear, one of the most common knee injuries will set you back ($15,000), an appendectomy ($ 15,000) or a tonsillectomy ($ 20,000). Therefore, it is important that you protect yourselves, your family members and your home with insurance, as things can go wrong and may leave you financially exposed to big bills.

To put you in the picture; British expat, Andrew found himself in a Singapore private hospital having what looked like a slight infection which resulted in a flare up of unidentifiable blisters on his face, causing his face to swell. After seven days of investigation which involved IV drips, pain killers, swabs and a medical biopsy, the doctors could not identify the condition or diagnose the infection.

The biopsy did not show the blisters to be infectious. After some improvement, Andrew was allowed to return home, but was told to rest for a further three weeks, or at least until the swelling subsided before allowing him to return to work.

The surgery and hospital changes amounted to SGD$25,000. Andrew had no out-of-pocket expense as he was covered in full from his medical insurance and furthermore, the hospital was paid direct.

Another example is regarding a Swedish expat family in Singapore who recently contacted Expat Insurance for coverage after they lost all their belongings when their home accidently caught fire. They were, of course, devastated by the loss of their un-insured possessions.

Their worst fears were not yet realized until the owner of the adjacent home sued them for the substantial fire damage caused to his property. Although cases like this are rare, no one can predict the future, which is why losses like these can catch us by surprise and cause great distress.

Read the brief guide below to recommended insurance protection for Singapore expats:

Medical Insurance

Medical or heath insurance covers the cost of hospitalization, including room and board, surgery, diagnostics/tests, and consultations plus maternity, pre-natal, delivery, post-natal and newborn coverage. This insurance also covers outpatient costs such as GP/general practice doctors, specialists, dental and accident and emergency treatments. Although medical care in Singapore is first class, the cost of care is much higher than in most countries and borne either by you or your insurance with no government assistance for foreigners. Examples of cost are stomach flu: $5,000, pregnancy and delivery: $14,000, heart/kidney/liver surgeries: $30,000-$200,000, and dental crowns: $2,000.

Although many employers provide Company Medical Benefits, these plans often have low limits of coverage. Employer plans typically have caps on critical illness and cancer and offer low hospital and surgical limits. In addition, they often provide no maternity or dental cover and require visits to panel clinics, restricting choice. We recommend you always get your medical insurance professionally reviewed to make sure you fully understand the level of protection you have for yourself and your family.

Home & Liability

Home Insurance covers the loss, damage or theft of belongings in or outside of your owned/rented home. Examples of claims are lost jewelry, flood and fire. home insurance also covers personal liability: accidental property damage or bodily injury you cause to others as well as the liability of your children. It should be noted that employers do not usually provide this coverage to employees and your home country homeowners policy does not likely extend to Singapore. Furthermore, if you rent a property in Singapore your landlord will only insure the building structure and not any contents. The landlord is not providing the tenant with any third party liability cover. Please be aware that the Home and Liability Insurance doesn’t cover the government requirement for domestic maid’s insurance, this is a separate coverage altogether.

Travel Insurance

Travel Insurance covers limited medical costs, evacuation and repatriation due to accident, injury or disasters. It also covers luggage delay and loss, flight delay and cancellation due to illness or death in family. Claim examples include broken bones, crisis while travelling outside of Singapore, earthquakes and tsunamis, and lost luggage. Some companies cover their employees for business trips, but coverage does not extend to the family or personal holidays.

Don’t wait until it’s too late. Make sure you and your family are adequately protected. For free advice on your medical, home or travel Insurance you can contact Expat Insurance whom understands your needs, no matter your nationality – having protected more than 20,000 expat clients just like you, in Singapore since 2009.

*Please note that the information above is for illustrative purposes only. Actual insurance coverage, limits, exclusions, costs, etc. may vary depending on selected insurer.

Visit Expat Insurance to find out more.


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