Local vs worldwide health insurance for families – what you need to know

Worldwide health insurance plans are critical for anyone who travels frequently or is thinking of moving abroad. However, they can be complex and confusing. Read on for some key questions answered.


When choosing a health policy one of the main decisions you must make is whether to go for a local plan or an international medical insurance policy.

The main difference between the two is, of course, their area of cover, however, the level of cover and benefit options tend to differ dramatically as well, which is something a lot of people are not aware of.

Keeping that in mind, read on to discover everything you need to know regarding the major differences between both policies…

Local health policies are country-specific and consequently, they are designed for locals, i.e. if you live in the UK and opt for a local health policy you will have access to healthcare and hospitals in the UK alone.

On the other hand, international health policies are designed mainly for expats. They provide you with worldwide health care and hospital access. Nonetheless, this is policy-specific, meaning you will be presented with a comprehensive list of areas your policy covers.

Whilst global health insurance policies are designed for expats they can actually be beneficial for a whole host of people, such as those who travel frequently.

Despite the main difference between the two types of policies being the geographical area of cover, there are other distinct variations between the two. International policies tend to offer a high level of cover with only a few exclusions.

Alternatively, local policies have quite a lot of exclusions and provide a medium level of cover. The benefit options are in high numbers when it comes to international health insurance policies, with everything from optical care to vaccinations to maternity care offered. You only have a few of these options with local policies.

A distinct disadvantage associated with local policies is the fact that pre-existing conditions tend to be completely excluded. This is not the case with worldwide health policies. There are some exceptions in regards to pre-existing conditions.

Of course, this all depends on your insurer and the type of policy you go for, yet those with pre-existing conditions do have more opportunities available to them. On a final note, it is worth pointing out that multilingual support is available with global health insurance policies, which is an added benefit.

Hopefully, you now have a better understanding of the main differences between local health insurance policies and international medical insurance policies.

You will often be able to find local policies at cheaper rates, but there are much more advantages associated with global medical insurance policies. Thus, it is all about determining what is right for you.


Are you searching for your first international health insurance policy? If so, it can often seem a little bit confusing and overwhelming. There is so much to consider and all of the insurance jargon can prove to be a bit tricky as well.

Nevertheless, the last thing you want to do is buy a global medical insurance policy without being fully aware of what you have purchased.

One thing you need to consider is any waiting periods your policy may have. Failure to do this could result in you thinking you are covered for something when you may not be. Thus it really is an important part of any insurance plan.

A waiting period means that you will have to wait a set period of time before you will be covered for specific types of treatment. One of the most common waiting periods is in regards to maternity care.

Most insurers will make policyholders wait approximately ten months before they will cover any maternity care or treatment. This is to make certain that individuals do not simply fall pregnant and then take out a policy.

Pregnancy is classed as a pre-existing condition and thus you need to plan in advance if you want to be covered for this in your international medical insurance policy. You certainly can’t look for a policy once you’re on maternity leave.

If you are planning to start a family, begin searching for a policy beforehand and make sure you assess the waiting period carefully before you try to fall pregnant. If you look for a policy whilst pregnant you will not be covered, which is the last thing anyone wants.

Maternity care is not the only type of benefit that can be subject to a waiting period. Other pre-existing conditions will definitely have a waiting period if the insurer has agreed to cover them. The typical waiting period for this is two years.

Dental care usually has a waiting period of six to nine months, whilst you can expect to wait a year before you can make the most of well-being check-ups.

Of course, this is just a round-up of the most common waiting periods, every international health insurance policy is different. Nevertheless, this is clearly something that is very important to consider. If you fail to do so, you could end up getting treatment whilst thinking you are covered, only to hear the disappointing news that your insurer won’t be covering you because the waiting period is over. This could leave you in a negative financial situation, to say the least.

*This is a collaborative post

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