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Taking cover abroad

by David Howell, CEO at Guardian Wealth Management

Regular review of all insurance policies held by non-domiciles living or working in Qatar is essential to ensure they provide the cover required.

In particular, anyone who has recently become or is thinking of becoming an expatriate, should re-evaluate all their existing insurance policies to ensure the terms match their needs and that there are no exclusion clauses that could affect the validity of the policy.When moving abroad it is very easy to assume, for example, that a life insurance policy taken out when living in one country will cover you in exactly the same way elsewhere. However, this may not be the case. In fact, term assurance, whole of life assurance, the life assurance element within with-profit endowments, income protection, critical illness and family income benefit could all become null and void because the underwriting risks for someone living and working abroad are considerably different to those pertaining to an original domicile.

Even general insurance, such as buildings and contents policies, should be reviewed, because if you own a property in the UK, for example, which is going to be unoccupied for more than 28 days or you are renting out the property while you are abroad, clauses in your policy may affect the cover you think you have.

A few insurers will extend existing cover for expatriates, but you would need to inform your insurer well before departure. We find people have taken out life insurance in their home country thinking it will cover them anywhere, but insurance is often very specific and changes to circumstances, such as a change of country or residence, if only on a temporary basis, can severely limit or even invalidate the cover.

We would advise anyone to review the insurance policies they have in place to ensure they properly cover them both for working in Qatar and for individual personal and family needs.

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As most people only review their insurance policies once a year at renewal, the terms and conditions can easily be overlooked in the interim.

Apart from taking up residence in a different country, it can be the case that since taking out the policy a person’s personal circumstances may have change, they may have got married or divorced, or had had children or acquired step-children whom they also wish to protect.

Often families living abroad rely on only one bread winner. Having the right insurance cover in place for accident or serious illness when the main salary earner is incapacitated and unable to work – or to cover other members of the family raising children or managing the family home – can be an enormous relief.

This is where an independent financial adviser (IFA) with experience of selecting the right cover from the best providers of insurance to international workers and those living abroad will be able to advise individuals and families to ensure they have proper cover for their circumstances.

Of particular relevance may be the international financial protection packages. These are designed to be flexible so that they adapt the cover to suit the changes in a person’s life and personal circumstances.

Anyone posted overseas by their company should check to see what benefits, if any, their company has put in place for them while they are abroad. There may be gaps in cover and these can be filled, dovetailing any new policies with the existing cover.

For example, an employer may only provide basic life cover in the event of a person dying while in their employment. Other needs such as income protection (in the event of sickness or unemployment), term assurance (to cover mortgages in the home country), critical illness (which pays a lump sum where a serious illness is diagnosed) and protection for family where the main breadwinner dies (family income benefit) are missing.

Seeking advice from an independent financial adviser, regulated to operate by the Qatar Financial Centre Regulatory Authority and with the international experience to take a holistic view and find the right cover for your individual circumstances is essential, so that if the worst happens, you and your dependants will be protected.

About Guardian Wealth Management

Guardian Wealth Management is regulated by the Belgian Banking, Finance and Insurance Commission (CBFA) in Belgium, by the Qatar Financial Centre Regulatory Authority in Qatar, by the Organisme d’Autoregulation fondé par le GSCGI et le GPCGFG (OAR-G) in Switzerland and by the Financial Services Authority in the UK.

Tel: 01302 703 128
Website: www.guardianwealthmanagement.com

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