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Australia - Insurance

Health insurance abroad is essential for any expat. In addition to expat healthcare insurance rates, insurance providers or online insurance comparison sites can provide life assurance quotes and auto insurance rates to provide you with overseas coverage. However, remember that cheap insurance may not represent the best value for money if you need to make a claim - as an expat you may require specialist expatriate insurance cover abroad.

To request free, no-obligation quotes from leading insurers, please visit our expat insurance page

When it comes to choosing Australian health insurance, the expat has a number of options available to them. Medicare is the health insurance scheme which is run by the government and gives members access to a range of basic medical services free of charge. This includes treatment in public hospitals and some treatments from GPs. You can also choose to combine this with private healthcare insurance in order to widen your access to different facilities.

If you have the status of a permanent resident you can join the Medicare scheme. You can only apply once you have arrived in the country and then go along to the nearest Medicare office. These can be found in all of the larger urban areas. You will need a certain amount of documentation such as your passport and any travel documentation that you have. Once you have gone through the enrolment procedure with the staff at the office you will be given your Medicare card. This will have a unique reference number on it which you will need to use the system. You will also be given detailed information on how the system works and the type of treatments that you can have.

Employers must have Worker’s Compensation Insurance to cover workers who suffer injuries and illnesses as a direct result of their work. Each state has its own department to oversee this insurance.

Private healthcare insurance is considered a must by most residents of Australia. This works alongside Medicare and you can use a combination of the two to get the treatment that you need. This will also cover you for the difference in the amount of money charged by the doctor and the amount covered by Medicare. Often you will need to pay out at least a little money for treatment by a doctor and this way you can claim the cost back. Private health insurance can also help you to avoid waiting lists if you need a specialist type of treatment.

Finding a private health insurer is easy as each state has several. You can consult the Private Health Insurance Administration Council. This is a government department which gives you all the information that you need for health insurance and how each type of fund works. When you establish the Medicare insurance when you arrive you are recommended to look into private healthcare insurance too.

You should be aware that you are only entitled to Medicare cover on certain types of visas so you will need to have a comprehensive private medical insurance policy to cover the whole family for all types of medical situations. For example, a student from overseas should ensure that they have a policy which is approved and one which is specifically designed for students. If health insurance is a requirement of your visa then you can arrange this at the same time as applying for the visa as you will need to be covered from the moment that you arrive in the country. It will also be a requirement that the policy is kept up to date at all times.

Car insurance is essential in Australia and all those who drive must have at least the basic third party cover which is required in all states. There are fines for those who drive with no insurance. The compulsory third party insurance is also called ‘green slip’, as this is the colour of the certificate which is issued. In some states this may come as part of the fees for registering the car and this is overseen by insurers which are funded by the state although in some areas you can arrange this through a private insurance company. The cost of this type of insurance is controlled to ensure that costs do not soar. This type of insurance will cover medical costs for a third party injured in an accident caused by your car and all children involved in the accident will have their costs covered, regardless of which car they were in.

The basic third party insurance can be upgraded to a different third party policy which gives you coverage for damage caused to property, although your own car will not be covered by this. A theft clause can be added if you wish and if you prefer a more comprehensive policy you can purchase one that will cover medical expenses and repairs to all people, vehicles and property. This type of policy will also give you an allowance for rental car hire while your car is being prepared. A comprehensive policy is much more expensive than those that are offered at a basic level but some people may want to have cover for themselves as well as others.

There are four types of life insurance in Australia and the most popular and widely available is known as term life insurance as the others are being phased out. This type of insurance is a policy which is only valid for a certain number of years so you can have a fixed amount of life insurance for a set period of time. When this policy expires there is no cash value as it is only valid in the event of the policy holder’s death. If you choose to end the policy early there is no cash value. Options such as whole life policies, universal life policies and endowments have been used in the past although these are no longer available to new policy holders.

Home insurance is another essential in Australia as many mortgage lenders will not agree to a loan unless you have at least buildings insurance. This will cover you for damage from the weather or from vandalism to the structure of the building. Contents insurance is advised but not essential. This is to cover your belongings inside the house against possible theft, fire and damage. If you have specific items that are valuable this will need to be documented with your insurance company and valuable items should be documented with receipts and proper valuations. Those who are renting should have insurance to cover their belongings within the house in the same way as a homeowner would have contents insurance and this will cover for theft, fire and damage. If you own a house and want to rent it out you should take out a homeowner’s insurance policy. This will cover you for damage to the property and any financial liabilities which result, such as damage to the renter’s belongings which you would then need to replace.

Professional Indemnity Insurance is for all those who need to be insured against any possible problem connected to work. This can be neglect, error or incomplete services offered and this can be applied to a number of professions. You can be covered for financial loss, injury to others and damages to property. You can be covered for a number of civil liabilities including breach of duty, damage to documents, a breach of the fair trading acts, criminal and fraudulent acts against the policy holder and defamation against others if unintentional. The level of cover you have will depend on the advice offered by the insurer. This type of insurance can be used by lawyers, solicitors, accountants, therapists, those who offer construction services such as builders and plumbers and anyone who offers advice in a professional capacity.

Read more about this country

Expat Health Insurance Partners

Bupa Global

At Bupa we have been helping individuals and families live longer, healthier, happier lives for over 60 years. We are trusted by expats in 190 different countries and have links with healthcare organisations throughout the world. So whether you're moving abroad for a change of career or a change of scene, with our international private health insurance you will always be in safe hands.


Cigna has worked in international health insurance for more than 30 years. Today, Cigna has over 71 million customer relationships around the world. Looking after them is an international workforce of 31,000 people, plus a network of over 1 million hospitals, physicians, clinics and health and wellness specialists worldwide, meaning you have easy access to treatment.