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Panama - Insurance
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The situation with regards to insurance in Panama is the same as in the US and the UK. There are many different types of insurance and the cost is on a par or below that of other countries.
Health insurance is something that is considered to be essential for expats. Healthcare standards in the country are good and if people need medical treatment then they are not turned away from hospitals if they do not have insurance, but for peace of mind it is important. There are a number of international health insurance providers which have a base in Panama, including BUPA and World Wide Medical or you might want to opt for a local company like ASSA. Health insurance premiums are lower than in other countries and the policy will cover you for the same aspects of health care as in other countries such as medical expenses and a stay in hospital.
Car insurance is important in Panama and will be essential if you are renting a car, but this is an expensive way to motor. Rental insurance means daily premiums. If you have your own car then you will require collision insurance and liability insurance. This is particularly important as an expat is likely to be accused of being responsible for a collision simply because they are not local.
There are two different types of car insurance in Panama. There are those cars which are covered fully, but this can only be applied to cars which have been made since the year 2000. This gives them cover for civil responsibility which covers personal injury and damage to property, medical costs and assistance and coverage for the driver’s own car for collision. The second type of car insurance is just Civil Responsibility, which covers damage to other cars and property and personal injury coverage for the other driver. This can also include medical coverage for those people travelling in your car, but this will vary between insurance companies. Policy costs will rise with the age of the vehicle as it is considered that these cars are more at risk of an accident and in the event that the insurance company needs to arrange a repair it may be that parts are hard to source and expensive to use.
Car insurance companies will calculate their own rates of depreciation for a car. This is usually calculated at 20% in the first year and then 15% each following year. In order to obtain car insurance you must have a valid driver’s license. If you are purchasing a car with a loan then you will be required by the loan company to have a policy which gives full coverage.
Professional liability policies are also available but tend to be reserved for those working in the medical profession or other contact professions such as therapy in a number of forms or those who are running a service industry. This type of policy tends to be more popular in urban areas as those who are in rural areas will not bother so much with this type of policy.
Home insurance policies are widely available. It is a good idea to check the details of the policy as some automatically insure the land that the house is sitting on but this is not necessarily something that you will need. Policy costs are calculated on factors such as burglary rates in the area, the tendency for the region to be hit by earthquakes and hurricanes and the value of the items in your home.
Life Insurance is much the same as similar policies in other countries. Term life insurance is a policy which expires after a specific period of time while universal life insurance usually has a low premium and an increase in policy value over time. Brokers will be able to advise you on the right policy for your circumstances.
The use of brokers is very popular in Panama as these can help you to find the most cost effective premium and compare all those which are available to you. You have the right to choose your own insurer and no company can put pressure on you to take their insurance. So the bank may insist on you having a fully comprehensive car insurance policy but you are under no obligation to take theirs. Buying several policies from one insurer can mean discounts.
Making claims will vary from company to company, but most claims can be started with a simple phone call. This may be followed up by a visit from the company or the need to complete a number of forms. All companies will appoint a claims handler to talk you through the process and ensure that the claim is dealt with properly.
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Expat Health Insurance Partners
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.