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best insurance for working abroad

Best Insurance For Working Abroad (We Compare 6 Providers)

avatar - Tracy Robinson

Tracy Robinson

Business Analyst

If you’re looking for the best insurance for working abroad, you may have discovered that public healthcare in the country where you’ll be living might not be the best option and paying privately can be quite expensive. You might have discovered that travel insurance policies aren’t adequate – they have coverage limitations with long-term plans only covering you for up to 18 months.

So, which insurance provider is your best choice when working as an expat? For over 30 years, we’ve been providing insurance to people living in and working abroad. We’ll show you what you’ll get with working-abroad insurance from William Russell, and we’ll compare 5 more top providers. 

Should you get travel or international health insurance?

Both travel and international health insurance will cover you when working abroad. However, it’s important to have the right type of cover so you don’t end up with unexpected medical expenses while travelling.

Travel and international health insurance are two different products. Travel insurance is designed to protect you while you travel on a short-term trip abroad. Travel insurance will usually cover you for flight cancellations, lost valuables and sometimes, health-related emergency assistance.

Usually, travel insurance will be for a specific period in time, such as a holiday or a business trip. You can get travel insurance that is multi-trip, but it still means you won’t be covered in your home country. Most travel insurance will only cover for emergency treatment; make sure to read the policy wording to understand the exclusions (what’s not covered).

This is different to international health insurance, which will cover you for all types of medical treatment, and will also cover you when back in your home country. You can also choose to add optional add-ons such as emergency dental cover, mental health cover, vaccinations and maternity care.

Which one do you pick?

If you’re only travelling for a short trip, then something like single trip travel insurance is likely what you need.

If you’re going to be working abroad somewhere for a long stay, then international health insurance might be more appropriate.

Find out more about which insurance you might need
Should I get international health, travel or local insurance?

William Russell: Specialised international health insurance for expats

Since we’re the ones writing the article, we’ll start with ourselves.

At William Russell, we’ve been providing international health insurance cover for expats working abroad since 1992. Inez Cooper, our founder, started William Russell because no one was offering comprehensive health insurance plans specifically for expats.

Today, William Russell provides health, income protection, and life insurance plans for individuals, families and companies worldwide.

What you get with us

  • 30+ years of international insurance expertise
  • 24-hour emergency medical helpline
  • Direct support from your dedicated policy manager
  • Emergency medical evacuations (medevac)
  • Local ambulances (includes air ambulances for medevac)
  • Emergency dental treatment
  • In-patient and out-patient coverage
  • Cover for second medical opinions if you’re unsure on a diagnosis
  • Personal choice of hospitals and doctors
  • Cover for advanced diagnostic exams
  • Parent accommodation in hospital (when a child under 18 receives eligible treatment covered by their plan)
  • Cancer treatment (includes wigs, dental treatment following therapy, genome testing, and more)
  • Transplants and implants
  • Mental health treatment
Find out why our members stick with us
And why you should too

Why choose William Russell?

Here’s what makes William Russell one of the best insurance providers for working overseas:

1/ Expertise in international insurance for expats working abroad

Most international insurance providers are large companies that offer a wide variety of domestic insurance (from home and car insurance to life and medical), with international insurance as a secondary wing. They don’t specialise in international insurance for expatriates.

At William Russell, our focus is on providing insurance to people who are working abroad in a country they are not citizens in. That means we ensure you get the best possible service and healthcare while living or working abroad.

For example, if you have a medical emergency and have a basic plan from William Russell, you’ll have cover for:

  • Medevac (emergency evacuation)
  • Air ambulances (to transport you to the nearest hospital for emergency treatment if the best care isn’t available locally)
  • Emergency dental care
  • Admittance to hospital
  • Out-patient and in-patient medical treatments
  • Specialists and general practitioner visits
  • Cancer treatments and care

With insurance from William Russell, you’ll also be able to choose from different areas of coverage. This way you can limit your cover to the countries you plan to be visiting and working in, without having to purchase generic coverage for regions you may never travel to.

2/ Connection to a dedicated policy manager

Many large international health insurance firms outsource their calls to call centres, which means it may take you hours (or days) before you can actually speak with a human who can help you.  

As a private, family-run company, we offer a much more personal touch. Though we work with thousands of members in over 150 countries, there will always be a single team member who will take care of you from the beginning to the end of your policy.

When you make a claim, we’ll assign a dedicated claims manager: that means you won’t have long waits on the call centre phone, repeating your situation to multiple call handlers.

There will be other team members involved, but you’ll always be able to reach out to your dedicated point of contact. Some of our members have been with us for over 30 years and know us on a first-name basis. 

Our members stay with us because we value them as people – not just as a policyholder. This means:

  • You won’t have to repeat yourself: You’ll only have to speak to a handful of our team members and you’ll have your own dedicated claims manager, which means you’ll get constant updates on your claim and won’t have to keep repeating your situation.
  • More thoughtful benefits: We like to go above and beyond for our members and treat them as humans. For example, we offer cover for wigs for our members battling cancer – something that very few global health insurance companies cover.

3/ Over 30 years of experience providing insurance for working abroad

We’ve been offering health insurance to expats for over 30 years, which means:

We work with top hospitals and doctors – You may not know which hospitals to trust when living overseas. With William Russell, you can rest assured to avoid questionable hospitals or clinics. For over three decades, we’ve been building and consolidating relationships with the best hospitals in the world to ensure you can receive the best treatment.

You’ll have the flexibility to pick your hospitals – In addition to receiving access to the best clinics, you’ll have the freedom to choose your preferred medical centres and doctors within your areas of cover. There are no restrictions on the hospitals or clinics where you can get treatment.

We’re backed by an insurer who is part of the Allianz group of companies – one of the most well-known financial services company globally. This means you get the backing of a large corporation but the service and personal  touch of a family-run business. We’re also authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) in the UK and the Financial Services and Markets Authority (FSMA) in Belgium.

Want to find out more about
what our insurance plans cover?

4/ Pay only for what you need

With William Russell, you can select the groups of countries where you want coverage and include or exclude certain conditions.

Select the type of insurance – We offer international health, income protection and life insurance for individual expats and groups of employees working abroad.

Choose from four plans – You can choose from our Bronze, SilverLite, Silver, or Gold plans; the more precious the metal, the more comprehensive your plan.

Pick the areas where you want coverage – Instead of paying for multiple insurance policies in different countries or for an expensive generic international plan, you can choose between 6 different areas of coverage under one plan with William Russell.

Some of our areas exclude the US, whereas others might exclude Hong Kong, Singapore and other countries. For example, if you’re based in Nigeria but regularly travel around Africa, you can choose a package that gives you full cover in Africa.

Optional add-ons – You can purchase additional cover if you’d like. For example, full dental insurance cover and well-being treatments cover are some popular ones, to name a few.

What does 'international' really mean?
Find out more about areas of health insurance cover

Who’s William Russell good for?

William Russell is good for:

How to get started with William Russell international insurance

  1. Fill in your details here.
  2. Our team will be in touch to ask a few questions about you and offer you an indicative quote.
  3. You’ll then complete an application form.
  4. Our underwriters will go through your medical history to check for pre-existing medical conditions and write up your policy.
  5. We’ll issue a final quote.
  6. Once you agree to the final quote, you’ll be a William Russell member and your policy will begin.

We know that William Russell might not be a good fit for everyone, and at times, other providers might be a better fit. Here are five more insurance companies for working abroad.

Interested in our boutique-style services?
Get an international health quote in just a few minutes

Allianz Care

Allianz is one of the largest insurance firms on the planet, with over 122 million private and corporate customers. 

Allianz Care offers three different plans for expats working abroad: Care, Care Plus, and Care Pro. They also provide an employer plan.

Key features:

  • Digital health apps and incentives. 
  • 24/7 helpline in 6 languages. 
  • Offers a ‘second medical opinion’ service if you’re unsure about a diagnosis or procedure.
  • Expat Assistance Programme.
  • Travel Security Services helpline.

Bupa Global

Bupa, one of the most popular insurance companies in the UK, also offers global health insurance plans for expats working abroad.

They offer four different plan types – Major Medical, Select, Premier, or Elite. 

Key features:

  • Customer service available in over 200 languages.
  • Global Virtual Care (24/7 access to virtual appointments).
  • Digital access to private doctors and specialists. 
  • A second medical opinion service. 
  • Health screening and wellness checks (after 10 months).


Cigna is an American multinational firm that is a popular choice for large corporations and companies. However, they also offer cover for individual expats (and their families) working abroad. 

They offer three different plans for their global plan: Silver, Gold, and Platinum.

Key features:

  • Has an option for USA cover.
  • A telehealth service (for non-emergency consultations). 
  • Mental health cover on all tiers. 
  • You can start a plan in less than 10 minutes.
  • Extensive network of over 1 million hospitals and healthcare professionals. 

April International 

April International has over 150,000 policyholders worldwide and is part of Axa Insurance group.

They offer four plans: International, International Plus, Executive, and Executive Plus 

Key features:

  • Worldwide coverage (includes Africa).
  • Telehealth for quick online consultations.
  • ‘Easy Claim’ app lets you quickly claim back medical costs.
  • Customer service by live chat, phone, or WhatsApp.
  • 2+ million partner healthcare professionals.

Now Health

Based in Hong Kong, NowHealth offers international health insurance for expats living and working across the globe.

NowHealth offers two main insurance plans, each with several tiers. 

  • SimpleCare, which has three tiers – Core, 100, and 250. 
  • WorldCare has four tiers: Essential, Advance, Excel, and Apex. 

Key features:

  • Coverage across Europe, Africa, and Asia.
  • Medical evacuation & repatriation as standard. 
  • Wide range of plan tiers. 
  • 24/7 multilingual customer care and support. 
  • A network with over 1 million medical professionals.
Picking the best health insurance for expats can be tricky
Here's what you should look out for when choosing your plan

What’s important in a health insurance plan?

When comparing health insurance plans, it’s important to consider what features are actually important to you.

It’s also important to note that some countries require new expats to have their own private medical insurance before they can live in the country.

Here are a few you might want to ensure you have in your health insurance plan for peace of mind:

1/ Area coverage

You’ll want to find insurance that provides coverage where you’ll be working as an expat. If you expect to move or travel frequently to several countries, select working abroad travel insurance cover if you’ll be working abroad for less than one year or choose an international insurance policy that gives you multiple areas of coverage. An international insurance plan with global coverage will be more expensive.

2/ Out-patient cover

Treatment like physiotherapy on minor injuries would come under out-patient. Paying for private physiotherapy treatments without medical cover can be very expensive.

3/ Dental coverage

Medical expenses can quickly add up with private dentists. Dental coverage is a good option if you don’t want to fork out if you have a dental emergency while working abroad. 

What should be included in your health insurance plan?
Here's how to find the best health insurance while living abroad

What should you consider when picking an insurance provider?

Trying to find the right insurance provider for you can be frustrating. There are so many different providers out there, all aiming to convince you that they’re the best.

In truth, there’s no single ‘best’ provider; it’s all about what you’re looking for and whether that firm has the expertise to provide reliable cover for your unique circumstances.

To help you find the right international health insurance provider, look for the following:

1/ Reviews

Check out the TrustPilot or Feefo reviews of the insurance provider you’re considering. This is a quick way to check out other people’s experiences with the provider. It’s worth keeping an eye on the dates of reviews though: if there’s been a surge of negative reviews recently, this is a red flag that things may have changed for the worse.

2/ Customer service

If you need to make a claim, it’s vital to get through to your insurance provider easily. We recommend opting for a provider with a 24/7 helpline that’ll get you through to a human who can help you. You don’t want to be stuck talking to a live chat robot if you are sick or injured!

3/ Testimonials

Most reputable insurance providers have plenty of testimonials from satisfied customers. Seeing many of these on an insurance provider’s website can signify that they provide an excellent service.

Want more information on how to pick the right insurance provider?
Check out our full guide on how to compare health insurance plans

What if you’re a US non-resident citizen?

If you’re a US expat you may want a health plan that offers a level of coverage in your home country. As medical care in the US is so expensive, you might find it difficult to get full coverage there. We offer a restricted level of US coverage on our Zone 1 plan where you can receive coverage (maximum US$50,000) in case of accidental injuries or emergency care during limited stays in or temporary trips to the US.

What if you’re in any other country and a non-resident citizen?

If you live abroad but are from one of the above countries, getting full coverage in your home country is a bit easier. For instance, members often opt for ‘zone 2’ coverage on one of our international health insurance plans, and you’ll get full coverage in most countries. This means you can relax, knowing you’ll have full medical coverage in your home country. 

Here’s a table breaking down the cheapest zones depending on your nationality:

If you want full cover in your country of nationality:

Cheapest zone

If you’re British
Zone 1
If you’re Irish
Zone 1
If you’re Canadian
Zone 1
If you’re Australian
Zone 1
If you’re a New Zealander
Zone 1
If you’re South African
Zone 4
If you're from the USA
No zone provides full cover in the USA, but if you select Zone 1 you at least have limited cover

If you want some cover for accident & emergency treatment in your country of nationality:

Cheapest zone

If you’re British
Zone 2
If you’re Irish
Zone 2
If you’re Canadian
Zone 2
If you’re Australian
Zone 2
If you’re a New Zealander
Zone 2
If you’re South African
Zone 5
If you're from the US
Zone 1
Want to know more about our different zones?
Learn more about our areas of cover

Choose William Russell as your insurance provider while working abroad 

When it comes to picking the right international insurance provider, make sure to do your research, read reviews, look for testimonials and talk to each one you’re considering. Ask as many questions as you can and negotiate the policy you think will work best for you. 

With over 30 years of experience, we’re experts in caring for expats and their families. As a specialist firm, we can offer you the comprehensive coverage you need for your circumstances. And with a dedicated claims manager, you can rest easy knowing you’ll be taken care of in the event of an illness or injury. 

If you’re looking for specialist insurance cover you can rely on while working abroad, get a quote today!

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