Many of us experience mental health challenges at different times in our lives. Our recent survey shows that expats are at higher risk of experiencing mental health issues than people living in their home country. Finder research suggests 1 in 6 people experienced a common mental health problem within the last week.
When it comes to insurance and mental illness, things aren’t straightforward but it is possible to be covered for a range of conditions. We take a look at some useful things to know when it comes to your mental health and international health insurance.
5 important things to know about expat insurance and mental health
1/ Mental illnesses can be covered by international health insurance – but not always
Some expat health insurance policies will let you claim for specific types of mental illness. An insurer may cover you for one or more mental illnesses; often, this will be in return for you paying more for your premium. Others will exclude any claims for mental health, but will cover you for any other claims in your policy.
If you’ve ever seen a psychologist or a counsellor in the last few years – as many have since the pandemic – then unfortunately the insurer could put a blanket exclusion on your policy.
Many pre-existing mental health conditions aren’t claimable on insurance. By a pre-existing condition, we mean a disease, illness or disorder which is present before you purchase your policy.
Policies do vary on this, so it’s really important you read a policy’s wording with care so you know what’s included before you sign up.
2/ Expats are a high-risk group for mental health problems
Living in a different country often leads to isolation and the removal of traditional support networks, such as friends and family. Language and cultural differences can compound these difficulties.
It’s perhaps no surprise that expats are at higher risk of experiencing mental health issues compared to people living in their home country. In these situations, the right health cover plan can play a really important role.
Policy benefits you can make claims against include circumstances such as admission to a mental health unit or consultations with a psychologist or psychiatrist.
3/ PTSD is a claimable event under (some) expat health insurance policies
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a psychiatric disorder that can occur in people who have experienced or witnessed a traumatic event.
The most common groups of individuals who can suffer from PTSD include those who work in emergency services and the military. However, it can also be experienced by people from many other walks of life.
PTSD is one of the most common mental health disorders after depression – both are among the leading causes of disability worldwide. Along with disabling depression and severe anxiety, PTSD may also be covered by Total Permanent Disability (TPD) insurance.
On the other hand, some insurers may refuse to cover you altogether depending on your medical history and the severity of your illness.
Read about PTSD Awareness Day, which is on 27 June.
4/ Accuracy is vital when sharing your medical history with an insurer
As with any type of mental illness, it’s crucial you disclose your illness at the time of applying so that the right cover can be set for you.
If you don’t declare it, you risk voiding your cover and the insurer can refuse to pay out when you or your beneficiaries make a claim. This applies whether your condition exists or has done in the past.
The underwriter of an insurance policy may seek further information on your medical records during the application process.
Dr. Deepak Gaur, who has conducted medical exams for insurance assessments for many years, explained: “A mental health diagnosis is assessed with the same principles as all other medical conditions. The nature of a person’s symptoms … the response to medical treatment including medications, procedures, and hospitalisation, will [all] provide valuable information on the prognosis.”
Dr Gaur added: “A third party expert such as a psychiatrist may also be requested to provide an additional opinion.”
5/ You can find expat health insurance if you suffer from anxiety
Anxiety disorders can majorly impact a person’s day-to-day life. Due to its complex nature, anxiety can be tricky for insurers to assess risk on. After all, anxiety covers a large group of related conditions.
Anxiety tends to impact work and other important areas of functioning – owing to poor sleep, muscle tension and constantly feeling on edge – that could give rise to a claim. For these reasons, it can be hard to find insurance benefits for anxiety if you hold income protection.
However, getting international health insurance is very possible for some anxiety sufferers. Comparing a range of insurers is the first step in finding suitable cover that meets your needs.
So, what mental health benefits do I get with William Russell?
We take our members’ mental health seriously. So when you purchase international health insurance with us, we give you lifetime cover up to US$100,000 on the Gold plan. Whether you need admission to a mental health unit or consultations with a psychiatrist, your health plan gives you the cover you need. Here are the main mental health benefits that our plans give you:
So, how much does a health plan with mental health coverage cost?
We’ve put together some example prices for our health plans that include cover for mental health issues. When it comes to calculating prices, there are lots of factors we take into account (e.g., your age, where you live). Read more about expat insurance costs.
These benefits are core parts of our Bronze, Silver and Gold health plans (but not SilverLite). The benefits listed above are all subject to a 12-month waiting period.
*Monthly premium for a 30-year-old man living in Vietnam, with a US$250 per annum excess and Zone 2 cover.
Wherever you move, go with total peace of mind
With awareness of mental health issues now more prevalent than ever before and the mounting pressures of everyday life, it’s becoming increasingly important for you to take care of your psychological well being. From making changes to our diets to carving out more time for self-care, many of us are now taking active steps in an effort to improve our overall health and wellbeing. Investment in mental healthcare is highly likely to add to average happiness.
At William Russell, we have 30 years’ experience of helping expatriates find the best places in the world to move abroad and settle into their new lives overseas by providing world-class international health insurance with mental health cover – as well as international life insurance and income protection. Plus, we produce lots of expert material to help you and your family adapt to life abroad.