How do you advise a client who is heading off to a war risk or terrorism zone like Iraq? David Pryor answers this month's tricky question
Q: A client of ours is considering taking up a placement in Baghdad. What kind of health insurance is available to him?
A: David Pryor, executive director of MediCare International Ltd, writes: As relocation around the world becomes more commonplace, so a greater number of factors need to be taken into account by advisers, depending on where an individual will be in residence. Your client's situation is a classic case in point.
War zones are occupied not only by traditional armies, but also by huge numbers of businesses involved in post-war reconstruction. As a member of this latter group, it is vital that your client carefully chooses a policy that is tailored to suit his needs and takes into account the particular dangers of working in a country such as Iraq.
Finding the right policy is not always straightforward, as many insurers have special clauses relating to war and terrorist threats.
Policies that include limited cover against terrorist attacks are available, but with conflicts not solely confined to war zones nowadays, effective cover that reflects this new global reality is now even more important.
Nearly a third of brokers questioned in recent MediCare International research said that they would not consider a policy if it did not provide some level of war or conflict cover, and your client is clearly entering a country where war cover is an essential part of their healthcare insurance.
While most policies have a full war risk exclusion, for those expats living and working in world hot spots, it is possible to secure 'passive war' cover including war and terrorist attack.
Passive war cover is likely to be of particular interest to your client, as well as other aid agencies and rebuilding contractors working elsewhere in the Gulf area, especially in Lebanon, Kuwait or, indeed, Africa.
Policyholders benefit from the full range of services, including hospital benefits and evacuation, in the event of injury by terrorists or as part of a broader war conflict. Evacuation is likely to be particularly relevant in conflict zones, where local medical facilities may be damaged or supplies of medication and blood for transfusions may be an issue.
Presumably, your client is taking up this placement as an individual and not as part of a company. Companies organising healthcare for their employees often need to tailor each package according to the country of residence, with the facilities and environment in mind. It is therefore key that your client uses an insurer that has the experience and knowledge of healthcare in countries throughout the world - not just in developed nations.
We welcome your questions (or your clients') for inclusion in future Cash Clinics. Next month's topic will be mortgages. Please email your questions to [email protected]
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