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When You Move Abroad, Does Your Health Insurance Remain Valid?

By Vikas Chandra Das
09 September 2022, 10:12 AM

Health insurance is one of the smartest investments you can make. Everyone in India can buy them on the payment of a premium. But if you move abroad, what will happen? Will your policy be valid and cover you against ailments you suffer while there? We will discuss the same here.

While most health insurance plans offered in India will cover the medical costs incurred within the country, some plans do offer global coverage. It is essential to check the range of geographical coverage for your health plan before you move abroad. Health insurance plans have different geographical limits. So, it is helpful to check their validity and decide whether to continue or discontinue them.

Geographical Limits of Health Insurance Plans in India  

Some health insurance plans in India cover the medical charges of people staying within the country. They provide coverage for hospitalisation charges, day care procedures, OPD treatment, etc., incurred at a hospital or health clinic in India. Even road and air ambulance charges can be claimed under your policy as long as you have availed of the services within the geographical boundaries of India. If you use healthcare facilities while travelling abroad, your health insurance policy won't cover it. 

However, some health insurance plans offer worldwide coverage to their customers to address some issues. The only catch right now is that most health insurance plans offer global coverage as an add-on cover, which can be availed of only on the payment of an additional premium. However, your insurance company will pay for your medical bills incurred while travelling to a foreign country if your base health policy comes with global coverage.

Still, India's accident insurance plans come up with in-built global coverage, so they will cover you against any accidental injuries and any other minor medical issue irrespective of whether the accident occurred in India or abroad. They also offer compensation if you get an exceptional case or die during an accident in an international location.

Things to Consider Before Purchasing an International Health Insurance Plan

There are a few essential points to keep in mind if you're planning to buy international medical insurance in India:

  • Medical charges in a foreign country can be more than you can expect. Hence, you must choose a coverage amount considering the medical costs prevailing there.
  • Before buying a health plan, check if the country you're moving to is covered under the policy. Almost all health insurance companies eliminate treatment in the United States of America and Canada, while some cover these countries at an advanced premium.
  • Most international health plans cover certain conditions only. You may need to choose a high sum assured and pay an additional premium for more benefits.
  • For abroad health plans, most health insurance claims are settled by reimbursement only. This is because some insurance companies cannot maintain a global network of hospitals for cashless claim settlements.
  • The medical cover offered under travel insurance is different from a global health insurance policy. While travel insurance covers only emergency medical charges, an international health plan covers emergencies and planned medical treatment.

To Sum Up

Depending on your chosen health plan, a plan's physical limit might vary. In some cases, a health plan bought in India will cover costs for treatment incurred within the country.

But specific plans do offer worldwide coverage. Therefore, having a good look at the coverage in terms of the geographical boundaries of the plan is essential. After calculating its clauses, you might decide to continue or cancel the plan.

It would be best to compare plans to ensure that you get intelligent health insurance regarding the insurer's international protection in India. If you have plans to move foreign country for further education or a job that might require you to move abroad, you should choose to buy a health plan with a global coverage option.



1. If you shift abroad, is the health insurance policy coverage valid?

The primary aspect is that it depends on the coverage offered under your health insurance policy. However, giving medical coverage will not be valid once you move abroad if you have an introductory health insurance policy without global cover. On the contrary, if your health or individual accident policy comes with worldwide coverage, it'll remain valid even after your shift abroad and cover the medical charges incurred there. Therefore, your health insurance coverage will remain valid only if it comes with global coverage.

Alternatively, benefit-based health insurance plans, such as a critical illness policy, may remain valid even if you move abroad. It happens because a critical illness insurance policy will pay you a lump sum benefit if you're diagnosed with critical

illnesses like cancer, stroke, multiple sclerosis, etc. It doesn't mean that if you raise a claim under your critical illness policy while living in another country. Still, it's wise to check with your health insurance provider if your critical illness policy is valid outside India for a hassle-free experience.

2. If you move abroad, should you cancel your health insurance policy in India?

Suppose you plan to move abroad and have a standard health insurance policy that offers domestic coverage only, not aboard. You cannot raise a claim while

staying abroad, so it makes no sense to keep paying its premium. You have to cancel the policy before you move abroad. The cancellation decision also depends on how long you will be there. For a short trip, you can avoid cancellation if the policy coverage is truly impressive. Long trips or a permanent stay abroad will require global coverage. So, if your domestic policy does not offer the same, cancel the same and have a new one that covers you there.

Many countries have made health insurance necessary for everyone, whether their citizens or foreign nationals. Thus, please buy a good health insurance policy in the foreign country you have shifted to. The health policy abroad will cover your medical charges incurred in the foreign country.

3. If NRIs often travel to India, which plan should they buy?

Buying a top-up insurance plan is a great idea if you're an NRI who often travels to India. A top-up plan provides coverage for your medical expenses after you have paid the deductible amount. With a top-up plan, you'll be covered against huge medical bills by your insurance company but will have to manage minor medical charges on your own. It'll also be helpful if you ultimately plan to move back to India.

Besides, buying a top-up plan will save much money on premiums. This is because the premium of a top-up plan is more affordable and lower. The regular health plan premium is a higher sum assured.

4. What happens to the rights I acquired in another country before moving?

Whenever certain conditions must be fulfilled before you become entitled to health policy coverage, the health insurance body examining your claim would consider days of insurance. This ensures you won't lose your healthcare coverage when changing jobs or moving to another country.

5. Is the term plan valid for an NRI and can it substitute the benefits of health insurance?

Yes, NRIs are also eligible for buying term insurance in India. The answer to the second question is ‘NO’. Both these plans are different from each other. A term insurance plan comes in handy in case of policyholder’s death during the policy term, whereas a health insurance plan covers you against unforeseen medical contingencies.

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