Top tips on ensuring your UAE health insurance gives you full cover

With many businesses looking to cut costs, it is vital to double check your health insurance policy to ensure it gives you the cover you are expecting

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Living as expats, many of us will have become acclimatised to a new way of life, sunnier climates and the many benefits that living in a tax-free environment entails. Indeed, there are many such benefits that make living here a fantastic way to forge a life for you and your family. The UAE boasts some of the best health care in the world, but this can come at a premium. Options range from a basic government health card (which will cover you for life saving amenities) to private health care, usually provided as part of a contract of employment. However, with many businesses looking to reduce expenditure, we urge you to look carefully at your policy to ensure that it gives you the cover you are expecting.

1. How much is your individual cover worth?

There are many different covers available and without looking, you may feel that you are covered. However, major surgery or operations could leave you with a huge shortfall, which you would inevitably be left responsible for and could have massive financial repercussions on you and your family. You need to consider whether the policy you have would cover such misfortunes and whether it is worth upgrading or changing your plan.

2. Are pre-existing conditions covered?

If you are already aware of some form of ill health or requirement for medication, you need to know if you are covered - different policies can be underwritten, especially as a group, to factor this into account and keep you covered.

3. Are you covered on your travels?

Many of us will travel either as part of a busy work schedule, or as we return to see families overseas. So what happens if something goes wrong on our travels? With so many different variations in health insurance coverage, it is vital you know where in the world you're covered so you don't end up with an unexpected bill, alongside unwelcomed ill health.

4. Are there any waiting periods?

So you have a policy and you are covered, or at least that is what you would think. Always check to see if there are any waiting periods before being able to access a claim as these can differ between insurers.

5. Consider the benefits you need

There are many different additional benefits available with health insurance companies in the UAE, which will not come as standard and may not be part of your existing arrangements. Potentially costly treatments such as dentistry or optical treatment will almost certainly not be included as standard, and if you are planning on starting a family, check to see if a maternity benefit is included.

6. It pays to be direct

Direct-billing facilities within your network mean just that - any medical claims will be settled directly between the medical facility and the insurer. While this may not matter so much with a small claim, more serious medical complaints or surgery will give you added peace of mind.

7. Check the small print

Like anything in life, it pays to be vigilant. Always check the small print and exclusions of any policy to ensure there are no hidden surprises.

8. Always be prepared

As the majority of us are expatriates, it is important that we are covered and able to leave the country in the event of an emergency as chartering a flight could cost hundreds of thousands of dirhams. It is worth checking if your policy will enable you and your family to move quickly for peace of mind.

9. Don't skimp on your health

Finally, most of us are living in a tax-free environment and enjoying the expat lifestyle. But it is easy not to think about the "what-if" factor. Put simply, if you can afford it, you can't afford not to have it and the better the policy is suited to you, the more it might save you if that "what-if" time comes.

John Bailey is a financial consultant at Acuma, Independent Financial Advice