What Do The ‘Waiting Period’ Clauses Mean In Your Expat Health Insurance Policy?

Waiting Period Expat Health Insurance

Taking out international health insurance cover is something that expats in South-East Asia should place high on their list of priorities.

When looking at available options there are various clauses that need to be clearly understood. This is to avoid any confusion on exactly what you are covered for as well as relevant terms and conditions.

One factor that is often misunderstood relates to “waiting periods”, so let’s try and put this one to bed.


Concept of “waiting period”

The waiting period in an international health insurance policy is the specified time period that must pass before all or certain aspects of your health care cover begins.

In essence an individual cannot claim for health care costs during the stated waiting periods.

It is important to note that certain conditions and coverage are likely to have different lengths of waiting periods, and that different providers may have different rules.


Key waiting periods to understand

Here are 4 of the most important types of waiting period you are likely to come across in your expat health insurance policy:

  • Initial waiting period: The majority of international health insurance providers will impose an initial waiting period before they will cover treatment. This is generally between 30-90 days. It is enforced to ensure that individuals are not taking out a policy simply because they have been diagnosed with a serious disease.

Note: If you are involved in an accident and need treatment for injuries this should be covered from commencement of policy. I.e. in such an instance there will be no waiting period.

  • Pre-existing condition exclusion: This waiting period affects individuals who have made it known to their health insurance provider of a previous or pre-existing health condition prior to taking out health cover.

In such an instance cover of pre-existing conditions may be excluded or limited to what actually is covered.

A pre-existing condition waiting period can vary between 12-48 months. This means that pre-existing conditions will not be covered until the agreed time period has elapsed.

  • Dental treatment: If your expat health plan includes dental cover there may be a waiting period before you can claim reimbursement for basic or restorative dental treatment. The waiting period cited is often between 6-12 months. If you are including dental health cover in your international health insurance it is important to check any waiting periods involved


  • Maternity waiting period: This is particularly important for female expats in South-East Asia and for those who opt to take out international health insurance covering the family. Due to the high costs associated with pregnancy health care most individual expat health insurance plans will have a stipulated waiting time of between 10-12 months before such care is covered. This makes forward-planning a sensible move!



Take time to understand waiting period clauses:

As we have mentioned above, it is important to understand that different healthcare providers will have different waiting periods and will be dependent upon the type of care required.

It is strongly recommended that you check any waiting period clauses included in an international health insurance policy and particularly those which may be immediately relevant to you. By doing so you will fully understand what, if any waiting period is imposed.

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