Friday, 1 July 2011

Medical Insurance - MM2H Requirement (update)

I continue to ponder the subject of medical insurance which is one of the criteria you need to fulfil before you will be granted an MM2H visa. Now it has to be said that there are a two ways to look at this. Either you go for the bare minimum in order to satisfy the requirement for the visa (I'll perhaps label this as 'Qualification Insurance') or you go for medical cover that actually provides good coverage for you in the event of needing it, perhaps even with outpatient, dental and repatriation included. It's all a bit of a minefield really but at the end of the day I think it's a a case of you get what you pay for.

'Qualification Insurance' is the route that I have seen a number of references to in various forums (I always think the term fora just looks plain wrong - sorry) where people have used maybe holiday cover, or even cover provided by some of the premium bank accounts, to satisfy MM2H requirements. In many cases of course if you are 60 years old or above the requirement will be waived if you get a 'rejection' letter or e-mail from one or more insurance providers (many of whom will not take on new business from customers 60 years old or more). The problem with this approach for me is that many of these policies are actually only for holiday cover and I suspect there may well be questions asked should you try to claim and it surfaces your 'holiday' in Malaysia has been rather longer than one might expect particularly, in the case of cover linked to bank accounts, where the bank has been sending your correspondence there for a few years!!! Indeed in some cases, if you read the small print, these policies are only applicable if you reside in the country where you opened the account. As a stop-gap when you first arrive in Malaysia though, at least until such stage as you can decide on what levels of cover you want and a suitable provider, it is probably a viable contender.

Another option for 'Qualification Insurance' is to utilise one of several 'cheap and cheerful' companies that sell policies that will perhaps offer the bare minimum of coverage but be sufficient to get that tick in the box for the visa. Some of these policies can be had for as little as RM 400. I suppose they may well be suitable for those who would rather adopt the approach that if something happens they will either pay for it when it does (possibly using monies that they put aside each month rather than pay to an insurance company) or even repatriate themselves for attention in their home country. This is of course an option but for me it's a little too high-risk. You never know what's round the corner so to speak and if something happens that requires you to have maybe urgent, expensive and/or prolonged treatment the bills can rack up fast, very fast!! Self-repatriation of course is also only an option provided you are in a position to do it.

I have largely ruled out going for 'Qualification Insurance' and plan to opt for a policy which does provide a decent degree of cover and, most importantly, actually provide a good and reliable service if and when you need it. This is VERY important as some are clearly MUCH better than others in this regard.

I have of course already posted the detail of a policy provided by Hong Leong and I may well end up going for this policy. In any event it provides a good baseline for comparison and, once I get to the stage of selecting I'll revisit that post to compare the policies in finer detail. In the meantime I have narrowed the field down quite a bit. Interestingly, one recurring piece of advice I do get is to use an 'offshore' or international provider as often the service will be better. How true this is I'm not sure and again, it's something I need to look into.

Below are some of the companies I have looked at and plan to explore in greater detail:

AIA: Many of my friends in Penang use AIA and, along with Great Eastern and Prudential, they seem to be one of the popular providers. It will be interesting to see what their premiums and level of cover are. One suspects they will not be at the cheaper end but the service and cover should hopefully reflect that.

Allianz: Couple of people suggested this company to me but I have discounted them at the moment, simply because the online quote for cover was astronomical at over £3,000 with outpatient, dental and repatriation and only dropping by about 40% for basic!!  

Kurnia: This seems to be a very popular provider with many expats and their policies seem very reasonable. At the moment it is one of the major contenders for me and I need to explore in some depth what their service record is like.

Great Eastern: Not looked at these yet. As I said above, often mentioned by local people when I mention the subject of medical cover.

Tokio Marine: This seems to be a popular provider whose costs are quite reasonable but I have read recently of people facing difficulty in trying to get a quote. A bit off putting I must say.

Prudential: Yet to check out the premiums and levels of cover.

William Russell: This will often be thrown up by search engines in the UK if you are looking for medical cover. On first impression the cover looks good but, at a price of £1,596 for one year, again, higher end.

Finally, for now, I would thank the user PakMike on the very useful MM2H Forums for suggesting another company to me, a French company called April Mobilite (now I believe rebranded as April International) who have their Asia Expat policy. I have obtained a quote from both a UK and KL based agent and both come in at the same (which is useful to know in that the commission the agents get, at least in this case, doesn't affect the customer cost, or at least doesn't affect the cost on a differing basis depending on country of purchase.

Both the UK and KL agents got back to me VERY quickly by email (within an hour) and both quote the same prices in US $. Converted to UK £ the cover comes out at roughly:

1) £886 for basic cover

2) £1,176 (inc. dental and outpatient)

Repatriation can be added at around £173 to either.

From what I've looked at so far medical insurance seems to fall into three bands price wise. That for 'Qualification Insurance' where I have a feeling that claiming might be somewhat problematic, a mid-level band of between RM 1-3,000 per year from some of the larger providers where it seems the level of cover is better, PROVIDED the service is up to scratch and finally the premium end where the price indicates that the cover and service would be first class. What I need to explore is just how much of a service gap there is between mid-range and premium as the difference in premiums can be considerable.

A final consideration for me is the use of an agent. In some cases you can take these policies out online and direct but from what I've seen it doesn't affect the price if you use an agent. At one point I was tempted to jump and book cover with April Mobilite from the UK but decided that, as the agent prices are the same, booking through an agent in KL who would a) be in the local time zone in the event of need and b) with whom there will obviously be no language difficulty was a better option. I may still decide to go with April Mobilite as the cover looks very good and they seem to have a good reputation. There is a concern that cover and service from policies costing around the RM 1-3,000 mark may not be so good but I need to check out the extent to which that is true as it may also be that the sheer size of some of these companies may enable them to provide the same cover and service for a lower premium. I will update further in due course.

2 comments:

  1. Hi,
    After reading through your post, I guess the date to move to Penang is getting closer and you have studied and planned well. However, just a piece of advice here, if you are going to stay and live in Penang, I would like to suggest you to get a local agent from Penang instead of KL or other states. IMHO, It's better to have an agent who can meet to clarify issues and also physically available when you need help in the context. Getting the right insurance agent are important.

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  2. Hi Neoh. Thanks very much for that. I will likely do that and commence enquiries once in Penang. I got your email and passed your details on. You should be contacted within next day or two :-)

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