Health cover tops wish list for businesses and their employees

However, one in five business leaders think travel insurance will cover employees


Private health insurance is the top priority for businesses sending their staff overseas, according to the new “Anatomy of an international business” report by specialist international private healthcare provider, Expacare. The quality and cost of healthcare provision can vary considerably outside the UK, meaning that nearly half (47%) of all businesses believe that health cover for their employees is an essential part of the benefits package when working overseas.

Likewise, employees themselves (25%) are most likely to request private health cover when they relocate overseas. Health is also a top priority for employees families, with a fifth (20%) requesting private health cover not only for themselves, but also their dependents, when they move overseas.

Away from health cover, two fifths of businesses (43%) felt that share options were also an essential part of the package. Nearly a third (29%) thought a relocation allowance was important, while again dependents were also catered for with well over a tenth (15%) stating that private school education for children was a desired element.

Businesses also had clear ideas about what they think should be included in an international health insurance policy for international employees, with medical evacuation (45%), 24 hour medical helpline (45%) and choice over the medical facility and doctor (33%) coming out top.

Interestingly, the most desired elements of a package were also the benefits most likely to have been used. Over a quarter (27%) of businesses said that their staff have had to use a 24 hour medical helpline, while a further quarter (26%) have had to use medical evacuation when treatment was not available locally.

Unfortunately, the research also revealed that despite a clear desire for comprehensive health cover from employees, almost one in five (16%) business leaders worryingly think that travel insurance will cover their staff when working overseas. One in 10 (9%) also believe that if employees are relocated overseas in the EU that there is no need for additional medical cover. While a quarter (24%) of businesses admitted that they would like to provide health insurance provision for their staff, but that they simply can’t afford it.

Beverly Cook, Managing Director of Expacare, commenting on the findings said: “Health is clearly a concern for business leaders and with the health provision so good in the UK it is important that employees are properly covered when overseas. With more businesses than ever looking to increase their international presence it is concerning that so many are still in the dark when it comes to adequate health provision. Far too many think that simple travel insurance or sending their employees to the EU will mean that they will be covered should the worst happen.

“On the other hand, it is pleasing to note that businesses appear have an increasing awareness to when it comes to what to include in their benefits package for employees, with a 24 hour medical helpline and medical evacuation being seen as essential. This is just as well seeing as these are the two most likely benefits to have been used. Businesses moving overseas need to look after their most important asset, their staff and check the small print on policies to ensure that their workforce remains healthy and productive.”


Expacare commissioned this research among a panel of 1000 decision makers from UK businesses with 5-1000 employees. The sample is broadly representative of the UK across age, gender and region. Respondents were interviewed between 20th-28th November 2013.

The research was conducted online on behalf of Expacare by independent research company One Poll.