Families have a lot to think about when it comes to choosing health insurance abroad.

Living abroad with your family, you’re likely to want comprehensive health insurance – having to pay astronomical bills after emergency treatment is simply not an option for most as this can wipe out years worth of savings in one go. Here we’ll tell you the five most important things to look out for when getting international health insurance.

1. If you need maternity cover, do your research

Most insurance plans will offer a routine maternity option – something well worth investing in if taking out your own policy and you or your partner plan on being abroad during pregnancy. This should cover all check-ups, scans and the delivery of your child. It’s likely to add a significant amount to your premium, but then it’s hardly an area to skimp on.

2. If you have pre-existing medical conditions, declare them

Although declaring your medical conditions to your insurer may mean higher premiums or even a reluctance to cover you at all in some cases, if you don’t your provider can immediately invalidate your policy if it becomes apparent that a condition is a recurring one from the past.

3. A multi-country plan might be the right option for some

If you want to keep yourself medically insured at home plus extend cover to your country of residence, then it’s possible to get a single policy to cover both, or even multiple countries. This could save you money.

4. Check out any potential insurer’s customer service record

Think how important the efficiency of your insurer’s customer service department could be whilst abroad. You’ll no doubt have to run up large telephone bills calling them about medical diagnosis and treatment at some stage – you want to reduce the time these take as much as possible. Check out whether they have a toll-free number, the languages they deal with, and whether they have 24/7 support. Having to deal with red tape and poor service during a medical crisis is not something you want to think about.

5. Can you manage your plan online?

The Internet has become one of the expat family’s major lifelines. You’ll use it to contact home and keep in touch with the world. Think what an advantage it would be to manage medical insurance (right down to claims and expenses) online, potentially saving you time and money. It’s a major plus if offered by your provider.