Not reading the small print is a common fault for many of us who lead busy lives, but it can also result in paying over the odds for products and services that you can’t access or are not eligible for, or missing out on benefits you are entitled to. Undeclared changes in circumstances can also invalidate existing policies. AFF’s regional manager overseas, Esther Thomas, looks at things to consider before you head abroad…
Policies vary greatly from country-to-country and company-to-company. Many UK-based companies have requirements such as living in the UK for a period of time prior to a trip, or that the trip must originate in the UK. In terms of repatriation, many firms will only cover the claimant to be brought back to the UK from your holiday destination – not ideal if you are assigned overseas! If you intend to holiday within the country you’re posted to, check your policy as many exclude travel within your country of residence, or if you’re not using pre-booked and paid-for accommodation.
The premium will be based on the circumstances when the cover was originally purchased. Whilst most policies will have worldwide cover, insurers will want to know if you intend to spend more than three months outside the UK. An overseas posting should be declared to prevent the policy being invalidated. Ask your insurer to confirm timescales and whether the country you’ll be moving to impacts on cover. Some will just insist that the policyholder maintains a UK bank account and address but for others it may be more complex or result in higher premiums.
Unless your financial adviser is authorised to provide investment services in that country, they’ll not be able to advise you. Even if you don’t want new investment services, your financial advisor has a regulatory requirement to check the ongoing suitability of investment services with you on a periodic basis. For further info, visit aff.org.uk
Mobile phone insurance
Some companies only send replaced or repaired items to UK addresses.
Home and contents insurance
Geographical restrictions can be frustrating if you want cover for property you have in the UK or for the possessions you have taken overseas with you. Some policies require the landlord to be resident in the UK.
Insurance companies must be licensed to provide motor insurance in the country concerned so look for companies which have a global reach.
If your cover is provided by a bank as part of a package for a monthly fee, they frequently don’t cover outside of the UK or non-UK residents.
Most policies arranged in the UK don’t provide cover abroad. Some can be extended to provide temporary cover for 120 days if you conform with the government pet passport scheme.
Who can help?
There are several specialist brokers for forces families overseas, which are usually either members of the Services Insurance & Investment Advisory Panel or the British Insurance Brokers Association (BIBA), or both. BIBA has signed the Armed Forces Covenant. Its Find A Broker service at biba.org.uk has a list of firms that can provide specialist solutions. Forces insurance specialist Keith Frampton advised: “Whilst specialist brokers are more used to dealing with forces personnel based in Western Europe, some may be able to assist in the more remote locations.
“Even if they don’t provide the solution they should know where you should go for specific cover for that country.”
If you feel that you have paid for services whilst you were assigned overseas that you would not have been able to claim against or benefit from, it’s worth asking for a refund.
AFF is aware of several families who have received refunds from banks for monthly charges for packages against which they would not have been able to make a claim as they were not resident in the UK.
In one case an army spouse received a refund of several thousand pounds, backdated over many years, just by writing a letter and quoting the Armed Forces Covenant.