A win for second home-owners in France as Britons granted six month stay

In a significant development for expatriates and second-home owners, the French Parliament has granted Britons the freedom to stay in France for up to six months without the need for a visa. This decision comes as a welcome change to the existing rules, implemented in early 2021, which restricted British citizens to a 90-day stay in the country within every 180-day period.

The initial regulations, established following Britain’s departure from the EU, stirred controversy among homeowners who deemed the system unfair and inequitable. A primary point of contention was the contrast between the restrictions faced by Britons in France and the leniency granted to French citizens in the UK, allowing them to stay for up to six months without a visa, irrespective of property ownership.

Second-home owners, in particular, found the existing solution impractical. The only way to extend their stay beyond 90 days was through the complex and costly process of applying for a long-stay visa which needed to be undertaken annually.

The recent decision by the French Parliament has led to a wave of optimism in the French expat community. Homeowners who had campaigned for a change in the restrictive rules now have cause for celebration. However, uncertainties linger as no specific date for the implementation of the new rules has been set, and concerns about potential challenges in the Constitutional Council loom large.

Looking for private medical insurance in France? Our Health Protect and Integra Global policies offer cover in the region.

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Thinking of moving to Thailand?

Thailand is a popular choice for many expatriates seeking a better way of life. This guide is for anyone considering a move to The Land of the Smiles.

Understand Thai Culture and Lifestyle
There are certain customs and traditions in Thailand and understanding these aspects will help you integrate smoothly into the society. Instead of shaking hands, it is customary in Thailand to greet someone respectfully with a ‘Wai’.

Find out how to Wai properly in Thailand.

Visa Options for Expats and Retirees

1. Tourist Visa
For short-term stays, you can enter Thailand on a tourist visa, typically valid for 30-60 days. Extensions are possible, but long-term stays will require another visa type.

2. Retirement Visa (Non-Immigrant O-A Visa)
If you’re 50 years old or above, you can apply for a retirement visa. This visa is valid for one year and allows multiple entries into Thailand. You’ll need to meet financial requirements, including proof of funds and a criminal background check from your home country.

3. Investment Visa
Investors and business people may apply for a Thai Investment Visa. The minimum investment amount and requirements vary, so consult with a Thai embassy or consulate for the latest details.

4. Work Visa (Non-Immigrant B Visa)
If you plan to work or start a business in Thailand, you’ll need a Non-Immigrant B Visa. This involves securing a job offer or setting up a business and fulfilling the visa requirements associated with employment.

Financial Considerations

1. Bank Account
Open a bank account in Thailand, as it is a requirement for long-term stay visas. Ensure you understand the banking regulations and options available.

2. Health Insurance
Having health insurance is highly advisable. HCI Group’s Protector Plans offer various health insurance options suitable for expatriates in Thailand, providing cover for medical emergencies and routine healthcare.

Housing and Accommodation
1. Renting
Decide whether you want to rent or buy property. Renting is a common choice for expats, especially initially. Research neighborhoods and properties to find the one that suits your needs and budget.

2. Buying Property
If you decide to purchase property, work with a reputable real estate agent and ensure you understand the legal and financial aspects of property ownership in Thailand. as it is not straightforward. Find out more about buying property in Thailand.

Healthcare and Medical Facilities

1. Healthcare Facilities
Research and locate reputable hospitals and clinics in your area. Thailand offers high-quality healthcare services, and major cities have modern medical facilities. If you opt for a HCI Group healthcare plan there are no restrictions on the private hospital network and you can opt to have treatment in the setting of your choice.

2. Health Check-ups and Insurance
Regular health check-ups are a priority for many expats. Consider getting health insurance to cover any medical emergencies or treatments. All of our Protector Plans cover emergencies and unexpected illness such as cancer, heart attack or stroke. Our Plus, Premium and Executive Plans include cover for outpatient care and many other benefits too.

Learning the Language and Cultural Integration

1. Learning Thai Language
Learning basic Thai phrases will enhance your daily life and interactions. Consider enrolling in a language course to improve your proficiency.

2. Cultural Integration
Engage with the local community, participate in cultural events, and be open to learning and adopting the Thai way of life.

Networking and Socializing

1. Expat Communities
Connect with expat communities and social groups. They can provide valuable insights, support, and help you adapt to your new surroundings. Many have thriving social media groups if you prefer to connect online.

If you are a member of the following expat clubs in Thailand we can offer you 10% off your HCI Group health insurance policy!

Chiang Mai Expats Club

Pattaya Expats Club

Hua Hin Expats Club

Get in touch

Moving to Thailand and becoming an expat or retiree is a popular choice for many HCI Group customers. With the beautiful beaches and welcoming culture, it is no wonder Thailand is known as ‘The Land of the Smiles’.

If you have any questions about obtaining HCI Group medical insurance in Thailand please meesage us on WhatsApp. +44 7457 405263 and we will happy to talk through our policies.

Post-Brexit Healthcare for UK Expats in Europe

Brexit has brought about significant changes for UK expats in Europe, including alterations in their access to healthcare services when residing or traveling within European countries.

Formerly, UK citizens could take advantage of reciprocal healthcare agreements with the EU that allowed access to healthcare services similar to the NHS in Europe.

However, post-Brexit, this has evolved, necessitating a reconsideration of healthcare options for UK expats. In this blog post, we have simplified the information around changes in healthcare access and outlined the three key points for UK citizens seeking medical care abroad.

 

Key Changes in Healthcare Access

 

1. End of NHS Equivalent Access

With the UK’s exit from the EU, UK citizens no longer have direct access to the equivalent of the NHS when in European countries. This includes a shift in access to routine healthcare services, specialist care, hospital treatments, and emergency care.

 

2. S1 Forms and Reciprocal Agreements

The S1 form, previously utilized for accessing healthcare in EU countries, is affected. While UK citizens could access healthcare in EU nations using S1 forms before Brexit, these arrangements have either changed or been terminated. UK nationals residing in European countries such as Spain, France, Portugal, Cyprus, Italy or Greece before 1st January 2021 can continue using their S1 forms for accesss. New residents will need to arrange health cover privately. 

 

3. Requirement for Health Insurance

Private health insurance becomes a crucial option to bridge the gap left by the cessation of reciprocal healthcare agreements. Aside from the reassurance of accessing private healthcare on the continent, securing European visas require proof of medical insurance. HealthCare International Group specialises in covering UK expats living in Europe and our medical policies are designed to meet international visa requirements. 

Guest Post: Peter the Painter

This blog is a little different as it tells the story of Peter, the nomadic street artist who has painted his way around the world. HCI Group customers come from all walks of life; we provide private medical insurance to expats, seafarers, digital nomads, pilots and anyone else who travels the globe including artists. There are many reasons people choose an international lifestyle, and Peter’s was to follow his creative dream. 

“Greetings, fellow art enthusiasts and wanderers of the world! I am Peter, an artist driven by the beauty of both art and travel. My canvas is the world itself, and my brushstrokes are the stories I share as I travel across continents, painting my way through life.

My journey as an artist began long before I ever set foot on foreign soil. Art has always been my soul’s language, a means to express my emotions, dreams, and experiences. It was the desire to break free from the traditional art gallery scene and share my creations with the world that drove me to embark on a unique adventure.

As the sun dipped below the Sunderland skyline, illuminating the historic docks with hues of grey, I realised that my artistic calling extended beyond the confines of northern England. The world, with all its diverse landscapes and cultures, beckoned me to tell its story through my artwork.

With a heart brimming with passion and a suitcase filled with paints, brushes, and a few cherished canvases, I waved goodbye to my family and friends and took the plunge into the world of a nomadic artist. My first canvas was the bustling streets of Amsterdam, a city rich in artistic inspiration and appreciation. Setting up my easel at a quaint corner, I painted the iconic canals and tulip-lined pathways, inviting locals and tourists alike to witness my artistic vision.

The experience was exhilarating. Engaging with people, hearing their interpretations of my art, and sharing stories from different corners of the globe made me realize the power of art in uniting us all. It was then that I knew my artistic journey had found its true calling.

From the lively markets of Berlin to the romantic bridges of Paris, I dipped my toe in the nomadic lifestyle by exploring Europe, each place leaving its unique imprint on my canvas. I learned to adapt my art to the pulse of each city, infusing the essence of its culture into my work. Whether it was the vibrant chaos of Naples or the serene landscapes Madeira, I let the scenery guide my creativity.

 

The call of the wild has always fascinated me, and so I found myself drawn to the lush jungles of South America. My mission was to observe and paint the magnificent animals that call this place home. The experience was awe-inspiring; the colors of the flora and fauna were like a palette of nature’s own design.

From the elegant movements of the jaguar to the playful antics of the monkeys, I strived to capture their essence on canvas. Each brushstroke was an attempt to encapsulate the raw beauty and mystery of the jungle. The vibrant greens, the earthy browns, and the flashes of vivid colors became the heartbeat of my artwork.

After my adventures in the jungle, I set my sights on Japan—a land where tradition and modernity coexist in harmony. I was particularly captivated by the grace and elegance of Japanese women wearing kimonos. The intricacy of the patterns, the delicate silk, and the way the kimonos gracefully adorned the women made for a captivating subject.

In bustling cities and tranquil villages, I found inspiration in the contrast between the modern urban landscape and the serene traditional scenes. The duality of Japan was reflected in my art—a fusion of contemporary techniques and traditional motifs, blending old and new in a harmonious dance of strokes and shades.

My journey from Sunderland to Europe, the jungle and then to Japan has been transformative, both as an artist and as an individual. It has reinforced my belief that art transcends boundaries, and through it, we can appreciate the beauty that lies within every corner of our planet.

As I continue my travels, I carry with me the lessons learned from the jungle and Japan—a deep respect for nature, an appreciation for diverse cultures, and a dedication to capturing the essence of our world through my art.”

 

You can follow Peter’s artistic adventures on Instagram

Planning your own overseas adventure? Get an instant, no obligation quote for international private medical insurance.

 

 

Why is medical insurance from HCI Group so affordable?

If you are comparing annual premiums from international healthcare providers, you are likely to be pleasantly surprised with our HCI Group policies.

We offer very similar health cover to all major health insurers, but often our annual premiums are significantly lower.

Haw can we offer the same, excellent private healthcare using the same private hospital networks for a cheaper price?

 

Lower overhead costs
We may be small but we are mighty! We are a Small/Medium Enterprise (SME) with a passionate and dedicated team of employees. We use a shared office space, have low administrative expenses and a skilled in-house team. These reduced overhead costs allow us to offer more competitive premiums to our customers.

 

Niche expat and seafarer focus
We specialise in international private medical insurance for those living abroad or at sea. Many providers do not specialise like we do so by focusing our efforts on a niche market we developed our expertise and tailored our insurance products accordingly, reducing premiums in the process.

 

Simple organisational structure
Larger agents often have complex organisational structures with multiple layers of management and bureaucracy. This can lead to higher administrative costs, which may be passed on to customers in the form of higher premiums. In contrast, we strive to keep our structure simple enabling streamlined operations and keeping premiums down.

 

Personalised service
We prioritise providing a personalised service to our customers. We focus on building strong relationships, understanding individual needs, and offering tailored coverage options. Nothing is more adaptable than our NIMBL Health plan, which is tailored to the specific needs of each policyholder. This customer-centric approach may result in lower premiums as we can better match the insurance cover to the specific needs of each customer.

 

Flexibility and agility
We have a great relationship with our insurance carrier MGEN. We can respond quickly to market changes, adjust our underwriting criteria, and negotiate quickly and efficiently. This flexibility enables us to find cost-effective solutions and pass these savings on to our customers in the form of lower premiums.

 

Reduced marketing and advertising expenses
Instead of allocating significant resource to marketing and advertising, we rely on our excellent reputation, our partnership with A Place in the Sun, word-of-mouth referrals and our skilled in-house team. These savings are another contributing factor to our premiums being so reasonable.

 

It’s important to note that all of the above factors can influence premium rates, but the actual premiums charged by an insurance agency will depend on the area of cover and the age and medical history of each policyholder.

Get your premium estimate now for our HealthCare International Protector Plans, you will be surprised at how much you can save!

Supporting your partner on an international assignment

If you haven’t lived abroad before, adjusting to a new language, climate and culture can be challenging emotionally.

Those who re-locate for work can sometimes experience culture shock and loneliness during the first six to twelve months away, due to being isolated from family, friends and familiar surroundings.

Often ignored though are challenges faced by those who follow their partner to another city or country, whilst they’re on assignment.

In fact, moving abroad can affect the partners of assignment workers even more. The most common reason for an overseas work assignment failing and ending early is an inability to successfully integrate the trailing partner or family. The reason for this can be that they don’t have a job of their own to keep them occupied throughout the week or they find it harder to look after their children in a foreign environment.

It’s common for a trailing partners to feel a loss of control and identity following a move, which can lead to low mood and confidence. Consequently, this can cause them to reject making a new support network or trying to settle in their new home. These issues can be worsened if the partner struggles to find a new job role for a long period.

Supporting your partner

There are a number of ways you can support a trailing partner.

Firstly, it’s important to acknowledge that any person living in a new country goes through the same adaptation process, starting with excitement and ending with adjustment and acceptance. It’s natural during the in-between stage to feel withdrawn and low after the initial excitement phase has worn off. Your partner needs to acknowledge that how they feel is normal and trust that it will pass.

Trailing partners can also reach out to local expat communities to make friends that are in the same situations as themselves. Often expat communities have regular meet ups to socialise and make new friends, or share local tips and advice. Expat communities online are a good place to start, as you can find upcoming events, classes and resources on different parts of the world. These networks are also a great way of learning how to engage with your local community generally.

It can also be useful for you to introduce your partner to any new work colleagues. This will allow you to build a stronger relationship with your work friends, while also expanding your local network as a couple. If you work as a team in socialising and introducing each other to those that both of you meet separately, your network will grow faster and stronger.

Another way to support your partner can be to encourage them to embrace new experiences. Whether it be travelling and exploring your new country together, trying to pick up the local language or volunteering in the local community. Make opportunities to meet locals and sample different elements of the culture and you’ll both feel more settled in no time.

Lastly, if your partner is severely struggling to adapt to your new home, you could consider getting outside help. Counsellors and professional therapists can provide you and your partner with guidance and strategies to help you both navigate through the adaptation process as quickly and smoothly as possible. It’s worth checking to see whether your company offers an Expat or Employee Assistance Programme to staff, as you might be able to get help through that as well.

Enjoying the ride

Having your partner leave behind their friends, family and home to join you abroad is a huge gesture and shouldn’t be taken for granted. Your work is clearly important to you, but it’s also vital that you try to keep a work-life balance, so you and your spouse can make the most of your time away.

Whether you’re working for six months on assignment or have moved indefinitely, you and your partner will get out of the experience what you put in. While it might not feel like it during the adaptation period, once you’ve both settled in your new country and helped each other to overcome any emotional challenges, you could find that you prefer it in your new country that back home.

HCI Group launches NIMBL Health

Press release

Brighton: 22 May 2022

HealthCare International Group (HCI Group) is set to revolutionise the International Private Medical Insurance (IPMI) market with the launch of NIMBL Health, a fully modular and flexible health care plan designed to meet the unique needs and preferences of people living overseas whether individuals, families, or a group of employees.

NIMBL Health is now available in Africa and Asia and will be available worldwide later in 2023.

NIMBL Health allows your clients to choose the benefits and levels of cover that best suit their personal needs. All plans come with a set of core benefits with a choice of caps and deductibles to suit the client’s budget. NIMBL Health also allows the client to choose additional modules that come with benefit and deductible options to meet the whole spectrum of requirements. Maternity cover is also available for group schemes.

NIMBL Health provides a number of options for areas of cover so a client can subscribe to exactly the coverage they need.

The quoting platform is designed to be user-friendly, with a simple interface that allows you to easily customise each policy to suit your clients’ needs and budgets.

The NIMBL Health core benefits include inpatient treatment, cancer cover, and emergency dental cover. Customers can choose to cap their core benefits at $250,000, $1,000,000, $2,000,000, or $3,000,000 with five levels of deductibles from nil through to $10,000.

Customers can also choose to add optional modules to their policy; outpatient cover, routine dental cover, and assistance and evacuation with three levels of cover and four levels of deductible. $5,000 of maternity cover is added as standard to group schemes and can be increased or removed for a discount.

Ian Wood, CEO of HCI Group, said, “Our customers have requested flexibility for their international private medical insurance and with over half a million possible options, NIMBL Health delivers this. By choosing the modular approach of NIMBL Health, we can offer a truly tailored policy suitable for all budgets and circumstances.”

NIMBL Health is a game-changer in the health insurance industry, offering customers the freedom and flexibility to choose the coverage they need at a price they can afford. With its innovative modular approach, NIMBL Health is poised to transform the way customers access and manage their international healthcare.

How Much Is Private Healthcare: What are the benefits?

Private healthcare costs and benefits

Private healthcare is an option available for those who are able to pay for additional medical services and prefer a higher level of personalised care. The cost of private healthcare varies depending on the country, the medical condition, and the specific services required.

Having private healthcare can be reassuring to know you have various services available to you, with shorter wait times and more treatment options available. Depending on the country you buy cover from, will determine the level of service in your plan. According to a study conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation, the average annual cost for a single person in the United States was $7,470 in 2020. In contrast, in the United Kingdom, the cost is much lower, with an average of £1,263 per year.

The availability of healthcare services also affects the cost. In countries where private healthcare is less common, the cost of services may be higher than in countries where this service is more prevalent. In some countries, insurance may not be available for certain medical conditions or procedures.

With paying a higher rate for health insurance, comes a variety of benefits. One of the primary benefits is the level of personal attention and care that patients receive. Private healthcare providers typically have fewer patients than public healthcare facilities, which means that doctors and nurses can dedicate more time to each patient. This attention to detail can lead to more accurate diagnoses, more effective treatments, and a better overall healthcare experience.

Another advantage is the range of services available. Choosing to go private for medical treatments offer a broader range of medical services than public healthcare facilities. This includes specialised treatments and procedures that may not be available in the public system funded by governments.

Private healthcare providers also offer greater flexibility in terms of scheduling appointments and choosing doctors. Patients can often schedule appointments at their convenience and select a doctor of their choice. This flexibility can be especially important for patients who have busy schedules or who need to coordinate medical appointments with work or other commitments.

Overall it can offer peace of mind for patients who are concerned about the quality of care they receive in the public system or when travelling abroad.

Having a suitable insurance policy when travelling is essential, in case you become sick whilst away from home, or have an accident. Without the relevant health insurance, you could be met with hefty medical bills for any medical treatment your receive when abroad.

If you need more information on what insurance is available, and what is covered under our policies, you can view our health insurance plans or talk to our friendly team.

Visa For Italy: What documents you will need and how to apply

Italy is one of the most visited countries in Europe, attracting millions of tourists every year. To travel to Italy, most foreign nationals require a visa. This is a legal document that allows them to enter and stay in the country for a specific period. We detail the necessary documents and procedures needed to obtain a visa for Italy, as well as how to extend your stay if needed.

Types of Italian Visa

Before applying for a visa, you must know which type you need. There are a couple of different options of visas for Italy, depending on the purpose of your trip. The most common are:

  1. Short-stay visa (Schengen visa): This visa allows you to stay in Italy or any other Schengen country for up to 90 days within a six-month period. It is ideal for tourists, business travellers, or anyone who intends to stay in Italy for a short period.
  2. Long-stay visa: This visa is suitable for individuals who intend to stay in Italy for more than 90 days, such as students, researchers, and individuals who are relocating to Italy for work.

Required Documents For Your Visa Application

To obtain an Italian visa, you must submit a set of documents, which may vary depending on the type of visa you need. The most common documents required for an Italian visa are:

  1. Passport: Your passport must be valid for at least six months from the date of your entry to Italy.
  2. Visa application form: You must complete and sign the visa application form, which can be downloaded from the Italian Embassy or Consulate website.
  3. Passport photos: You must provide two recent passport-sized photos.
  4. Flight reservation: You must provide a flight reservation that shows your itinerary to and from Italy.
  5. Travel insurance: You must provide proof of medical insurance that covers medical emergencies, hospitalisation, and repatriation.
  6. Proof of accommodation: You must provide proof of your accommodation in Italy, such as hotel bookings or a letter of invitation from a friend or relative who will host you.
  7. Financial means: You must provide evidence of sufficient financial means to support yourself during your stay in Italy.
  8. Other supporting documents: Depending on the purpose of your trip, you may need to provide additional documents, such as a letter of invitation from an Italian company, an enrolment letter from an Italian university, or a proof of your employment.

How to Apply for your Italy Visa

To apply for your visa, you must follow these steps:

  1. Determine the type of visa you need and the requirements for that visa.
  2. Collect all the necessary documents.
  3. Schedule an appointment with the Italian Embassy or Consulate in your country.
  4. Attend the appointment and submit your documents.
  5. Pay the visa fee, which may vary depending on the type of visa and your nationality.
  6. Wait for the processing of your visa, which may take up to 15 days.

Extending Your Stay in Italy

If you wish to extend your stay in Italy beyond the duration allowed by your visa, you must apply for a residence permit. The residence permit is a legal document that allows you to stay in Italy for up to one year. To obtain this permit, you must submit the following documents:

  1. A copy of your passport.
  2. A copy of your visa.
  3. Proof of your financial means to support yourself during your extended stay.
  4. Proof of accommodation in Italy.
  5. A medical certificate.
  6. Proof of enrolment in an Italian language course (if applicable).
  7. A letter explaining the reason for your extended stay.

Once you have submitted the documents, you will receive a receipt, which allows you to stay in Italy while your application is being processed.

Ensuring you have the essential forms and documentation can be stressful, and our team are on hand to help support you through the process and confirm you have the correct travel medical insurance. Talk to us today

What You Need For A Cyprus Visa Application

Cyprus, known for its warm climate, stunning beaches, and rich cultural heritage, is a popular tourist destination for travellers from all over the world. If you’re planning a trip to Cyprus, you may need to obtain a visa before your arrival.

Cyprus Visa Application

There are several types of visas available for those visiting Cyprus;

  1. Schengen visa: This visa allows people to visit Cyprus for up to 90 days within a 180-day period. It is ideal for travellers who plan to visit other Schengen countries as well.
  2. Short-stay visa: This visa is issued to those who wish to stay for up to 90 days for tourism or business purposes.
  3. Long-stay visa: This visa is issued to visitors who wish to stay in Cyprus for more than 90 days. It is ideal for students, researchers, or those who plan to work in Cyprus.
  4. Transit visa: This visa is issued to travellers who are passing through Cyprus on their way to another destination.

As with all visa applications, you will need to complete certain forms before your arrival. 

To apply for a Cyprus visa, you will need to complete and provide the following documentation:

  1. Visa application form: This form must be completed and signed by the applicant. It includes personal information, travel details, and the purpose of the visit.
  2. Passport: A valid passport with a minimum of six months validity from the date of entry is required.
  3. Passport photos: Two passport-sized photos must be submitted with the application.
  4. Travel itinerary: A detailed itinerary of the trip must be submitted with the application.
  5. Proof of accommodation: Evidence of where you or the applicant will be staying during their visit to Cyprus must be provided. (This does not need to be booked at this stage, just an address provided)
  6. Travel insurance: Proof of travel insurance covering medical expenses must be submitted.

Overstaying your visa in Cyprus:

Overstaying your visa in Cyprus is a serious offence and can result in fines, imprisonment, and deportation. It is important to note that if you overstay your visa, it may also affect your ability to obtain a visa for other countries in the future. Therefore, it is essential to ensure that you comply with the visa requirements and regulations of the country you are visiting.

Applying for a visa is a straightforward process as long as you follow the correct procedures and provide all the required documentation.

Being aware of the different types of visas available, should make the application process easier. 

If you need assistance our friendly team is here to help. Talk to us today