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Staying under cover while living in a tropical paradise

Staying under cover while living in a tropical paradise

Cambodia may be a stress-free place to live for many, but it remains essential to take proper care of your health – and your insurance policies – for peace of mind for you and your loved ones


By David Carter

International SOS's

healthy living tips

  • Have insurance but be prepared to pay and claim back, which can take up to six months. Set some money aside for health needs, keep receipts, etc.
  • Have evacuation insurance that works in Cambodia and carry your card with emergency numbers at all times.
  • Know how to activate your insurance in case of emergency.
  • Choose a doctor and clinic before you need it! Go and visit, check out the facilities, meet the staff and check credentials, check operation times.
  • Have both your clinic phone number and numbers you can call to get transport 24 hours a day at short notice in your phone.
  • If you take regular medicines bring enough for 6 months to one year until you can establish a local source.
  • If you have a chronic condition, go to see a doctor soon after you arrive with your medical records and medications and let them become familiar with you.
  • Take measures to prevent accidents and illness.
  • Seek medical help early if you are sick because organising an evacuation takes time (six to 24 hours).

PEOPLE are attracted to Cambodia by the warm weather, friendly atmosphere and the chance to make a good living. Many end up in Phnom Penh, where there are many opportunities but with them many risks.

It's easy as a new resident to be complacent about things that were a "must do" back home, such as proper management of your health. Contrary to some beliefs, Phnom Penh has excellent health and dental care available; however, these services do come at a cost.

The level of services are also

limited if someone requires specialist or critical care. So when emergencies arise a typical response is to leave the country and go somwhere with more options, such as Bangkok or Singapore.

The question all foreign residents must ask themselves is: Do you have a health care plan? If so,  

will it respond adequately in an emergency?

Pick and choose

In many cases a sponsoring employer will provide Medical and Evacuation Insurance to employees as part of their expatriate package. Where this is not the case, the employee must take out cover; and where the person is self employed, the decision is 100 percent up to the individual.

The options for expatriate medical insurance are many, ranging from the cheapest policy that provides basic inpatient medical cover and evacuation to the nearest countries, to the broadest in- and outpatient cover and evacuation to the place of your choice.

The premium charged ranges according to the level of cover and the amount you choose to pay as a policy excess. The variations of cover are many so it is also very easy to get confused.The best way to arrive at the right cover for your circumstances is to ask yourself some basic questions such as:

  • Am I healthy and not prone to sickness?
  • What lifestyle stage am I at, for example single, married with children, or retired with no dependents
  • How financially secure  am I and what can I afford to pay for the insurance each year
  • In an emergency, what do I want to happen and what are my plans?

Answer these questions and contrast these against your current policy or, if uninsured, against the options available. This way you stand to get the best fit for your needs.

Ultimately the choice is yours, but everyone living away from home needs to remember that accidents and illness do happen and, when they do, you will have to deal with them straight away.

It is an unfortunate but true fact that most medical service providers require surety of payment before treating patients. Buying the right cover from a reputable insurer means a major part of the "what if"question disappears.

Ultimately the premium outlay when measured against an uninsured medical expense for an emergency can be a tiny percentage, especially when it involves your most important assets - you and your loved ones.

David Carter is the CEO of Infinity Insurance,

a member of the Royal Group. He can be contacted at [email protected]


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