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Heading abroad? Key health insurer terms you MUST know

If you're planning to move abroad, or are already living abroad in 2022, organising your international health insurance is one of the most complex, yet important, tasks on your to-do list. Which is not to mention the added urgency that even the tail-end of a pandemic creates.

Heading abroad? Key health insurer terms you MUST know

Adding to the complexity is the medical insurance legalese you’ll come across when trying to research your best options. Fortunately, many international insurance use similar terms that have the same meaning. Together with provider Cigna Global, we demystify some of the key terms you’ll encounter when choosing a policy. 

Important dates

Generally, insurance policies will be very specific about dates, for a variety of reasons that deal with processes and legal compliance. Coverage may not be included as soon as you sign up, so it’s important to know exactly when your coverage starts and ends, and the duration of time before your policy needs to be renewed. 

Annual renewal date  – This is the yearly anniversary of the policy’s start date.

End date – This is the date that a policy ends, as listed in the certificate of insurance

Initial start date – This is the first day that the treatment of a beneficiary is covered. 

Period of cover – This is usually a period of 12 months, during which a beneficiary is covered, including the start and the end date. 

Start date – The date on which a beneficiary’s coverage starts, as indicated on the certificate of insurance. 

Cigna Global demystifies international health insurance. Discover how to protect you and your family abroad

People and places

Insurance providers are also, obviously, very particular about exactly who is covered by their policies, and where they come from. This is for a variety of reasons regarding international agreements and local laws. On your end, however, it’s important to know what they’re talking about when they ask you who is to be covered, and where. 

Beneficiary – A beneficiary, or beneficiaries, is anybody named in your policy, or certificate of insurance, as being covered. This will usually be your spouse or family members and can include newborns. 

Country of habitual residence – This is the country that a beneficiary resides in, as listed in their application. For example. if you’re an American working abroad in Germany with a residence permit, your country of habitual residence would be Germany. 

Country of nationality – This is the country that a beneficiary is a citizen or permanent resident of, as listed in their application. Essentially, the country or countries that you have a passport(s) for. 

Selected area of coverage – This is the area in which treatment is covered. 

Explore international health insurance options that ensure comprehensive coverage for you and your family


Put your feet up, knowing that you have comprehensive coverage. Photo: Getty Images

Medical terms 

Medical terms constitute the area of most precise language within policy documents. It’s very important that you understand exactly which treatments are covered, as well as those that the provider may opt not to cover, such as in the case of certain pre-existing conditions. 

Congenital condition –  A congenital condition is any deformity, injury or illness that is present at the time of birth, such as cystic fibrosis or clubfoot. 

Evidence-based treatment – These are treatments that have been approved by specific statutory bodies or standards – in the case of Cigna Global, the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence and the International Clinical Guidelines.

Inpatient – An inpatient is a beneficiary admitted to a hospital overnight or longer for treatment – for example, for heart surgery or a similar intensive surgical treatment. 

Medically-necessary – These are those treatments and services that are recognised by the International Clinical Guidelines to be necessary for diagnosing and treating an illness or disease, as standard and orthodox procedure. That is to say, these are treatments and services that are not experimental or untested, or purely cosmetic in nature. 

Outpatient – An outpatient is a beneficiary who attends a hospital or clinic for treatment, for less than a day. Ingrown toenail procedure? That’s an outpatient treatment, and the beneficiary is classified as an outpatient. 

Pre-existing condition – A pre-existing condition is an injury or disease, under treatment or otherwise, that was already present before the start date of a beneficiary’s policy. These can include conditions such as high blood pressure, or asthma that were not present at birth, but developed over time. 

Other important terms

Some terms are very particular to insurance provider documentation, and you may not see them used in any other context. However, they are usually simply ‘legalese’ for rather simple and straightforward concepts, events or objects. 

Certificate of insurance – A document that lists all the important information about the policy, including beneficiaries, dates of validity and treatments or procedures are covered. 

Qualifying life event – These are those events that change the number of beneficiaries covered by a policy, and include births, deaths, adoptions, weddings and civil unions.

Special category data – This is specific data on a beneficiary’s age, race, sex and other affiliations, collected for the purposes of identifying them.

When looking for the right international health coverage, Cigna Global is worth considering for a number of reasons. They offer fully-customisable health coverage, with four levels of statutory cover available, and a broad range of premium contribution options. Cigna Global also offers a direct billing network with more than a million doctors, hospitals and clinics worldwide, meaning that you will easily be able to find treatment options that meet your needs. There’s no upper age limit for cover, and you’ll also enjoy an additional 180 days coverage, while you’re still in your home country, making it easy to transition at either end of your international stay. Finally, full cancer care is offered, including experimental treatments and procedures. 

At a time when we’re all starting to enjoy increased mobility, and working abroad becomes more and more common after the pandemic, it’s crucial that you are covered for any eventuality. Cigna Global is the natural choice for those looking for comprehensive coverage, no matter where their work takes them. 

Learn more about Cigna Global’s broad range of coverage options today, and ensure that your international stay is fully covered against illness or jnjury 

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TRAVEL NEWS

Summer travel between Spain and the UK: What can I not pack in my suitcase?

If you're travelling between Spain and the UK this summer and want to take some of your favourite treats with you, here's what you should know about the food and drink rules post-Brexit so you don't get caught out by customs.

Summer travel between Spain and the UK: What can I not pack in my suitcase?

Flying to the UK from Spain

For those flying to the UK from Spain, the rules are relatively lax.

Note, if you’re spending the summer in Northern Ireland there are different rules on food and animal products. Find them here. 

You can bring the following products from Spain into the UK without worrying about any restrictions:

  • bread, but not sandwiches filled with meat or dairy products
  • cakes without fresh cream
  • biscuits
  • chocolate and confectionery, but not those made with unprocessed dairy ingredients
  • pasta and noodles, but not if mixed or filled with meat or meat products
  • packaged soup, stocks and flavourings
  • processed and packaged plant products, such as packaged salads and frozen plant material
  • food supplements containing small amounts of an animal product, such as fish oil capsules

Meat, dairy, fish and animal products

If, like many of us, you have friends and family already putting in their orders for stocks of jamón serrano, know that the rules on bringing meat, dairy, fish and other animal products into the UK are relatively relaxed. You can bring in meat, fish, dairy and other animal products as long as they’re from the EU, so your jamón and Manchego cheese are safe. 

what food can and cannot bring between spain and the uk

You will still be able to bring cured Spanish ham from Spain to the UK. (Photo by Robyn Beck / AFP)
 

Alcohol allowance

For many, the big one, but there are some limits on how much booze you can bring in from Spain and the EU more generally. How much you can bring depends on the type of alcohol, so get up to speed on the limits and make sure your favourite Rioja and Cava aren’t taken off you or heavily taxed:

Limits:

  • beer – 42 litres
  • still wine – 18 litres
  • spirits and other liquors over 22 percent alcohol – 4 litres
  • sparkling wine, fortified wine (port, sherry etc) and other alcoholic drinks up to 22 percent alcohol (not including beer or still wine) – 9 litres

It’s worth knowing that you can split your allowance, for example you could bring 4.5 litres of fortified wine and 2 litres of spirits (both half of your allowance).

Flying into Spain from the UK

While British borders are laid back when it comes to travelling with food and drink, the rules are much tougher when entering the EU from the UK.

Most importantly, tea bags – longed for by Brits the world over – are allowed. Marmite, which is vegan, is also fine to bring but Bovril, which contains beef stock, is not.

Travellers arriving in the EU from Britain can, according to the European Travel Retail Confederation (ETRC), bring the following quantities of alcohol, so if you fancy a British tipple in Spain over the summer such as Pimm’s it is possible, within reason: 4 litres of still wine and 16 litres of beer, 1 litre of spirits, or 2 litres of sparkling or fortified wine.

If you arrive in the EU from a non-EU country, you cannot bring any meat or dairy products with you. That means no Wensleydale, no Cornish Brie in your ploughman’s lunch and no British bacon to enjoy in Spain for English breakfast fry-ups.

Ploughman's lunch

British cheese for your Ploughman’s lunch is not allowed. Photo: Glammmur / WikiCommons

The EU’s strict rules mean that all imports of animal-derived products technically come under these rules, so even your custard powder to make rhubarb fool or bars of your favourite chocolate are now banned, because of the milk.

Be aware, however Spanish customs do not always check your suitcase, so you may be able to get away with bringing in a small packaged item such as a chocolate bar, without it being confiscated. 

Similarly, if you’re planning on asking a friend or family member to bring you over some sweets, cakes, or other home comforts, be aware that the ban includes all products that contain any meat or dairy as an ingredient – which includes items like chocolate, fudge, and some sweets (because of the gelatine.)

You are allowed to bring a small quantity of fruit and vegetables as well as eggs, some egg products, and honey. Restricted quantities of fish or fish products are also allowed: eviscerated fresh fish products (gutted, with all the organs removed), and processed fishery products are allowed up to 20 kg or 1 fish, so you can enjoy some Scottish smoked salmon in Spain over the summer if you want.

If you’re travelling with kids, note that powdered infant milk, infant food and specifically required medical foods are allowed up to 2kg, as is the case for pet foods. 

Clotted cream for cream teas won’t be allowed to be brought into Spain. Photo: Tuxraider reloaded / WikiCommons

This means that even the classic British summertime favourites such as sausage rolls, scotch eggs, packaged trifle and clotted cream for your cream tea will not be allowed because of the meat and dairy they contain.

It is worth noting that these strict EU rules also apply to sending products by post, so if you were hoping to get around the newly applicable legislation by having someone send you a delivery some Devon fudge, they will probably be intercepted and confiscated by Spain’s postal service, unfortunately. 

READ ALSO: Are there limits on bringing medicines into Spain?

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