Impact of COVID-19 on Expatriation

Corona pandemic threatens people’s lives around the world. Travelers and expatriates are particularly affected. The fight against the corona pandemic confronts the world with enormous tasks and dynamic actions. Bans and exit restrictions, border controls, or the maintenance of critical infrastructure are only a few examples of new challenges. Many states are fighting with numerous measures against the further spread of the virus and the consequences. Furthermore, the virus is fundamentally changing many things internationally. How will the “emergency state” change society? What political and economic effects will the Corona crisis have? This blog gives you a short overview of the impacts caused by the pandemic.

How fatal is the impact on travelers and expatriates?

The corona pandemic is bringing international tourism to its knees. Virus risk, travel warnings, and restrictions are ensuring that international tourism is currently plunging into a historic crisis. According to the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), the international tourism industry had to accept losses of around 175 billion euros by the end of April alone. The result is, that millions of people around the world are losing their perspective, work, and income.

Many of the expatriates had returned to their home country due to the pandemic situation. All the insurer adapted their policy to the actual situation to allow the insured to stay covered in their home country in case it was not under the coverage area. Most of them agreed also to not taking into consideration that the expatriate this year, must stay 183 +1 days outside of their home country to be considered as an expatriate. 

If you are in your home country for more than 6 months now, you must contact your insurer in order to validate the coverage. The insurer will be aware of your location, and therefore, in case you need to claim any expenses, will be able to cover them as in your expatriation country. 

One very important point regarding your expatriate health insurance is to always warn the insurer of any unusual situation. 

A brief history of events

Many people have been directly affected by the global health crisis caused by COVID-19. This made travel plans and expatriations difficult. To put the events in context, the epidemic that broke out in China in December 2019, quickly spread to almost every country in the world. In early March 2020, it was classified as a pandemic by the World Health Organization. In the first few weeks of March, when the situation in China seemed to be gradually improving, most European countries introduced quarantine measures. Today, those measures have saved thousands of lives, and while the pandemic seemed to be receding, many countries have reopened their borders to revitalize their economies. Several reports and surveys have been carried out to understand expatriate behaviour in the face of this health crisis. In almost 80% of cases, expatriates remain confident about their financial and real estate future. Still, some expatriates say they feel at ease than others, which largely depends on the measures that are being taken in their host country. The case of Singapore is interesting because it is a multicultural country that is home to many expatriates. Singapore very quickly put strict rules in place to lower the spread of the virus. Without the quick reaction and restrictions, the consequences of the pandemic for its population could have been very severe. Expatriates and the local population had to undergo strict quarantine and social distancing measures, such as the LOA (“Leave on Absence”), which imposes the obligation to self-quarantine on all employees returning from abroad. There was also the so-called SHN (“Stay-Home Notice”) for all travelers entering the area, which was accompanied by a mandatory COVID-19 test. In addition, it has been shown that the main motivations for expatriates to leave or to stay, depends on their current situation.

With the economy falling, the pandemic has taken turns on expats, many have no choice but to cancel their expatriate insurance and go back to their home country. As everyone and every company, the insurer and ourselves, can only do our best to follow government regulations by following the recommended health procedure and to hope that the situation will slowly go back to normal once again.