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Insurance for Expats in Italy

Submitted: April 2014

Fundamentally, insurance is mainly a financial service which is designed to reduce risks. An insurance product transforms the cost of your potential large liabilities or expenses into regular premiums. An insurance product “ensures” that your situation is more stable/less risky than what it would otherwise be, but it is certainly not a way to evade the liabilities you are potentially responsible for.

Do not wait for problems to arise before reviewing your insurance arrangements. Once you have a problem, it is already too late. Financially speaking, being poorly insured is risky whereas being over-insured is expensive.

There is some competition between insurers on the Italian market. Consequently, it is advisable to shop around and compare before taking out an insurance policy (premiums, levels of coverage, discounts, etc.). Overseas insurers may also have products on offer for expats in Italy. In any event, it’s better to check the financial strength and the reputation of your insurer.

If you are unclear about your cover or your needs whilst you are in Italy, you might wish to first review your existing insurance arrangements in your country of origin. This is important if you want to avoid double coverage.

Insurance isn’t necessarily a country-specific issue, but how much insurance you need may vary from one country to another. This is because your potential liabilities, such as medical bills, are specific to a jurisdiction.

Home insurance

Your home insurance needs depend on whether you own your home, or if you rent it.

A buildings insurance policy protects you against damage to your building, and is generally required to secure a mortgage. This may cover the costs of rebuilding your property from scratch or the costs of certain exceptional repairs.

As for all insurance policies, it is up to you to decide how generous you want your cover to be, what the excess amounts are, which unexpected expenses are covered (e.g. alternative accommodation or legal costs), etc.

Tenant insurance can be much cheaper than home insurance, but it only covers public liability and possibly your belongings.

Going away from home

If you expect to be away from your home for more than one month, you should let your insurer know. Failure to do so may result in a claim being rejected if something happens to your home whilst you are away.

Home insurance exclusions

Check if something is excluded from your home insurance policy. If you live in a high risk area (e.g. floods, earthquakes, volcano eruption, etc.), your insurer may require you to pay extra to be covered on some risks that your insurer would otherwise exclude.

In the event you wish to be insured against thefts or burglaries, you are likely to need to pay extra for this as well.

Letting your property

You should let your insurer know if you intend to let your property, failing which claims may be rejected. This is because being a landlord would take you to a different risk profile for the insurer, for which a special policy would be needed.

Car insurance

Car insurance is mandatory in Italy, and your policy must generally include at least third party cover. This should insure you against potential liabilities to third parties, but not damage or theft of your own car.

If you need your vehicle to have more than just third party cover, you might wish to take out a comprehensive vehicle insurance policy. As car insurance can be expensive, you should take some time to shop around and negotiate fair quotes.

Bringing a foreign car

If you are taking a foreign-registered car to Italy, your car registration plate will serve as evidence that your car is insured. This, however, will apply only if your car is registered in the EU or various other neighbouring countries party to the Green Card system.

From a practical point of view, you should check your insurer’s requirements in the event you need to make a claim for an accident in Italy. This information may be already available on your insurer’s website or on the documents you have been given from your insurer so far. If not, you might wish to give a call to your insurer before coming to Italy.

Health insurance

Italian immigration rules may make private health insurance mandatory if you are not registered with the Italian National Health Service.

If you are a registered individual, you will be eligible for subsidised treatment in Italy. However, private health insurance may still be interesting if you wish to:

  • Avoid the waiting lists for specialist treatment
  • Get treatment from the most experienced doctors
  • Talk to English-speaking staff.

Life insurance

Life insurance can be particularly helpful if your family is financially very dependent on you, as it may guarantee a lump sum payment to your family if you die.

Do assess carefully the burden of retaining foreign life insurance while you are resident in Italy. Do also check the geographical extent of your existing life insurance policy when you move across borders.

Business insurance

If you are going to run a business in Italy, you will need to have at least personnel and public liability insurance.

 

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