Another important requirement for applying for a non-lucrative visa in Spain is having proper health insurance coverage. Most visa applications will also require a valid insurance policy with specific requirements. This post is going to walk you through our experience with getting health insurance for our visa and what was required before moving abroad with children.
Full disclosure: This post will likely be boring, but probably save you time, frustration and $$$. Plus it comes with a valuable lesson learned about applying for the non lucrative Spanish visa. (With any luck, it will at least make your move abroad with family a little bit easier! 😉)
So sorry in advance for the mundane (but important) reading you are about to embark upon....
There are specific requirements for visa health insurance policy, so you want to check your consulate's requirements that match your chosen visa application.
We had specific requirements for our non-lucrative Spanish visa. (Keep in mind that this also applies to residency requirements for Spain, but you will apply for Spanish residency as part of your visa application so the two go together.)
I also want to mention that there is a health insurance policy needed for a non lucrative visa, AND a completely separate medical health certificate needed from your current doctor. These are TWO different requirements, so don't confuse the two. 😉
(You can see my post about the health certificate example here if you haven't already checked that out.)
What kind of health insurance is needed for a Visa?
One of the main requirements for a non lucrative Visa application for Spain (and most other visas/countries) is that each member of the family must be covered with health insurance valid in Spain (or your destination country) which has repatriation coverage.
Repatriation coverage means that the insurance company will pay to move you back to your origin country in case of emergency or death.
I had already done a bit of research and gotten recommendations from a variety of other bloggers experienced with family world travel as well as expats living abroad, and this process seemed fairly straightforward.
It most definitely WAS NOT as easy as I had anticipated.
Who offers health insurance policies for visa applications?
There are a LOT of insurance companies that seem to have a policy geared towards travelers or expats. (Expats stands for ex-patriot, and is a common term for people living abroad in a different country.)
The company you currently use for health insurance might have their own policy, so I definitely suggest checking with them first for simplicity's sake.
I personally discovered that most of the U.S. based companies (like Blue Cross and Aetna) cost quite a bit more money per month.
If you're like us, and trying to do your family travel on a budget, every little bit of savings helps. So a cheaper policy might be worth the extra effort. 😅
On the plus side, however, the US companies were excellent choices for someone who needs a monthly payment (as opposed to paying for the policy upfront) and the application process was readily available online and in English.
We also got several reccomendations for World Traveler Insurance. We found World Traveler Insurance to be even more expensive, but came with the perks of travel insurance in case of lost luggage or cancelled plans, etc.
If you planned on taking various trips to many different countries or embarking on a LOT of family world travel, this would be a great option!
In the end, we chose the Spanish company, Sanitas as the health insurance for our visa.
Sanitas had a policy that the closest to what we have had in the United Stats in regards to including dental, vision, etc and the monthly price was cheaper than most of the other policies we looked at.
There was also no copay for doctors or hospital visits, and Sanitas covered us on vacation should we have an accident away from home and need to go to the ER.
Since we were moving abroad with children (read our move abroad backstory here), we wanted to make sure we had full healthcare coverage for them.
And seeing as how we were planning to live primarily in Spain and start traveling Europe with our kids every few months or so, this was a GREAT fit for our family and met ALL requirements for the non lucrative Spanish visa application.
While it seemed like an easy decision making process, once we chose a company and went to actually APPLY for coverage, things got interesting...
...and by interesting I mean a hair-pulling, PMS inducing sh*tshow of confusion.
How to apply for health insurance for a visa application?
The first step to actually getting a health insurance policy is applying for it.
This is pretty standard and similar to most other health insurances- they need information about your family, birth dates, IDs, information on any major health issues, etc.
Getting in touch with an insurance agent or representative is often helpful, as they can walk you through the process and answer any questions.
This is SUPER important when making sure that the health insurance policy you choose is actually going to MEET the requirements for a Spanish visa (or the visa for your destination country).
Having a representative who works with the company can double check that you are getting the correct policy that meets all visa applicaiton requirements.
So here's where the health insurance process get hairy for us... 🤪
After filling out all of the information online and getting our initial quote, I started dealing with a representative from Sanitas to finish our final enrollment.
While it was fast and easy to get the online quote, the representative was not very clear on things such as costs, payment process, etc.
I think part of the problem was the language difference, and knowing what I know now, I should have SPECIFICALLY ASKED to be connected to a representative who spoke English.
Sanitas is actually GREAT about having English speaking customer service reps available on their phone line, but I didn't know that at the time. I figured, hey- I'm moving to Spain, and Spanish is something I'm gonna have to learn to navigate! 😅
Anyhoo- after asking for clarification at several points throughout our emailing back-and-forth, the representative explained to me that the policy needed to be either:
(1) set up for monthly payments using a SPANISH bank account, or
(2) paid for 12 months IN FULL using a credit card.
The problem is that a 12 month policy paid IN FULL is a crap ton of money, especially when you're budgeting for moving abroad as a family of 7!!
(For our family, for example, the monthly cost of insurance was quoted at around 465 euros, which meant a 12 month premium was almost $6,000 USD to pay upfront!!)
So.... route #1 required adding a HUGE 12-month health insurance premium into the budget for our non lucrative visa application. (Yikes!)
But there was also a huge roadblock with route #2....
I could not legally open a SPANISH bank account without being physically in Spain with a valid NIE number.
I could not GET a valid NIE number until AFTER our visa is approved.... which I cannot apply for without this insurance...
See the crazy circle I got stuck in?! 🤪
I ended up shedding some tears, punching some pillows, and wondering if our non lucrative visa for Spain would be forever lost into the unfulfilled dreams category.
Then I pulled my feelings together, poured another cup of coffee, and carried on.
(With any luck, the ability to open a Spanish bank account post-covid is now a bit easier to do online?)
How we finally secured health insurance for our visa:
I ended up logging into my local expats Facebook group to give a heads up to another family we'd befriended. They were at about the same stage as us in their own non-lucrative Spanish visa preparations.
I let them know about this complication in hopes that they would be able to better prepare and not be caught off guard like I was.
And, who knows? Maybe they could see a better option I had not considered. 🤞
By sheer luck and amazing fate- an AWESOME representative from Sanitas happened to see my post and commented that SHE could help me set up our health insurance plan with a SIX MONTH premium instead of 12! (Hallelujah!🎵 Hallelujah!🎵)
Although this was still a large, unexpected chunk of change out of our budget, it was half as much and WAY more doable...
(PS- you can see our full list of non lucrative visa requirements here, & snag our FREE visa application checklist to stay organized!)
As a bonus, it would relieve some of our monthly expenses once we get there since we would have already paid for healthcare for the first six months.
This woman ended up being a real LIFESAVER.... She helped with paperwork, getting things done super fast in time for our rapidly approaching Non Lucrative Visa appointment at the Spanish consulate.
She even calmed me down along the way (because at this point, my stress level was on overload and there was not enough wine in the world to fix this level of crazy...lol).
So, in the end, we DID end up getting fantastic health insurance coverage that met ALL of the requirements for our non lucrative visa for Spain.
Lastly, I want to be sure to mention that once you get your health insurance coverage, you are going to need to mention your policy's coverage specifically in your visa application Letter of Intent. (You can see what we wrote in OUR letter of intent to use as an example.)
The Most Valuable Lesson Learned While Getting Health Insurance for our Visa:
Networking skills really CAN be a lifesaver!! This is a HUGE process, don't go it alone!
Start joining groups, asking questions, and making friends as soon as you figure out what you're plans are!
People are seriously just amazing and helpful, and will undoubtedly save you lots of wondering and freaking out down the road.
Hopefully this post helps you save some stress- or at least prepare you to fork over a bit of cash for a bigger premium (and not get caught off guard like we were). 😊
If you have any questions about the insurance process that I didn't cover in this post, PLEASE ask it in a comment below! I'm here to help!
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