Working as an au pair is a pretty sweet gig.
You’ll travel to a faraway place, immerse yourself in a new culture and form meaningful relationships with your host and their kids.
Better yet, you’ll get free food, accommodation and even a monthly stipend for your efforts.
But it won’t all be smooth sailing. You’ll undoubtedly miss home and have to tolerate the odd domestic squabble or two along the way.
Worse still, there’s a chance you could get seriously injured or ill. And without proper insurance, the eye-watering cost of overseas medical care is probably more than you can afford.
Much like when you travel on a gap year, purchasing a suitable insurance plan is essential for the offshore au pair.
Let’s take an in-depth look at au pair insurance and a few providers who can help you find suitable coverage for your international foray.
Why do you need insurance as an au pair?
Emergency medical cover in a foreign country is expensive—potentially enough to bankrupt a wealthy family. It’s vital to have insurance in case something goes wrong.
Take it from me. A three-day stint in a Swiss hospital cost me over ten grand, money I certainly didn’t have. Thankfully, I was insured!
Most reputable au pair exchange programs won’t even accept uninsured workers. Furthermore, many work visas require adequate insurance.
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When don’t you need to find au pair insurance?
A lot of au pair exchange programs put the onus on the family to organize insurance. If that’s the case, congratulations, you don’t have to deal with the stress of finding insurance! However, you should insist on a copy of the policy to ensure they uphold their end of the bargain.
In some countries, most notably Germany, the host family is legally obliged to pay for your insurance. As an aside, you also typically get a €50 monthly allowance for German classes to complement your own learning.
Au pairs often decide against insurance when a reciprocal medical agreement between their home and destination countries already exists. For example, Australia has such an agreement with New Zealand and 10 European countries.
An EU Health Insurance Card is valid across most of the continent. However, it won’t necessarily provide adequate coverage. Therefore, separate insurance is recommended, as well.
Why not just purchase travel insurance?
You could, but you’d be paying too much.
Travel insurance premiums are expensive because there’s a lot of risk involved. As an au pair, you’ll spend most of your time hanging out in the family home where you’re much less likely to run into trouble.
Above all else, the main advantage of a specialized au pair insurance policy is the price.
Keep Everyone Safe! How to Choose Au Pair Insurance
What au pair travel insurance should include
All au pair insurance plans allow you to work in the childcare industry within a private family home.
Some will include travel insurance cover for brief vacations, typically with a maximum duration of six weeks.
The maximum validity varies widely between policies, usually between two and five years. Given most workers aren’t sure how long they want to stay, many take out coverage for a year at a time. With that in mind, opt for a company that offers a refund of the unused portion should you decide to come home early.
Finally, you won’t earn much money as an au pair, so it’s wise to opt for a budget policy. That way, you’ll have more money to spend while you’re in the country. Just be sure you receive sufficient coverage for medical expenses should an emergency situation arise.
Shop around for au pair insurance
Plenty of providers out there compete vigorously for a slice of the au pair insurance pie. However, not all offer good value for money.
In addition to the providers listed in this piece, check out what’s available in your country and compare their benefits and rates.
Generally speaking, travel agents aren’t good value for insurance due to the fact that they earn a big chunk of commission on each sale.
What au pair insurance should include
Health and medical
This is the big one.
You need to be adequately covered in case of illness or injury. Without access to the public health care system, even a minor complication could take a huge toll on your bank account.
Policies include anywhere between 50,000 USD and unlimited cover. Aim for the higher end of the scale if you’re staying in a developed country with high medical costs.
Accidentally drop the baby on its head? Or maybe you left the oven on and burned down the house?
In these circumstances, there’s a good chance you’re going to get sued. Liability cover will pay your legal costs should such a nightmare situation arise.
Lost or stolen luggage
You won’t be out on the road much, so the chances of getting robbed are slim. Therefore, lost or stolen luggage cover is more of a luxury than an essential for the au pair. The same applies to travel delay and cancellation cover.
Au pair insurance companies to consider
Backed by the well-established German insurance broker DR-WALTER, PROTRIP-WORLD offers a reasonably priced insurance policy aimed at those living abroad for the short term. Customers must be an au pair, volunteer, student or cultural exchange participant to qualify.
Their accident and emergency cover applies for holidays up to six weeks, so long as you don’t leave the region for which the policy is valid.
Who can use PROTRIP-WORLD: Citizens of any country in the world working anywhere in the world
What PROTRIP-WORLD includes:
- One month within Europe: €29 (33 USD)
- One month worldwide excluding USA and Canada: €42 (49 USD)
- One month worldwide including USA and Canada: €63 (72 USD)
Heading to work in Germany or Austria? Or maybe you live there and need insurance for your new au pair?
Local provider Klemmer International offers insurance specifically for au pairs visiting the region. Their policies are flexible and great value for money.
Long-term au pairs love their generous five-year maximum stay policy, which can be extended or shortened at any time. Furthermore, the company covers adults up to age 75, which is ideal for older au pairs.
Who can use Klemmer International: Citizens of any country in the world working in Germany and Austria only
What Klemmer International includes:
- More benefits, such as travel insurance, can be added for an additional fee
Klemmer International costs: Prices start a €30 (35 USD) per month and vary depending on the selected benefits
Both budding au pairs and host families alike can take out cover with CareMed, a German-based company that has been in the educational travel insurance business since 1999.
Au pairs can take out coverage for up to three years, which includes travel stints up to six weeks. Workers must be under age 40 to be eligible.
Who can use CareMed: Citizens of any country in the world working anywhere in the world
What CareMed includes:
- Unlimited medical
- Accident (optional)
- Liability (optional)
- Return trip emergency (optional)
- Baggage (optional)
- One month medical only: €36 (42 USD)
- Add-ons are available for an additional fee
Au Pair in America
Foreign au pairs in the United States working through the Au Pair in America agency receive free insurance courtesy of their host family. The agency matches registered au pairs with a suitable host and mandates generous employment conditions, such as a 195 USD weekly stipend.
Who can use Au Pair in America: Citizens of over 60 countries working in the United States only
What Au Pair in America includes:
- Liability (optional)
- Baggage (optional)
Au Pair in America costs:
- The host family is obliged to pay the insurance, which is included in the program fee
- The host family pays an annual program fee of 8,825 USD, plus the weekly stipend
Other agencies, such as GreatAuPair USA, have similar policies.
Au pairs working in the United States are eligible for Exchange Visitor Insurance through the American broker Insubuy. Unlike most providers, Insubuy allows workers to purchase insurance after they’ve entered the country.
Who can use Insubuy: Citizens of any country in the world working in the United States only
What Insubuy includes: Medical coverage varies depending on the chosen plan
Insubuy costs: Prices start from 39 USD per month
Remember, regular travel insurance for North America costs 120 USD per month or more through competitive providers, such as World Nomads. Considering the above options typically come in at less than half that price, purchasing specialty au pair insurance is a no-brainer from an economic point of view.
Take a closer look at the above options and do a little research of your own to work out which policy is best for you.
Harry is a South American-based freelance writer who covers travel, the arts and culture, among many other things.