Here’s a short guide to Russian insurance, including tips on car insurance in Russia, travel insurance for a Russian visa, and life insurance in Russia.
Working out what types of insurance you need in Russia can be a confusing business, with car and health insurance the biggest culprits. Here, we demystify some of the more bewildering elements of insurance in Russia and help you work out what you will and won’t need to budget for when you move.
Which types of Russian insurance are legally required?
- Car insurance: Driving in Russia can be an unruly business, and compulsory car insurance was only brought in in 2003. Many drivers in Russia have dash-cams installed to help them with their claims if they’re involved in an accident.
- Health insurance: Public healthcare is available in Russia, but there are very few English-speaking doctors and resources can be very stretched. With this in mind, many expats take out private health insurance.
- Dental insurance: Dental care is free for children up to the age of 18. Dental insurance is covered on some private healthcare plans, but is often subject to an extra charge.
- Home insurance: While home insurance policies aren’t legally required in Russia, obtaining both buildings and contents insurance is highly recommended to protect your home.
- Unemployment and life insurance: State unemployment benefits in Russia often don’t even adequately cover living costs. Life insurance isn’t mandatory, but can be taken out through private policies either in Russia or from a provider in your country of origin.
- Travel insurance: You’ll usually need to take out your own travel insurance when living in Russia as it isn’t covered on the majority of health insurance schemes.
Car insurance in Russia
Russia isn’t always the safest place to drive, so many drivers have dashboard cameras installed in their vehicles. They do this due to concerns over the number of hit and run accidents in the country, the reliability of the police when it comes to road accidents, and to protect them against false allegations.
Compulsory car insurance in Russia has been around for well over a decade now, but it is still unpopular in some quarters, with elderly drivers claiming they are priced out by high premiums, which went off the charts in Spring 2015 when the Central Bank ramped up costs.
As a minimum, all vehicles in Russia must have third-party liability insurance, which covers you if somebody makes a claim for vehicle damage, personal injuries or legal costs against you. Comprehensive insurance, meanwhile, also protects you against any damage caused to your own car in an accident, or in instances of fire or theft.
Russian insurance: health cover
Public healthcare is available for citizens in Russia, but it’s vastly oversubscribed and underfunded, with long waiting times, a lack of comfort and poor quality facilities. In addition to this, very few doctors speak English.
Many expats take out private healthcare when they move to Russia. The most notable private healthcare centres are in major cities such as Moscow and St Petersburg, and some healthcare plans limit you to using specific hospitals and health centres, so those living in smaller towns may need to travel a long distance.
You can either take out a private healthcare plan from a provider in Russia (costs vary significantly), or instead take out a specialist expat healthcare plan in your country of origin. While this can be expensive, it can also provide greater peace of mind.
While dental care is free for people under the age of 18, it can be an expensive business for adults.
More than 60% of families in Russia either have a private healthcare plan that includes dental care for their children or have a specialist dental plan with a private provider.
Even if you have private healthcare insurance paid for by your employer, there’s a good chance that it will at best include minimal dental care coverage (for emergency situations), so it’s worth either taking this cost on separately or seeing if you can expand your healthcare coverage.
Dental insurance premiums in Russia generally fit two categories – routine dental treatment and major dental treatment. The former includes examinations, fillings, root canals and emergency treatment, while the latter covers crowns, dentures and more complicated surgical procedures.
Russian insurance: Home insurance
Unlike in some countries, you don’t legally have to get buildings insurance when buying a home in Russia. As with anywhere, however, your home is likely to be the most expensive thing you ever buy, so as a bare minimum it can be a good idea to have its rebuild costs protected.
Contents, computers and jewellery: insuring your stuff
Again, you’re not legally obligated to take out contents insurance on your belongings, but there are several reasons why you might want to do so. If you have high-value belongings, are likely to spend a significant time away from your property, or are renting out rooms in your home, a contents insurance scheme could be a wise investment.
Life insurance in Russia, unemployment and injury insurance
Life, unemployment and injury insurance are all worth considering for expats moving to Russia, due to the paucity of state options on offer. State unemployment benefits are available to Russian citizens and expats working in the country, but they rarely offer enough to even cover the most basic of living expenses. (Click here if you’re looking for work in Russia.)
Life insurance schemes will usually pay out a lump sum if you die, and are available either within Russia or as packages from international providers in your country of origin. In some cases, your place of work might also offer coverage.
Travel insurance for a Russian visa
Some private health insurance schemes cover basic travel insurance, but in the majority of cases you’ll need to take out specialist insurance yourself.
As with elsewhere in Europe, it’s possible to take out single, multi-trip or annual packages, and the standard of coverage and cost of cover varies significantly based on your personal circumstances and the activities you’re likely to undertake when abroad. If you require more information regarding travel insurance for a Russian visa, or on how to obtain a Russian visa click here.
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