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Posts Tagged ‘Immigrant’

I hit a real milestone in our repatting adventure the other day, one I wasn’t expecting at all.  Indeed, I hadn’t even given it a thought before.

Growing up in the US with an English mother, I was used to way people treated her because of her accent.  In shops, salespeople would sometimes just follow her about, ignoring other customers and hanging on every word she said — sometimes she appreciated the personal service, sometimes she disliked the intrusion.  A realtor once took her to see a $1million house, under the mistaken impression that we must be loaded just because she sounded posh to him.  And often, people would reply to her in an attempted English accent — I always noticed her slight flinch, but I never really understood it.  To me, their attempts were charming, flattering, funny, and usually, I thought, pretty good.

When I moved to the UK all those years ago, I had a perfectly American accent.  In reality, if you listened very closely, you’d be able to hear a tell-tale lilt that revealed there was something different in my background, but most people didn’t catch it.  Certainly the Brits I lived and worked with didn’t — to them, my accent was as American as apple pie and Chevrolet.

And, apparently, my accent was just too tempting as well — at least once a week, and sometimes more often, someone tried to imitate me.  I’d say something perfectly innocuous and what I’d hear back would come as a complete shock.  What were they saying?  What were they doing?  That strange sound!…  OH! It’s… it’s… it’s supposed to be me?!?  This is what they think I sound like?!?!?

And I’d smile… or wince — I was never quite sure which expression my face pulled — but no matter how I looked outwardly, on the inside I was always cringing.  They never, ever got it right.  No matter how many attempts at an American accent I endured, week after week, year after year, not one of them was anywhere near as good as the imitator thought it was, and every one was painful to hear.  Ah… at last, I understood why my mother’s face always registered that barely noticeable flinch.

But now, we are back home and I should blend smoothly back into the crowd.  Except that after years and years abroad, I don’t sound so very apple pie any more — most Americans, in fact, hear my now mixed accent and assume that I am a Brit born and bred.  It’s confusing to them — and amusing to me — when I explain that, actually, I was born just down the road.

So I should have been expecting it, but I wasn’t.  I was chatting away quite cordially with my neighbour yesterday when her voice suddenly jacked up an octave and she began speaking peculiarly, mangling her vowels and sounding a bit like the Queen being strangled.  For a moment, I didn’t get it.  And then she did it again, and I realised… she was trying to imitate me! And it was awful… awful.  That familiar feeling came over me, and I cringed inside.  But I tried very, very hard to be smiley on the outside while I quickly brought the conversation to a close.

And as I took the girls’ hands and walked back to the house I realised with a sigh that I’d reached, again, that most dubious of expat milestones.  And then I realised with surprise that I’d one-upped my mum… Oh, lucky me — I get it from both sides now!

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I’ve just realised that I never finished the story on our impossible immigrant insurance situation and wanted to just quickly correct that in case anyone is ever reading this blog because they are trying to find a solution to the same dilemma.

We finally found that Assurant were able to give cover to the girls and me on a short-term policy because we are US citizens. If I recall correctly, they were the only company who were able to do this — all the other insurance companies I contacted had residency requirements that meant that we didn’t qualify. If it weren’t for this one company, I honestly don’t know what we would have done — and I find that deeply concerning in an overall sense.

Assurant were also able to offer M a “travel policy” which would cover him. It’s called the Patriot America version of the Patriot Travel Medical plan from IMG-Global. Again, that was the only* policy that I found to cover him and, again, I don’t know what we would have done if it weren’t for Assurant.

I am utterly stunned and more than a little concerned that there seems to be only one source that provides a solution to this problem!

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*I did find something called the “Inbound Immigrant” plan which would cover DH but not us (ie, non-US citizens) but would only go up to $100,000, which is inadequately low — more like doll-sized insurance than something for a full-grown person.

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I have been wanting to blog for days, but I can’t get to it. I want to write about the girls and the things they are doing, the thoughts I’ve had about the move, the state of the house (complete disarray), but I can’t do it. All I do, in every moment I get, is talk to insurance companies and insurance brokers — one after another after another. And every time, they tell me they think they can insure us — no, they’re sure they can insure us, I mustn’t worry! — and then when I push them to read the fine print, they find they can’t insure M. Every single time.

I have spoken to so many people at so many companies that I am coming to the conclusion that there is not a single policy in the world that will cover an individual person legally immigrating to the US. It’s crazy, and it is driving me out of my mind. The short-term policies won’t touch him until he’s been resident in the US for 6-24 months. The travel policies won’t insure him because he will be a permanent resident (that is, not traveling) from the day we arrive. Every time I ring a new number and start a new conversation, I am filled with hope because the person on the other end is so reassuringly positive they have just the policy to cover this and then… they find that their policy, just like all the others before them, won’t cover him.

We aren’t trying to do anything particularly unusual! America has hundreds of thousands of legal immigrants entering the country every year. Please, someone tell me, what do they do for health cover?

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