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14th January 2015 Latest International Private Medical Health Insurance Magazine News Articles

Healthy Passenger Demand in November

Global passenger traffic results for November 2014 show a continuation of the healthy demand trend of recent months. Total revenue passenger kilometers (RPKs) rose 6.0% compared to November 2013, which was ahead of the 5.7% year-over-year growth recorded in October as well as the 10-year average growth rate of 5.6%. November capacity expanded by 5.4%, leading to a 0.5 percentage point rise in the load factor to 76.7%. Growth was driven primarily by domestic markets which experienced a 6.9% increase in demand over the previous November (an acceleration over the 5.3% year-to-date average for domestic travel).

November Global Air Freight Growth Concentrates In Asia And Middle East

November 2014 data for global air freight markets showing that demand measured in freight tonne kilometers (FTK) grew 4.2% compared to November 2013. Capacity grew by 3.3% over the previous November. Compared to October 2014, air freight demand expanded by a healthy 0.8%. The most significant growth was recorded by carriers in the Asia-Pacific and Middle East regions, at 5.9% and 12.9%, respectively.

Cigna Life Insurance New Zealand Launches New Travel Insurance Cover

Cigna’s new comprehensive travel insurance provides mature customers with peace of mind and sense of security when travelling away from home. Cigna announced today its entry into the travel insurance market, with the new Cigna 50+ Travel Insurance designed specifically with the mature traveller in mind. Cigna already provides travel insurance through partner companies, but this is their first travel insurance product under the Cigna brand.

Status Global Insurance Now Offering Travel Insurance For Extensive Pre-Existing Medical Conditions

Status Global Insurance are excited to announce the ground-breaking launch of the specialised travel insurance product, Fit-4-Travel, which offers comprehensive cover, with no upper age limit to UK citizens residing throughout the EU, who have extensive pre-existing medical conditions. Many insurance companies aren’t able to provide travel insurance for pre-existing medical conditions, or if they do you end up paying an absurdly expensive premium. This can leave travellers’ well-being, and wallets dangerously exposed if they have a flare-up of an existing medical condition when abroad. Arranged in partnership with International Travel and Healthcare Ltd Fit-4-Travel provides a reasonably priced product that will cover a very wide range of pre-existing medical conditions.

Alternate Health Care Delivery Models And Payment Reform May Stall At Current Levels

A joint pulse survey between Aon Hewitt, the global talent, retirement and health solutions business of Aon (NYSE: AON), and Catalyst for Payment Reform, an independent, non-profit employer coalition pushing for better value in U.S. health care, shows that while employers find alternative provider delivery models and payment reform attractive, most admit they do not understand them or the value they provide. As a result, they may miss a significant opportunity to lead and improve results (health and financial) for their workforce and business.

Natural Catastrophe Insurance Losses Hit Five-Year Low In 2014

Impact Forecasting has launched its Annual Global Climate and Catastrophe Report, which evaluates the impact of the natural disaster events that occurred worldwide during 2014. The report reveals that 258 separate global natural disasters occurred in 2014, compared to a ten-year average of 260 events, causing a combined total insured loss of USD39 billion – 38 percent below the ten-year average of USD63 billion, and the lowest annual insured loss total since 2009. The two costliest insured loss events of the year were both a result of severe thunderstorms, in June (Europe: USD3.0 billion) and in May (United States: USD2.9 billion). Meanwhile, global economic losses from natural catastrophes in 2014 stood at USD132 billion – 37 percent below the ten-year average of USD211 billion. The September flood event in northern India and Pakistan resulted in the largest economic loss of the year, causing an estimated USD18 billion in damage and representing the fifth consecutive year that Pakistan has registered a billion-dollar flood event.

Workers Compensation Claims Will Decrease In 2015

Aon Risk Solutions has released its second Health Care Workers Compensation Barometer report. The report explores trends in frequency, severity and overall loss rates related to workers’ compensation for approximately 1,150 heath care facilities across the country. The 2014 report projects workers compensation loss rates will decrease one percent annually. The Health Care Workers Compensation Barometer report also shows that frequency of workers compensation claims has been slowly and consistently decreasing at the same one percent level over the ten year experience period analyzed.

Merger Creates One Of The Largest Providers In Canadian Travel Insurance

Allianz Worldwide Partners and The Co-operators have announced the completion of the merger of their respective Canadian travel insurance companies. The merger of Allianz Global Assistance Canada and TIC Travel Insurance Coordinators, first announced in September, has created one of the largest travel insurance providers in the country, operating as Allianz Global Assistance. The combined entity will leverage the strengths of the two organizations to offer industry-leading products and services for Canadian travellers and visitors to Canada.

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Workers Compensation Claims Will Decrease In 2015

Aon Risk Solutions has released its second Health Care Workers Compensation Barometer report. The report explores trends in frequency, severity and overall loss rates related to workers’ compensation for approximately 1,150 heath care facilities across the country. The 2014 report projects workers compensation loss rates will decrease one percent annually. The Health Care Workers Compensation Barometer report also shows that frequency of workers compensation claims has been slowly and consistently decreasing at the same one percent level over the ten year experience period analyzed.

Conversely, workers compensation claim severity within the health care industry has been slowly increasing at a rate of two percent per year over the same ten year period. The report also analyzes survey data highlighting the specific concerns and issues that the health care industry currently faces. Patient management, including handling and lifting, has been identified as the number one concern by risk managers as it accounts for one third of all claims and has the highest average indemnity payment out of all causes of loss.

“Patient handling is clearly a leading concern in the health care industry; however, risks associated with emerging outbreaks, like Ebola, are driving new conversations in the boardroom,” said Barry Weiner, managing director and National Senior Care Practice leader. “Risks, such as materials handling, used to be a small average indemnity paid relative to other causes of loss but the frequency of these types of claims appears to be on the rise.”

Other noteworthy key findings from Aon’s report include:

  • 90 percent of survey respondents have a return to work program but only 65 percent have metrics in place to test the effectiveness of the program.
  • 95 percent of survey respondents have a formal safety committee. 17 percent of survey respondents have a safety incentive program in place.
  • For the 2015 accident year, Aon projects that health care facilities will experience an annual loss rate of $0.75 per $100 of payroll. This projection applies at the countrywide level and is made assuming a $500,000 per occurrence limit.
  • Home Health Care Aide, as an occupation, has the highest average indemnity cost among workers compensation claims. This is potentially due to patient management.
  • Among the eleven states profiled within the report, California ($2.18) has the highest projected loss rate for 2015; Tennessee ($0.48) has the lowest projected loss rate for 2015.

In addition to survey data, the 2014 report examines other workers compensation trends in the health care industry, including:

Claim frequency and severity by department and occupation – For the first time, the report analyzes the department and occupation fields within claim data to measure the relative frequency and severity of claims by department and occupation, separately.

Historical trends by certain states – The barometer report provides statistical information on historical frequency, severity, and overall loss rates specific to 11 states.

Weiner added, “This report will continue to be a critical tool for organizations looking to measure and promote patient and employee safety. It helps health care leaders and risk managers to measure, maintain and reduce their workers’ compensation exposures against their industry and identify certain key areas for improvement and growth.”

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More Than 3.7 Million UK Employees Could Either Have Paid-For Benefits They Were Unaware Of, Or Are Missing Out On The Chance To Have Protection Insurance Or A Pension(2)

Almost 1 in 7 UK employees are in the dark when it comes to pensions and insurance benefits available through their workplace, according to new research1. Figures from a YouGov survey commissioned by Friends Life found that nearly 15% of workers did not know what financial products their employer provided. When expanded out across the UK workforce, it means more than 3.7 million UK employees could either have paid-for benefits they were unaware of, or are missing out on the chance to have protection insurance or a pension2.

However, there is a desire to get financial products via the workplace. When asked which benefits people would consider taking out through their employer, pensions, life insurance, critical illness cover and income protection were among the most popular answers3.

“It’s got to come down to communication,” said Anna Spender, Head of Group Protection Proposition. “Employees need to know what’s on offer and how it can help them. Giving them a few simple pieces of information will allow them to make more informed decisions. “Not only are workers potentially missing out on really valuable benefits, but employers aren’t getting the full value of the package they’re offering. Life insurance, critical illness cover and income protection can make employees feel valued by their company and can play an important part in any staff wellness programmes. But if employees don’t even know they’re available employers aren’t maximising the good will these benefits can create in staff.”

The workers surveyed said employer contributions and subsidies were the most popular factor in encouraging them to buy a financial product via their employer. Getting a better price or deal than is available on the high street was also a common choice4. Research has also showed that nearly 60% of people would rely on their partner's salary or savings5 if they were diagnosed with cancer and unable to work.

“Employers could be the answer to plugging at least part of the protection gap we have in this country,” added Anna Spender. “Employees can be offered some form of cover as part of their terms and conditions or through flexible benefit arrangements where they can purchase in accordance with their needs. Either way, it can help staff to feel more secure knowing they have some financial back up should the worst happen.

“Everyone should know what is available to them. Having almost 1 in 7 unaware of what’s on offer is too many.”

1 YouGov survey of 12,260 UK adults commissioned by Friends Life (2013-2014) 2 ONS Labour Market Statistics (Oct 2014) says there are 26,027,000 employees in the UK. 26,027,000 ÷ 100 x 14.5 (percentage of people who ‘don’t know’ what financial services products their employer officers) = 3,773,915 3 YouGov survey of 3,922 UK adults commissioned by Friends Life 4 YouGov survey of 10,784 UK adults commissioned by Friends Life 5 Survey of 2,000 people carried out by One Poll on behalf of Friends Life (Q1 2014)

 

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UK Consumers Support Stronger Measures To Combat Whiplash Fraud As 10 Per Cent Of People Admit To Knowing Someone Who Has Made A Fraudulent Or Exaggerated Claim

Despite a number of Government reforms designed to address the issue, the scale of the “compensation culture” problem around whiplash claims is highlighted in a new report from AXA UK, Whiplash: consumer perspectives on a UK compensation culture pandemic. Ten per cent of the [2,000] UK consumers polled said that they had either committed whiplash fraud themselves or knew someone that had done so.

  • One in ten respondents to AXA report admit to having made, or knowing someone who has made, a fraudulent or exaggerated whiplash claim in the past;
  • While acknowledging that medical examinations already apply, AXA believes these should be carried out by independent and specifically accredited medical examiners;
  • Almost two thirds (62 per cent) would support the introduction of mandatory medical examinations even if it resulted in their insurance premiums rising in the short term;
  • Widespread calls to reduce the timeframe permitted for whiplash claims – two thirds (67 per cent) think the time limit should be six months rather than existing three years.

Chris Voller, AXA UK Claims Director, said, “One might expect that the percentage of people admitting to being or knowing a fraudster is lower than the real number but even at the level indicated in our survey, the amount of fraud taking place is disturbingly high. This reveals the scale of the problem and the uphill challenge the UK Government and insurance industry still face if this proportion is to be reduced in the mid to long term.”

AXA’s report reveals a consensus that whiplash claims and injuries associated with such claims are an area open to fraudulent activity. Over three quarters (78 per cent) agree that “being able to claim for whiplash/whiplash-related injuries is open to abuse” and 73 per cent agree with the statement that it “is easier to embellish a whiplash claim as compared to other types of insurance claims”.

There appears to be a prevailing opinion amongst people that the severity of the injury must be assessed to ascertain whether someone can properly be said to have whiplash. While the UK public overwhelmingly think that the requirement to undergo a medical examination to prove an injury will act as a deterrent to fraudsters, AXA believes that this should be carried out by an independent medical examiner.

Nine out of ten people (89 per cent) say that fraudulent claimants will be put off if these measures are introduced. Indeed, eight in ten (79 per cent) believe that medical examinations should be made mandatory in all whiplash cases, with over half (55 per cent) going further and stating that an independent professional medical examiner should be responsible for deciding that a person has suffered a whiplash injury for the purposes of making a claim.

Whiplash fraud is deemed to be a significant enough problem that people are even prepared to pay extra in the short term if it helps to eradicate whiplash fraud in the long term. Sixty-two per cent of respondents would support the introduction of mandatory medical examinations “even if it resulted in their insurance premiums rising in the short term”. People currently have three years in which to file a whiplash claim but it is evident that many feel this is too long a period, with 67 per cent saying that the time limit should be restricted to six months.

Chris Voller added, “There appears to be a general feeling of scepticism around those who claim for whiplash injuries up to three years after the accident. That lack of sympathy can, perhaps, be attributed to the role that Claims Management Companies play in encouraging such claims. Although the UK Government has shown no appetite to alter the status quo in terms of imposing a tighter timeframe, we would like to see a maximum time limit in the UK, similar to that used in Sweden where, typically, claims presented more than three to four days after the accident are usually rejected. “Although the reform agenda is underway and recent statistics from the ABI have shown that motor premiums have come down, what we haven’t seen is a decline in the frequency and number of whiplash related claims, so there is still more that needs to be done.”

Commenting on the report, Professor Chris Parsons, Cass Business School, said, “Although the amounts of compensation paid to whiplash claimants are relatively small, the claims handling costs that go with them, including the costs of investigation, processing and, possibly, lawyer’s fees and medical reports, are disproportionately large. For example, a payment to a whiplash claimant of a thousand pounds or so may ultimately cost the paying insurer two or three times that amount. Since whiplash claims are extremely common in the UK, the effect on motor insurance premiums is very significant. It is also probably fair to say that most whiplash claimants do not ‘need’ the compensation – on the basis that whiplash injuries are rarely permanent, life threatening, life changing or a source of significant expense to the claimant.”

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CEGA Wins 2013 ITIJ 'Assistance / Claims Handler of the Year' Award

CEGA Group has won the title of 'Assistance/Claims Handler of the Year' at the independently judged 2013 ITIJ Awards; recently held in Vienna to honor companies that have made an outstanding contribution to the global travel and health insurance industry over the past year.

The award follows a raft of new measures undertaken by CEGA in the last year to continually improve customer service; most significant among them a substantial investment in state of the art claims handling software.

“Everyone appreciates recognition for a job well done, especially when it comes from peers within your industry,” says CEGA’s Director of Sales and Marketing, Rob Upton. “This award recognises the efforts and dedication of all CEGA’s staff, who provide world-class service to our clients and their customers, wherever they are in the world, 24/7.”

In arriving at their decision, the ITIJ Award judges acknowledged that: “CEGA has now reached a standard which sets the norm for the market to aspire to - and some of the brand names within its clientele are testament to its success.”

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Asia Medical Assistance Renews Advertising Deal With iPMI Magazine Until 2015

Asia Medical Assistance (AMA) was rebranded from PEMA in the year 2005, to mark the inception of MR. ABHIJEET SINGH SACHDEV, as its new CEO.

The company, then a regional provider of medical assistance has flourished into a multinational company and into one of the largest independent assistance companies of Asia. AMA has grown steadily every year over the last 8 years and now boosts international partnerships that bring value to the leading health and travel insurance companies. AMA is capable of being flexible with all the different parameters of service delivery ranging from emergency planning to execution.

Services

Team

AMA has a dedicated team of professionals driving the business in the right direction. With vast experience of over 12 years each on average, our team of paramedics is capable of providing you the best possible care to your evacuations and critical care. Our team of doctor’s spans more than 30 specialties and are all in-house hence are providing your clients reliable service all year round. Our response times of the alarm center are always pushing global standards further due to our investments in technology.

More information: http://www.asiamedassist.org

 

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La France Mutualiste Taps SAS® to Consolidate Risk Management, Regulatory Support

To meet the demanding regulatory requirements of Solvency II, La France Mutualiste needed a consolidated risk platform that comprises data collection, reporting and risk analysis.

In choosing SAS® Risk Management for Insurance, the mutual savings and retirement company was drawn to more than the solution's advanced technologies. It also sought the industry expertise SAS could deliver, to help the company comply with increasing Solvency II requirements. SAS France will implement the solution for La France Mutualiste. SAS Risk Management for Insurance is a comprehensive solution for performing risk analysis and risk-based capital calculation for insurers. The software enables organizations to take a proactive approach to risk management, and at the same time align the process with business strategy.

SAS helps insurance companies both life and property and casualty put to work Solvency II standard model approach for calculating risk-based capital for the company's advantage. It is built on a robust data management and reporting platform that includes an insurance-specific data model for complex risk analytics.

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HCC Ratings Affirmed by A.M. Best and Fitch

HCC Insurance Holdings, Inc. (NYSE:HCC) today announced that A.M. Best Company, Inc. and Fitch Ratings have affirmed the Company's ratings.

"We are very pleased that A.M. Best and Fitch have affirmed HCC's financial strength ratings of "A+" and "AA," respectively. These strong ratings reflect our continued commitment to underwriting discipline and consistent profitability," said Christopher J.B. Williams, HCC's Chief Executive Officer.

On October 3, 2013, A.M. Best announced that it had affirmed the "A+ (Superior)" financial strength ratings (FSR) and "aa" issuer credit ratings (ICR) of the property/casualty companies in the Houston Casualty Group and HCC Life Insurance Company. Additionally, A.M. Best affirmed ICR and debt ratings of "a" on the holding company's $300 million 6.300% Senior Notes due 2019. The outlook for all of A.M. Best's ratings is Stable. The following property/casualty insurance companies comprise Houston Casualty Group, as defined by A.M. Best:

  • Houston Casualty Company
  • U.S. Specialty Insurance Company
  • Avemco Insurance Company
  • HCC Specialty Insurance Company

A.M. Best also affirmed the "A+ (Superior)" FSR and "aa-" ICR for the following insurance company subsidiaries:

  • American Contractors Indemnity Company
  • United States Surety Company

On October 1, 2013, Fitch Ratings announced that it had affirmed the "AA (Very Strong)" insurer financial strength (IFS) ratings for HCC's insurance company subsidiaries and the "A+" issuer default rating for HCC Insurance Holdings, Inc.

In addition, Fitch affirmed the "A" debt rating on the holding company's $300 million 6.300% Senior Notes due 2019. The outlook for all of Fitch's ratings is Stable.

These IFS ratings apply to the following insurance company subsidiaries:

  • Houston Casualty Company
  • U.S. Specialty Insurance Company
  • Avemco Insurance Company
  • HCC Specialty Insurance Company
  • HCC Life Insurance Company
  • American Contractors Indemnity Company
  • United States Surety Company

Headquartered in Houston, Texas, HCC Insurance Holdings, Inc. is a leading specialty insurer with offices in the United States, the United Kingdom, Spain and Ireland. As of June 30, 2013, HCC had assets of $10.2 billion and shareholders' equity of $3.5 billion. HCC's major domestic and international insurance companies have financial strength ratings of "AA (Very Strong)" from Standard & Poor's Corporation, "A+ (Superior)" from A.M. Best Company, Inc., "AA (Very Strong)" from Fitch Ratings, and "A1 (Good Security)" from Moody's Investors Service, Inc.

For more information about HCC, please visit http://www.hcc.com.

 

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Mutual Benefit Group Deploys Accenture’s Software to Improve Insurance Claims Efficiency

Accenture (NYSE: ACN) have announced  that Mutual Benefit Group, a personal and commercial lines insurance provider based in the United States, went into production with Accenture Claim Components.

Mutual Benefit chose software from Accenture to improve efficiency in handling and paying claims by automating certain claims processes and enabling sharper focus on value-adding activities. The software was implemented jointly by Accenture and Mutual Benefit and is integrated into the insurer’s existing Accenture Duck Creek Policy Administration system, ensuring a seamless transfer of information between underwriters and claims adjusters.

“Taking care of our customers' claims is a top priority, so we identified key areas that could be improved by transforming some current claims operation functions,” said Mark Russell, Vice President of Claims, Mutual Benefit Group. “Our successful implementation of Accenture Claim Components is a result of the coordination and hard work by Accenture and Mutual Benefit teams. We expect to reap the benefits of modern technology in improved customer service and lower costs, as well as improve operational efficiencies through integrations with existing Accenture Duck Creek software.”

“We are proud to help Mutual Benefit Group deliver efficient claims processes and improve their customer experience through our modern software capabilities,” said Michael A. Jackowski, global managing director of Accenture Software for P&C insurance. “The implementation of Accenture Claim Components at Mutual Benefit Group demonstrates how Accenture brings leading, affordable technology to mid-size insurance carriers in order to improve their processes and customer service.”

Accenture’s industry-leading policy, claims and billing software offers carriers an integrated suite of software with modules that can be implemented individually or as part of a broader migration strategy. The combined software helps insurers of all sizes to benefit from a flexible suite of property & casualty (P&C) software to configure products, transact lines of business and process claims.

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Travel Advice Ghana

Around 70,000 British nationals visit Ghana every year. While most visits are trouble-free, violent crime can occur at any time. Be particularly vigilant in public areas, and take care when travelling by road. Localised outbreaks of civil unrest can occur at short notice in the north of Ghana. There is an underlying threat from terrorism. Take out comprehensive travel and medical insurance before travelling.

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