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Discover The Best Practices In Travel Risk Management

Today’s interconnected world and global economy means that increasing numbers of employees are required to travel extensively overseas, often for long periods of time, to multiple destinations and frequently to very unfamiliar environments. In this white paper Healix International helps us navigate the maze that is travel risk management and explains the fundamental elements of a professional Travel Risk Management Program.

An employer’s ‘Duty of Care’ towards their personnel has become more complex and increasingly topical. This is especially true when employees are working in remote or dangerous locations where local security and medical facilities are likely to be substandard, ineffective or completely lacking.

Employees working in less developed countries may find that the support networks they are used to just don’t exist. They may feel vulnerable and at risk when operating in areas where levels of crime are high or there is an elevated risk of terrorism and governments are volatile. No longer is it acceptable for companies to ignore such issues.

Ensuring the health, safety and security of employees when working overseas is key to staff well-being and productivity but it is also essential in the protection of the company’s brand and reputation and is key to ongoing success.

To help you navigate the maze of Travel Risk Management options available, we have put together a series of key ‘Best Practices’ that, depending on the size and scope of your organization, should be implemented  to provide you and your employees with a robust support system to attend to the myriad of issues facing today’s business traveller.

Elements of a Travel Risk Management Program

The illustration above captures all of the elements that a robust Travel Risk Management program should contain, though not all organizations would require these resources to be in house. Some elements may be present in other existing programs or attended to by third party providers based on the size and scope of your organization. Each element should be assessed and mapped within your organization’s Duty of Care program.

We take a closer look at each element and what is considered best practice for most organizations operating globally today.

Medical and Security Assistance 

Best Practice: Mobile employees should be provided with 24/7 access to medical and security resources. It is best practice for your employees to have access to services on a global basis that meet the health and safety standards of their home country.

So, what does this mean? Well it means that your travelling employees should have direct line access to doctors, nurses and security professionals in cases of concern or crisis, regardless of location or time of day. More importantly, they should feel confident that their call will be answered and managed to conclusion by professionals that can escalate their needs accordingly without unnecessary delay. Finally, they should have access to trusted sources of global support, centres of excellence and advice.

By providing access to appropriate 24/7 resources, employers are demonstrating an investment in their human capital, protecting their brand and reputation, while also limiting corporate liability.

Travel Assistance

Best Practice: Mobile employees should be provided with 24/7 access to travel assistance professionals.

Attending to medical and security situations often carries a greater sense of urgency, however other travel issues such as lost or stolen travel documents, legal or language support is equally as important to the well-being of the traveller and the success of the trip. Through the proper provision of resources, employers can ensure that minor situations are quickly dealt with and don’t impede on the traveller’s success. Again, these services should be provided on a global basis in order to fulfil Duty of Care.

Pre-Trip Information

Best Practice: Global organizations should provide pro-active, relevant medical and security information to their travellers and expatriates before they leave their home country. Pre-trip advisories should be automatically provided to employees on booking their travel along with additional information that is readily accessible via links to a customized travel website or ‘portal’.

In today’s ‘mobile’ world it is important that the information provided is customizable in both depth of content and how a traveller wishes to consume it. By providing relevant and actionable information that is easily accessible, employers can raise the level of awareness and mitigate many of the risks.

As we are never too far away from our mobile devices, content rich apps fulfil many of the needs of today’s traveller. Content available can and should include information such as prevailing medical risks and required vaccinations through to travel alerts and warnings pertinent to crime or natural hazards.

Medical Screening

Best Practice: Expatriates and their dependants, and business travellers are medically screened prior to overseas assignment and action taken to minimise any identified health risks.

Many of the illnesses and health related problems suffered by business travellers and expatriates while overseas are both predictable and preventable. Every year large numbers of travellers and expatriates are sent overseas with pre-existing medical conditions and little or no knowledge about how these conditions can best be managed in their destination countries. This can result in major disruption, failed assignments and in many cases serious illness, unplanned medical evacuations and significant costs.

Medical Screening provides an evaluation of potential medical risks involved in any overseas assignments. Screening can be conducted online or over the telephone and the risks are usually calculated by a highly sophisticated analytics program. Screening can help ensure that employees and their families are well prepared for overseas travel and are not put in a position where their health is placed at an unreasonable risk. Host-country healthcare facilities and their ability to deal with pre-existing medical conditions are understood, prescription regimes can be modified where necessary and ongoing medical advice and support can be provided.  Importantly, it helps employers understand the financial risks of certain assignments as well as providing a clear audit trail of proactively managed Duty of Care.

Global Security Intelligence 

Best Practice: Management responsible for the welfare of personnel travelling or working overseas must have access to actionable, near real-time security intelligence. This information must be supported by 24/7 access to highly experienced security risk professionals.

Along with the information that is provided to the traveller pre-trip it is equally as important that those charged with managing the safety of deployed personnel have instant access to more granular security intelligence in near real time. This information helps managers and business leaders to make more informed and strategic decisions concerning their travelling workforce, especially in rapidly deteriorating environments. Additional threat and evacuation reports should also be readily available should situations escalate.

Security Training and E-Learning 

Best Practice: Global organizations should provide travel security training to their travellers and expatriate personnel as part of a certification process.

Training today should be seen as more than just an orientation exercise. Providing travellers with the most up-to-date form of travel awareness training addresses many risks prior to travel. It ensures that travellers are aware of the safety measures they should take while abroad, and can be used in a pre-trip approval process.

Not only does this again demonstrate an investment in an organization’s most valuable asset but it can boost productivity and increase the success of a project.

The training should include testing on completion and these scores should be documented to ensure appropriate compliance with today’s Duty of Care standards.

Mobile Technology 

Best Practice: Companies of all sizes should utilize today’s technology to quickly locate individuals and communicate with them as well as utilizing other essential functionality.

It is important that employers use mobile technology to their advantage as time taken to locate employees during a crisis is directly proportional to the outcome of their health and safety. Supporting protocols and policies allow technology to streamline locating employees, minimizing human error and allowing limited resources to be focused for maximal impact, enabling a rapid response.

Instant access to ‘actionable’ intelligence via a mobile app keeps travellers updated of developing situations and travel apps with a Mayday function can alert nominated contacts as well as enabling live tracking in a crisis.  Apps today are commonplace, however it is essential that they provide expatriate employees and business travellers with instant access to critical insight and support before, during and after their overseas assignments.

Risk Messaging and Travel Tracking 

Best Practice: Companies should be utilizing technology to locate and communicate with individuals regardless of how they make their travel booking.

By automating the collection of employee travel data through itineraries and traveller check-ins, organizations have a complete view of their staff and operations in near real-time, capturing employee locations. Systems should be set up to capture and verify all the travel data, work and employee locations and display them in one common operating picture. From this dashboard, managers should be able to quickly assess risk and contact personnel on a routine or emergency basis. Intelligence must be sourced, vetted and pushed to travellers, expats and VIPs or other professional users within the organization in as near real-time as possible.

It is important that the organisation has the ability to fully integrate a mass notification system to communicate with all global employees.

By integrating these systems, a robust pre-trip approval process can be implemented allowing for management oversight, adequate training and the provision of additional support services such as drivers, executive protection, medical and security briefings as well as passport, visa and vaccination checks.

Medical Staffing and Emergency Response Plans 

Best Practice: Organizations should ensure that they have adequate medical support for all major projects, sporting events and at remote sites.

During any large event, where demand for medical support may be compromised or slow to respond, it is important that organizations plan and resource effectively to protect the health, security and well-being of staff, guests and any others under its charge. Where traffic due to large crowds or other situations may impede the arrival of emergency response vehicles, it is important to pre-stage vehicles and staff near work sites or living accommodation to ensure appropriate response times.

Physicians, nurses and other medically trained professionals should be available to react immediately in the event of any medical emergency.

Large sporting events such as the Olympics may require accommodation such as hotel suites to be converted into clinics to allow for easy access to routine or emergency medical care.

If the group is of a certain size or complexity, additional consideration should be given to co-locating an emergency coordination centre to manage calls for assistance or provide other support such as language translation and security assistance.

Recent events such as the FIFA World Cup and Olympics in Brazil illustrated the complexity of working in an environment where risks are prevalent and the basic infrastructure strained. Thankfully, nothing major occurred but should something have happened it would have been vitally important to be as self-sufficient as possible, having a set of pre-determined plans in place and the resources already staged and ready to respond to ensure the safety of all concerned.

Infectious Disease Planning 

Best Practice: Employers must have a holistic travel risk management policy and plans in place for the purpose of business continuity, risk mitigation and readiness in a crisis.

Having an overarching travel risk management plan is the first important step that should encompass travel readiness and safety, trip approval and crisis readiness including consideration of infectious diseases, pandemics and natural disasters. Additional localized plans may also be necessary for specific projects or remote sites and employers may offer additional online training across the enterprise to better support the employee base.

An All-Hazard Approach

It is important to acknowledge that it is best practice to consider an all-hazard approach when developing a vigorous Travel Risk Management program, one that is integrated into the enterprise risk management portfolio.

When engaging a third party provider to fulfil these requirements, consider companies that offer a greater range of experience and capability. Consider a company reputable for assessing the wider needs of a business that can tailor a service to suit your own requirements. Choosing to implement a Travel Risk Management program makes sure that you are fully prepared and able to respond in the event of a crisis overseas, thus creating a more resilient company.

About Healix International

Healix International is a world leader in global travel risk management and international medical, security and travel assistance services. Working on behalf of multinational corporations, governments, NGO's and insurers, Healix are relied up to look after the welfare of millions of expatriates, business travellers and local nationals living and working in every country of the world, 24 hours a day.  Many of these people reside in the most remote, challenging and hostile of environments.

 For more information on travel risk management programs please visit:



Swiss Re And Sharecare Form Comprehensive Partnership To Help Consumers Address Financial Stress And Improve Overall Health

Sharecare announced it has formed a multi-faceted partnership with Swiss Re, a leading wholesale provider of reinsurance, insurance and other insurance-based forms of risk transfer, to help people manage financial stress, one of the leading causes of chronic health issues in the United States.

"Helping people understand and manage stress as part of improving their overall health is a priority, and our partnership with Swiss Re significantly bolsters our resources to help people address financial stress," said Jeff Arnold, chairman and CEO of Sharecare. "As we realize our goal of becoming the only health app anyone will ever need on their smartphone, it's critical we enable people to gain control over things that negatively impact their physical, emotional and financial health - and Swiss Re is the ideal partner to help us empower our users to optimize the connection points between their health and wealth."

Through the partnership, millions of people who have taken the RealAge test, Sharecare's scientifically-validated estimator of one's health and life expectancy, will receive personalized recommendations and content to educate them about the inextricable link between "health and wealth." Additionally, beginning in early 2017, users will have access to actionable tools and solutions – including a proprietary personal financial health assessment and step-by-step programs – to help strengthen their financial standing and reduce their money-related stress, and ultimately improve their health.

With a uniquely keen understanding of consumer financial risk, Swiss Re will also help interested Sharecare users identify additional resources to take control of their financial health, thereby improving their overall health and well-being. Similarly to how Sharecare enables people to connect with relevant physicians and health professionals, users will have the opportunity to connect securely with financial and risk management providers at their discretion.

"As one of the largest reinsurance companies in the world, Swiss Re has a vested interest in helping people live the happiest, healthiest, longest lives possible," said Neil Sprackling, President, Swiss Re Life & Health America. "The sum total of Sharecare's strengths - from its scientifically-validated health tools like RealAge to its expertise in engagement and trusted relationships with millions of users – makes them the perfect partner to help us narrow, if not close, the middle market's estimated $10+ trillion protection gap in the United States. And that's why we're taking the additional step of investing directly in Sharecare to support building out and scaling our shared vision globally." 

Swiss Re's strategic investment in Sharecare marks the close of the digital health company's latest round of funding, bringing its total raise to more than $220 million. Financial terms of Swiss Re's investment in Sharecare were not disclosed.


HBF Keeps Health Insurance Premium Increases To A Minimum

HBF’s average premium increase for 2016 will be lower than the industry average for the fourth consecutive year.  

Federal Health Minister Sussan Ley today approved an average increase of 5.59% for all health funds. HBF’s average increase will is 4.94%. 

HBF Managing Director Rob Bransby said the fund had been determined to keep its premium increase low despite escalating health costs and increasing member claims. 

“As a not for profit fund our goal is simple - to keep premiums to the minimum we need to pay the claims we know our members will make in the year ahead. But doing this while health costs are climbing at the rate they are today is incredibly hard.” Mr Bransby said.
HBF’s forecasts show that claims will rise by an average of 6.4% per member in 2015/2016, and by a similar amount the following year. Hospital claims are expected to rise by over 7% per member in 2015 and 7.4% in 2016/17. 

Mr Bransby said HBF’s 2016 premium increase, which comes into effect on 1 April, had factored in promised reforms to address rising health costs.

“The Minister has said she is serious about addressing spiralling health costs, starting with the inflated prices health funds are currently obliged to pay for medical prostheses.”. 

“We’re taken her at her word and our premium increase assumes there will be significant savings in the prices we pay for prostheses in the future - savings we will pass on to our members,”
Mr Bransby said as a not-for-profit fund that had no obligations to shareholders or off-shore parent compaies HBF was free to prioritise the interests of its almost one million members.  

“This is another validation of our decision to remain as a not-for-profit fund.” Mr Bransby said.


Top International Private Medical Insurance (iPMI) Magazine Round Tables 2015

Uniting global international private medical insurance industry executives, International Private Medical Insurance Magazine Round Tables facilitate dialog and debate at the highest level. Educational by nature, invite-only, behind closed doors leaders learn from leaders, discussing the most important industry issues of the time, designed by the iPMI industry, for the iPMI industry. 

During 2015 International Private Medical Insurance Magazine hosted numerous round table debates with the following features proving most popular: 

International Private Medical Insurance VS Local Health Insurance 

The Rising Cost Of Global Healthcare: iPMI Providers Talk Medical Inflation And Healthcare Costs

Critical Considerations When Designing International Private Medical Health Insurance Plans International

Air Ambulance Owner Operator Broker Round Table

Learn more, watch a video about iPMI Magazine round tables, click here.


Insurance Companies And Products As We Know Them Today Will Have To Evolve

That's according to Griselle Chernys, CEO, at Wellaway, who took an executive seat on a recent iPMI Magazine round table business forum.

Although global risks have changed dramatically, medical inflation and the cost of employee benefits continues to cause concern. In the most recent iPMI Magazine Round Table Business Forum we spoke with leading C-Level executives from the world of International Private Medical Insurance about the rising cost of healthcare and medical inflation.

An AON report report shows that in 2015, medical costs are expected to increase by 10.15 percent before plan design changes and vendor negotiations—6 percentage points higher than the average inflation rate. In 2014, the global average medical trend was 10.34 percent. While the global average medical trend is expected to decline, three regions--Asia Pacific, Europe and Latin America--are projected to see an uptick in rates for 2015.

Talking to the IPMI round table group about the Aon Hewitt report Griselle Chernys, CEO, at Wellaway told us, “I think that the data is pertinent and probably correct. Healthcare is a commodity that providers will control and deliver as they want, especially in the private sector with IPMI coverage. Hospitals and physicians have the upper hand in the delivery and pricing, thus the need for integrated services. As I heard a physician administrator in a hospital say once, during some insurance pricing negotiation, “this is our price and if you do not like it, I would like to see you admit and deliver the medical care the member needs." As long as the relationship of providers and insurance is antagonistic, a solution will not be able to achieved. More and more hospitals and physicians will develop and deliver health plans via their medical facilities and I predict that the multi-hospital system will develop internationally as it has happened in the USA or as we see with Hospiten and the like.

Insurance companies and products as we know them today will have to evolve.”

ANDREW APPS, HEAD OF GLOBAL HEALTHCARE, BELLWOOD PRESTBURY added, “Competition between iPMI insurers is intensifying and will continue to do so as new entrants dip their toe into the market and dream of taking a slice of the ever expanding market. Price cutting particularly amongst the employer-sponsored plans is inevitable as the larger players jockey for position and greater market share, all of which is good for the employer in the short term at least. As the saying goes, there is always someone out there who will take the risk. But there has to come a point where underwriters have to make a return on their investment. At this point premiums have to rise and with the relationship between insurers and medical service providers becoming all the more strained as medical treatment fees increase, that day is not too far away. This makes the job of the adviser /broker all the more important."

ROMAN BEILHACK, CEO, GLOBALITY HEALTH said,Employers are operating in an environment where they need to provide high levels of healthcare for their employees, sometimes due to statutory requirements and other times due to the natural tendency of employers to look after the well being of their workforce. Employers are typically under pressure to keep their operating costs low and when they review their budgets during their annual business planning cycles they will aim to minimise the cost of employee benefits. Due to these cost pressures, there may be situations where employers will downgrade the insurance coverage so that they can afford a plan rather than removing the plan altogether. Globality seeks to find solutions for their clients in these situations.

The global average inflation rate is interesting for comparing one year to the next. However, when it comes to employer-sponsored plans then the specific features of those plans should be considered. This means considering the locations of the insured members, the benefit levels, the treatment providers and network access. Referring to a single global average can be misleading for many employers.”

One of the most common questions we hear within the IPMI industry is: how will the cost of international private medical insurance rise in the next 5 years?

ROMAN BEILHACK, CEO, GLOBALITY HEALTH told us, “Costs are expected to continue to rise at levels above general price inflation. There are continual advances in medical science with new treatments and medicines being developed all the time. It is normal that insured members will demand the best treatments and services available, particularly for expatriates. In order for insurers to offer these new treatments then there will inevitably be premium increases.

However, insurers should not use this as an excuse to increase premiums beyond what is necessary. As can be seen recently, Globality is holding 2016 rates at 2015 levels for many categories of its business."

ARJAN TOOR, MANAGING DIRECTOR, CIGNA GLOBAL IPMI added, “Medical inflation is driven by unit cost, i.e. the price of each service; and utilization, that is how many and what type of services are used. As the world’s health care standards continue to rise and the range of treatment facilities and breadth of treatment options available continues to increase, it is without doubt that both unit cost and utilisation will also continue to increase.

It’s our job as the insurer to understand these risks and continually evolve our proposition to protect our customers from the impacts of medical inflation as far as possible. We’re continually working on initiatives to help minimize the impact of inflationary volatilities including investments in expanding our medical network and claims teams globally, meaning we can counteract medical inflation spikes to a certain extent as we build long-term relationships with hospital groups. It’s a lot about experience as well - it’s imperative that our claims advisors know the expected cost of a hip operation in Singapore, for example, and can ask the right questions to ensure the costs are appropriate.

Ultimately, it’s impossible to say exactly how premium costs will rise over a 5 year period, but our focus will continue to be on driving forward our mission of helping the people we serve improve their health, well-being and sense of security.”

ANDREW APPS, HEAD OF GLOBAL HEALTHCARE, BELLWOOD PRESTBURY commented, “If I had a crystal ball, it would be easy to answer this; however, the reality is that no one really knows to what extent iPMI premiums are going to rise over the next few years. What is certain is that premiums will continue to increase due to the rising cost of medical treatment along with the ever popular demand for private medical treatment.

That said, increased competition amongst the iPMI providers has, to some degree, helped to keep premiums palatable for most policyholders (putting to one side the notion that nobody likes to see their premiums increase), with average year on year increases running between 5-10% depending upon where a person is living and working. How long this will continue is anyone’s guess, but the market is hotting up with yet more new provider entrants trying their hand.”

GRISELLE CHERNYS, CEO, WELLAWAY added, “The cost of international private medical insurance will rise dramatically and this will be driven by the development and demand for new treatments, pharmaceuticals and technology. Longevity is also playing a role in the inflation and utilization of medical services which creates more demand and demand will drive costs.”
















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