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iPMI Magazine Speaks With Fiona Greenwood Operations Manager Rowland Brothers International

Fiona grew up in Spain, in the province of Tarragona, where her family moved when she was 7 years old.  She is bi-lingual in Spanish and English. As a teenager, she moved back to the UK with her family, and a few years later, moved again to work with an emergency assistance company in Dallas, Texas. After six wonderful years in Texas, she returned to the UK, and continued her career in international emergency assistance, covering all areas of the emergency spectrum.

Fiona has more than twenty five years management experience in the Emergency Assistance & Travel Claims Industry. Her leadership, communication, organisational skills and knowledge of the assistance industry enhances the services RBI provides to clients around the world. Fiona has great respect from colleagues, customers and suppliers over the many years she has worked in the travel & assistance world, and maintains a great relationship with many former colleagues around the globe. Fiona joined Rowland Brothers International Ltd in her current role in March 2011, after many years as an RBI client. Her insight is priceless.

What challenges does Rowland Brothers International overcome when conducting international repatriations?

Like all assistance companies, our team works with families all over the world when they are at their most vulnerable. Receiving unexpected news about a tragedy away from home is just the beginning of an emotional journey for the family, often in very challenging circumstances. Families sometimes feel they must travel to where the tragedy occurred, but at a time of distress, it may not be advisable or affordable, moreover it may not be necessary for them to do so. We can help through our trusted network of agents all over the world to find culturally and financially acceptable solutions to an emergency away from home.

What is important when conducting international repatriations?

As repatriation specialists, our relationship with the family is often short, but we know from experience the value of communication throughout the arrangements. When travel insurance is involved, it is important to observe the relevant protocols, which can take families by surprise. Occasionally, families decide to go ahead privately and pursue their claim later, but we encourage them to explore the terms and conditions of the policy carefully first before making a decision. An informed choice is always best. 

We always work as quickly as possible, but it’s important to set realistic expectations at the outset, and keep in touch, so mourners and insurers know how matters are progressing. Repatriation time frames and local procedures vary from one country to another, and we must respect them in order to ensure that documents permit departure from one country, arrival and a funeral in another. 

Patient information is critical. What role does patient data play in global repatriations?

In terms of documents, I know too well that a death certificate is important not only to the family but also to the insurer.  Even in these days of transparency, the cause is not always recorded on the death certificate, which unfortunately can have an impact on cover decisions. When a cause is not featured on the death certificate, accompanying documents may help, but some countries do not disclose the information at all.  

International funeral repatriations are a complex operation. How do you guarantee your service?

As a client of Rowland Brothers International, I had no concept of the work behind the scenes for funeral repatriation. The number of people involved to bring the deceased home is extraordinary, from mortuary to funeral home, from one airport to another, and finally into the care of the receiving funeral home is an international team effort. From the family perspective, the help of one organisation to oversee the big picture from start to finish simplifies the process, allowing the family to focus on other matters. From the touching thank you letters we receive, it is clear families appreciate the rapport with our team, and they know they always have a point of contact if questions arise in the future.  

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International Assistance Group’s Partners Are Mobilized To Help Nepal Earthquake Victims

As one of the world’s leading network of international assistance providers, International Assistance Group (IAG) has a wealth of experience and expertise in the field of natural and manmade disasters. Rarely have these skills been more apparent than in the aftermath of the devastating earthquake that struck Nepal on 25th April 2015. The alliance of assistance companies is proud of the way in which its Partners have overcome considerable challenges and spearheaded efforts to respond to this disaster. Through their care and dedication, they have played an active role in locating, evacuating and repatriating those in need and handled over 980 individual cases.

Measuring 7.8 on the Richter scale, the quake triggered a brutal wave of aftershocks, landslides and avalanches that left 8,600 dead and countless others injured, missing, homeless or stranded. The response of IAG Core Partners involved, such as AA International (HQ in Malaysia), Bupa Global Assistance (HQ in Denmark), Capita in the UK and On Call International in the United States, was immediate and effective. At the height of rescue efforts, in-country crisis teams were meeting several times per day to coordinate interventions and ensure that help reached those affected.

SOS International, the IAG Core Partner in the Netherlands, was able to repatriate 350 Dutch nationals thanks to close collaboration with the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, while Customer Care, part of Cover-More Group and the IAG Australian Partner, quickly had a team on the ground in Kathmandu to coordinate an airlift via their chartered Airbus A330 flight. In total, On Call International, the IAG Core Partner in the US handled 107 cases in Nepal including extractions from outside of Kathmandu (Lukla, Gorka and Langtang) and a repatriation of remains from base camp of Everest.

The long-established IAG Assistance Partner in India, East West Rescue, directly handled 35 cases, each involving between two and 100 people. They worked in close cooperation with the diplomatic representatives of the various nationals stranded in Nepal. Their actions were key, as Delhi was the closest destination providing specialised medical care to the injured following evacuations.

It goes without saying that these international organisations were reliant upon the invaluable support of the main local Partner in Nepal, Alpine Rescue Service. Since the quake, Alpine Rescue Service has responded to approximately 350 cases, executed around 300 evacuations and chartered over 14 flights. Their staff has gone above and beyond the call of duty to liaise with the Nepalese government and international agencies, and their local knowledge has made all the difference to Nepalese people and international travellers alike.

International Assistance Group is especially grateful for the work of Alpine Rescue Service in light of the immense operational challenges involved. The Nepalese communications networks and local infrastructure sustained significant damage during the disaster, and in some cases were eradicated altogether, which hampered efforts to locate and transport those in need. Damage to medical facilities, increased air traffic, the strain on the Nepalese government and poor weather conditions all exacerbated these difficulties, as did the remote nature of the terrain. Maintaining business continuity was a feat that required all of IAG Partners’ characteristic ingenuity; for example, Alpine Rescue Service kept its communications system running thanks to generators and solar and battery inverters.

As the immediate aftermath of the quake gives way to reconstruction work, IAG Partners’ thoughts are already turning to ways of fine-tuning their processes for the future. For example, Partners such as Customer Care in Australia have established multidisciplinary crisis teams to react to events as they unfold.

Above all, International Assistance Group is proud of the way in which its network has supported the vital disaster response on this occasion. “When put to the ultimate test, the ability to send and receive Partner referrals, exchange local knowledge and share technical expertise made all the difference to the people caught up in this disaster and we trust that we will be well-equipped to deal with whatever the future may hold,” said Cécile Hermetz, General Manager, International Assistance Group.

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Thailand Travel Warning Advice News: 20th January 2014 Use Of Firearms In Political Demonstrations

Political demonstrations continue in and around Bangkok and elsewhere in Thailand. Some of these have been violent, including the use of firearms, and there have been casualties.

The situation is unpredictable and further protests are expected. An escalation in protest action in central Bangkok since 13 January is causing significant disruption to roads in affected areas, with knock-on effects across the city. The main protest sites are at the major intersections of Sala Daeng, Asoke, Ratchaprasong, Pathumwan, Victory Monument, Lat Phrao and at the government complex at Chaeng Watthana. Some protest sites are located close to shopping malls. You should take extra care and avoid all protests, political gatherings and demonstrations.

If you’re travelling to the airport, allow extra time to take account of possible transport delays, and consider using the airport rail link. Monitor local news and social media for developments.

The Thai authorities have set up a Tourist’s Friend Centre to provide information for tourists. Offices are located at the Sport Authority of Thailand in the Bangkapi district of Bangkok, Suvarnabhumi and Don Mueang airports, four BTS Skytrain stations (Siam, Phya Thai, Ekkamai and Wong Wian Yai) and Hua Lampong MRT station. You can also contact the Tourist’s Friend Centre by telephone on +66 (0)2 314 1212 (in English – 24 hours).

Take out comprehensive travel and medical insurance before you travel to Thailand.

Over 800,000 British nationals visit Thailand every year.

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Mauritius Travel Warning News Advice: Tropical Storm Bejisa Forecast To Bring Hazardous Sea And Weather Conditions To Mauritius Around 2 January 2014

Tropical Storm Bejisa is forecast to bring hazardous sea and weather conditions to Mauritius from around 2 January 2014.

A Cyclone Warning Class 1 is in force.

Around 100,000 British tourists visit Mauritius every year. Most visits are trouble free. Take out comprehensive travel and medical insurance before you travel.

For travel and medical assistance in Mauritius contact AssistNet Mauritius. Visit: http://internationalassistancenetwork.com/medical-assistance/ 

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Indonesia Travel Warning News Advice: Authorities Warning of Possible Terrorist Attacks Over New Year Period

Take out comprehensive travel and medical insurance before you travel to Indonesia .There is a high threat from terrorism. Indonesian authorities have warned that extremists may be planning to attack churches in Jakarta, and elsewhere in Indonesia, during the 2014 New Year period. You are advised to exercise a high degree of caution at this time.

Terrorist groups continue to plan attacks and have the capacity and intent to carry out these attacks at anytime and anywhere in the country. You should be particularly vigilant during holiday periods such as Easter, Christmas, Nyepi (Balinese New Year, in March) and Independence Day (17 August).

Following the abduction of a British national in the Aceh region of Northern Sumatra in June, you should exercise caution in the area. While the risk of abduction is not high, you should be aware that 1 French and 5 Chinese nationals were abducted in separate incidents in 2008.

During the rainy season (usually around October to April) widespread flooding can occur. Keep a stock of food and bottled water, monitor local media and follow the advice of the local authorities. Walking and driving in flooded areas can be dangerous due to uncovered drainage ditches that are covered by water. There is a higher risk of waterborne diseases in flooded areas.

Indonesia sits along a volatile seismic strip called the ‘Ring of Fire’. Volcanic eruptions and earthquakes occur regularly and tsunamis are possible.

You should exercise caution when travelling to Aceh, Central Sulawesi Province (especially Palu, Poso and Tentena), Maluku Province (especially Ambon), Papua and West Papua Province.

With the exception of Garuda Airlines, Mandala Airlines, Airfast and Ekspres Transportasi Antarbenua (operating as PremiAir) and Indonesia Air Asia, all other Indonesian passenger airlines are refused permission to operate services to the EU because of safety concerns.

Possession, trafficking and manufacture of drugs are serious offences in Indonesia. Some offences carry the death penalty. Don’t get involved.

There have been a number of deaths and cases of serious illness of tourists in Indonesia, caused by drinking alcoholic drinks contaminated with methanol.

Around 190,000 British nationals visit Indonesia every year. 

For medical assistance in Indonesia and across Asia contact AssistNet, click: http://internationalassistancenetwork.com/ 

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Impact Forecasting Launches First Fully Probabilistic Catastrophe Model For Flood In The Netherlands

Tool will enable the Dutch market to assess the flood risk and consider expanding insurance cover.

Impact Forecasting, has launched the first probabilistic catastrophe model to understand the financial impact of flood damage in the Netherlands for property and motor. Aon Benfield is the global reinsurance intermediary and capital advisor of Aon plc (NYSE:AON).

Flood, along with wind, is one of the most prevalent natural perils in the Netherlands, having experienced notable floods in 1953, 1993 and 1995. Losses from flood have traditionally been largely covered by the government but the private insurance market is now considering how it could support Dutch people and businesses. This means a catastrophe model is crucial to understand the nature of the hazard and its loss potential to enable adequate premiums to be charged for insurance and in turn for insurers to purchase the most effective reinsurance.

The model innovatively allows insurers to explore and better understand the extent of the damage for different hazard conditions, including:

  • Three different assumptions concerning the probability of flooding per dyke ring – an area with its own hydrological characteristics enclosed by a flood dyke – ranging from optimistic (less frequent) to pessimistic (more frequent)
  • Ability to assess effects of different motor evacuation patterns.

A co-operation with HKV, a Dutch research consultancy, and Deltares, an institute for applied research in the field of water, subsurface and infrastructure, means the model’s hazard and vulnerability components are enhanced through local knowledge on how flood risk is analysed, modelled and managed in the country.

Radek Solnicky, flood catastrophe model developer, commented: “Our dedicated flood team has ensured the model reflects the nuances of flood in the Netherlands to provide the most accurate insights for the insurance industry. This includes drilling down to look at residential, commercial and industrial properties potentially at risk, in addition to agricultural land. For example, the model also allows a greater understanding about the resilience to flood of different buildings including more unusual properties such as greenhouses.”

Adam Podlaha, head of Impact Forecasting, added: “This model is a landmark in catastrophe model development in how insurers can quantify uncertainty of different aspects of the hazard component. The new model enables insurers to obtain a clearer picture of how the financial impacts change if we consider optimistic, realistic or pessimistic probabilities of flooding. This will empower our clients to demonstrate to various stakeholders that they really own and understand the risk.”

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India Travel News Advice Warnings: State Assembly Elections Delhi Wednesday 4 December 2013

State Assembly elections will be held in Delhi on Wednesday 4 December. Most public offices will be closed, there will be increased security in some areas and there is the possibility of some disruption to public transport.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advise against all travel in the immediate vicinity of the border with Pakistan, other than at Wagah. The FCO advise against all travel to Manipur and all but essential travel to Imphal, the state capital of Manipur. 

The FCO advise against all travel to Jammu and Kashmir with the exception of the cities of Jammu and Srinagar, travel by air to the cities of Jammu and Srinagar, travel between these two cities on the Jammu-Srinagar national highway and travel within the region of Ladakh.

The tourist destinations of Phalgam, Gulmarg and Sonamarg fall within the areas of Kashmir to which the FCO currently advise against all travel.

Cyclones and tropical storms are common, particularly off the east coast. You should monitor the progress of approaching storms.

There is a high threat from terrorism throughout India. Recent attacks have targeted public places including those visited by foreigners.

The Indian government has relaxed the rules on re-entering the country while on a tourist visa.

Over 800,000 British nationals visit India every year. Most visits are trouble-free.

Before you travel to India, take out comprehensive travel and medical insurance.

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AXA Assistance And iJet International Enhance Partnership With Integrated Security And Medical Response Solution

AXA Assistance and iJET International, Inc. (iJET), global leaders in operational risk management solutions, medical assistance and emergency response, have announced an enhanced partnership agreement that will see combined security and medical response teams operating from service centres in the UK and other key regions across the globe.

The agreement will see iJET security and operational risk experts based within AXA Assistance UK headquarters in Redhill, Surrey providing a comprehensive, integrated security and medical response solution. The UK centre is one of three initial centres where AXA Assistance and iJET will be co-located. Basing an iJET team within the UK operation is aimed at further enhancing the partnership solution and building on the growing interest from UK businesses for a fully-integrated and seamless operational risk management solution. The AXA Assistance and iJET partnership, originally established in 2011, leverages AXA Assistance’s global medical assistance expertise and iJET’s intelligence, technology and security risk management capabilities to support global enterprises. Customers benefit from a single point of contact and integrated call centres, telephony and case management available 24/7.

“Business travel risk management is an important issue for organisations all over the world,” comments Tim Edwards, Business Development Manager, AXA Assistance UK. “Combining our expertise directly on-site in the UK and other key centres around the globe will allow us to work even more closely together to provide clients with a comprehensive global solution to assist their employees and ensure minimum disruption to their business operations.”

Will Faas, Major Accounts Director UK & Europe, iJET, comments: “Establishing a key operations team at the AXA Assistance UK service hub proves our commitment to offering top-level service to our combined clients and provides us with a base from which to demonstrate to key UK businesses the superior nature of our integrated offering. Now more than ever it is essential for organisations to protect their employees abroad, and we are very excited about expanding further in the UK, and indeed global, market.”

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India Travel Advice: Cyclone Lehar

Tropical Cyclone Lehar is forecast to make landfall in the state of Andra Pradesh on Thursday 28 November. Lehar has weakened but rain in parts of Andra Pradesh could still cause flooding and may disrupt the local infrastructure and travel. You should monitor local media and the website of the India Meteorological Department, and follow the advice of the local authorities.

Over 800,000 British nationals visit India every year. Most visits are trouble-free.

Before you travel, take out comprehensive travel and medical insurance.

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Trinidad and Tobago Travel Advice

Over 30,000 British nationals visit Trinidad and Tobago every year. Most visits are trouble-free.

Take out comprehensive travel and medical insurance before you travel. Robbery and other crimes targeting tourists have occurred. Trinidad and Tobago are rarely affected by hurricanes, but severe tropical storms can occur, which can result in localised flooding and landslides.

Trinidad

There is a high level of gang related violent crime in Trinidad, particularly in the inner city neighbourhoods east of Port of Spain’s city centre, Laventille, Morvant and Barataria. This crime tends to occur within local communities but can sometimes affect visitors. Take care when travelling on the highway between downtown east Port of Spain and Piarco Airport, particularly around the Beetham Highway area, where violent protests have occurred.

You should maintain at least the same level of security awareness as you would in the UK and make sure your living accommodation is secure.

Don’t carry large amounts of cash or wear eye-catching jewellery. Use a hotel safe to store valuables, money and passports. Don’t walk alone in deserted areas even in daylight. Take care when withdrawing money from ATMs.

There has been at least 1 instance of violent sexual assault in the Chaguaramas/Macqueripe area. This occured in the middle of the day and close to a road.

Theft from vehicles and property occurs in parts of downtown Port of Spain and other towns/cities. Take particular care around the port area or downtown, especially at night, and avoid straying into areas affected by gang violence.

There have been robberies, some involving firearms, at tourist sites, including Fort George, the Pitch Lake, Las Cuevas beach and at supermarket car parks, shopping malls, nightclubs, restaurants and business premises. There is a higher risk from opportunistic crime during the festive period and carnival season.

Tobago

Most visits to Tobago are trouble free, but tourists (including British nationals) have been robbed. The inability of the authorities to catch and prosecute offenders remains a concern. You should maintain at least the same level of security awareness as you would in the UK and make sure your living accommodation is secure. Don’t carry large amounts of cash or wear eye-catching jewellery. Use a hotel safe to store valuables, money and passports. Petty theft from cars is common. Villas, particularly those in isolated areas, should have adequate security, including external security lighting, grilles and overnight security guards. Don’t walk alone in deserted areas even in daylight. This includes beaches like Englishman’s Bay and King Peter’s bay unless you are in an organised group. Consult your tour operator if in doubt. Be vigilant at all times and carry a mobile phone with roaming capability for use in emergency.

Road travel

The standard of driving in Trinidad and Tobago is mixed. High speed road accidents on the main highways in Trinidad often result in fatalities. Some roads are narrow and winding, and the surface of a low standard. Take care when driving. If you don’t have a vehicle, use hotel taxis to get around, particularly after dark.

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