Menu
iPMI Magazine Is Proudly Sponsored By:
For a healthier journey.

iPMI Magazine Has Moved

iPMI Magazine successfully rebranded to iPMI Global in 2023 and has moved to a new home on the internet. To visit the brand new international private medical insurance business intelligence platform, please go to www.ipmiglobal.com

World Travel Protection Wins Top Honour At 2022 FEM APAC EMMA Awards

Leading travel risk management company World Travel Protection (WTP) has been recognised as the ‘International Health, Wellbeing or Security Management Provider of the Year’ at the annual Forum for Expatriate Management (FEM) APAC EMMA Awards recently held in Singapore on September 8.

The awards’ judges commended the outstanding global travel and risk management provider’s solution for ensuring the safety of employees all over the world.

“[It’s] good to see a company able to overcome the hurdles in implementation and forging great partnerships,” the judges noted. “World Travel Protection has shown real agility.”

The 2022 FEM APAC EMMAs ceremony was judged by an independent panel of industry experts following a successful one-day summit

The 2022 FEM APAC EMMAs ceremony was judged by an independent panel of industry experts following a successful one-day summit

“WTP is coming out of the pandemic stronger than ever due to its dedication to clients and investment in services with backing from Zurich and the Cover-More Group, making it a truly innovative travel assistance provider.

“We have improved our intelligence and technology capabilities,” Mr Leach says. “Our security team’s 24/7 global monitoring is supported by artificial intelligence and analysed by security teams to provide accurate and reliable information, which was especially crucial during the everchanging rules and regulations during the height of the pandemic.

“Since the Omicron wave in December 2021, our 24/7 Brisbane Command Centre has supported over 4,200 cases and travellers impacted by the pandemic,” Mr Leach says.

Over recent years, WTP has implemented key innovations throughout the business. The first was Atlas, a unique and bespoke case management system, built in partnership with Salesforce to provide round the clock care to travellers and clients at home and throughout the world. The launch of Atlas last year modernised WTP’s capturable data and the assistance provided to its customers. The technology has enabled WTP to report on frequency of assistance cases as well as the illnesses and injuries that occurred in different locations.

Then, in February 2022, WTP relaunched Travel Assist, its portal and app technology, to ensure organisations are equipped with the ability to educate, locate and communicate with their travelling staff no matter where they are in the world. This revolutionary technology assists in keeping expatriates safe across the globe.

Be it a natural disaster or political assassination in Haiti, protests and roadblocks in Sri Lanka or a spike in cholera cases in Thailand, Travel Assist can quickly identify where travellers are and communication with them via their email, phone or the application.

Mr Leach says these extraordinary advancements were made while WTP’s medical, security and logistics teams continued to support the organisations that travelled during the pandemic and despite the significant increase in complexity for support should an incident have occurred.

“Because of the team’s ability to adapt, improve and implement new capabilities, WTP has been able to provide the best-in-class support for our clients and their travellers.”

Millions of travellers place their trust in WTP each year for varied assistance across 200 countries. Emergency assistance can include medical evacuation, repatriation and mental health support.

In 2020, WTP completed the build of its new Brisbane Command Centre, bringing together a team of expert medical, security, logistical and case management personnel, designed to best support customers through every step of their journey. WTP has three Command Centres in Brisbane, London and Toronto, and Supporting Centres in Kuala Lumpur, as well as in Argentina through its sister company Universal Assistance.

About World Travel Protection

For 30 years, World Travel Protection has taken care of corporate and leisure travellers across the globe by providing access to 24-hour emergency assistance. In addition to support services for medical, travel, and security emergencies, WTP – part of the Zurich Insurance Group – educates and trains businesses to mitigate exposure to inherent risks associated with travelling abroad. Emergency assistance encompasses medical case management, evacuation and repatriation together with providing access to virtual care services (telehealth) and security intelligence. A key foundational component of a leading assistance provider is its global network. WTP’s GlobalCare Network ensures customers have access to over 20,000 providers worldwide. Millions of travellers place their trust in WTP each year for assistance across 200 countries.

Read more...

iPMI Magazine Speaks With Michael Nole, Executive Vice President Sales And Marketing At World Travel Protection

In this exclusive iPMI Magazine interview, Christopher Knight, CEO, iPMI Magazine, met with Michael Nole, Executive Vice President Sales And Marketing At World Travel Protection. They discussed in detail the range of travel risk management services on offer from World Travel Protection, and how they provide vital support for business travellers and expats.

Please introduce yourself and background in the international private medical insurance market:

I am Mike Nole, Executive Vice President, Sales and Marketing, at World Travel Protection. I am based in North America. I joined WTP in March 2022 from Cigna Global, where I spent 12 years, most recently as the Head of Business Development for the Americas. I was responsible for growing the global IPMI business through broker distribution and strategic partnerships.  During my time at Cigna, I worked as a Business Development Manager for the Western US and Canada with Global IPMI and as a New Business Manager for the Individual and Family Plan Segment from 2009 to 2013.  Before my time at Cigna, I worked as an insurance broker at Health Benefits Direct and was a school teacher prior to that.

In March 2022, you were appointed as Executive Vice President of Sales and Marketing at World Travel Protection. Congratulations! What does the role involve?

I lead a rapidly expanding marketing and sales team across Australia, North America and EMEA, providing the best in-class class travel risk management solutions to businesses, governments, scholastic travellers and NGOs. 

As travel returns in 2022, it is our job to prepare and support organisations in the changed travelling landscape since the pandemic. Travellers face increased risk globally, from personal health and wellbeing concerns to a rise in criminal activity and terrorism as well as growing incidences of climatic and natural disasters.

World Travel Protection’s expertise and world-class technological solutions allows us to protect and keep travelling teams safe. Our over-arching vision is to provide the best possible service to our customers and this is what gets me out of bed every day.

Who is World Travel Protection?

World Travel Protection is a leading global travel risk management company - part of the Zurich Insurance Group. We deliver world class technological solutions to organisations, supported by our 24/7 emergency assistances, which help and support over 20 million travellers a year via our Command Centres in London, Brisbane, Toronto, and Buenos Aires (via our sister company Universal Assistance),

We provide travel assistance to both leisure and business travellers, giving them access to 24/7 emergency medical, security and travel assistance services. Emergency assistance encompasses medical case management, evacuation and repatriation together with providing access to virtual care services (telehealth) and security intelligence. Our Global Care Network gives our customers access to over 20,000 providers worldwide.

In addition to support services for medical, travel, and security emergencies, World Travel Protection educates and trains businesses before travel to limit the risks associated with travelling abroad.

Can you walk us through the core service offerings World Travel Protection provides to international private medical and travel insurance markets?

Travel risk management companies go above and beyond traditional travel insurance providers to provide vital support for their business travellers and expatriates.

Our global medical, travel and security assistance services can be split into eight core offerings as detailed below:

Medical and Travel Assistance: Our global services provide travellers with access to 24/7 medical and travel support using the best-in-class medical personnel, resources and procedures.

Security Assistance: Our security experts continually monitor global threats to help prevent or mitigate risks and keep our travellers safe. In the event of a security incident, we will evacuate travellers.  

Travel Risk Management Tools: Our Travel Assist App and Travel Assist Portal help to keep travellers – and those responsible for them – safe and informed using real-time global updates and alerts on their destination.

24/7 Emergency Assistance: Our Command Centres help travellers in need 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. When an emergency arises, our team of practising medical professionals and security experts are immediately on hand.

Trauma Counselling: In the event that a traveller is exposed to a traumatic incident while travelling, we are here to provide counselling and care through our sister company Benestar who offer telephone trauma counselling and access to experienced clinicians.

Telemedicine: Our telemedicine service helps travellers resolve non-urgent medical issues from the privacy of their hotel bedrooms, if they choose. We connect travellers with doctors who can provide medical support via phone or video call or help locate a suitable nearby medical facility if required.

Medical Cost Containment: Thanks to our pre-negotiated discounts and global buying power, we can provide quality medical care and pass on savings.

Inbound Assistance Services: Other medical and security assistance providers often use us to deliver their assistance services because of our established capabilities, global footprint and over three decades’ experience.

World Travel Protection is seen as a leader in Travel Risk Management. But what exactly is Travel Risk Management?

When it comes to corporate travel, there are a lot of moving parts, many of which are out of a traveller’s control, and unfortunately things can and do go wrong. It doesn’t matter if it’s a broken leg or a cancelled flight to being caught up in a terrorist attack or a natural disaster, unforeseen issues can adversely affect even the best planned business trip.

Travel risk management companies offer services and care that go beyond traditional business travel insurance policies, which often only cover costs in the event of an accident or incident. They also take on the responsibility of foreseeing where incidents may occur in addition to providing medical, travel and security assistance in case of an emergency.

For companies or institutions with a culture that goes beyond basic duty of care, corporate travel risk management companies help provide vital support for their business travellers, expatriates and employees.

Our travel risk management solutions support, protect and keep travellers safe on the ground, and the risk managers responsible for their safety and wellbeing. Travel risk management companies help reduce stress for both risk managers and travellers by supporting them pre-, during and post-travel.

How can technology and digitisation improve the Travel Risk Management journey?

For companies and institutions with travelling employees or personnel, it’s incredibly important HR or risk managers know exactly where their travellers are at all times. If they don’t provide this duty of care, it’s hard for them to know if their travellers are in imminent danger should a security threat or natural disaster happen.

World Travel Protection’s geo-location technology allows travel risk managers to know exactly where their travellers are. Using our Travel Assist Portal and App, risk managers and their travelling personnel can communicate with each other as well as our team to help ensure they receive the support they need.

Our travel risk management app gives travellers 24/7 access to our emergency assistance Command Centres and location-specific travel alerts. The Command Centres are constantly monitoring international threats and will alert travellers of any potential risks based on their uploaded itinerary and geo-location feeds, helping them to travel safely. Also, by simply pressing the ‘emergency’ button, travellers can reach our team immediately if they feel in danger.

We also provide organisations with pre-travel information, using our intelligence on a country or specific location, allowing informed assessments to be made of whether its people are safe to travel there in the first place and what preparations should be taken if they do.

As we return to travel in 2022, what are the major risks travellers and organisations are facing?

Perhaps the greatest take-away from the pandemic is how quickly situations can change. Receiving accurate and timely information is more important than ever to ensure traveller safety. At World Travel Protection, we can help travellers and their risk managers make wise and confident decisions.

COVID has altered the risk profile for many parts of the world, particularly those suffering economically. It’s important this is identified during a general and COVID travel risk assessment – especially for business travellers – so the appropriate travel safety precautions can be put in place.

One risk, for instance, that has risen exponentially is cybercrime. A UK-based fraud awareness leader, Crowe, estimates that cybercrime has risen by 90% during the pandemic. For instance, we are advising our travellers to take extra care to reduce the threat of cyber-crime, to not use Wi-Fi hotspots, and to be very careful about giving away personal data. Vigilance is more important than ever to ensure that travellers are not scammed or fall foul of more sinister online attacks.

COVID 19 has had an unprecedented impact on travel and global mobility? How do we live with COVID 19?

For travellers, it’s essential that they know and understand the rules on COVID-19 in the area they are visiting, as they can differ even within a country. Travellers need to know, for instance, the entry rules and requirements as well as the rules around mask wearing and social distancing. It is important that travellers act lawfully as well as respectfully, as some countries have suffered greatly during the pandemic.

We describe this as the ‘COVID culture’ of a country, whereby depending on its own experience of dealing with COVID new social norms have developed. It’s essential to follow this new etiquette to ensure that no offence is given to locals and business associates while travelling. For instance, not maintaining social distance could be perceived as rudeness as well as extending a hand to shake in greeting.

It’s also important to remember that COVID-19 hotspots can still emerge very quickly and restrictions introduced with little or no notice. Last-minute travel amendments may become the norm for all travellers.

We had a case not long ago where one of our business travellers was mid-flight when their destination country announced new quarantine measures for people arriving in the country. We were able to reach the traveller before they had exited the transit area and book them on another flight. If they had exited, they would have been put in quarantine. Having the support of an emergency travel assistance organisation, like World Travel Protection, allows travellers to stay ahead of potential issues during this ever-changing environment.

Are Governments and Organisations prepared for the next pandemic or global catastrophe?

Very few organisations were prepared for COVID and those who were caught out need to learn from their mistakes.

Two years ago as the world started to be impacted, many organisations dusted off their business continuity plans only to realise they hadn’t been tested in years and they didn’t work. Leadership who had steadily ignored the need to test themselves in a crisis situation opted to bury their head in the sand and hope that the Corona Virus would go away. Those same companies that struggled to manage the response to COVID are no better placed now.

Those organisations who did manage their response to COVID well had a system in place. They had a defined process to follow and leaders who could make informed decisions. The successful companies engaged subject matter experts to inform their decisions and developed recovery plans to help them return to business as usual when the opportunity presented.

Many have referred to COVID as a 1 in 100-year happening. If that is to be believed then the next catastrophic event is likely to be a natural disaster or a manmade event such as terrorism or a major economic downturn. With the myopic nature of many organisations, all future events (in the short-med term) will be seen through the prism of their response to COVID and they will find that the response they used to a global health crisis won’t be sufficient.

For many governments their key metric for how well they managed COVID was how popular their decisions were. It became the hallmark of conservatives to follow the "freedom" model, whilst progressives went with much tighter measures. No one country got it right.

Some of the infrastructure developed during COVID can be used by governments, should we be exposed to another global pandemic, but any event other than this type will feel like a fresh set of challenges. Governments move slowly and learn selectively, the focus on economics will also hamper any response in the short term.

Now from a healthcare perspective, yes governments and organisations are more prepared due to the global pandemic nature of COVID. Previous outbreaks of Coronavirus SARS (e.g., swine or bird flu), Ebola were geographically localised epidemics, rather than global.

COVID has affected the healthcare spectrum namely:

  • Vaccine development speed;
  • Public Health directives e.g. PPE / Testing / Isolation and Quarantine / Disease tracking with Tech (mobile Apps);
  • Hospital surge capacity / different ways of working (virtual care) / rapid field hospital establishment;
  • BAU while battling the pandemic, albeit with cancellation of elective surgery / outpatients etc.;
  • Novel follow-up ways and virtual wards;
  • Multi-national / International co-operation re vaccines, healthcare strategies and treatment guidelines.

Finally: if you could live anywhere in the world, on land or at sea, where would it be? 

Vancouver, I just love it there. 

 

 

 

Read more...

COVID-19 And Its Impact On The Middle East And North Africa (MENA) Region

Jacob Weiss – Global Threat Analyst – MENA for global travel risk management and international medical and security assistance provider, Healix International, provides an insight into the impact of COVID-19 in the Middle East and North Africa.

The novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) has spread to every country in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, with the impact likely to be immediate and long-lasting. Before the first case of COVID-19 was reported in the region, large-scale protest movements fuelled by economic inequality had already spread across Iraq, Algeria and Lebanon, and conflict continued to rage in Iraq, Yemen, Libya and Syria. The COVID-19 outbreak will bring both political and economic changes to the region, which in turn have the potential to further worsen the already precarious security environment across the region.

Poor economic conditions have consistently been one of the most important primary drivers for unrest in the MENA region and the most immediate impact of COVID-19 will likely be on the economy. Tourism and the oil trade are integral parts of economies across the region. Tourism alone is worth between 6-8% of the GDP in the majority of the countries in the region (including in rich oil-producing countries such as Saudi Arabia) however in Egypt tourism contributes as much as 20% of the GDP. While the wealth received through oil revenues in the Gulf is well known, the oil trade also contributes significantly to non-oil producing countries in the region through expatriate remittance, particularly with the large Lebanese and Egyptian workforce in the Gulf.

A global fall in oil prices was indirectly caused by COVID-19 after a drop in demand from China led to Saudi Arabia cutting export prices in March. The fall in oil prices will cause a contraction in economies across the oil trade-dependent Gulf (Saudi Arabia, Oman, Kuwait, Qatar and UAE) with the IMF predicting a loss of more than $230 billion in lost annual revenue. Likewise, the paralysis in the tourism industry as a result of border closures and travel restrictions will have just as dramatic an impact on economies of the region; in Tunisia alone, a loss of $1.4 billion is expected and up to 400,000 workers in the sector are predicted to lose their jobs.

The IMF predicts that as a whole, economies across the region will contract roughly 3.3%. While the Gulf economies are predicted to bounce back in 2021, outside of this sub-region the pain will be longer-lasting. Outside of the Gulf, governments do not have the funds to invest in fiscal stimuli packages and thus will be forced to turn to international aid packages increasing foreign debt or tap into already depleted foreign reserves. A substantial period of austerity is to be expected with public services facing huge cuts.

RELATED READING: iPMI Magazine Speaks With Mike Webb, CEO, Healix International

The deterioration in socio-economic conditions - the UN expects that roughly 8.3 million people will fall into poverty across the region by the end of the year - is likely to lead to significant periods of unrest in the second half of 2020. While large-scale protest movements in Algeria, Iraq and Lebanon that began in 2019 and carried over into the first quarter of 2020 have temporarily ended due to state-led curfew restrictions and fears of virus transmission, the drivers behind these movements will be exacerbated by the impending economic downturn.

Towards the end of 2020, when it is likely that restrictions on movement will be lifted, these protest movements are likely to be renewed with increased vigour and will likely continue into 2021 if key demands are not met.

Another potential driver for unrest is the increasingly authoritarian nature of governments across the region. While increased governmental powers are likely to be seen as justified in the short-term, states have already begun to exploit increased powers for political purposes. Iran and Egypt have increased repression of the press, using emergency laws to shut down all journalists who report anything critical of the government. In Algeria, the authorities have continued to arrest leaders of the domestic protest. Israel and Iran have given their intelligence services the ability to track the mobile phones of those suspected of having the virus. The increased use of authoritarian measures during the crisis could lead to an unwillingness from governments to relax these powers after the crisis ends. The resulting increase in authoritarianism could lead to large-scale popular unrest, similar to that of the 2011 Arab Spring.

RELATED READING: Healix International Ensures Successful COVID-19 Repatriations

In Libya, despite renewed calls for a ceasefire by the United Nations (UN) over fears of the effects of a substantial outbreak of COVID-19 in the war-torn country, the conflict shows no sign of stopping. The increased focus of international leaders on the crisis means that less time is being devoted to mediating a ceasefire. Domestic and international actors in the conflict may also use the distraction of the international community to make increasingly ambitious strategic decisions. Likewise, in Yemen the conflict is unlikely to be unaffected by the outbreak. The Iran-backed Houthi rebels have ignored a unilateral truce announced by the Saudi-led military coalition on 7th April and conflict on the ground has continued.

Exacerbated tensions as a result of the coronavirus outbreak will feed and further entrench the proxy conflict waged by Iranian-backed Shia militias across the MENA region. Iran has repeatedly claimed that US sanctions constitute economic terrorism due to its impediment of medical aid during the COVID crisis. The tactic of channelling domestic blame towards the US, whether justified or not, will further entrench anti-US sentiment across the region and potentially mobilise further support for its proxy militias present in Lebanon, Yemen and Iraq.

The scale of 2020’s COVID-19 outbreak means that no country will escape its consequences, however, in the already unstable MENA region, the effects will be amplified. Economies will suffer, wars will continue and large-scale unrest will resume.

Healix International is a global provider of travel risk management and international medical, security and travel assistance services. Working on behalf of multinationals, governments, NGOs and insurers they look after the welfare of expatriates, travellers, offshore workers and local nationals in every country of the world.

To learn more about Healix International please visit: www.healix.com

 

Read more...

Holiday Risks Campaign Encourages Uptake Of Travel Insurance

iPMI Magazine Travel Insurance NewsAvoid forking out thousands of pounds to be repatriated in an emergency, book mid-floor rooms in hotels to escape break-ins and take out insurance that covers all your summer sports. This is just some of the advice for holidaymakers being given by global assistance and claims management company CEGA, as part of its summer campaign to increase awareness of lesser known holiday risks and encourage uptake of travel insurance.

CEGA's advice comes in the wake of new data from ABTA (Association of British Travel Agents) showing that over 25% of travellers set off abroad without travel insurance in the last year; up 3% on the year before.

Dr Tim Hammond, CEGA's chief medical officer, says, "We are increasing awareness of the fact that, for a small outlay, travel insurance could save holidaymakers tens of thousands of pounds if disaster strikes in a far flung corner of the world.

"Every year we repatriate hundreds of holidaymakers who have become ill or seriously injured on holiday overseas, some from very remote areas. Not all of them have travel insurance, but none would risk setting off abroad again without it."

CEGA's other warnings to holidaymakers include advice that ice cubes used to chill drinks in developing countries can cause diarrhea, that having an accident after a night of heavy drinking could invalidate a travel insurance claim and that the EHIC (European Health Insurance Card) only covers basic state medical care.

CEGA's research into travel insurance claims for 2016 shows that gastroenteritis is among the most common causes of claims from holidaymakers in developing countries and that France, Spain and Turkey top the list of European countries producing summer claims.

Read more...

On Call International Acquires Rescue Nurse International

On Call International have announced the acquisition of Rescue Nurse International (RNI), a leading provider of commercial nurse escorts headquartered in Denver, Colorado.

Following years of close collaboration between the two companies, the acquisition is expected to enhance patient care and streamline service delivery.

"Having benefitted from RNI's exceptional delivery of medical escort services to our members for years, we decided to integrate their team with ours to further strengthen our services," said Michael J. Kelly, CEO, On Call International.

RNI is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Medical Transport Systems (CAMTS), which sets the highest standards for patient care and safety in the commercial airline medical transport market. Combine that with On Call's nearly twenty years of experience providing life-saving emergency assistance, and clients can expect to benefit from increased in-house expertise.

Kelly went on to say that acquiring RNI helps better position On Call to respond to their clients' unique travel risk management needs. "Each and every one of our clients has different objectives, and expanding our horizons only enhances our flexibility and responsiveness. We are excited to begin this new phase with RNI and continue providing our valued customers with the best travel assistance possible."

Added Gaby Bartusiak, founder, Rescue Nurse International, "We are delighted to join such a well-recognized organization within the travel assistance industry. After years of working closely with On Call, this acquisition was the next logical step for our two companies."

Read more...

Companies Focused on Global Expansion and Opportunity have A New Option for Travel Risk Management

Companies focused on expansion and taking advantage of global opportunities now have a new option for travel risk management - one that brings together the expertise of two companies specializing in the fields of individual crisis protection and international business risk consultancy.

Europ Assistance USA today announced the launch of Asterisk™, a travel risk management service designed to support companies' global ambitions. Launched in conjunction with security partner, Drum Cussac, Asterisk™ provides companies with the intelligence to better understand the environments in which they wish to do business and the tools and support to minimize and mitigate the risk associated with international business travel. Asterisk™ representatives will be onsite at the ASIS International 59th Annual Seminar and Exhibits (ASIS 2013) in Chicago this week, giving attendees access to industry experts.

"Our approach to travel risk management stands apart from what's available today in the market and is focused on going beyond duty of care," said Guillaume Deybach, CEO Europ Assistance USA. "Asterisk was really modeled with the forward-looking company in mind, no matter its size," Deybach continued. "We want to be a true partner to our clients in every sense of the word, ensuring the services we offer are not only tailored to their needs, but also help them achieve and secure their global ambitions."

The Asterisk™ suite of products include location-based travel risk intelligence, traveler tracking, travel security awareness training and access to 24/7 response centers to assist travelers with medical and/or security incidents.

For more information about Asterisk™, please visit http://www.europassistance-usa.com/asterisk.

Read more...
Subscribe to this RSS feed