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Uncertainty About The Future And Finances Leading Causes Of Stress, Cigna Study Reveals

  • More than three quarters (76%) people in the UK are currently stressed
  • More than half (51%) of Brits fear for their future
  • Money worries driving surge in anxiety

New research from global health service company Cigna Europe has revealed that uncertainties about the future along with worries around personal finance are the leading causes of stress amongst UK workers.

As 2020 draws to a close and the pandemic continues on, Cigna’s COVID-19 Global Impact Study unveils more than three quarters (76%) of Brits are currently stressed, more than half say uncertainty about the future is the leading cause, followed by personal finances (32%) and the amount of news/information related to COVID-19 on the media (32%).

As news of a vaccine continues to dominate the headlines, the study also shows that Brits have concerns about returning to work when rules are relaxed, with 40% concerned about catching the virus during their commute, 37% are worried about an outbreak returning when mixing in the office whilst 36% have worries over restrictions they will face in the work environment. Many workers feel financial support from their employer for COVID testing would be a key incentive to returning to the workplace.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted almost every part of life across the globe and continues to play a major part in fueling stress”, said Arjan Toor, CEO, Cigna Europe. “It’s evident from our research that people are weighed down by this stress, with anxiety around income and future prospects in our new world the leading causes. This is in stark contrast to our first Impact study in April which showed that 78% of UK workers felt they had good job stability. It’s been a tough year for many, and it is naturally worrying to see so many people stressed about their future.”

The ‘always on’ corporate culture has grown rapidly since lockdown began in March, with almost 7 in 10 (68%) of workers always-on, more than half (54%) are working after working hours, 50% before working hours, and more than 4 in 10 (43%) are working on weekends. Encouragingly however, employers are remaining more flexible as the pandemic continues. The most popular measures put in place by employers are flexible working location/hours (37%) and mental health support (29%).

Toor added: “The emotional toll the virus has had on so many people, not to mention the experiences of isolation, loneliness, financial hardships and mental health trauma cannot be underestimated. As the year draws to a close, we need to look ahead to 2021 and how we, as a whole health partner, can intuitively understand our customers in this increasingly complex world, and support them in each and every aspect of their lives.”

The Cigna COVID-19 Global Impact Study is an ongoing study that has been conducted by Cigna, in partnership with Kantar, between January and October 2020, and will continue into 2021. To date, more than 23,000 online interviews have been conducted across China, Hong Kong, Korea, New Zealand, Singapore, Spain, Taiwan, Thailand, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom and United States.

The study was conducted using an online survey, with respondents recruited from online panels and undergo rigorous quality control. Age, gender and residing city quotas were set based on the population proportion of respective markets. The 20 to 25 minutes survey was completed anonymously.

Read the full report here.

 

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iPMI Magazine Speaks with Gitte Bach, CEO and President, New Frontier Group

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

My name is Gitte Bach, and I am the President and CEO of New Frontier Group.

I started my career in 1990 with International Health Insurance, Denmark. I led the company’s entry into Latin America, helped introduce our new 24/7/365 Alarm Centre and was then asked to help build a new department with a cost containment focus to handle the company’s large medical insurance claims.

In 2002 I left Denmark and went to California, where I founded New Frontier Group. I wanted to create an innovative, solution-oriented company offering multiple, customizable services. We now work with some of the biggest names in the industry.

New Frontier Group provides award winning international medical cost containment. What does award winning cost containment look like?

We never, ever, just sit back and look at the business day to day, but we continuously think about ways we can improve. What is going to be next, how can we develop so that we are always evolving?

We have been doing that both from a technology and a product offering standpoint and we have also developed our employees to live up to that same philosophy in everything they do.

April 2020 and New Frontier Group launched an extremely valuable Telemedicine solution. Can you walk us through the new service and how you see it developing?

We launched NFGtelecare just as the pandemic hit and the world went into lockdown. It was a godsend for many of our clients when access to traditional healthcare was neither safe, nor in many cases, available at all.

Now however, telemedicine is truly established and here to stay. It enhances the service proposition, encourages traveler interaction and ultimately reduces costs.

As well as routine healthcare consultations, we can arrange appointments with a specialist to discuss existing conditions or to get a second medical opinion. We can prescribe and deliver medication via our in-house pharmacy program, Onyx™Rx and if the physician feels that the patient would benefit from further tests or treatment, we can help direct them to a suitable facility nearby.

We need to realize that in this industry telecare is here to stay. Access to healthcare will never revert to how it was before. Telemedicine is now accepted by all our clients.

November 2020, and New Frontier Group wins Industry Supplier of the year at the ITIC Awards. Why did you win this coveted industry award?

Whilst somewhat overshadowed by the current pandemic, we were still extremely proud to have been recognized again at the International Travel Insurance Journal Awards – this time in the new, expanded category of Industry Supplier of the Year.

The award is testament to the continued efforts of our teams in California, South Florida and the UK, in always putting our patients, clients and partners first. From a service perspective, we think that the innovation that most likely impressed the judges was our integrated medical triage, telemedicine and pharmacy concierge service that sits ‘in front’ of our array of cost containment and network solutions. This combination of immediate and low cost access to medical advice and prescription medication, backed up by market leading cost control, is both extremely current and as far as we know, unique in the market.

For international medical payors managing the risks and healthcare of expatriates and people living overseas, what can New Frontier Group provide?

We offer our clients real time, ‘on-the-ground’ expertise and are involved on a daily basis in providing assistance with access to healthcare for expats, students and international travelers. We ensure that the services are appropriate, convenient and of course, part of our extensive network to ensure favourable rates for the payor. This is all part of our service offering and we are also available 24/7 to answer questions or address urgent issues as they arise, irrespective of what time zone our client may be in.

COVID-19 has crashed the travel market as we know it. Travel insurers are washing their hands of COVID-19 risks. Airlines are asking for bail outs. IATA say 25 million jobs are at risk in the airlines and aviation sector. What does the future hold for the travel market?

It has been devastating, both for the travel industry and associated sectors such as travel insurance and assistance. Everyone has had to dig deep and try to ride it out somehow – and we will!

People love to travel and businesses need to travel. There are already some encouraging signs and if these vaccines are rolled out quickly and prove successful, then I think we’ll see a surge from huge, pent-up demand for flights and holidays, with the positive knock-on impact to our industries. Roll-on 2021 is what I say!

Last, but not least, if you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?

I have been extremely fortunate to live in many different countries and have visited even more! I find every single one unique and I don’t have a particular favourite although I do love the Spanish/Latin American language and culture so that would probably have a strong bearing!

I do know one thing for certain, no matter where I am, I have always made it my clear mission to live every single day and get the best out of it, no matter where you are in the world!

 

 

 

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1.9 Million Brits May Have Travelled Uninsured During The Peak Summer Season

Analysis of the Civil Aviation Authority’s (CAA) July, August and September International Air Passenger Traffic* data reveals that 1,914,550 travellers may have travelled abroad uninsured this peak holiday season.

Medical Travel Compared, analysed passenger data from all UK airports flying to popular European destinations that were on or added to the government’s quarantine list including Spain, Balearic Islands, Portugal, Greek Islands, Canary Islands, The Netherlands, France, Hungary, Switzerland, Malta and Iceland.

Spain and the Balearic Islands attracted 721,598 holidaymakers in August and September 2020, despite the country coming off the Foreign Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) list at the end of July. The most popular destinations for Brits in mainland Spain were Alicante (151,526 air passengers) and Malaga (143,150 passengers), while Palma (98,943 passengers) was the preferred location when visiting the Balearic Islands. Analysis also showed that more than half of all arrivals to Spain and the Balearic Islands departed from a London airport – London City, Stansted, London Heathrow, London Gatwick and Luton - with Manchester topping the preferred list for those living in the North.

Portugal was a hot destination for travellers with 125,238 flying in July and September when the destination was off the advised FCDO travel list. Faro was shown to be the most popular arrival airport as two-fifths of Brits travelled headed to the Algarve. 

Despite the Canary Islands only being placed on the quarantine-free travel list on 25 October, British travellers continued to fly to the Canary Islands this summer with 139,462 taking to the sky. Tenerife was the number one destination welcoming 69,585 visitors.

“Discovering that nearly 2 million travellers may have travelled uninsured this July, August and September is very worrying. Travel insurance is an essential element of taking a holiday, especially now when the whole world is experiencing the effects of the Coronavirus pandemic,” commented, Tommy Lloyd, MD of Medical Travel Compared.

“During the European summer holiday season, travellers were placed in a difficult position by our government because they were asked to decide between taking a holiday without insurance, postpone their trip or ask for a refund. The decisions the government made were last-minute and without consultation of multiple industries that service the travel and tourism sector. This meant that the insurance industry, like many other businesses, were being asked to react to huge changes with little notice so many could not provide cover in time for holidaymakers’ trips. The good news is that many insurers have adapted and travellers now have a range of Covid-19 travel insurance policies to choose from should they wish to go abroad to a destination on the recommended FCDO list. For those who would like to travel to a country with quarantine guidance there are insurance policies available, just remember to check the small print for all eventualities covered”

Further analysis of the data shows that countries such as Malta, France and The Netherlands, that were re-added to the FCDO advisory list on 14 August, welcomed 689,533 Brits collectively in August and September. In August travellers may have continued to travel uninsured to their chosen holiday destination despite the change in travel advice, with 159,000 travellers in September most likely visiting these popular holiday hotspots without travel insurance.

Amsterdam welcomed the highest density of travellers (262,514 passengers), while the South of France was the number one choice for Brits going across the Channel with 371,608 arrivals recorded. Departures from London airports accounted for nearly half of all 47,798 passengers who travelled to Malta.

Other destinations that came off the travel list on 24 September included Denmark which received 37,508 travellers, Iceland which had 1,694 visitors, and Switzerland was one of the other more popular destinations with 36,416 visitors. The Greek islands of Zakynthos and Mykonos also welcomed 38,412 visitors showing that once again a portion of these travellers will have visited these destinations without travel insurance.

Popular destinations for Brits by regional airports:

  • Spain and the Balearic Islands were top of London’s airport departure lists with 373,161 passengers travelling through Stansted, London City, London Gatwick, London Heathrow, and Luton
  • Those who travelled from Southend airport were most likely to go to Spain and the Balearic Islands, recording 18,336 passengers
  • Scots were most likely to fly to The Netherlands, with 42,461 passengers recorded at Aberdeen, Glasgow and Edinburgh airports
  • 8,314 passengers departed Belfast for the Spain and Balearic Islands
  • Birmingham and East Midlands airports’ number one departure destination was Spain and the Balearics with 86,089 travellers passing through
  • Total number of departures from Cardiff were low, compared to other regional airports, with Spain and the Balearic Islands topping the list at 3,967 passengers
  • Liverpool saw 27,146 passengers depart for Spain and the Balearic Islands, more than three times the numbers of travellers who went to France
  • More than double the number of travellers went to Spain and the Balearic Islands (721,598) over The Netherlands which recorded 261,924 passengers
  • Spain and the Balearics (10,944 passengers), plus The Netherlands (9,601 passengers) were the popular choices for those travelling from Newcastle
  • Those travelling further abroad to Jamaica were seen departing from London, with 5,419 passengers recorded from Stansted, Gatwick, Heathrow and Luton
  • Manchester saw 4,993 passengers depart for Zakynthos, which was more than any other airport in the UK

*To view CAA’s July, August and September International Air Passenger Traffic data please review the reports here, here and here

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Healix Sentinel Enables Businesses To Get People Moving Again

There’s no question that the landscape for international business travel has changed beyond recognition.

Recent research by the Institute of Travel Management found that 38% of corporate travel managers expect their firm’s travel plans and budgets for 2021 to be down by 25% to 50% compared to 2019. However, for many organisations that operate on an international footprint there is also an imperative to get employees moving again, and for expat workers to be located abroad. And with this requirement comes all the usual risks – as well as COVID-19.

In response, Healix International, the security and health risk management business has developed a new suite of tools to give risk managers vital control to meet their duty-of-care obligations. Healix Sentinel brings together five solutions to provide global organisations with vital tools to stay informed of the risks their employees and operations may face and take appropriate action wherever they are across the globe. 

“This year has been extraordinary and organisations around the world are adjusting to a new way of working to ensure business continuity and productivity,” explained Mike Webb, CEO of Healix International. “But remote working can only go so far, and it is critical for many businesses that travel resumes. While COVID-19 brings a new dynamic, all the other risks associated with working abroad, such as earthquakes, terrorist activities or staff experiencing other health related emergencies, remain.

“Whether it is risk associated with COVID-19, or a country’s political landscape, we understand the importance of balance. Excessive risk management programmes can be burdensome and costly, while inadequate cover leaves an organisation vulnerable to operational disruption, reputational damage and potential litigation.”

Developed by experts in crisis management and risk mitigation, the Healix Sentinel suite of services goes beyond the traditional travel risk space to focus instead on ‘people’ risk management, whether they are travelling or not. Another refreshing way the Sentinel platform stands out is the way the client risk manager – rather than the employee - is seen as the primary stakeholder. As Mike Webb adds; “Often the client only has a small team, or a single individual, responsible for risk mitigation. That’s a heavy burden. The Sentinel platform addresses that by making their lives easier and acting as a force multiplier.”

Risk managers can tailor Healix Sentinel to fit their own specific requirements, choosing the mix of services that will complement and support existing security resources. Alternatively, Healix International can provide a fully managed 24/7 ‘virtual’ security department, delivering timely, actionable intelligence using cutting-edge technology to provide location specific insights and monitoring of incidents. In doing so, it gives risk managers peace of mind that they are providing employees with the highest level of duty-of-care.

“Our holistic approach encompasses planning, preparing and taking appropriate action as and when required. By providing a solution scalable to specific needs, this new suite of offerings allows risk managers to capitalise on opportunities in challenging environments within their own risk parameters,” concluded Mike Webb.

“As well as helping tackle an organisation’s risk management concerns and giving peace of mind, Healix Sentinel helps an organisation maintain a competitive advantage and will enhance its reputation as a secure and compliant organisation.”

The Healix Sentinel range includes:

Healix Sentinel Protect

The flagship service gives risk/security managers 24/7 access to a team of crisis and risk management experts. From travel security briefings and situation updates to incident and crisis response and evacuations, it is a virtual 24/7 Global Security Operations Centre (GSOC). Risk managers benefit from tailored analysis, second opinions and bespoke risk assessments to proactively mitigate risks before they become problematic, and expert assistance when incidents do occur. Furthermore, the service can be tailored to be, or support, an organisation’s in-house resources.

Healix Sentinel Tracker

This tool allows risk/security managers to seamlessly monitor and account for their globally mobile workforce via integration with the Healix Sentinel Travel Oracle mobile app. Security alerts and notifications are issued in a timely manner and managers can quickly locate and communicate with employees during a critical incident to ensure their safety.  With ‘Location Services’ activated by employees on their app, risk managers are provided with an accurate, real-time global view of their employees on an interactive map.

Healix Sentinel Critical Watch

Providing a cost-effective solution to extend a security team’s capabilities, Healix Sentinel Critical Watch is ideal for organisations lacking the in-house resources to monitor employees’ safety around-the-clock. The Healix International team provides 24/7 monitoring of global incidents. And in the immediate aftermath of a critical incident, the team reaches out to employees in the vicinity who could be impacted. Their safety is ascertained, and appropriate action can be taken according to the situation.

Healix Sentinel Travel Oracle App

Available on Android and iOS, the Healix Sentinel Travel Oracle app is an invaluable travel safety companion for a global workforce. Through alerts and comprehensive background travel and security briefings on over 200 countries, it provides instant access to critical insight and support before and during overseas assignments. As well as providing current travel safety information, advice and real-time alerts on breaking news, the app has a tracking function and enables travellers to share live location data or manually ‘check-in’ at pre-agreed milestones with a direct feed into the Healix Sentinel Tracker platform.

Healix Sentinel Intelligence Portal

This portal is designed to provide risk managers with up-to-date intelligence on global risks that could impact their operations. The dashboard displays a concise summary of information relating to ongoing incidents, risk levels and trends. Alerts are updated to the platform in real-time by our risk analysts who monitor, verify and assess the impact of incidents as they happen.

The Intelligence Portal also has detailed intelligence summaries on every country worldwide, providing risk managers with in-depth contextual information. A number of different reports can be accessed such as a weekly forecast, evacuation watch and threat report.

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. Healix provide a comprehensive, integrated range of solutions to help safeguard the health and security of their clients’ employees, providing a single point of contact to access the expertise and help they may need, wherever they are in the world, 24/7.

For more information about Healix Sentinel please visit: www.healix.com

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Bupa Announces Evelyn Bourke Is Retiring As Group CEO And Appoints Iñaki Ereño from 1 January 2021

Evelyn has been CEO since 2016 and served as Bupa’s Chief Financial Officer (CFO) from 2012. Iñaki joined Bupa in 2005 and has been CEO of Sanitas since 2008 and CEO of ELA since 2016.

Roger Davis, Chairman said: “Our deepest thanks go to Evelyn for all that she has contributed to Bupa. She leaves the organisation in excellent shape. The hallmark of her leadership has been her systematic focus on Bupa’s customers, putting them front and centre right across the organisation. She has also transformed many of the fundamentals across the Group, investing in technology and operational resilience, and strengthening internal controls and risk management. This has served Bupa incredibly well in our response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Having delivered substantive change, Evelyn has decided that the time is right for her to move onto the next phase of her career and go plural, developing a portfolio career.

“We are delighted to appoint Iñaki as Evelyn’s successor. Iñaki is a long-time member of the Bupa team, with an exemplary track record of leadership, innovation and growth across multiple business lines and geographies. His deep knowledge of Bupa and our sectors, his passion for digital and innovation, and his strong drive make him the natural choice to take Bupa forward. The Board and I are excited about what he will bring to the next chapter in Bupa’s development.”

Evelyn Bourke said: “Bupa is a wonderful organisation and it’s been an absolute privilege to have led the organisation through a time of significant transformation, challenge and change. I’ve loved it. This was not an easy decision to make, and in truth it will never feel like the right time to leave an organisation like Bupa. That said, I know that Bupa will go from strength to strength under Iñaki’s leadership, and I’m looking forward to working with him over the coming months as we make the transition.

“Our 83,000 people around the world are at the heart of Bupa’s success and I would like to thank everyone for making the eight years I have spent here so special.”

Iñaki Ereño, Group CEO designate said: "It’s an honour to be given the opportunity to lead Bupa. Evelyn and I have worked closely together over the years, and I want to thank her and wish her all the very best for the future, both professionally and personally.

“Health could not be more relevant to the world right now, and Bupa has a vital role to play. I know we have what we need to succeed in the future healthcare space. I am delighted to be entrusted with taking us forward and ensuring we rise to this opportunity.”

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PassportCard Launches International Health Insurance In Germany

PassportCard Deutschland, in partnership with Allianz, launched its international health insurance in Germany on April 2nd.

The product is primarily aimed at expatriates and their families as well as companies with employees abroad who seek comprehensive health coverage whilst abroad. In the wake of the current corona pandemic, PassportCard reaches out to its German customers worldwide as well as to prospect customers with 24/7 on-call medical advice in German without the risk of going out to the doctor, with no extra charge.

PassportCard has decided to offer the insurance product in Germany right now, as the outbreak of Covid-19 has left many expats wondering whether they have sufficient medical coverage, and reach out to the hundreds of Germans worldwide left without sufficient medical cover. PassportCard’s offer provides German expats with comprehensive worldwide insurance coverage together with a special payment mechanism where customers pay the medical providers directly with the “PassportCard payment card” with no out-of-pocket payments.

"At the moment, we are increasingly being approached by Germans who are worried about relatives abroad who are stuck in a foreign country with limited access to healthcare and often without the possibility to travel home. PassportCard offers German expats full insurance cover with 24-hour customer service, including the opportunity to talk to the German doctors of our partner MD-Medicus. This allows Germans abroad to receive German medical assistance around the clock, from the comfort of their home“, explains Alon Ketzef, founder and president of the Davidshield-PassportCard Group.

The PassportCard concept is innovative and focuses entirely on the needs of customers. In the event of a claim, the company pays the claim in real- time, without the customer having to pay in advance anything. This is achieved by means of a specially developed debit card, which, if necessary, is topped up in advance with an individually calculated amount, so that the customer can pay directly at the doctor‘s office. This simplifies the process and saves paperwork effort for the customer and service provider, as receipts generally do not have to be submitted. PassportCard places particular emphasis on the basis of trust between insurer and insured. In addition, PassportCard offers 24/7 support by experts in its own call center in Hamburg; and a telemedicine German-speaking service with German Doctors providing advice around the clock: everything to provide the insured with the best service and support 24/7 around the globe.

PassportCard is part of the DavidShield-PassportCard Group, which was founded 20 years ago by Alon Ketzef in cooperation with the US-based White Mountains Insurance Group (NYSE: WTM). Last year, the group insured more than two million people worldwide. PassportCard works in partnership with the Allianz Group and has received many international awards, including the Australian Mansfield Best Insurance Service Award 2019.

The group is managed by the White Mountains Insurance Group (NYSE:WTM) www.davidshieldgroup.com. Further information is available at www.passportcard.de.

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Employers Need To Consider Wellbeing Of Overseas Employees’ Dependants

Research has shown that moving to a new home during childhood can be damaging to health and wellbeing, including mental health later in life. The Health Insurance Group believes this adds weight to its view that employers need to consider an employee’s family and dependants - as well as the employee themselves - when providing support during a placement overseas.

Sarah Dennis head of international, The Health Insurance Group says, “For World Mental Health Day we want to remind employers of the importance of looking after the health and wellbeing of the children and families of the employees they send overseas. Expat positions offer great opportunities to see and live in another country, with proper support and care it can be a really positive experience for everyone. Looking after dependants is as important to a successful assignment as it is looking after the employee.”

Highest risks for adolescents who relocate

The long-term study*, which followed 1.4m Danish children into adulthood, showed an increased likelihood of adverse outcomes in adulthood for individuals who had moved home in childhood, with the highest risks being among those who had moved frequently in early adolescence.

What can employers do to mitigate the risks?

Employers can help to mitigate these risks for employees and their families by looking at preventative measures to support mental and physical wellbeing at every stage of a move and return from an overseas assignment. This makes sound business sense too, as preventing any issues for both the employee and their dependants supports productivity and creates an environment where everyone gets the most out of an assignment.

5 Ways to Wellbeing

The mental health charity Mind** suggests ‘5 Ways to Wellbeing’, and The Health Insurance Group has shown how employers could use this as a framework for thinking about the best ways to support the family and encourage self-care. The five ways are Connect, Be Active, Take Notice, Learn and Give.

In the context of caring for families overseas, the following are examples of how employers can support the wellbeing of staff and their dependants.

  • Connect – Encourage employees and family members to join local expat groups and local clubs, organise an expat buddy scheme so families can meet up with each other and share experiences including playdates for children of similar ages; advertise and encourage the use of employee assistance programme (EAP) support lines.
  • Be Active – Organise sporting events and encourage employees to get the whole family engaged in active pastimes, offer corporate gym discounts.
  • Take Notice – Provide access to mindfulness workshops or classes.
  • Learn – Provide opportunities for learning about the host culture and local language.
  • Give – Organise family-orientated fundraisers for local charities and volunteering opportunities that could include supporting other relocating employees as they arrive.

 

 

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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: www.healix-international.com

 

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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.

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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.

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