Christopher has been a Director of HealthCare International since 2004 and prior to that held senior positions within the Banking and Financial Services industry in London. He is recognised, fully qualified and authorised by the Financial Services Authority in the UK and has over 25 years experience in the industry. HealthCare International has an energetic, dynamic and successful team, with more than 35 years’ experience in the Global International Health and Private Medical Insurance arena.
HealthCare International is a specialist provider of global private health and related personal insurances, designed to provide not just the basic health cover, but also a wide range of benefits for expat employees and families. HealthCare International’s renowned HealthCare and Risk Management experience has brought to the market a comprehensive, transparent and easy to understand range of private international medical and life insurance solutions. HealthCare International is constantly seeking to refine and improve their solutions and to build successful client relationships wherever possible.
Please provide an overview of your role at Healthcare International, its infrastructure, and core business products and services?
I am fortunate to work within a really experienced team and I have been a Director of HealthCare International since 2004. Prior to HealthCare International I held senior positions within the Banking and Financial Services industry in London. HealthCare International pride themselves in offering a suite of specialist and innovative products which include comprehensive Private Medical Insurance, Travel Insurance, Life Assurance and Income protection for the global expatriate market for both the Personal and Corporate client sectors whilst ensuring members the highest standards of service at affordable levels. HCI has a substantial Broker Client base of which my team and I look after.
What current trends exist in the expatriate health and travel insurance markets, and what is your company doing to maximize on these opportunities?
The variables in an expatriate life cycle and in the changing circumstances of an individual are many, and we are in the business of providing International Medical Insurance and expatriate assistance in the form of Travel Insurance, International Life and Income Protection, both directly and indirectly. For over 35 years, and during this time have responded to the need for flexible insurance cover and adapting to the protocol of the destination country. Our product development is the key to our success and each year we are able to analyse data and world trends in terms of health care and, along with personal feedback from our clients, improve our plans and benefits where necessary to deliver the most comprehensive cover available. Innovation is a key consideration for us. Technological advancements mean that we are continually monitoring and evaluating developments in the market that will allow us to communicate better with our clients or to manage their policies and personal data even more efficiently.
While we feel our delivery times are excellent in areas such as policy administration and claims processing, if there is a way to improve the service that we provide to our clients, we will be sure to investigate it and to apply it to our industry. Ultimately, healthcare insurance is not something that a client wants to worry about. A company wants to feel comfortable that they are catering to the needs of their employees by providing the best possible benefits and cover. They also want to feel secure in the knowledge that the company they have selected to work with is able to do this. Historically, HCI have not specialised in indigenous populations, but this is very much on the agenda.
What key industries represent the core focus of your expatriate insurance business?
Until recently we have majored in the individual and the small corporate sector of the market. The expatriate movement is growing significantly and we find the majority of our policy holders are in the industries of finance, teaching and natural resources such as oil, gas, and mining. These industry growth trends tend to be grouped in particular areas internationally, but ultimately you will always find expatriates based at different levels in their various industries and our plans and solutions cater for high level individuals as well as for core/bottom line employees - , so we are well equipped to respond to sophisticated needs as well as large claim events.
What emerging industries represent good market potential & growth rates for your products and services? Can you explain the geographical markets in which you operate, and the present challenges your organisation faces there?
Aside from the obvious growth areas in Asia, Europe and the Middle East, we are always pleasantly surprised to hear from a broker who has recommended HCI and feels strongly about the opportunity in their specific market that we can cater to, as often, smaller pockets of incremental business is overlooked in an effort to focus on growth rather than the quality of niche markets. It would be easy to turn this answer into a summary of world trends in industry and expatriate growth, however, what remains essential to us is our relationships that we have with our supporting brokers and existing companies, many of whom refer new business to us. Furthermore, industries such as construction, technology and financial services will always provide us with consistent business growth.
What emerging markets require expatriate health insurance and services, and how do you adapt your services and policies for the new markets and industries?
Everyone is aware of the emerging expatriate markets in Europe and the Middle East, and indeed industries and opportunities are highlighted in Russia and Asia. With more and more countries closing their doors to expatriates’ medical needs, companies like ours need to fill the gap. The trend today is linking closely with local companies who have vast knowledge of local rules and regulations whilst creating successful strategic partnerships. We are already equipped to provide an expatriate with comprehensive and easily managed policies in the health, travel insurance, life and income protection sector. Trends in world industry growth and the location of this growth may shift, but we are there! Wherever the expatriate may be, our policies are designed to be flexible. Introducing local claims administration teams and services in particular, can be done at the request of large corporate groups or a large expatriate presence, and in this way we will continue to strongly align ourselves with both local brokers and international companies, reinforcing local confidence and claims control.
Can you name some key clients, and provide an overview of the type of health insurance solutions they require?
With respect to clients and brokers, due to confidentiality we are unable to name specifics. We look after international plans for some of the largest operations worldwide which include international pharmaceutical agencies, school and educational institutions, as well as those leaders in emerging industries like sports professionals and VIPs. Our focus is on personal service, the speed of this service, and ultimately, customer satisfaction. Every client has their unique circumstances, and our policies and procedures are designed to respond to a variety of needs. We are continually evaluating the market and our operations to ensure that our knowledge, expertise and service best aligns with their requirements. A large part of this relies on open communication between the client and ourselves, and while we believe that our system design and technology is one of the more advanced available to service our client base, without the input from our business partners and choosing to listen to the feedback from our customers, we would not have policy holders as satisfied as our research shows us they are.
How can Healthcare International support and manage the life cycle of an expatriate, mobile and remote workforce?
When evaluating a client and their personal circumstances there are a number of aspects to consider such as age, profession, current health and health needs, work circumstances and destination. A client may require a stand-alone policy, or may have to consider the needs of his or her spouse and dependents. Or they may intend to start a family. Our plans are designed to meet the needs as a person’s life progresses through different and personal stages and circumstances.
For example a British expatriate who is based in China. He joins us at the start of his career, working for a particular company. He regularly travels to other areas of the world during the course of his job, and may be relocated and have a new country of residence. During the course of his career he marries, and he and his wife start a family. They then go from job to job, and country to country. Years later he retires, his children leave home, and he and his wife settle permanently in a foreign country. Assuming this client remains an expatriate throughout, we are able to cater for his International Medical Insurance, Travel Insurance, and Life and Income Protection needs. While we would assist the client to evaluate the plan benefits on the occasion of his annual renewal, the majority of his changing circumstances will be accommodated in the same way throughout his guaranteed cover for life with HCI.
The primary variable is whether a client requires cover for longer than our 90 day emergency cover in the USA on a policy that is essentially excluding USA cover. A client would need to select a plan to include the USA as part of his cover otherwise he would not be covered for full benefits in the USA. Due to the high cost of medical treatment in the USA, it is necessary to select a policy with a premium that factors this in. All his other personal factors are negligible, which is due to the simplicity of eliminating restrictions relating to service providers. The structure of our plans means that a client has the freedom to travel or move to virtually any destination of their choice, and their policy circumstances will remain the same. In other words, we do not have the need to inform them of our local networks in the area, or to advise them of where they may or may not seek treatment. The client comes first – we do not want to compromise the best possible treatment, and thus we provide them with freedom of choice.
We find that this is of huge benefit to our clients, as many may have a personal or family doctor that they would prefer to use, or they may be referred to a treatment facility or doctor by colleagues who have experienced a particularly high level of assistance. We believe that the level of comfort that a client has is to know that treatment comes first, rather than having the hassle of having to go out of their way instead of using their nearest facility, wherever they may be in the world.
How would your International Expatriate Health Insurance Plan, support consistent cover for the life cycle of the employee and family?
Once an expatriate and family have been accepted onto a HealthCare International policy, they are guaranteed cover for life while their period of coverage remains unbroken and they remain expatriates. It is a fact of life that circumstances may change and work requirements can be unpredictable, and rather than having the complications associated with a change in location affecting a network of service providers and having to update details on our systems to cope with a change in their treatment area, we have designed our policies to make this as efficient and client-friendly as possible. A client is free to choose where to receive their treatment and with whom. As long as it is a recognised medical facility or service provider of the country that they are in, and providing the claim is within the benefit level, we are happy to accept the claim or to receive a claim directly from the service provider. Thus, clients are free to travel or relocate without needing to consult with us except to update their contact details. By removing the need for procedural requirements related to networked doctors and hospitals, we are able to put clients’ needs first and provide them with an International Insurance policy that has as little chance for error and frustration as possible.
What services do you offer besides travel, health and expatriate insurance cover i.e. medical consultation, employee assistance programs, medical and travel assistance, travel warnings, cultural training etc?
A HealthCare International policy holder is paying to have security in knowing he has someone who will take care of his Health Insurance needs efficiently. We deliver a service that is personal and we are approachable 24/7. Our claims department is fully trained to be able to process and work with foreign claims. Clients can refer to us for information on local service providers and for assistance in arranging and authorising their treatment. The combined experience of our claims team means a wealth of information from people who are always on hand to assist the policy holder. We organise help in an emergency, and policy benefits include flight arrangements home in the event of the death of a loved one. Insuring an expatriate is not just providing medical benefits and cover, it means realistically assessing what eventualities may affect them. Benefits like paying for accommodation in the event of a parent or child being hospitalised for a specific length of time, are small things that are important to the individual should it occur. It’s not something that they are aware of or may think of here and now, but chances are high that this may occur, and it is our job to provide the services and to consider those unexpected events. A client is placing not only his premium, but also his faith and trust in us.
Are you in a position to offer everything under one roof, to cover all the expatriates healthcare requirements?
Yes. We are one of the few companies that are able to do this on an individual and corporate level with bespoke schemes for the larger corporate. With the strength of major re-insurers behind us we are secure in our operation and development, and are able to provide almost anything that the individual or corporate entity requires. We are not restricted in our development and plan structures, as are some of the larger competitors in the market.
Do you offer EAP (employee assistance programs) and if so can you explain the key features and benefits of this service?
While HCI is a smaller company, this remains one of our greatest strengths as we are able to assist our policy holders in many areas. With regards to EAP, these are individually tailored programs and subject to company type, location and size, and with the systems and technology we have, almost anything is possible.
What support do you offer to enable a corporation to guarantee a seamless transition?
We are comfortably equipped to manage a seamless transition of most company schemes. We are able to match terms and tailor packages - in fact, anything that the employer requires for his staff. A seamless transition from an existing insurance provider or indeed, self administered scheme, into HealthCare International is subject to the information, communication and systems of the corporate company. With modern technology and our recent investment in this sector we have installed a new and comprehensive system – literally one of the most advanced in Europe – we are well placed to manage any transfer of business. Because we do not restrict a member to a particular network of doctors or hospitals, we do not need them to familiarise themselves with this or have any particular procedures for them to follow, other than normal authorisation and claims requirements. Emphasis rests on our office based team and claims team being available 24 hours a day telephonically or via e-mail, to enable us to assist with any specific queries.
What is the strategy to develop Healthcare International in the future?
Our aim is to continue to remain flexible, based on the needs of our existing policy holders and to continue to exceed their expectations when it comes to service delivery. As a company, we are committed to our personal approach and concern for our clients. We are excited about the challenge to continually improve our products, and have a structured business expansion programme. We feel confident that we are ahead of the pack in terms of service and international insurance solutions, and have our eye firmly set on existing and future markets that can benefit from our services and products.
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