iPMI Magazine Speaks With Fiona Greenwood Operations Manager Rowland Brothers International
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Rowland Brothers International has pioneered international repatriation for over 45 years organising repatriation for families, insurance and assistance companies, corporations, government departments, airlines and funeral directors.
Their international repatriation service transports the deceased all over the world from any destination to any destination. Rowland Brothers International’s multi-lingual team are fluent in Spanish, French, German, Portuguese, English, Italian, Polish and Russian. They can help you with any queries you have regarding the repatriation service, with no obligation.
In an ever riskier world, emergency medical evacuation and repatriation insurance coverage is essential, for offshore workers, expatriates, business travellers and tourists. Why?
Fiona Greenwood: National and international travel for work or pleasure is an accepted part of normal life in the twenty first century. With this increase in people moving around the world, there is a higher incidence of exposure to risk and untimely or unexpected deaths occurring. This is why it is recommended that independent travellers and businesses ensure that their employees are adequately protected with the right insurance policy to cover every eventuality.
According to Saga, 9 out of 10 people who pass away overseas are brought back for funerals near Fiona Greenwood: home. What are the main complexities in providing repatriation of mortal remains services?
As an experienced company, we understand that it can be a distressing and difficult time for family and friends who are dealing with the repatriation of a loved one. There are many complexities in the repatriation process, such as understanding the role of coroners, consuls and local authorities. All of this can be a daunting experience, especially whilst a family is mourning. RBI ensures our experienced team understand our client’s needs, whilst managing the intricacies of the repatriation process on their behalf.
You have a respected track record as an international funeral director. What is most important when providing these services?
Fiona Greenwood: RBI has high standards which we aim to deliver on at all times, working with our business or personal clients. We pride ourselves on all the services that we deliver and ensure that standards are maintained in all aspects of our work. We ensure that our national and international partners have adopted our protocols, so we meet our business and customer service standards at all times.
Some insurance policies have apparently introduced limits on how much they will pay for repatriation. What do you think?
Fiona Greenwood: Where limits are placed on cover, or if cover is declined, our expertise in the industry will allow us to quickly research what works best, financially, culturally and emotionally for the family.
Cover for overseas burials can be low. Does such an option prove a common alternative to repatriation?
Fiona Greenwood: We have found that overseas burials are usually requested because the deceased’s family either want to bury their loved one in their country of birth, perhaps in or near an existing family plot. If cost is an issue, our experienced staff will discuss other alternatives, which could include local cremation and then repatriation of the ashes. Rowland Brothers International will discuss all options based on the circumstances of the deceased and the request of the family. If required, the option of a local burial can be arranged, but in our experience it’s not very common.
The success of an insurance policy may be proven when one makes a claim, but in a world of pre-existing conditions, exclusions, extreme sports, badly worded policies and an aging population, how well does insurance perform in protecting members against such risks?
Fiona Greenwood: We do not get involved in the policy assessment, but we are always available to assist families by discussing their situation to find a solution.
According to Saga, the average repatriation claim is £3,800 - although a spokesman said claims could be higher from more remote locations. How much does it really cost?
Fiona Greenwood: International repatriation costs vary depending on the point of origin within a country, and the final destination sought. Other factors are taken into account, such as preparation of the deceased, the type of coffin or casket used, fees for documentation, flights, clearances, and airport transfers. Carriage of personal effects adds cost as they are packed and carried separately. Our familiarity with these protocols, and our loyal provider network, means we can cost contain due to the number of repatriations we manage worldwide.
What documentation is required for customs clearance when a deceased is repatriated?
Fiona Greenwood: Documentation varies between countries. Understanding this complex process is where our expertise comes into play. We obtain the correct combination of documents to meet national and international requirements, including permits to leave one country for a funeral in another, and co-ordinate flights and clearances to make the repatriation a seamless operation. Each case is different, and progressed individually by our expert team.
A call comes in from an insurer that you assist. One of their members has been involved in a serious accident in a remote area of Thailand and the unthinkable has happened. Case details are sketchy however it is clear the member has passed away and the insurer wishes to repatriate their mortal remains to their home country. What would happen next?
Fiona Greenwood: This is not uncommon, and we deal with this type of real life scenario daily. Our starting point would be to gather as much detail as possible, especially with regards to the deceased and contact details of the next of kin from the Insurer. We would aim to contact the designated person immediately, so we can understand their requirements and guide them through the process of repatriation. We would also provide a daily update to the Assistance Company, who can obtain regular updates via our business portal. Our aim would be to simplify the process for the family during their time of mourning, ensuring that they are receiving a professional, courteous and sympathetic service at all times.
The recent earthquake in Italy reminds us just how powerful Mother Nature is and that mass casualty situations are a risk faced by all. What capabilities do you have to assist in mass-casualty situations?
Fiona Greenwood: RBI is Mass Casualty Specialist with a network of experienced agents across the globe whom we work with on a daily basis. We have been called upon previously to utilise our experienced network of agents when a major disaster has occurred.
New technology, low oil prices, civil unrest and BREXIT can all affect travel, tourism and expatriation. How will the industry develop in the coming years?
Fiona Greenwood: Geopolitical changes can affect repatriation. RBI has adapted over the last forty five years, developing worldwide repatriation strategies from popular holiday resorts, remote and high risk areas. Tragedies which happen away from home are often unexpected and unpredictable, but with a sound process and experienced global network, we will continue to offer successful repatriation solutions for our clients.
Interview first published in International Medical and Evacuation Strategies 2016
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