In this IPMI industry exclusive, Christopher Knight, CEO, iPMI Magazine sits down with IPMI industry veteran Andrew Apps, following his recent appointment at Expacare LTD.
Firstly, congratulations on the new appointment Andrew and thank you for taking the time to speak with us. How are you settling in to the new role?
Thank you Chris, and always a pleasure. Busy would perhaps be an understatement and the reaction from the iPMI market has been overwhelming. It seems like I never went away.
You previously were working with an IPMI brokerage, and now an IPMI provider. Any specific reason for the change?
Having been on the insurer side of the fence for over 30 years, spending the past two and half as an iPMI broker proved to be a real eye opener and something that I would recommend to anyone who has never spent time on the ‘dark side’ to experience.
When I moved from domestic to International PMI back in 1990, my very first client meeting when I joined Wand AG, a German based iPMI underwriting agent was to accompany our Deputy Chairman to a meeting with Expacare who were then based in Woking. On being introduced to their Managing Director of the time, his first question to me was to ask how long I had been with the company – my answer, 20 minutes! I really had been thrown in at the deep end.
So, the opportunity to join Expacare has been like completing a circle for me and at a time when the company is going through great change following new ownership last year. It has given me the opportunity to be part of something quite special, whilst allowing the chance to give something back to an industry that has been an important and central part of my life for such a long time.
Who is Expacare?
In simple terms we’re a specialist international medical insurance provider (often referred to as an MGU) having been around for almost 35 years which makes us one of the oldest international private medical insurance providers in the market.
We work predominantly through a network of broker partners, offering a range of international private medical insurance products underwritten within Lloyd’s of London with the reassurance of solid backing and proven expertise.
But what makes us different, is that we not only understand medical insurance but we understand what’s it like to be an expatriate and to live and work overseas The high standards we set ourselves lie at the very heart of everything we do, and our friendly, experienced team are always on hand to help our broker partners and their clients choose the right cover or simply to give them guidance and hold their hand when the time comes to make a claim.
We see ourselves very much as a specialist and definitely not a ‘one size fits all’ provider.
Can you walk us through the benefits of an Expacare IPMI policy?
We offer one of the most flexible product ranges available in the iPMI marketplace which has enabled our members to tailor their cover and only pay for what they want rather than being pushed into buying a package of benefits that they either don’t need or simply can’t use.
With corporate rates available for one employee, even the smallest companies sending their first employees overseas have access to high quality medical insurance. Our flagship plan ‘Choices’ offers simplified medical underwriting acceptance for groups up to 4 employees and medical history disregarded for 5 or more employees.
Flexibility is key and the very foundation of our plans. In-patient treatment and emergency evacuation cover is included as standard across all our plans with the option to add cancer and chronic cover, a choice of four out-patient treatment packages, two maternity care options, dental treatment, wellness and optical cover.
Which regions does Expacare offer IPMI coverage?
Whilst our members come from all four corners of the world, we are seeing a growing demand for our products and services from the Gulf, Africa and South East Asia. With locally licensed plans already available for much of Europe, Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Indonesia (with more to follow soon), we are continually finding new ways to meet the needs of a growing market.
Expacare also provides a 24/7 assistance service. Is that in house or out sourced?
Our 24/7 assistances service is provided by CEGA, who have demonstrated time and again their outstanding reputation for delivering a combination of the highest level of customer service and cost control that our members demand.
Between Brexit, President Trump and developments in the Middle East, some say the traditional IPMI expat market is under threat. What do you think?
The iPMI market has been under threat for some time, or at least in the way it operates. The ‘one size fits all’ solution is redundant and for an increasing number of people looking for medical insurance, the ‘big’ badge provider is no longer their best option.
I see our industry going through the same changes as seen in the high street. It wasn’t long ago that the out-of-town shopping centres and multi-national retailers ruled the roost, but the rise of the independent retailer has taken back the mantle, offering better products at more competitive prices whilst demonstrating a service ethos that the larger players can only dream about.
Whilst increasing global regulation is seen by many as a stumbling block for our industry, I see it as an opportunity. As a specialist iPMI provider, we can adapt quickly to changing markets, concentrating to those where we can deliver something different rather than trying to be all things to all people.
By better use of our resources and working in partnership with rather than against the broking community, we can often be more flexible in both the design of our plans, the premiums that we charge and the services that we provide.
Expacare provides dedicated Dubai health insurance plans approved by the Dubai Health Authority. What challenges exist in the IPMI market in Dubai?
Dubai is a challenging environment when it comes to medical insurance and ensuring that our plans meet all the regulatory requirements of the Emirate is no mean task, with amendments to the Law being regularly introduced. To ensure that we deliver our service seamlessly, we have partnered with Al Ain Ahlia, founded in 1975 as one of the first insurance companies to operate in the UAE.
Treatment costs in Dubai are amongst the highest in the world, so ensuring that future premiums are not adversely affected, we work with our underwriting partner Al Ain Ahlia and licensed claims administrator MedNet, the region’s leading managed care service organisation specialising in health risk management, who administer Expacare’s claims in the Gulf.
The UAE Government is keen to promote a healthier lifestyle amongst its citizens and as part of our commitment to keep premiums affordable, our Dubai Health Insurance Plans include Lifestyle Rewards on individual and family plans – rewarding those who exercise regularly, drink responsibly and don’t smoke – with up to 25% discount on premiums.
Can you walk us through the range of benefits the IPMI plans for Dubai provide?
All our plans, available to both individual, families and groups are DHA compliant, providing higher benefits than our standard Choices options. We offer two areas of cover - Worldwide or Worldwide excluding USA & Caribbean – with direct settlement facilities for out-patient services. We’ve also segmented these by price, so our members can choose the ‘Network’ to suit their budget – ensuring that premiums are not adversely affected by Dubai’s most expensive medical facilities.
What can we expect to see from Expacare IPMI in 2018 and beyond?
With a change of ownership last year, new offices, new underwriters and new systems in place, the foundations have been set to allow Expacare to become the company it was always destined to be.
Our philosophy can be summarised very simply as “doing what we do to the best of our ability” and demonstrated by our ability to offer our members a truly individual service – a personal approach that shows we’re in it for the long term. And with some of our clients have been with us for over 30 years, we like to think this shows the unwavering service levels and peace of mind we continue to deliver.
2018 will see claims management moved ‘in-house, new products and services being introduced, our online facilities being expanded and the launch of our new web site this summer. All-in-all a busy year ahead and one that we’re all looking forward to.