In this IPMI industry exclusive, Christopher Knight, CEO, iPMI Magazine, sits down with Arjan Toor, following his recent appointment as CEO International Organisations, Global IPMI & Africa, Cigna.
Congratulations on the appointment Arjan. How are you settling in?
I’d like to start by saying I’m delighted by the opportunity to lead Cigna’s International Organisations (IGO and NGO) & Africa organisation, in addition to leading Global IPMI. It’s an exciting time to join this fantastic business with a longstanding heritage of 60 years servicing IGOs and NGOs around the world.
I spent my first few weeks getting to know the team, and developing a good understanding of who our customers and clients are. The team has done a great job in building deep partnerships with most of the leading International Organisations. Now we’re ready to take these partnerships to a whole new level, and accelerate the growth of the business.
You have been positioned to lead the next stage of growth for Cigna International Organisations (IGO & NGO) & Africa. How will you do this?
For me every growth opportunity starts with the customer. People who know me will say I’m very passionate about delivering an excellent customer experience, aimed at improving the health, wellbeing and sense of security of the people we serve. We can only grow by truly listening to our clients and customers. This will allow us to fully understand their needs and expectations, and shape our future propositions accordingly.
Obviously there are many differences between the businesses I was asked to lead. But when you take a closer look, they’re also very similar. Whether we serve an entrepreneur or retiree, an IGO or NGO staff member, or a corporate employee in Africa: they’re all individual customers dealing with very similar challenges, and they look to Cigna to provide the help and support they need.
Cigna has strategic growth plans for Africa. Can you walk us through the plans?
We’re incredibly excited about the growth opportunities in Africa, and firmly believe you need to truly understand this continent to be successful. This is why we established a strong strategic partnership with the Hollard Insurance Group, South Africa’s largest independent insurance company in Africa. Hollard is one of the most recognised insurance brands on the continent, and has been delivering industry-leading innovation in insurance environments throughout Africa and beyond.
Together with Hollard we deliver a locally admitted health insurance product called Hollard Cigna Health. This product is designed to meet the dynamic needs of multinational corporations operating in Africa. It supports local management, regional expatriates and globally mobile staff with easy access to quality care throughout the continent in a compliant manner.
In addition, Cigna leverages the experience gained from working with International Organisations in Africa. We already have a strong local presence in several African countries and we service more than 200,000 customers in this region. And as our local presence continues to grow, we’re expanding our team of local representatives and our office in Nairobi to ensure we’re as close to our customers, clients and providers as possible.
What issues exist for staff that is often active in remote regions with little or no medical infrastructure and how does Cigna support them?
The main challenge is access to care. Local health care systems can be difficult to navigate, which is why we have a worldwide network of local representatives who visit our clients’ local offices and ensure customers receive one-on-one support and guidance. To guarantee access to the best care facilities, we continuously expand our directly contracted provider network into these remote regions.
Unfortunately, the reality is that emergency situations and being in hostile environments are often a part of our clients’ day-to-day work. When staff members face critical situations, guaranteeing their safety is our number one priority. That’s why we offer a medical and security evacuation service, with a single point of contact at Cigna who coordinates these often very complex situations.
Another challenge for customers in remote regions is quality of care. We have a wide range of clinical services in place to support our customers. Some examples are the Decision Support Programme, which provides expert second medical opinions, and of course the recently launched Global Telehealth Service, which gives customers access to telephone and video consultations with licensed doctors around the world. The peace of mind that comes with knowing you can always speak to a knowledgeable doctor in your own language and no matter how far away you are from a medical facility, can’t be underestimated.
What opportunities exist in the IGO and NGO sector in terms of health benefit plans?
From my first conversations with clients and customers, I noticed a couple of very sector-specific trends. For example, globally mobile employees leaving IGOs and NGOs tend to stay abroad. Or, staff members, having worked for an important part of their career for an International Organisation, may not have built up rights for medical coverage in their home country. For those people, we see an increasing demand for solutions that will allow them to continue their cover on an individual basis.
I also believe we have an important role to play in helping our clients tackle some of the very specific challenges they face. Many IGOs and NGOs are under pressure to demonstrate transparently that they operate in the most efficient way. We help them do this by implementing customised reporting, sophisticated fraud prevention tools and offering market-leading prevention and wellbeing programmes which help to increase productivity and reduce sickness as well as the cost of absenteeism. I truly believe that’s the kind of client-centric thinking that makes us the partner of choice for International Organisations.
What does Cigna offer NGOs and IGOs that rivals do not? For example, which risks are currently covered on an IGO and NGO plan?
First of all, I believe the customer experience is unparalleled. For 60 years, this team has been providing worldwide health services for IGO and NGO staff members based in virtually every country in the world. As a result, we acquired an unparalleled experience and knowledge of this industry. This allows us to benchmark and optimise our clients’ plans to a degree that just can’t be matched.
We have a very specific approach when it comes to health benefits. We work closely with our clients to create a tailored employee benefits package designed to meet their specific or unusual needs. They can choose from a comprehensive range of innovative programmes and services: from hard-to-find benefits such as war and terrorism coverage to flexible financing arrangements in remote areas. Our well-researched solutions are designed to make their lives easier and to keep their benefit plans viable, in addition to giving their employees access to the best possible medical treatment.
Another good example of our differentiation is the solution we developed specifically for smaller NGOs called CoverN’GO. Recognising that the needs of small NGOs are quite different from larger organisations, we designed a plan that provides these NGOs with budgetary protection and a benefit plan that automatically includes specific cover for AIDS/HIV, childbirth, medical evacuation, vaccinations and many others.
Can you walk us through the differences in insuring an IGO or NGO workforce vs. traditional expatriates and business travellers?
First of all, International Organisations have their own approach toward health and insurance. They’re not-for-profit and generally have a “higher purpose” as well as their own specific framework of rules and benefits which they expect us to incorporate in the way we service them. This results in a high level of customisation.
Secondly, IGOs need to replace local social security protection in all its aspects (Health and Wellbeing programmes, medical protection for both active and retired staff, pension benefits, life and disability insurance, sick leave…) which requires a totally different approach. Where corporates would typically look at their expats only, International Organisations look at the totality of their staff to be covered, and this often includes local staff as well – who have very different needs.
Finally, staff members from International Organisations and their families are often located in remote areas or near conflict zones, increasing their risk of illness or injury. This brings additional challenges besides those of being in a foreign country. We need to ensure the relevant health care providers have been contracted to make access for our customers easy and affordable. In addition, we must provide the best possible medical and security evacuation in the event of an emergency.
What can we expect from Cigna International Organisations & Africa in the next 12 months?
A lot! We’re constantly looking for ways to improve the client and member experience. One example is our recently launched personalised onboarding process, providing new customers with a personal video message explaining their plan benefits and the services that will give them greater peace of mind. Another example is the update of our Cigna Health Benefits app for submitting claims via your mobile phone. This focus on innovation has always been a key driver behind Cigna’s success, and we’ll accelerate these efforts even further under Bart Jordens leadership as Cigna’s Global Head of Innovation.
Expect to see a very visible company that is constantly engaging in a dialogue with clients, customers, distribution partners and providers to understand what we need to do to meet their ever evolving needs. I’m inspired by the mission that many of our IGO and NGO clients aspire to deliver, and truly humbled by the notion that Cigna plays a critical role in enabling them to do their amazing work.
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