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iPMI Magazine Speaks With Angela Smith, Head Of Proposition Development, Charles Taylor Assistance

Why is innovation so important to the health of the international assistance sector? As the Covid-19 pandemic shines a spotlight on global medical assistance, we ask Angela Smith, head of proposition development for Charles Taylor Assistance, to answer some key questions about the role of innovation in the sector

What’s driving innovation in global medical assistance?

The Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated demand from travellers for easy access to information and advice about real-time health and security risks abroad; covering everything from Covid-related travel restrictions to terrorist attacks.

Customers overseas want to know that a skilled assistance specialist will be available when they need them, that relevant information will be obtained quickly and efficiently and that queries about policies and claims validations will be settled speedily. In this context, they want to know that digitisation will ease their pre-and post-claims journeys and accelerate settlements where appropriate.

All this is putting the onus on assistance providers to create more bespoke solutions for insurer clients and their customers than ever.  In today’s climate, providers are expected to work with clients not just to establish their bespoke needs but also to offer the flexibility that enables them to choose the level at which they manage new products themselves, such as claims data dashboards and automated alerts.

In its Travel Megatrends 2025 report, the travel news site Skift reported that brands that embrace agility and flexibility will be equipped for the future of travel. And this couldn’t be more accurate.

What role does digitisation play?  

According to McKinsey’s Digital Patient Survey, more than 75% of all patients expect to use digital services in the future. And digitisation is already transforming both the medical claims journey and the travel risk mitigation landscape.

Seamless and fluid assistance is being driven by tools such as digital doctor, which integrates video doctor and advanced diagnostic services into the medical assistance process. Meanwhile, wider ways of enabling customers abroad to reach out for help and to improve information and assistance delivery are also being explored by the assistance sector, for instance via telemedicine and AI.

At the same time, reliance on mobile technology has driven services such as digital claims, single-source medical and security assistance, risk management alerts and automated medical screening. Other automated processes, such as bespoke telephony technology,  multi-currency payment technology, digital document signing and workflow management aids are also integral to the global assistance sector. And automation is easing processes with assistance suppliers and customers alike.  

But this provision needs to be constantly developed to drive further efficiencies in claims handling, supplier management, global network integration, cost containment, information gathering and more.

Why does innovation need to be a balancing act?

Recent digital developments here at Charles Taylor include Venture: a digital health risk assessment tool that helps corporates manage duty of care obligations for back-to-work and back-to-travel scenarios during the pandemic. Importantly, clients can choose the aspects of this process that they want to manage.

We’re also using digitisation to contain costs and create efficiencies via Discovery, our new court-compliant social media and open-source digital investigation tool for the fraud investigation arena. This uses algorithms to search over 220 open source and social media sites for impactful intelligence about claims and sets off referral alerts to professional investigators.

We recognise that technology is essential to capture important data and ease processes, but it will always need to be complemented by in-house human expertise. Niche skills, supported by innovative training are essential to ensure that assistance cases are managed effectively, interventions are made at the right time and customers’ individual needs are met, especially when they feel vulnerable. After all, every customer is different.

Skills management and maintenance, together with efficient knowledge transfer are critical in this respect and the frequency of training is as important as the methods.

How can we future-proof the assistance sector?

Today, looking beyond Covid, the assistance sector needs to prepare not just for current risks, such as pandemics and terrorism, but also for the lesser known impact of issues such as climate change. We need to ask ourselves, for instance, if climate change will drive travellers away from traditional tourist destinations, disrupting not just where, but when they go abroad and how they get there? Or if increasingly unpredictable weather patterns will create more emergencies overseas - and if we need to adapt assistance provision to mitigate this?

Cutting-edge technology, flexibility, human expertise and collaboration will, together, be key to effective innovation in this respect.  So too will investment in research and development.  And we need to bear this in mind as we forge ahead in today’s ever-changing travel landscape.


iPMI Magazine Speaks With Jody Baker, Chief Executive Officer, Charles Taylor Assistance

In this exclusive iPMI Magazine interview Christopher Knight, CEO, iPMI Magazine, met with Jody Baker, CEO, Charles Taylor Assistance. They discussed his recent appointment as CEO; the acquisition of CEGA by Charles Taylor; the current COVID-19 pandemic, and how travel, global mobility and business will look in the future. 

Can you tell us a little about yourself and Charles Taylor Assistance?

I was appointed chief executive officer of Charles Taylor Assistance back in July, after a successful five years as commercial director. Before that, my former roles included head of business development at Cigna, and business development leadership positions within Allianz Worldwide Partners, RBS Insurance and AIG.

I’m now delighted to have the opportunity to continue developing Charles Taylor Assistance as one of the world’s leading providers of medical and security assistance, claims handling and travel risk management. It’s a unique time to take on the challenge, but I’m optimistic about what the future holds.

How has being part of a larger insurance solutions provider, Charles Taylor, impacted the Assistance business? 

CEGA (as we were known then) was acquired by Charles Taylor in 2016. We subsequently changed our name to Charles Taylor Assistance earlier this year and have benefited considerably from the acquisition - with Charles Taylor’s global scale creating many joined-up opportunities.

To give you some background: Charles Taylor is a provider of professional services and technology solutions for the global insurance market, employing over 3,000 staff in more than 30 countries - which means we have the security of a global organisation behind us. As part of the Charles Taylor Group, we have access to resources, expertise and global networks that are helping us realise our ambitions to develop new markets for our services, whilst also bolstering our core offering for existing insurer clients.

How have your operations adapted to the pandemic?

I’m pleased to say that, like many others in our sector, our services have been largely uninterrupted throughout the pandemic. We’ve used our global network of partner providers to help overcome obstacles to international assistance. Meanwhile, our operations staff in the UK have found new ways to manage restrictions to their working lives; many of them swiftly adapting to working from home and drawing on shared technologies to keep connected.

Today, we’re drawing on this flexibility, commitment and cutting-edge technology to collaborate closely with our clients – and to help them make an impact.

What are your priorities for the year ahead?

Since I joined the business back in 2015, we have become adept at bringing in new schemes in short timeframes, in absorbing new teams across multiple lines, and in international scheme implementation from our overseas offices.  And we’re all set to continue doing this.

After months of anticipation, the long-awaited COVID-19 vaccine is in sight and, although the threat of the virus is not by any means over, we’re optimistic about the future of travel and global mobility.

What do providers like yourselves need to offer insurers in these unique times?

Assistance and claims providers have worked hard to adapt and thrive in the face of the pandemic. It’s important now to seize the opportunity to innovate, grow and meet insurers’ changing needs in the new world that is emerging. As we approach the next phase of COVID-19, we will be listening to both clients and customers, so that we can constantly develop our provision to deliver a best-in-class, flexible service to them.

What do you think overseas travel will look like in the future?

It’s likely that corporate travellers will have an increased appetite for knowledge about real-time health and security risks abroad; not just the likelihood of contracting COVID-19 (including severe symptoms of the virus), but also the likelihood of terrorist attacks, political unrest and more. This puts even more pressure on employers to ensure that the right precautions are taken, before, during and after staff assignments overseas.

With the right risk solutions in place, travellers can mobilise again with an increased awareness - and employers can fully meet their duty of care obligations. From pre-travel risk assessments, to destination-specific education and medical and security assistance overseas, the globally mobile will want tools that enable them to anticipate threats (COVID-related and otherwise) and react rapidly to emergencies.

How important is mobile technology in this context?

Flexible, mobile technology is already playing a vital part in travel risk management. It can provide speedy access to individual risk assessments and advice, as well as integrated medical and security assistance and alerts - tailored to specific destinations and needs, and accessible via a single point of contact. Location-based monitoring, check-in and tracking tools are also offering a birds' eye view of travellers in the context of real-time threats on the ground abroad.

Mobile technology is reducing traveller anxiety too; providing reassurance that travellers are fully supported. Reliance on these tools can only grow in the context of today’s travel risks.

Can you share any new developments that will benefit the globally mobile?

As employees return to international travel, we are focused on enabling the workforce to mobilise again in a safe and managed way. This has seen the launch of our new digital risk assessment tool, Venture; developed in consultation with our chief medical officer, Dr Lynn Gordon and Dr Paolo Paredi, honorary consultant and senior researcher at the National Heart and Lung Institute, Imperial College London.

Powered by our online medical screening solution, Antidote, Venture draws on our 25 years’ experience of medical screening and enables employers to take the right COVID-19 risk mitigation measures for its travelling employees. Once employees have completed a brief online assessment, it identifies their individual likelihood of developing serious symptoms of COVID-19, or of being susceptible to other medical risks.

Venture is also providing businesses with health intelligence; enabling employers to take proactive steps that meet employees’ physical and mental health needs at a company-wide level. 

Also supported by Antidote is the Travel Health Calculator; launched last year by one of our major insurer clients to end travel insurance uncertainty for millions of UK consumers with pre-existing medical conditions - helping them buy the right level of cover.

Have you launched any new services specifically for international clients?

We’re always looking to expand our international services and, just recently, we launched Defense Base Act and Workers’ Compensation claims and case management for US and APAC insurers.

These new global services include - but are not limited to - medical case management and evaluation, cost containment, settlement negotiations, labor market surveys and investigations. They draw on our 40+ years’ experience of managing and validating medical claims in diverse, often remote, locations.

Last but not least, if you had chosen a different career path, what would it have been? 

I would probably go back to my original career path, which was farming. I realised early on that I was never going to be able to buy a farm to call my own and, when I was particularly cold and wet, I was offered a job doing some filing in the warm for an assistance company (what was then Inter Group in its very early days) - and that’s how it all started. From that moment on, I have been doing a job I have enjoyed hugely - but the yearning for a tractor and beautiful herd of cattle outside your kitchen window never leaves you. Alas, I still need a lottery win to get there!



iPMI Magazine Speaks With Mike Webb, CEO, Healix International

In this exclusive iPMI Magazine interview, Christopher Knight, CEO, iPMI Magazine, sits down with Mike Webb, CEO, Healix International. They discuss in detail Healix International core services, client profiles, and the international medical assistance trends shaping the future of the business.

Please introduce yourself and your background in the international medical and risk markets:

I’ve spent the last 25 years working within the general insurance risk marketplace, with a focus on international risk management and insurance and assistance services. I’ve been the CEO of Healix International for the last three years but I have known the business for much longer, as they were a key partner in my previous roles as CEO of Allianz Partners UK and before that CEO of Mondial Assistance.

Talking about Healix International, what are your core services?

There are many excellent providers in the market, but what makes Healix International different from the rest is our medical heritage and the fact that we offer a truly integrated medical and security solution for businesses.

The business was originally founded by two doctors and I believe that the quality and integrity of the medical expertise that exists at Healix is probably the best in the industry. Providing medical services for international travellers has always been at the core of our business.

We have excellent systems and strong relationships with hospitals around the world because of the type of business we manage on behalf of our clients, but it’s the depth of medical expertise within our own business that underpins the service we deliver. We provide the highest level of care and attention to ensure that the most appropriate medical treatment is given, as well as providing help and support to the patient and their families rather than just acting as a third party administrator.

Of course, cost containment is always a vital part of our role and we always mitigate costs and maximise best value wherever possible, but never at the expense of the patient’s treatment. Key to achieving that is to keep the patient and their care separate from the negotiations and cost containment that needs to happen with the hospitals.

And what is the profile for clients you work with?

Because of the quality of our medical and security services, we have tended to steer more towards the premium end of the market and to concentrate on the corporate and government sectors. We continue to win new business in these markets because we understand the challenges faced by businesses sending employees overseas and our role is to help to facilitate their travel needs, despite the medical and security challenges that they may face in some parts of the world. We have also developed excellent relationships with key insurers and continue to work closely with them, to ensure that we provide a consistently high service to our mutual clients.

Do you think your focus on medical expertise is what makes you different from your competitors?

I think a lot of our competitors are focused on the claims process, and they may be able to provide similar savings to ourselves but when you have a complex medical problem, or a medical case outside of normal tourist destinations overseas the situation becomes much more challenging, so having our high level of medical experience and skills within our business to fully understand the medical issues and navigate the local services available is a key differentiator.

Our longevity in this market is another principle difference. We’ve been operating now for 27 years, and during that time we have been able to hone our approach to deliver the absolute best level of care and attention for the patient and their family, as well as tangible and effective cost containment.

Do you think the market places a value on the services you deliver?

Unfortunately, we work in a commoditised market. So what we tend to find is that our customers really like the service - their feedback is excellent and the CSAT scores we achieve for our clients are high. However, purchasing departments are focused on cost and the reality is that we’re always going to be a premium priced provider due to the fact that we employ a high number of highly experienced doctors, nurses and general medical staff.

We believe that by using the best medical staff to manage cases rather than just claims handlers, we are able to deliver higher overall savings through better case management and a better experience for the patient. So we believe that we represent better value for money than many of our competitors.

Where do you think the future trends are for your sector?

Everyone is talking about AI as the holy grail for case management although we don’t think it’s going to make any significant difference in the near future due to the variability of medical treatment in some parts of the world. Therefore we anticipate that we will continue to require experienced UK based doctors who can talk to the treating clinicians to really understand the situation and determine the best course of action. However, that doesn’t mean that as a sector we shouldn’t be investing in technology to simplify and automate some of the back office processes and this is an area where Healix is making significant investment. Our goal is to try to automate wherever possible to improve the customer journey and reduce costs, to add value to the patient and their family and ensure the best quality of care. We have recently made a substantial investment in our new security App, which will help to facilitate and support travellers by providing them with better information to protect them whilst travelling, as well as giving them instant access to help for any security or medical issue. We anticipate that we will see an increased focus from employers on both the security and medical duty of care issues for their employees and Healix are ideally placed to help in providing a fully integrated service.

So, would you say that in the last say 5 years you’ve upped the level of the experts providing that human touch? And where exactly are you putting the investment into in terms of technology?

As far as the human touch is concerned, we’re continuing to maintain the same level of medical expertise and that’s not something we’re ever going to compromise on. In terms of technology, our current investments are focused on the digitalisation of claims and reporting. Our new App will allow customers much greater access to information to help them with their travel needs, as well as giving them easy access to help and support when needed, as well as allowing us to track them if required and provide active monitoring in the event of any security issues, as well as directional care for any medical cases.

What do you think the future is for Healix International?

We believe that we have considerable scope for further expansion of our security and medical services within the Corporate and IPMI marketplace where there is a real understanding of employee value and the importance of taking care of workers wherever they are in the world.

We would also like to continue to provide premium travel insurance assistance services, because I’m convinced there is still a market out there for people who don’t just want to buy the cheapest product only to find when they make a claim that many things aren’t covered. And with the growth of the older demographic there will be more people who are prepared to pay a higher premium for a product which gives them the level and quality of cover they need.

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

First of all, I love living in the UK, because as a country we have always been very international in our outlook and I believe we have great potential, thanks to the talent we already have within the country and that which we will, hopefully, continue to attract in the future.

I lived in Africa many years ago, which was a brilliant experience, but I would like to explore South America. I have been to Argentina a couple of times - I thought it was a great country, with wonderful people living within a challenging difficult political environment, so I would love to spend more time there and use it as a base to travel around the continent and try to learn more about the other countries and their peoples.

Further information:

To learn more about Healix International please visit their website at:

To read more news from Healix International please visit their company micro website on iPMI Magazine, click here.



iPMI Magazine Speaks With Janette Hiscock, CEO Of Global Solutions Europe, United Healthcare Global

In this exclusive iPMI Magazine interview, Christopher Knight, CEO, iPMI Magazine, sits down with Janette Hiscock, CEO of Global Solutions Europe for United Healthcare Global. They discuss in detail the newly formed European division of UnitedHealthcare Global (UHCG) including what makes UnitedHealthcare Global’s offering different, the new benefits and services added to insurance plans, member access to the best possible healthcare and what we can expect from UHCG in the future.

Please introduce yourself and your role at UnitedHealthcare Global:

My name is Janette Hiscock and I am the CEO of UnitedHealthcare Global Solutions Europe, leading the newly created European Division of UnitedHealthcare Global (UHCG) which launched its European insurance business last year. We provide in-house solutions for international medical insurance, wellness, security, assistance and remote medical services. Our range of solutions makes our offering unique in the European market.

Prior to this role, I oversaw the company’s remote medical services division based in the U.K. I continue to run this business, but I am now responsible for leading the insurance entity in Europe, which creates alignment under one European market.

I have more than twenty years industry experience managing health insurance, medical, assistance and security services businesses, and have held a variety of senior roles in sales, client management and proposition development.

Can you explain the changes that have been announced to UnitedHealthcare Global’s European operations?

We are very excited about UnitedHealthcare Global’s evolution in this market. UnitedHealthcare Global has combined its medical services and insurance businesses, enabling our European-based teams to bring a solution to clients with unparalleled in-house capabilities. This will provide a continuum of care for our members across insurance, assistance, security, wellness, clinical and medical services.

The launch of our iPMI business last year ensured we were able to align with our US-based business, leverage our Latin American businesses and develop products and services to meet the needs of globally mobile workforces.

Why have these changes been made?  

Since the launch of the European iPMI business, we’ve been investing in our products to ensure we meet the evolving needs of companies with globally mobile populations. Our solutions address our members’ needs at every stage of their deployment and there are a number of complementary services that sit in our medical services business that we can offer to iPMI clients.

It made perfect sense to integrate these two highly complementary divisions of our business under one single leadership in Europe, making it simpler for brokers and clients to access these services.

What makes UnitedHealthcare Global’s offering different?

At UnitedHealthcare Global, we see the many different interactions across the entire health care system – in a way no other organisation can. We are uniquely positioned to address global health care challenges for members and create real value for clients.

We understand that comprehensive and cost-effective health and well-being plans, aimed at companies with globally mobile workforces, are not just about managing illness. That’s why our offerings include proactive and preventative benefits to help employees actively manage their own health care while abroad.

Our aim is to support members to look after their health through innovative products and services. Simplifying the digital experience is hugely important to us, as we know it is something our members want. Through our apps and portals, our members can make a claim within 90 seconds or access a wellness coach. Our highly personalised service for both brokers and clients helps us to deliver the best solutions for globally mobile populations, and puts health care in the hands of the member.

As part of the world’s largest health care company, UnitedHealthcare Global employs 74,000 people, half of which are clinicians and health care professionals. This means our global reach as a health care company is unparalleled, providing better outcomes for all who we serve  

Since your launch in September 2018, have you added any new benefits/services to your plans based on the changes made to the business?

UnitedHealthcare Global is continually using our in-house capabilities to research, innovate, and provide new services and technologies to make the health care system easier to navigate for our members. A strong tenant of our business is based on preventative care. Since our launch, we’ve added a number of new services and benefits including Virtual Visits and our Global Health Management programme.

Virtual Visits is a secure telemedicine service that makes it simple for employees and their dependants to speak with a health care professional through their mobile or desktop devices while on assignment. From treating colds and fevers, to caring for migraines and allergies or getting a referral letter, it makes connecting with a doctor easy and free while on the move.

The Global Health Management programme is a proactive health management service available to all of our insurance members, to help them access the resources they need to manage their health, including chronic conditions. It focuses on an employee or their dependants’ specific needs, wherever they are in the world. Our clinicians provide targeted support to help expatriates and their families overcome the challenges of accessing care and resources for complex, high risk conditions. They create an action plan for addressing urgent needs and also work with the member’s schedule and location to ensure members can have a healthier, more successful assignment.

Using the breadth of capability from our medical services business and our in-house team of doctors, we have developed a new solution called Virtual Health Assessments (VHA) to help mitigate risks for employers sending people abroad. VHA is a specialised medical screening service which employers can use to screen their employees and their family’s at any point prior to, during and after their assignment. This is a standalone service from the iPMI plan and can be purchased with or without the iPMI offering.

Many of the illnesses and conditions faced by employees and their dependants when abroad are predictable and preventable. Our services help to ensure that any medical conditions which may impact a trip are identified well in advance of departure and actively managed with our clinical teams.

All of our programmes have been designed to help ensure, globally mobile populations thrive, by giving access to employers, employees and their dependants to the most cost effective, innovative, real-time and comprehensive health care.

How can you guarantee that your members will be able to access the best possible care?

UnitedHealthcare Global is part of UnitedHealth Group, the largest and most diversified health care company in the world. Because of this, clients and members benefit from our global networks, clinical insight, data analytics and innovation.

We work with local health care providers and clinicians who have the knowledge and expertise needed to ensure employees receive the best possible health care at every stage of their assignment overseas, no matter how complex their needs might be. We do this by providing access to high-quality, compliant and cost effective benefit programmes, helping employers mitigate risk and making their employees’ health and safety our priority.

Ultimately, our mission is to help people live healthier lives and help make the health care system work better for everyone.

What’s coming up next for UnitedHealthcare Global?

Following the successful launch of our iPMI services in Europe, we’re looking forward to making further exciting announcements, and discussing in greater detail our new proposition for the oil and gas market.  

Related: iPMI Magazine Speaks With David Powell, CEO Global Solutions, UnitedHealthcare Global And Claude Daboul, Managing Director, UnitedHealthcare Global Europe

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