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iPMI Magazine successfully rebranded to iPMI Global in 2023 and has moved to a new home on the internet. To visit the brand new international private medical insurance business intelligence platform, please go to www.ipmiglobal.com

iPMI Magazine Round Table: International Medical Cost Containment Strategies 2022

This Closed Door Executive Round Table Business Forum Takes A Look At International Medical Cost Containment Strategies, In A Post Covid-19 World.

A lot has changed since global lock downs grounded flights, halted travel and screwed up business. What a 2 years it was. Emerging from the other side, we speak with international healthcare leaders about what has changed since the pandemic, and the journey the global health insurance market is navigating to insure against future risks. As always, the dialogue and debates were highly educational.

Round Table Executives

Elena Donina Glukhman

AP Companies

Nicole Perreault

AXA Partners US

James Walker

Charles Taylor Assistance

Dr Peter Mills

Cigna Europe

Susan Yates

Falck Global Assistance

John Speers

Global Excel

Monica Rummelhoff

GMMI

Gitte Bach

New Frontier Group

Mike Rizo

Pharmcare

Sumit Gaurav

Roy Medical Assistance

Alerah Turner

World Travel Protection

How To Download International Medical Cost Containment Strategies 2022

CLICK HERE to view or download the round table in PDF format.

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We hope you enjoy reading this RT report, as much as we enjoyed pulling it together.

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Allianz Partners Announces Enhanced International Health Insurance Options For Customers

Allianz Partners has announced three significant enhancements to their suite of international health plans, aimed at providing more options to customers with health insurance policies.

Firstly, the new Allianz Summit plan – designed and sold through the company’s international health brand, Allianz Care – offers SMEs increased flexibility when designing their employee health insurance benefits. Secondly, the addition of moratorium underwriting offers faster onboarding when purchasing health insurance for both individuals and SMEs. Thirdly, all customers can now access the hugely popular Wysa app for immediate, confidential and high-quality mental health support, at no additional cost.

Allianz Summit 

The Allianz Summit health plan is a comprehensive international health plan designed for SME groups of up to 100 employees. This product was developed following Allianz Partners’ preferred partnership agreement with Aetna International earlier this year and is modelled on Aetna’s popular Summit product, with a number of enhancements.

Its modular structure and pre-set options offer flexibility, allowing clients to tailor a health plan to the needs of their employees. Members enjoy access to a host of support services, including a 24/7 multilingual helpline, a network of over 1 million medical providers globally, and a range of digital health and wellness tools.

Allianz Summit has launched in English initially, with other languages to follow early next year, and locally compliant plans are available to SMEs across countries in Europe, Asia and the Middle East.

Moratorium underwriting

Individuals and SME customers at Allianz Partners can now opt for moratorium underwriting, or the traditional Full Medical Underwriting (FMU) terms.

With Full Medical Underwriting, customers provide their full medical history and, based on an assessment of that information, there may be specific surcharges applied to their cover from the outset. This form of underwriting is particularly beneficial for those with existing medical conditions.

Moratorium underwriting is a generally faster process than Full Medical Underwriting, as there are no medical forms to complete. Moratorium also takes the recurrence of an illness into account, allowing for more flexibility in the application. It offers the reassurance that as long as the person is symptom-free and has not needed any treatment or medical advice for a pre-existing condition for two consecutive years, cover will begin in the third year of their policy. This is expected to be a popular option amongst SMEs, as the onboarding of employees is much faster.

Moratorium underwriting is available to individuals and small groups with between three and nine members, but is dependent on geographical location and local country regulations.

Wysa Mind Coaching App

The Wysa Mind Coaching App, a chat buddy and human coaching service, is also now available to all Allianz Partners health insurance customers. This is a new support service, following the preferred partnership deal with Aetna International earlier this year.

This app is currently used by 4 million users globally and provides immediate, confidential mental health support at no additional cost. Its aim is to provide early support and intervention for those not yet ready to talk by phone or meet a specialist.

The app centres on Wysa, a conversational chatbot that’s available day and night to listen and chat about whatever’s on someone’s mind in a fully confidential environment. This creates a non-judgmental safe space to vent and be heard, anytime, anywhere. The app also provides a self-care library with over 150 tools and exercises to develop mental strength and resilience to help deal with issues ranging from body image to breakups. All tools are backed by science and handpicked by experts. Additionally, users will have access to a professionally-trained human coach to support them via in-app, text-based chat sessions. If additional support is needed, this will be provided through a 12-week coaching program with a dedicated coach.

Paula Covey, Chief Marketing Officer Health at Allianz Partners, said: “Our new Allianz Summit product and the provision of the Wysa app are both testament to the success of our preferred partnership agreement with Aetna International from earlier this year. Allianz Summit offers increased flexibility for SMEs and enables them to manage costs more efficiently as different options can be selected for different groups of employees. The Wysa app is a multi-award-winning solution, and its availability to all customers at no additional cost highlights the importance that we as a company attach to mental fitness and wellbeing. Meanwhile, the new moratorium underwriting health insurance option we’re providing allows for greater flexibility and a faster onboarding process when buying health insurance. These three new offerings each demonstrate Allianz Partners’ commitment to innovating with purpose, continually improving the range and flexibility of our services to customers.”

To learn more about Allianz Care international health plans, visit:

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iPMI Magazine Speaks With Michael Nole, Executive Vice President Sales And Marketing At World Travel Protection

In this exclusive iPMI Magazine interview, Christopher Knight, CEO, iPMI Magazine, met with Michael Nole, Executive Vice President Sales And Marketing At World Travel Protection. They discussed in detail the range of travel risk management services on offer from World Travel Protection, and how they provide vital support for business travellers and expats.

Please introduce yourself and background in the international private medical insurance market:

I am Mike Nole, Executive Vice President, Sales and Marketing, at World Travel Protection. I am based in North America. I joined WTP in March 2022 from Cigna Global, where I spent 12 years, most recently as the Head of Business Development for the Americas. I was responsible for growing the global IPMI business through broker distribution and strategic partnerships.  During my time at Cigna, I worked as a Business Development Manager for the Western US and Canada with Global IPMI and as a New Business Manager for the Individual and Family Plan Segment from 2009 to 2013.  Before my time at Cigna, I worked as an insurance broker at Health Benefits Direct and was a school teacher prior to that.

In March 2022, you were appointed as Executive Vice President of Sales and Marketing at World Travel Protection. Congratulations! What does the role involve?

I lead a rapidly expanding marketing and sales team across Australia, North America and EMEA, providing the best in-class class travel risk management solutions to businesses, governments, scholastic travellers and NGOs. 

As travel returns in 2022, it is our job to prepare and support organisations in the changed travelling landscape since the pandemic. Travellers face increased risk globally, from personal health and wellbeing concerns to a rise in criminal activity and terrorism as well as growing incidences of climatic and natural disasters.

World Travel Protection’s expertise and world-class technological solutions allows us to protect and keep travelling teams safe. Our over-arching vision is to provide the best possible service to our customers and this is what gets me out of bed every day.

Who is World Travel Protection?

World Travel Protection is a leading global travel risk management company - part of the Zurich Insurance Group. We deliver world class technological solutions to organisations, supported by our 24/7 emergency assistances, which help and support over 20 million travellers a year via our Command Centres in London, Brisbane, Toronto, and Buenos Aires (via our sister company Universal Assistance),

We provide travel assistance to both leisure and business travellers, giving them access to 24/7 emergency medical, security and travel assistance services. Emergency assistance encompasses medical case management, evacuation and repatriation together with providing access to virtual care services (telehealth) and security intelligence. Our Global Care Network gives our customers access to over 20,000 providers worldwide.

In addition to support services for medical, travel, and security emergencies, World Travel Protection educates and trains businesses before travel to limit the risks associated with travelling abroad.

Can you walk us through the core service offerings World Travel Protection provides to international private medical and travel insurance markets?

Travel risk management companies go above and beyond traditional travel insurance providers to provide vital support for their business travellers and expatriates.

Our global medical, travel and security assistance services can be split into eight core offerings as detailed below:

Medical and Travel Assistance: Our global services provide travellers with access to 24/7 medical and travel support using the best-in-class medical personnel, resources and procedures.

Security Assistance: Our security experts continually monitor global threats to help prevent or mitigate risks and keep our travellers safe. In the event of a security incident, we will evacuate travellers.  

Travel Risk Management Tools: Our Travel Assist App and Travel Assist Portal help to keep travellers – and those responsible for them – safe and informed using real-time global updates and alerts on their destination.

24/7 Emergency Assistance: Our Command Centres help travellers in need 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. When an emergency arises, our team of practising medical professionals and security experts are immediately on hand.

Trauma Counselling: In the event that a traveller is exposed to a traumatic incident while travelling, we are here to provide counselling and care through our sister company Benestar who offer telephone trauma counselling and access to experienced clinicians.

Telemedicine: Our telemedicine service helps travellers resolve non-urgent medical issues from the privacy of their hotel bedrooms, if they choose. We connect travellers with doctors who can provide medical support via phone or video call or help locate a suitable nearby medical facility if required.

Medical Cost Containment: Thanks to our pre-negotiated discounts and global buying power, we can provide quality medical care and pass on savings.

Inbound Assistance Services: Other medical and security assistance providers often use us to deliver their assistance services because of our established capabilities, global footprint and over three decades’ experience.

World Travel Protection is seen as a leader in Travel Risk Management. But what exactly is Travel Risk Management?

When it comes to corporate travel, there are a lot of moving parts, many of which are out of a traveller’s control, and unfortunately things can and do go wrong. It doesn’t matter if it’s a broken leg or a cancelled flight to being caught up in a terrorist attack or a natural disaster, unforeseen issues can adversely affect even the best planned business trip.

Travel risk management companies offer services and care that go beyond traditional business travel insurance policies, which often only cover costs in the event of an accident or incident. They also take on the responsibility of foreseeing where incidents may occur in addition to providing medical, travel and security assistance in case of an emergency.

For companies or institutions with a culture that goes beyond basic duty of care, corporate travel risk management companies help provide vital support for their business travellers, expatriates and employees.

Our travel risk management solutions support, protect and keep travellers safe on the ground, and the risk managers responsible for their safety and wellbeing. Travel risk management companies help reduce stress for both risk managers and travellers by supporting them pre-, during and post-travel.

How can technology and digitisation improve the Travel Risk Management journey?

For companies and institutions with travelling employees or personnel, it’s incredibly important HR or risk managers know exactly where their travellers are at all times. If they don’t provide this duty of care, it’s hard for them to know if their travellers are in imminent danger should a security threat or natural disaster happen.

World Travel Protection’s geo-location technology allows travel risk managers to know exactly where their travellers are. Using our Travel Assist Portal and App, risk managers and their travelling personnel can communicate with each other as well as our team to help ensure they receive the support they need.

Our travel risk management app gives travellers 24/7 access to our emergency assistance Command Centres and location-specific travel alerts. The Command Centres are constantly monitoring international threats and will alert travellers of any potential risks based on their uploaded itinerary and geo-location feeds, helping them to travel safely. Also, by simply pressing the ‘emergency’ button, travellers can reach our team immediately if they feel in danger.

We also provide organisations with pre-travel information, using our intelligence on a country or specific location, allowing informed assessments to be made of whether its people are safe to travel there in the first place and what preparations should be taken if they do.

As we return to travel in 2022, what are the major risks travellers and organisations are facing?

Perhaps the greatest take-away from the pandemic is how quickly situations can change. Receiving accurate and timely information is more important than ever to ensure traveller safety. At World Travel Protection, we can help travellers and their risk managers make wise and confident decisions.

COVID has altered the risk profile for many parts of the world, particularly those suffering economically. It’s important this is identified during a general and COVID travel risk assessment – especially for business travellers – so the appropriate travel safety precautions can be put in place.

One risk, for instance, that has risen exponentially is cybercrime. A UK-based fraud awareness leader, Crowe, estimates that cybercrime has risen by 90% during the pandemic. For instance, we are advising our travellers to take extra care to reduce the threat of cyber-crime, to not use Wi-Fi hotspots, and to be very careful about giving away personal data. Vigilance is more important than ever to ensure that travellers are not scammed or fall foul of more sinister online attacks.

COVID 19 has had an unprecedented impact on travel and global mobility? How do we live with COVID 19?

For travellers, it’s essential that they know and understand the rules on COVID-19 in the area they are visiting, as they can differ even within a country. Travellers need to know, for instance, the entry rules and requirements as well as the rules around mask wearing and social distancing. It is important that travellers act lawfully as well as respectfully, as some countries have suffered greatly during the pandemic.

We describe this as the ‘COVID culture’ of a country, whereby depending on its own experience of dealing with COVID new social norms have developed. It’s essential to follow this new etiquette to ensure that no offence is given to locals and business associates while travelling. For instance, not maintaining social distance could be perceived as rudeness as well as extending a hand to shake in greeting.

It’s also important to remember that COVID-19 hotspots can still emerge very quickly and restrictions introduced with little or no notice. Last-minute travel amendments may become the norm for all travellers.

We had a case not long ago where one of our business travellers was mid-flight when their destination country announced new quarantine measures for people arriving in the country. We were able to reach the traveller before they had exited the transit area and book them on another flight. If they had exited, they would have been put in quarantine. Having the support of an emergency travel assistance organisation, like World Travel Protection, allows travellers to stay ahead of potential issues during this ever-changing environment.

Are Governments and Organisations prepared for the next pandemic or global catastrophe?

Very few organisations were prepared for COVID and those who were caught out need to learn from their mistakes.

Two years ago as the world started to be impacted, many organisations dusted off their business continuity plans only to realise they hadn’t been tested in years and they didn’t work. Leadership who had steadily ignored the need to test themselves in a crisis situation opted to bury their head in the sand and hope that the Corona Virus would go away. Those same companies that struggled to manage the response to COVID are no better placed now.

Those organisations who did manage their response to COVID well had a system in place. They had a defined process to follow and leaders who could make informed decisions. The successful companies engaged subject matter experts to inform their decisions and developed recovery plans to help them return to business as usual when the opportunity presented.

Many have referred to COVID as a 1 in 100-year happening. If that is to be believed then the next catastrophic event is likely to be a natural disaster or a manmade event such as terrorism or a major economic downturn. With the myopic nature of many organisations, all future events (in the short-med term) will be seen through the prism of their response to COVID and they will find that the response they used to a global health crisis won’t be sufficient.

For many governments their key metric for how well they managed COVID was how popular their decisions were. It became the hallmark of conservatives to follow the "freedom" model, whilst progressives went with much tighter measures. No one country got it right.

Some of the infrastructure developed during COVID can be used by governments, should we be exposed to another global pandemic, but any event other than this type will feel like a fresh set of challenges. Governments move slowly and learn selectively, the focus on economics will also hamper any response in the short term.

Now from a healthcare perspective, yes governments and organisations are more prepared due to the global pandemic nature of COVID. Previous outbreaks of Coronavirus SARS (e.g., swine or bird flu), Ebola were geographically localised epidemics, rather than global.

COVID has affected the healthcare spectrum namely:

  • Vaccine development speed;
  • Public Health directives e.g. PPE / Testing / Isolation and Quarantine / Disease tracking with Tech (mobile Apps);
  • Hospital surge capacity / different ways of working (virtual care) / rapid field hospital establishment;
  • BAU while battling the pandemic, albeit with cancellation of elective surgery / outpatients etc.;
  • Novel follow-up ways and virtual wards;
  • Multi-national / International co-operation re vaccines, healthcare strategies and treatment guidelines.

Finally: if you could live anywhere in the world, on land or at sea, where would it be? 

Vancouver, I just love it there. 

 

 

 

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Xavier Lestrade Appointed CEO Of AXA Global Healthcare

International healthcare specialist, AXA Global Healthcare, has announced the appointment of Xavier Lestrade who, subject to regulatory approval, will replace Tom Wilkinson as CEO on 1st May 2022. 

This announcement comes as AXA Global Healthcare enters an exciting phase of new growth, adapting to client needs in a post-pandemic world.

Lestrade is a seasoned international insurance business leader and is currently Global Head of Employee Benefits for AXA Domestic Markets. Previous roles at AXA have included Managing Director Life insurance of AXA Hong Kong and Global Chief Distribution Officer of AXA Group.

Lestrade is an experienced expat, having also spent time in France and Canada. His international career equips him with a rich understanding of the healthcare needs of both globally mobile individuals and IPMI employee benefits clients. With this knowledge, he will ensure AXA Global Healthcare’s continued growth, focusing on driving innovation and delivering best-in-class customer experience.

Lestrade comments, “With the inspiring work that’s currently taking place at AXA Global Healthcare, where it’s clear the customer is always front of mind, this is an exciting time to step up and assume the role of CEO. I’m looking forward to the challenges and opportunities that I’m sure lie ahead and am excited to lead the way as we continue the impressive growth that we’ve achieved to date.”

Lestrade will succeed Tom Wilkinson, who, after eight years of leading significant profitable growth for AXA Global Healthcare across the UK, Europe and Asia, is stepping down as CEO. To ensure a smooth transition, a handover period will last until the end of April, after which Wilkinson will remain within the AXA Group.

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Global Excel Achieves SOC 1 & 2 Type I Certification

Global Excel Management Inc., a leader in Healthcare Risk Management, today announced that it is now officially SOC 1 & 2 Type I compliant across the organization.

The SOC 1 Type I report provides organizations with assurance that internal and connected external reporting controls are properly designed and in place. The SOC 2 Type I report examines a consistent set of parameters around third party IT services,
including Privacy, Confidentiality, Processing Integrity, Availability and Security.

“Healthcare data is highly sensitive and personal by nature and protecting that information for our clients and their members has always been a top priority for Global Excel. Achieving SOC 1 & 2 Type I certification reinforces our continuous commitment to data security and confidentiality. This type of stringent, independent auditing provides detailed assurances about the controls and safeguards that we have in place, as well as ensuring that any third-party vendors or partners meet our security standards” said Paul Anderson, Director, Information Security & Compliance at Global Excel.

The Global Excel SOC 2 Type I report is available to clients upon request.

Global Excel is a full-service cost containment, claims management and medical assistance company offering a complete range of services to international, Canadian and U.S. domestic clients.
With over 365 corporate clients located in more than 90 countries around the world, Global Excel manages approximately 360,000 inpatient, outpatient and non-medical cases and files per year and processes over $1.9 billion in claims annually.

For more information please visit www.globalexcel.com

 

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APRIL Group Health & Personal Protection Division Report 2.4% Increase In Sales For 2015

APRIL Group Health & Personal Protection division reported a 2.4% increase in sales based on reported data, broken down into a 1.7% decrease in brokerage commissions and a 9.3% rise in premiums.

The increase in insurance premiums was driven by the development of individual (seniors and self-employed), group and expatriate Health & Personal Protection portfolios. It also reflects new partnerships in group health insurance portfolios linked to the French National Interbranch Agreement (ANI) and an adjustment to the reinsurance structure.

The decrease in brokerage commissions mainly resulted from the contraction of our individual employee health insurance portfolios in light of the new regulation on compulsory group private health insurance, which became effective on 1 January 2016. This decrease was partly offset by the excellent performance of loan insurance. Individual health insurance for seniors and the self-employed continued to perform well. Group private health insurance sales began later than scheduled, but registered a sharp increase towards the end of the year.

The division posted a current EBIT margin down 2.4 percentage points to 15.3%, due to the decrease in individual health insurance revenues, the investments made in group health insurance (process scale-up, bespoke solutions meeting new regulations and the hiring of new staff in order to maintain quality of service) and intense competition in the health insurance sector throughout the year. The group does not anticipate any changes of these parameters in 2016.

The division posted an EBIT of €73.5m.

Overall Performance

APRIL achieved a satisfactory overall performance in a changing environment. The group consolidated its market positioning by keeping up an aggressive sales strategy: positive sales momentum were recorded in increasingly regulated and competitive markets, impacted in particular by the extension of group private health insurance in France.

“2015 was a year of true commitment and structuring for us. Defining our key growth levers around a strengthened management team has allowed us to make a clear assessment and set priorities for our actions and investments, which will have a major influence on the group in the coming years. Our capacity for innovation and the quality of our policy and claims handling, which are more than ever fully focused on serving our customers, should enable us to mitigate the expected decline in our current EBIT for 2016. We are confident in the strength of our group to renew with profit growth as the markets in which we operate gradually stabilise” commented APRIL Chairman and CEO Bruno Rousset.

 

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Punter Southall Health & Protection Launches Expatriate Benefit Solutions

Punter Southall Health & Protection, one of the largest health and protection advisers in the UK, has launched Expatriate Benefit Solutions, a unique service to support employers with expatriate staff.

The new service is especially relevant for employers with small numbers of expatriates looking to expand and diversify their business overseas and is provided in association with Healix International, Morneau Shepell, and Bupa Global.

Commenting on the launch, Teresa Wighton, Head of International Healthcare Consulting, Punter Southall Health & Protection, says: “A successful international assignment needs careful consideration, planning and substantial resources. The average cost of an assignment can be significant and failure can therefore not only be costly, but also result in reputational damage for the company and the loss of valuable employees. Our new service helps reduce these risks and provides employers with the valuable support services that can help employees and their families settle into a new environment.”

The service comprises three inter-related components - pre-assignment screening, a cultural training and expatriate employee assistance programme, and international medical insurance.

Pre-assignment screening is provided by Healix International, using a simple online health questionnaire which is completed for all family members and assessed by a medical team. This is then used to determine if employees or their dependants have any underlying health issues or conditions to enable the right support to be put in place before an assignment starts.

Jon Atkins, Director of Business Development, Healix International, says “Many of the illnesses and health related problems suffered by business travellers and expatriates while overseas are both predictable and preventable. With the experience we have gained through the 12 million medical screenings we carry out each year, we are able to provide a comprehensive and cost effective online solution for assessing the health risks facing employees and their dependants.”

The cultural training and expatriate employee assistance programme is provided by Morneau Shepell and is aimed at helping employees settle into a new work environment and help their families adapt to their new lives. It comprises:

  • A three-hour cultural training programme where employees learn skills and knowledge to live and work effectively within a different culture, and families learn how to communicate around feelings regarding the international assignment.
  • A unique employee assistance programme (EAP) tailored specifically to support the needs and challenges facing expatriates. The service is 24/7 and provides access to 250 expatriate counsellors in over 70 countries, who all have personal expatriate experience.

Richard Albert, Vice President, Global Business Development at Morneau Shepell, says: “We are a leading and experienced expatriate EAP provider that has the unique understanding of the psychosocial impact of international relocation on diagnosis and treatment of problems. This clinical understanding enables us to effectively address expatriate problems and the spill over of these into the workplace. We also take a dual mandate, not only to provide short-term solution-focused counselling support, but also to sustain expatriates while on assignment.”

Bupa Global is providing the international medical insurance for this new service.  Ian Abbott, Head of Intermediary Distribution UK, Bupa Global, says: “Punter Southall Health & Protection partnered with Bupa Global to develop international medical insurance plans that fit the needs of expatriates wherever they are in the world. The products are available exclusively to clients of Punter Southall Health & Protection and are designed to give the ultimate assurance and peace of mind when sending employees and their families overseas. They provide cost effective, benefit rich cover, supported by a range of on-line services and 24/7 helpline advice and support.”

 

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International Travel Risk Security Advice, Warnings, News And Intelligence

Kenya Travel Advice: Heightened Personal Security During The Christmas Holiday Season

The Kenyan authorities have advised heightened personal security during the Christmas holiday season; on 21 December 2015, the Kenyan Ministry of Interior and Co-ordination of National Government issued a public watch notice urging citizens to play a role in counter terrorism and prevention of criminal activities by being vigilant and reporting any suspicious activity, items and people. 117,000 British residents visited Kenya in 2014. International Private Medical Insurance For Kenya Take out comprehensive international private medical insurance before you travel to Kenya, to cover the cost of any medical treatment abroad or emergency repatriation and evacuation. Be sure to read…Written on Wednesday, 23 December 2015 15:32 in iPMI Magazine Travel Warnings and Intelligence


Turkey Travel Warning: Reports Of An Explosion At Sabiha Gokcen Airport

Reports of an explosion at Sabiha Gokcen airport in Istanbul at around 2am on 23 December 2015; the circumstances of the incident are currently under investigation; the airport remains open. Over 2,500,000 British nationals visit Turkey every year. Visas British nationals need a visa to travel to Turkey, except for cruise ship passengers with ‘British Citizen’ passports who arrive at sea ports for tourist visits to the port city or nearby cities, provided that the visit doesn’t exceed 72 hours. If you’re visiting Turkey as a tourist or on business, get an e-Visa online before you travel. Only use the…Written on Wednesday, 23 December 2015 12:03 in iPMI Magazine Travel Warnings and Intelligence


Tunisia Travel Warning: State Of Emergency Has Been Extended For 2 Months

State of emergency has been extended for 2 months from 24 December until 21 February 2016. Further attacks remain highly likely, including against foreigners. Security forces are on a high state of alert in Tunis and other locations. You should be especially vigilant and avoid crowded places over the holiday period, including around Mouled (24 December), Christmas and New Year. If you choose to travel to or remain in Tunisia then you should check that your insurance policy provides adequate cover. You should be especially vigilant and follow the advice of the Tunisian security authorities. There are no direct flights…Written on Wednesday, 23 December 2015 11:08 in iPMI Magazine Travel Warnings and Intelligence


USA Travel Advice: Changes To Visa Waiver Programme (VWP)

18 December 2015 and the US Congress passed a Bill updating the requirements for the Visa Waiver Programme (VWP). Under the new rules, with effect from 1 April 2016, all travellers wishing to enter the US under the VWP will need to hold a passport with an integrated chip. Around 3.8 million British nationals visit the United States every year. Most visits are trouble free. Take out comprehensive travel and medical insurance before you travel. The US Visa Waiver Programme (VWP) allows most British Citizen passport holders to visit the US for up to 90 days without a visa, but…Written on Tuesday, 22 December 2015 11:05 in iPMI Magazine Travel Warnings and Intelligence


Brazil Travel Warning: Cases Of Zika Virus Reported

Cases of Zika virus have been reported in a number of states; you should take steps to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes. Take out comprehensive travel and medical insurance before you travel to Brazil. Foreign nationals are entitled to emergency medical treatment in Brazilian public hospitals. Public hospitals in Brazil, especially in major cities, tend to be crowded. Private hospitals will not accept you unless you can present evidence of sufficient funds or insurance. Make sure you have adequate travel health insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment abroad and repatriation. If you need emergency…Written on Monday, 14 December 2015 15:20 in iPMI Magazine Travel Warnings and Intelligence


Philippines Travel Warning: Typhoon Melor (Nona)

Typhoon Melor (Nona) forecast to bring hazardous sea and weather conditions to parts of the country from 14 December 2015. Around 20 typhoons hit the Philippines each year. Most typhoons occur from June to December. There may be flooding and landslides. You should monitor the progress of approaching storms and follow the advice of the local authorities, including any evacuation orders. Typhoon Melor (Nona) is forecast to bring hazardous sea and weather conditions to parts of the country, in particular northern Visayas and southern Luzon, from 14 December. Around 133,665 British nationals visited the Philippines in 2014. Take out comprehensive…Written on Monday, 14 December 2015 12:26 in iPMI Magazine Travel Warnings and Intelligence


Lebanon Travel Security Warning: Explosions In Southern Suburb Area Beirut

12 November 2015 and there were explosions in the southern suburb area of Beirut. Reports indicate that many people have been killed and injured. iPMIM advises against all travel to the southern suburbs of Beirut. Avoid this area and monitor local media for updates. On 10 January 2015, 9 people were killed and over 30 wounded in a suicide bomb attack in the Jebel Mohsen area of Tripoli. On 28 January 2015, there was an attack on the Israeli military in the Shebaa Farms area with reports of cross-border shelling near the towns of Majidiyeh, Kfarshouba, Abbasiye and Wazzani. A…Written on Friday, 13 November 2015 14:00 in iPMI Magazine Travel Warnings and Intelligence

iPMIM Advises Against All But Essential Travel By Air To Or From Sharm El Sheikh Airport

Over 900,000 British nationals visit Egypt every year. Most visits are trouble-free. 31 October 2015, a flight from Sharm el Sheikh to St Petersburg crashed in North Sinai. Egyptian and Russian authorities are conducting an investigation. There is a significant possibility that the crash was caused by an explosive device. As a precautionary measure, we are now advising against all but essential travel by air to or from Sharm el Sheikh. UK carriers will not take passengers directly to Sharm el Sheikh airport. FCO are working with the Egyptian authorities and air carriers to put special security measures in place…Written on Thursday, 05 November 2015 07:39 in iPMI Magazine Travel Warnings and Intelligence
Philippines Travel Advice: Security Ramped Up For APEC Summit

The Philippines hosts the Asia Pacific Economic Co-operation (APEC) summit in Manila on 16 to 20 November. There will be a heightened security presence across the city including at Ninoy Aquino International Airport. Scheduled road closures and security checkpoints will cause delays in travel across the city and many schools, government offices and businesses will be closed. If you are flying to or from Manila during this period check with your airline, as flight delays, diversions and cancellations may occur. Around 133,665 British nationals visited the Philippines in 2014. Most visits are trouble-free. Take out comprehensive travel and medical insurance…Written on Monday, 02 November 2015 14:14 in iPMI Magazine Travel Warnings and Intelligence

Egypt Travel Advice

31 October 2015, a flight from Sharm el Sheikh to St Petersburg crashed in North Sinai; Egyptian and Russian authorities are conducting an investigation. Over 900,000 British nationals visit Egypt every year. Most visits are trouble-free. Parliamentary elections are scheduled to take place from 18 October to 23 November. There may be rallies around the country in the run up to the elections. You should avoid all rallies and demonstrations. On election days tight controls will be in place around polling stations with access restricted to voters and officially accredited observers. In previous elections British nationals have been arrested close…Written on Monday, 02 November 2015 11:20 in iPMI Magazine Travel Warnings and Intelligence


UK FCO: Concerns About Quality Of Medical Treatment In Holiday Resorts In Egypt

The South Sinai Hospital in Sharm el Sheikh is currently under investigation by the Egyptian Ministry of Health; there are alternative state and private hospitals in Sharm el Sheikh. You can find a list of most commonly used hospitals in Egypt on the British Embassy website. In an emergency dial 123 and ask for an ambulance. You should contact your travel company and your insurance/medical assistance company promptly if you are referred to a medical facility for treatment. There are reports of some hotel doctors overcharging for treatment and medicines. Examine your bill closely and challenge excessive charges. Pharmacies outside…Written on Monday, 05 October 2015 11:21 in iPMI Magazine Travel Warnings and Intelligence


Tajikistan Travel Warning: Armed Clashes Involving Security Forces Resulting In A Number Of Deaths Reported Close To Dushanbe International Airport

4 September, armed clashes involving security forces resulting in a number of deaths were reported close to Dushanbe International Airport. Tajik authorities are investigating and there is an increased security presence in the area. Given the possibility of further incidents, you should take extra care and monitor the local media. Tourism, health and transport infrastructure is poor and travel requires careful planning. Avoid off-road areas immediately adjoining the Afghan, Uzbek and Kyrgyz borders, which may be mined. Take out comprehensive travel and medical insurance including evacuation by air ambulance before you travel.Written on Friday, 04 September 2015 10:56 in iPMI Magazine Travel Warnings and Intelligence


International Trains From Budapest Have Been Suspended Until Further Notice

International trains from Budapest Keleti train station have been suspended until further notice due to disruption. Monitor the local media, and check with your carrier and the Hungarian Railways (MÁV) website for further information. Since the end of August 2015 there has been considerable disruption to rail and road transport from Budapest to the Austrian border. This is due to police and border enforcement action as a result of significant numbers of people seeking to transit through Hungary. Around 400,000 British nationals visit Hungary each year. Take out comprehensive travel and medical insurance before you travel.Written on Friday, 04 September 2015 10:53 in iPMI Magazine Travel Warnings and Intelligence


India Travel Warning: Flood Warnings For Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Assam And West Bengal

A flood warning has been issued to Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Assam and West Bengal due to the possibility of heavy rainfall in the foothills of the Himalayas over the next few days. The rainfall will also lead to swelling of rivers Kosi, Gandak and Ghaghara, tributaries of Ganga and all tributaries of Brahmaputra. You should monitor local and international weather updates from the Indian Meteorological Department and follow the advice of local authorities and your travel company. Over 800,000 British nationals visit India every year. Before you travel to India, take out comprehensive medical and travel insurance and read the…Written on Wednesday, 19 August 2015 06:20 in iPMI Magazine Travel Warnings and Intelligence

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Accessing Medical Care Abroad: More Expatriates Look Locally

Cigna Global Health Benefits® (NYSE: CI) and the National Foreign Trade Council (NFTC) recently surveyed more than 2,700 expatriates working in 156 countries to better understand how they and their families experience, perceive and value various elements of assignment terms and programs.

While many surveys tell the global mobility story from the perspective of the employer, this survey is unique because it gathers candid feedback from the globally mobile themselves—information employers are rarely able to gather on their own.

Expat profile

Among people who work outside of their home country, three things are true: they are male (81%), middle-aged and have a family. Beyond that, all bets are off.

The globally mobile are growing older; Gen X is entering its peak earning years and Baby Boomers are remaining in the workforce longer than did previous generations. According to the survey results, many expats are leaving their families at home for various reasons. Today, many assignment locations are in emerging markets or a remote location, which is one reason expats might leave their families at home. In recent years, there has also been a dramatic increase in business and technology-related assignments with shorter durations; generally between six and 12 months. Thirty-eight percent of respondents reported that they did not bring their children with them during assignment.

Although most expats still hail from the U.S., their numbers are down by 10% from just two years ago (and down 24% from the 2001 survey). Globalization is likely a factor with more companies having operations across the globe with access to qualified local talent. The U.S. tax regulations may also be a reason for the decline, making expatriation of U.S. nationals more expensive than expatriates from other countries.

Accessing medical care abroad: more expats look locally

The proportion of expats accessing medical care on assignment stayed consistent from 2013 at 79%. Seventy-five percent of expats said they access local providers for routine medical care.

Gender appears to play a role in which type and where expats and their families access care during assignment. While the rate at which men accessed care stayed about the same (78% this year versus 77% in 2013), the share of women accessing care rose five percentage points to 83%. Even though a larger percentage of women are accessing care while abroad, they are slightly less likely than men to seek care locally. However, more women (47%) said they were much more likely to seek treatment locally for serious medical care than they did in 2013 (38%).

Mobility benefits packages: Flexibility and customization

Greater flexibility in plan design was a common theme when employees were asked what employers might change or add to their global mobility assignment packages to make them more useful.

“Similar to what we saw in the 2013 results, a one-size-fits-all approach to mobility program services can lead to potential dissatisfaction, or worse, an unexpected end to a global assignment,” said Leah Cotterill, vice president, North America Client Management, Cigna Global Health Benefits. “Global mobility directors have to be cognizant of striking a balance between the needs of the business and those of the expats and their families. While the trend toward managing costs through benefits reduction might save companies money in the shorter term, the approach may not lead to longer term satisfaction, loyalty, trust or success.”

Support and communication

Results from this year’s survey indicate that certain gaps – whether real or perceived - still exist between the resources employers say they provide to expats in comparison to what employees say they need.

Communications – before, during and after assignment – are critical to expats and the success of their assignment. Survey responses indicate that employers shouldn’t be worried about over-communicating.

  • 38% of respondents received only one communication prior to departure and nearly a third received two to three.
  • More than 75% received information about their global mobility program benefits during assignment. Of this group, one in four received messages on a quarterly basis.
  • Email and phone calls with HR/global mobility representatives were the top two forms of communication with 90% and 70%, respectively.

Overall, the support employers have traditionally made available aligns with what expatriates say is needed. More than three-quarters of respondents said their employer provides help with moving household goods; setting up utilities and other settling-in needs, as well as help with finding doctors and getting vaccinations. Yet, globally mobile employees say they need more, particularly related to local culture and lifestyle.

Only 20% of information sent to expats before assignment covered local lifestyle resources such as grocery stores, child care, etc. “Prepare employees better for the cultural shock they will experience, particularly for newcomers,” said one respondent.

The use of digital communications, particularly social media, increased dramatically since the 2013 survey. More than twice as many expatriates chose Facebook this year than they did in 2013, which reflects the increasing use of social media as a human resources portal by employers.

There also appears to be a dramatic change in the perceived usefulness of digital resources. Nearly twice as many expatriates in 2015 said their employer intranet is an effective communication tool. Interestingly enough, almost half (44%) said that they either didn’t know or their employer didn’t offer online access to information concerning their mobility benefits program.

“Globally mobile employees and their families want reliable and consistent communication from employers from preparing them for assignments before they depart and ensuring they feel appropriately supported and connected while away,” commented Cotterill. “While many employers are making strides in this area, more can be done to better facilitate communication concerning global mobility program features and services for employees and their families.”

“As businesses continue to expand and compete in today’s global marketplace, the importance of global mobility has never been greater,” said Bill Sheridan, NFTC Vice President of International Human Resources. “This year’s survey results not only reflect this, but also reveal key insights into how global mobility and the expectations of expats have changed since 2013 – insights that should influence how employers meet the needs of their expats going forward.”

Expatriation: A lifestyle choice, not just an economic obligation.

This year’s results demonstrate that global mobility is no longer just an economic obligation, but is instead a lifestyle choice evolving into a career unto itself. The spirit of adventure, the potential to hone one’s qualifications and the appeal of living abroad remained the greatest influences on the decision to accept a first assignment.

One key difference to note is the proportion of expats who indicated they went abroad because they wanted to versus feeling they had to—down by 12.5% since the 2013 survey. Additionally, the number of expats who have been on five or more international assignments increased sharply to 25% from 18% in 2013. This may indicate that global mobility is becoming an occupation in its own right.

Repatriation: Just as difficult as expatriation.

Slightly more than half (54%) of expats who responded to the survey say their employer has a formal repatriation program – and yet most employers report they offer one. In fact, many respondents expressed that repatriation is effectively as difficult as expatriation.

Expats find a return home can result in culture shock. Changes in finances and taxes for the household were a big concern, as was finding new employment. “My family and I will probably need as much (if not more) help repatriating than we have needed on assignment,” said a respondent.

Many expats recommended beginning repatriation arrangements at least three months before departure. Commenting on a return home after assignment, one respondent said, “I’d like to see a repatriation program in which we are given news of the return home at least three months prior to the move so we can prepare.”

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OUT NOW: International Private Medical Insurance Companies and Providers V1.3 - Adds NEW Wellaway Advertising Campaign

Version 1.3 of the International Private Medical Insurance Provider Directory is out now.

Medical insurance underwriters and providers are represented and International Private Medical Insurance Magazine would like to take this opportunity to say a warm thank you to all of the guide sponsors including ALC Health, Antaé, Cigna Global iPMI, Expatriate Group, GeoBlue, Globality Health, Healthcare International, Integra Global and Wellaway.

GET LISTED

List your company in the iPMI Magazine iPMI company guide. Working hand-in-hand with your own company micro website on iPMIM, this guide can land-your-brand on the desk of an eclectic worldwide readership.

 

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