According to new research published by Finaccord, the global market for international health insurance for expatriates and students was worth around $12.98 billion in gross written premiums in 2015 of which around $2.78 billion was due to new policies bought in 2015 itself.
Commented David Bowles, Consultant at Finaccord, "The worldwide market for international health insurance is both large and fast-growing. Its value is not far short of that of travel insurance, which Finaccord estimates at around USD 15.8 billion in gross written premiums in 2015, although it constitutes a fairly small segment within the global market for all types of health insurance which is valued at around USD 1.21 trillion in the same year. Nevertheless, its compound annual growth rate of 11.1% between 2011 and 2015 is comfortably ahead of that for health insurance in general which is recorded at around 4.8% over the same period of time."
Overall, there were around 105.1 million expatriates and students worldwide eligible for international health insurance in 2015 defined as those temporarily resident in a country other than their country of origin for a period of between three months and ten years. These are composed of five main potential customer types, namely individual workers (most numerous at 83.3 million), corporate and other transferees (including diplomats and employees of charities and NGOs) and retired individuals, as well as students plus 'others' (defined as non-employed spouses and children of customers in the other four categories).
"By region of origin, these eligible individuals are most commonly from countries in the Asia-Pacific region given that there were a total of around 50 million of them in 2015," continued David Bowles. "Furthermore, as a destination region, countries in the Middle East attract the most such individuals albeit those going there are among the least likely to acquire international health insurance. Rather, insurance take-up rates are highest among eligible consumers heading to destination countries in Australasia, Latin America and North America with the high cost of healthcare in the latter region, especially the US, a particularly important factor in this respect. However, overall, less than 10% of all individuals eligible to buy international health cover actually do so in practice."
Looking ahead to 2019, Finaccord's research suggests that the compound annual growth rate in the value of this market is likely to pick up slightly to 11.7% which means that the market will be worth around USD 20.20 billion by that year in terms of gross written premiums. However, this expansion will be due primarily to rising average policy prices and secondarily to growth in the number of expatriates and students eligible for international health insurance rather than to an increase in the take-up for this type of cover which is expected to advance only modestly.
Concluded David Bowles, "If underwriters and intermediaries of international health cover can find ways to improve the distribution of their products then even a rise in take-up rates that is only slightly higher than that predicted could bring about a substantial increase in the forecast market value by 2019."
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