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Rise In Premium Growth Plus Low Insurance Take-Up Spells Opportunity For Asia Pacific

Aon Benfield has launched its ‘Welcome to Asia Pacific’ guide – a journey through sixteen of the region’s growing insurance and reinsurance markets to identify growth opportunities. As rapid economic development, population growth and urbanisation lead to increased insurance penetration, Asia Pacific represents a key area of growth in the global marketplace.


Aon Benfield’s Insurance Risk Study listed five Asian markets in the top 10 of its Country Opportunity Index, which identifies the world’s most promising property and casualty markets. Singapore comes third in the list of 50 countries, immediately followed by Hong Kong, Malaysia and Indonesia. With an insight into economics fundamentals, rating agency perspectives, political cultures and regulatory environments for local and foreign investors, this guide serves as a snapshot into the 16 countries for global market insurers and reinsurers seeking diversification or Asian firms looking for multi-national expansion. The findings show that India and China – representing the BRIC countries – enjoyed the highest compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of non-life premium at 21% and 20% respectively from 2009 to 2013.

Thailand, Vietnam and Indonesia also enjoyed significant growth with CAGR above 15%. While developing markets in Asia Pacific enjoyed fast growth, the report also reveals that the insurance penetration rates remain low. For the year ended 31 December 2013, non-life penetration rates for India (0.6%), China (1.1%), Vietnam (0.7%) and Indonesia (0.4%) were below the 1.4% Asia Pacific average and well behind developed markets in this region such as Australia, New Zealand and Korea. This highlights the potential of these markets in terms of future opportunities.

George Attard, Head of Aon Benfield Analytics for Asia Pacific, commented, “The Asia Pacific region is home to more than half the world’s population, with diverse societies, cultures, economies and regulatory regimes. Rapid economic development, population growth and urbanisation – combined with rapidly evolving insurance regulation – will lead to increasing insurance penetration. While this will create the potential for significant organic growth, there is also a notable opportunity for growth in specialty lines and product innovation. With many insurance and reinsurance companies already investing in this region and seeking to take advantage of the growth opportunities, an expert insight into these markets is crucial. Aon Benfield’s local teams have produced this guide as both an introduction to and exploration of sixteen key markets in Asia Pacific.”

Malcolm Steingold, CEO of Aon Benfield for Asia Pacific, added, “The greatest opportunity not only for 2015 but for the immediate future is the development of new products to cater for the expanding universe of risk and also to increase penetration into uncovered conventional risk across the region. We see growth opportunities across all the economies of Asia. The scale of the opportunity varies substantially from country to country and is due to a combination of factors including GDP growth, level of insurance penetration and the size of the population. Taking these factors into account China and Indonesia stand out with other Asian economies showing significant potential.”

The data for the guide has been collated from major rating agencies, regulators, industry associations, International Monetary Fund, World Bank, AXCO, Aon Risk Solutions, Aon Hewitt and Aon Benfield. In addition, the guide includes Aon Benfield’s own views of each market’s major risks, regulatory updates and market outlook.


Hannover Re (Ireland) Limited Receives Federal And Provincial Licensing To Operate As A Life And Health Reinsurer In Canada

Hannover Re (Ireland) Limited, a Member of Hannover Re Group, announces receiving federal and provincial licensing to operate as a life and health reinsurer in Canada.

The branch will offer mortality risk management; insurance based financial solutions; longevity; group life and special risk solutions to direct carriers in Canada.

Chief Executive Officer, Hannover Re (Ireland) Limited, Ms. Debbie O’Hare, announces the appointment of Mr. Amhlaoibh Lynch as General Manager of the Hannover Re (Ireland) Limited Canadian Life Branch (Canadian Life Branch). The Canadian Life Branch is based in Toronto, in a common location with Hannover Rück SE Canadian Branch (operating as P&C Branch in Canada since 1980) at 220 Bay Street.

“Through my career I have had the pleasure to work with Hannover Re on a number of occasions and always admired its client focused approach and embodiment of its 'Somewhat Different' philosophy and spirit. When I was presented with the opportunity to lead Hannover Re’s entry into Canada, it was a 'no-brainer,' and I could not be happier to represent them. Since joining Hannover Re, I have been incredibly impressed by our global capabilities and client solution oriented approach, and I look forward to leveraging the global organization to bring new ideas and innovative solutions to the Canadian market. Consistent with the Hannover Re values and goals, you can expect customer focused solutions that are unique to the Canadian market and the characteristics of our partners,” said Mr. Lynch.

Prior to joining Hannover Re Group, Mr. Lynch was with Manulife Financial since 1993, holding progressively more senior actuarial roles across various functions including marketing, pricing, product development, and asset liability management. Most recently, he was Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of Affinity Markets, Canadian Division Manulife Financial. In this role, Mr. Lynch was responsible for the oversight and financial integrity of a broad portfolio of products that encompassed Mortality, Morbidity, Property & Casualty and financial risks.

In addition, he was a member of the business management team and was an adviser to the general manager on a variety of strategic initiatives. Finally, he led the financial analysis and was a key participant in two strategic acquisitions. As General Manager of the Hannover Re (Ireland) Limited Canadian Life Branch, Mr. Lynch will be responsible for developing and implementing the Hannover Re Group’s strategy to bring reinsurance solutions to life and health clients in Canada.

“With nearly three decades of experience in the Canadian life market and a proven track record of leadership success at Manulife Financial, Amhlaoibh brings an unsurpassed depth of knowledge to Hannover Re as we enter this new market,” said Ms. O’Hare.


Private Health Insurance Can Play A Key Role In Building Sustainable National Healthcare Systems

As income levels in emerging markets rise, people spend more on healthcare services as a means to improve their quality of life. This is driving demand and expectations for better health services in the emerging markets, says Swiss Re's latest sigma study Keeping healthy in the emerging markets: insurance can help.

Key Points

Demand and expectations for better healthcare services are rising in the emerging markets; Premiums for reimbursement-type products expected to double by 2020; Private health insurers have the tools to meet this demand; Private health insurance can play a key role in building sustainable national healthcare systems; The success of innovative solutions in advanced markets has attracted interest in many emerging countries.

The study shows the insurance industry is well-equipped to meet the increasing healthcare spending needs of individuals, and that it can also become a central pillar of a sustainable national healthcare delivery system. In the emerging markets, the money to pay for healthcare has traditionally come from the government via taxation revenues and from private individuals who often make significant contributions from their household savings. However, reliance on these two channels of healthcare financing is becoming increasingly challenging. There are growing strains on public coffers and at the same time, more advanced technologies and medicines are pushing up the price of healthcare services.

The benefits of private health insurance (PHI)

PHI provides consumers financial protection against future care-related expenses at an affordable regular premium, relieving the burden of large one-off hits to private savings.

"Consumers will increasingly be purchasing PHI because it provides a means to pay for level of healthcare services they need," says Kurt Karl, Swiss Re's chief economist.

PHI also offers consumers more choice with respect to place, type and level of treatment, and, with certain products, freedom to choose how to use the benefits received (eg. to cover treatment costs or perhaps as income replacement). In this way, it can supplement and/or complement public sector health services by helping consumers pay for treatments not covered by or available from state-sponsored schemes. For governments, PHI has the potential to be a main channel of healthcare expenditure. However, it is underused. In 2012, PHI covered less than 10% of total healthcare spending in the main emerging markets. On the supply side, PHI can bring innovation across the value chain in healthcare, including in product development, sales and distribution, underwriting, claims, payment systems and customer services, leading to better services at lower cost.

"Insurers have been able to reach new clients with the use of new technologies and by pricing products in line with willingness and ability to pay", says Clarence Wong, co-author of the study.

For example, in 2014 a mobile health insurance scheme in Nigeria called Y'ello Health was launched. Subscribers pay an affordable premium using their mobile phones for cover of basic outpatient care and minor surgery. The scheme is expected to significantly extend the reach of health insurance in Nigeria, particularly in rural areas and to the previously under- and uninsured.

Growth of Private Health Insurance products

There are two main types of PHI product. The first is reimbursement-type, with which the insured is paid back the costs incurred in hospital and other treatment. The second are fixed-benefit products, whereby the insured receives a lump sum at the onset of specific conditions. Fixed-benefit products include critical illness, disability income and hospital cash insurance.

Both product types are showing strong growth in the emerging markets. Premiums from reimbursement products grew by an estimated 11.2% in real annual terms between 2003 and 2013. They are forecast to rise on average by 9.6% per year to 2020, three times the rate of global premium growth in this segment.

Premium data on fixed-benefit products in the emerging markets is scarce, but expert interviews conducted for the study suggest that demand for fixed-benefit PHI products is also growing rapidly.

Emerging markets

The PHI sector is at varied stages of development in the different emerging regions, due in large part to the different structures of national healthcare systems and health infrastructure. In Emerging Asia, many governments have earmarked reimbursement products as a growth area, and premiums are forecast to grow by 15.4% annually between 2013 and 2020, the strongest of all the emerging regions. Fixed-benefit products are also popular. For example, cancer insurance has attracted widespread interest in many markets in the region following the success of cancer products in South Korea and relapse products in Japan.

In Latin America, premiums from reimbursement-type products grew by a real annual growth rate of 6.8% from 2003 to 2013, and are forecast to average growth of 6.2% to 2020. On the fixed-benefits side, critical illness solutions are developing favourably, although lack of consumer awareness remains a key obstacle. Hospital cash insurance, another fixed-benefit product, has become increasingly common as part of bancassurance offerings.

Against a backdrop of relatively comprehensive coverage of social security benefits, overall PHI peneration is low in Central and Eastern Europe. PHI is mainly used to pay for advanced and additional treatments not covered by the public healthcare systems. Critical illness products are widely available as riders to endowment and unit-linked insurance policies, and as stand-alone solutions. Hospital cash insurance is also popular.

In Sub Saharan Africa, private out-of-pocket payments from household savings are a main component of total healthcare spending. The PHI sector remains small, however microinsurance is expected to become a main channel of healthcare expenditure in many of the region's markets.

Private Health Insurance Can Play A Key Role In Building Sustainable National Healthcare Systems


Maurice Smith Named Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois President

Health Care Service Corporation (HCSC) today named Maurice Smith as President of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois (BCBSIL).

Smith succeeds Karen Atwood, who was promoted to a new position over service and technology for HCSC's multi-state operations. He will report directly to Colleen Reitan, Executive Vice President and President of Plan Operations, HCSC.

"Maurice brings to this role a broad perspective and deep understanding of our business and operations rooted in more than 20 years of experience across corporate finance, treasury, business development and subsidiary management," said Reitan. "His track record of leading multi-stakeholder teams, along with his strong connection to the Illinois business and civic community will help position BCBSIL for continued success in this fast-changing health care environment."

Smith previously led HCSC's treasury department and corporate development initiatives, including mergers, acquisitions and the formation of strategic partnerships. He focused on capital deployment initiatives in support of the company's overall strategy, including the acquisition of two health plans in other HCSC states. He also oversaw HCSC's subsidiaries, and served as the chairman of the board of directors of Dearborn National Life Insurance Company, HCSC's largest subsidiary.

"Expanding access to affordable health care coverage is an imperative," said Smith. "I look forward to working with health care providers, employers, and communities in our state to make a difference for our members."

Smith is the Chair-elect for the Chicago Sinfonietta and holds a bachelor's degree in business administration with a concentration in accounting from Roosevelt University in Chicago.


New Now Health Facility Speeds Up Medical Appointment Setting For Customers In China

Now Health International have introduced a free out-patient medical appointment service for customers in Mainland China.

The facility is available to customers with access to the out-patient direct billing service via their medical provider network Medilink, who deliver electronic healthcard network services. Now Health customers based in Mainland China will now be able to call Medilink’s bi-lingual (Chinese and English) free 24 hour customer service helpline to book an out-patient treatment.

Now Health’s Marketing and Ecommerce Director, Alison Massey, says "We know how difficult it can be to make medical appointments in Mainland China, so this new service will make the process so much easier."


WellAway Introduces First ACA-Compliant (Obamacare) CFE Complementaire

WellAway, Ltd. is proud to introduce the first ACA-compliant expatriate health program for French Nationals – La Vie a l’Etranger.

La Vie a l’Etranger includes the only CFE Complementaire to be approved in the USA coupled with innovative wellness and support tools for US-bound French expatriates. This program will allow French nationals to continue receiving reimbursements for medical care through the CFE, while also further reducing their out-of-pocket costs in the USA and avoiding any tax penalties under the new health law.

Health services in the USA covered under this innovative CFE Complementaire are delivered via an open-access provider network of over 1.1 million healthcare professionals and approximately 50,000 french-speaking doctors.

WellAway has designed La Vie a l’Etranger to include a variety of expatriate support tools such as access to a personal ConciergeCare Counselor, provider search assistance with appointment scheduling, an online Personal Health Record with medical record retrieval, e-consultations and second medical opinions.

Members will feel as though home is always by their side thanks to French-centered customer services and the option to seek medically necessary care back in their country of origin. With this introduction, WellAway has now positioned itself as a leading advocate of expatriate support for individuals, families, and employees.

La Vie a l’Etranger is now open for enrollment and interested individuals can obtain a quote and complete an application online or via one of our selected brokers.

Brokers seeking to offer this innovative expatriate health program are advised to contact our Broker Management Department at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

About WellAway, Ltd.

WellAway, Ltd. is a company headquartered in Hamilton, Bermuda with global offices including France, Belgium and the UK. The company specializes in health and travel insurance for expatriates including unique health programs for foreign nationals living throughout the world. 


Governments Recognize Benefits Of Visa Facilitation

Visa facilitation has experienced strong progress in recent years, particularly through the implementation of visa on arrival policies according to UNWTO’s latest Visa Openness Report. This largely reflects an increased awareness among policymakers of the positive impacts of visa facilitation on tourism and economic growth.

According to the Report, 62% of the world’s population was required a traditional visa prior to departure in 2014, down from 77% in 2008. In the same year, 19% of the world’s population was able to enter a destination without a visa, while 16% could receive a visa on arrival, as compared to 17% and 6% in 2008. The Report also shows that the most prevalent facilitation measure implemented has been “visa on arrival”. Over half of all improvements made in the last four years were from “visa required” to “visa on arrival”.

“Visa facilitation is central to stimulating economic growth and job creation through tourism. Although there is much room for improvement, we are pleased to see that a growing number of governments around the world is taking decisive steps in this regard”, said UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai. Countries in the Americas and in Asia and the Pacific have been at the forefront of visa facilitation, while Europe and Middle East have more restrictive visa policies. Overall, emerging economies tend to be more open than advanced ones, with South-East Asia, East Africa, the Caribbean and Oceania among the most open subregions.

“UNWTO forecasts international tourist arrivals to reach 1.8 billion by 2030, and easier visa procedures will be crucial to attract these travellers, especially tourists from emerging source markets like China, Russia, India and Brazil”, added Mr Rifai.

Research by UNWTO and the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) shows that the G20 economies could boost their international tourist numbers by an additional 122 million, generate an extra US$ 206 billion in tourism exports and create over five million additional jobs by improving visa processes and entry formalities. The same research carried out for the APEC and the ASEAN countries indicates that visa facilitation could generate important gains for both groups, including the creation of 2.6 million jobs in APEC and 650.000 jobs in ASEAN.


Brits Admit They Need A Shock To Take Heart Health Seriously

The nation’s approach to just how seriously we take our heart health has been revealed by new research. One in four people (25%) said it took someone they know to have a heart attack for them to take their heart health more seriously.

The study from Bupa shows that over half of those asked (51%) admit they’re worried about getting heart disease. Despite this 44% say they would need to have a health scare and a third (32%) said a personal illness in order to make them think about living a healthier heart lifestyle. The average person also admitted they didn’t or wouldn’t start taking their heart health seriously until their 40s. Interestingly, a further one in eight (13%) people were prompted to think about their heart health when someone they knew was diagnosed with high cholesterol, while one in 10 (11%) were prompted by having children.

Dr Steven Luttrell, Medical Director at Bupa says “Coronary heart disease is the biggest cause of death in the UK causing almost 74,000 deaths every year [1]. With nearly 2.3 million people in the UK living with heart disease, people need to be more aware of the risk factors associated with the disease. People can’t afford to wait until they face a health scare to take action. We can all take active steps now to reduce our future risk of heart disease.

The research shows that whilst a staggering eight in 10 (80%) people say they’re not confident of the signs of heart disease there appears to be some confusion about the information available. A quarter (25%) of people say there isn’t enough information out there, while a fifth of respondents (18%) say there’s too much information, but third (33%) of respondents admit that realistically most people just don’t want to know.

Knowledge is key

However, understanding the contributing factors to heart disease is an important first step in identifying whether you are at risk of heart disease and to enable you to take preventative action. Worryingly, of those questioned, only a quarter (26%) knew their cholesterol level, just 37% their blood pressure reading and 4 in 10 (42%) their BMI. Younger people aged between 18 to 24 are the least knowledgeable about their heart health, with a staggering 91% not knowing their cholesterol levels and three quarters (79%) not knowing their blood pressure.

Dr Steven Luttrell continues, “Everyone can do something to help reduce their future risk of heart disease, even if you don’t think you’re at high risk. More women die prematurely from heart disease than breast cancer, so its vital that both men and women lead healthy lifestyles by maintaining a healthy weight, doing some physical exercise and not smoking. I’d recommend speaking to your doctor or having a health assessment to check your cardiac risk, learn more about your health and to get helpful advice. Taking steps now to live a healthier lifestyle really can make the world of difference.”

The annual cost of treating coronary heart disease in the UK is nearly £2 billion[2]. Bupa’s own specialist cardiac support team take on average 8,000 calls a month from members requiring treatment or advice on heart disease[3]. Bupa offers cardiovascular risk checks as part of its health assessments available in clinics across the UK, suporting people to assess their risk and understand the lifestyle changes that can help make a difference.

The healthcare provider also offers customers with heart disease access to a specialist team of nurses and dieticians through its COACH Program which helps members suffering from heart disease to manage and improve their diet and lifestyle, helping to minimise further risks to their health.

[1] British Heart Foundation May 2014 [2] British Heart Foundation May 2014 [3] Internal Bupa Report: Cardiac Team Monthly Calls Dashboard May 2014. All figures, unless stated otherwise are from OnePoll survey commissioned by Bupa of 2000 18+ adults between 20th January 2015 and 22nd January 2015. The survey was carried out online and on mobile.


UMI Reports That Health Insurance Premium Inflation Shrank In 2014

UMI, one of the UAE's premier medical insurance advisors, has found that the inflation of international private medical insurance premiums fell for the second year in a row in 2014.

An inflation rate of 7.0% in 2014 (a decrease of .3% from rates in 2013) indicates a potential new downward trend in a region that has historically seen high medical cost inflation. UMI believes that there are two main reasons for this downward trend. The first being a comparatively slow recovery from the Global Financial Crisis. While countries in Asia and Europe have bounced back relatively quickly, the UAE seems to have been more negatively affected, with recovery efforts catching up only in the past couple of years, as indicated by general downward trends in the region.

The second reason for this trend is increased competition in the international private medical insurance market in Dubai and the whole UAE. With an ever increasing number of providers launching products in the region aimed at expats, the market has become more competitive with providers keeping inflation as low as possible.

UMI has identified one company in particular which has been largely successful in managing premium inflation - Allianz Worldwide Care (AWC). With an inflation rate of 4.8% in 2014, a full 2.2% lower than Dubai's average inflation rate, the provider has achieved year-on-year decreases three years in a row.

In fact, the five year average for Allianz is 5.9%, which when compared to the same average for Dubai (8.3%) indicates a much lower average inflation rate. This has allowed the company to offer extremely competitive rates to expats in the UAE. UMI believes that it will be crucial for companies operating in the UAE to track premium inflation rates in the coming years, especially with the changing political landscape.

For example, Dubai has mandated that all companies operating in the UAE provide health insurance for their employees by 2016. This will make companies with lower premium inflation much more relevant.


Fairfax To Acquire Brit PLC

Fairfax Financial Holdings Limited ("Fairfax") (TSX:FFH)(TSX:FFH.U) announced that it has reached an agreement with Brit PLC ("Brit" or the "company") to acquire all of the outstanding shares of Brit (the "Brit Shares"). Brit is a market-leading global Lloyd's of London specialty insurer and reinsurer.

The full announcement (the "Announcement") is available for viewing on Fairfax's website at

Under the terms of Fairfax's offer for the Brit Shares (the "Offer"), Brit shareholders will be entitled to receive 305 pence in cash per Brit Share (the "Brit Offer Price"), inclusive of any final dividend for the year ended December 31, 2014. Fairfax has received hard irrevocable undertakings to accept the Offer at the Brit Offer Price from entities managed by Apollo and CVC in respect of, in the aggregate, a total of approximately 294 million Brit Shares representing approximately 73% of Brit's issued share capital. These entities have undertaken to accept the Offer following the posting of the Offer document. The Brit Offer Price represents a premium of 11.2% to the closing price of 274.2 pence per Brit Share on February 16, 2015, being the last full business day prior to this announcement. The aggregate purchase price payable by Fairfax for the Offer is approximately US$1.88 billion.

On February 12, 2015, Fairfax announced 2014 earnings of approximately US$1.6 billion. Excluding the final dividend expected to be declared by the board of directors of Brit for the year ended December 31, 2014 in an amount of 25 pence per Brit Share, Fairfax's purchase price of 280 pence per Brit Share is less than ten times the company's earnings based on the company's annualized net earnings for the six months ended June 30, 2014. The acquisition is accretive to Fairfax on several metrics including gross revenue per share and investments per share. Fairfax has built a strong relationship with the Brit team and an understanding of their business and operations since the acquisition of Brit's runoff business in June, 2012.

"We welcome Mark Cloutier and his market leading specialty insurance and reinsurance team at Brit to our expanding global specialty platform," said Prem Watsa, Chairman and CEO of Fairfax. "Brit has an outstanding track record over the last ten years and will continue to operate on a decentralized basis once owned by Fairfax. With the acquisition of Brit, Fairfax will have a significant top five position at Lloyds of London. We look forward to working with Mark and the entire Brit team to further develop their business over the longer-term."

Brit's position as a market-leading global specialty insurer and reinsurer, its major presence in Lloyd's and its disciplined approach to underwriting make it a natural candidate to join Fairfax's expanding worldwide specialty operations. Brit's growing US and international reach are highly complementary to Fairfax's existing worldwide operations and the acquisition further diversifies Fairfax's group risk portfolio.

In addition, Brit will be able to leverage Fairfax's expertise in the US and international insurance and reinsurance markets, thus enhancing Brit's global product offering and providing it with expanded underwriting opportunities and support. The Offer is subject to customary closing conditions, including customary competition and merger conditions, and the approval of the Prudential Regulation Authority in the UK, Lloyd's of London and the Financial Services Commission of Gibraltar. It is intended that the transaction be effected by way of takeover offer under section 974 of the UK Companies Act 2006 and the Code on Takeovers issued by the UK Takeover Panel. The Offer Document and the Form of Acceptance accompanying the Offer Document will be published (save with the consent of the Panel) within 28 days.

The Offer Document and accompanying Form of Acceptance will be made available on Fairfax's website at

Fairfax is a financial services holding company which, through its subsidiaries, is engaged in property and casualty insurance and reinsurance and investment management.

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