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The 6th Highest Insurance Premium Tax In Europe

The standard rate of Insurance Premium Tax (IPT) in the UK is now the 6th highest in Europe, behind only Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands and Finland, analysis from the Association of British Insurers (ABI) shows.

In Wednesday’s Autumn Statement, the Chancellor claimed that, ‘Insurance premium tax in this country is lower than in many other European countries’.

However, based on latest European insurance industry data*, the UK had the 8th highest IPT standard rate in the EU prior to the Autumn Statement announcement, putting it in the top third.

The recently announced increase from 10% to 12% has put the UK in 6th, above Austria and Malta for the first time. The UK also has a higher rate of 20% for Travel, Hire Car and Extended Warranty insurance.

Further analysis of the Autumn Statement** shows that IPT is now due to raise more than Wine, Sprits, Beer and Air Passenger Duty, with the total raised from IPT reaching £6 billion a year by 2018/19.

Director General of the ABI Huw Evans said, “UK consumers and businesses already pay relatively high levels of IPT, and the latest increase puts us even closer to the top of the table in Europe. It cannot be right that people are being forced to pay an increasingly high price for doing the responsible thing and buying insurance. Nor can it be fair that insurance customers are bearing the brunt of recent increases while the ‘sin taxes’ like wine, spirits and gambling are unaffected.

“Having now increased IPT three times in 18 months, it is time for Government to look elsewhere to help meet the formidable fiscal challenges it faces.”

Insurance Premium Tax affects all motor, home, travel and health insurance policies whether personal or business. Unlike VAT, businesses can’t claim back IPT.

Increasing IPT from 6% to 12% raises around £13 billion over 5 years, making it one of the biggest revenue raising measures in recent fiscal events.

*Insurance Europe, ‘Indirect Taxation on insurance contracts in Europe 2016

**see Table C5: Current Receipts here


Air Alliance Adds Second Learjet 35 To Their UK Operation, CQC Approval

Air Alliance has increased capacity by adding a second Learjet 35A to their UK operations.

To help with the increase of availability, two new First Officers have joined the team in Birmingham. Dan Sanders and Tim Gurney-Coombs bring with them a wealth of experience in Air Ambulance operations, having more than 15 years of experience between them. They have joined a very highly skilled team in Birmingham which has several thousand flights hours each across the flight crew.   

All flight enquiries are centrally handled by the German alarm center:
Phone: +49 2736 4428 45 // This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Air Alliance UK Operations approved as Provider by Care Quality Commission (CQC)

The Air Alliance UK operation is now officially registered with CQC (Care Quality Commission), the independent regulator of health and adult social care in England. This is another milestone for Air Alliance in terms of quality and patient safety.

Air ambulance insurance services evacuation repatriation news


Consumer Distribution Trends in UK Insurance

Consumers from the 'millennial' generation (defined here as adults aged up to 34) are more likely to buy insurance online using a tablet or mobile phone than their older counterparts. That is according to new UK-focused research just issued by Finaccord.

Covering a range of different insurance products commonly acquired by individual customers – including household, life, motor, pet and travel insurance – the research established that 16.2% of all online purchases of these policy types in the UK in 2015 were originally made via a mobile device with the remaining 84.8% acquired online through a laptop or desktop computer.

"These findings are important for both underwriters and intermediaries marketing insurance products to consumers", commented Alan Leach, Director of Finaccord. "Online sales now constitute the interface most commonly used for buying most types of insurance, even for those traditionally sold by phone or in person such as life and health insurance. However, there is an apparent shift among 'millennials' towards utilising mobile devices for this purpose and while use of laptop or desktop computers to buy insurance online remains dominant at present across all age groups, this change in behaviour is sure to perpetuate in future years with the emergence of another new generation of insurance buyers that is even more at ease with buying different products and services online via tablets or mobile phones."

Among consumers aged up to 34, 20.3% of policies bought online were purchased using a mobile device, segmenting between 13.9% using a tablet and 6.4% a mobile phone. In contrast, among those aged from 35 to 54 and those aged 55 or over, a respective 14.2% and 14.3% of online insurance sales in 2015 were concluded via a mobile device, which tends to prove the greater propensity of the younger generation to use tablets and mobiles phones to buy insurance cover. However, within these two older age groups, those aged from 35 to 54 were slightly more likely to use a mobile phone than a tablet in this context, relative to those aged 55 or more.

Furthermore, by type of insurance, the research established that the breakdown of online sales by type of device used does not vary greatly. Perhaps surprisingly, use of both tablets and mobile phones to conclude transactions online is most prevalent in the case of accident and health insurance – a class embracing forms of cover such as dental, personal accident and private medical insurance plus health and hospital cash plans – given that a respective 18.5% and 7.6% of online purchases of these products were reportedly made through these device types. In contrast, propensity to use them was found to be least advanced in the case of motor insurance which is, simultaneously, the form of cover most likely to be acquired online.



Chase Templeton Acquires Leeds Advisory Firm

Deal is the third to be completed this calendar year by the acquisition hungry insurance broker, and brings in a further 540 clients and £1.56m of annual premium income, some 60 percent of which comes from the SME segment in which Chase Templeton is now a major player.

Leeds-based Independent Health Insurance Services was founded in 2002 by Wayne Jackson who has decided to pursue other business interests. Commenting on his decision, he said: “When I decided to sell-up, Chase Templeton, being the biggest and most pro-active consolidator in the market, was an obvious and attractive choice. Not only does the company have the funds available to facilitate smooth transactions, but the experience and infrastructure necessary to integrate and take good care of the acquired client base. Having personally spent many years in building the book and the personal relationships that accompanied it, I was keen to see it placed in trustworthy hands.”

The deal is the latest in well over 50 completed since Chase Templeton secured private equity backing from Manchester-based finance house, Palatine Private Equity. It follows Chase Templeton’s purchases of Health Equity Solutions Ltd. and Caledonian Health Solutions last month. Those deals added £2.15m of again predominantly SME generated API.

“Independent Health Insurance Services managed a strong portfolio of SME clients to which we think, by virtue of our size and broad spectrum expertise, can bring added value,” commented Chase Templeton’s mergers and acquisitions director, Jeff Tate. “The book is an excellent fit in terms of our relatively short-term ambition to become market leader in the SME space whilst, the 400 individual clients who are joining us further balance our portfolio.”

Individual private health insurance clients will be served via the company’s Individual Centre of Excellence in Bridgwater, Somerset, with business policies administered through the SME equivalent at Chase Templeton’s headquarters in Darwen, Lancashire. That growth was made possible by a significant expansion of the workforce, which has more than doubled since 2013, with 115 staff now employed in Darwen, Bridgwater, and a recently opened Greater London hub in Bromley, Kent.

Through both acquisitive and organic growth the company now manages over £150m in API.


Are Age UK Overcharging Their Customers For Travel Insurance?

Travel insurance from Age UK is nearly double the cost of a comparable policy from, potentially leaving customers feeling ripped off and perhaps even putting them off going on holiday.

According to a press release published by a two week single-trip policy for a 78 year old male, with pre-existing medical conditions, to the Canary Islands was £158.16 from Age UK, whereas the same level of cover from was £79.94.

If you are prepared to reduce cancellation cover from £5k to £3k (more than enough for most travellers) and baggage cover from £2k to £1k, can provide a policy for only £49.49, which is 31% of the price of Age UK’s policy, whilst still retaining the same level of medical cover (£10m).

Age UK has been under pressure recently due to their energy partnership with E.ON. Regulators are investigating Age UK as their recommended energy tariffs appear to be more expensive than shopping direct with E.ON. and much more than if customers shopped around.

According to Age UK’s annual report they provided home, car and travel insurance products through Ageas to nearly half a million customers, generating commissions of £18.8m (net) for themselves.

In a statement Age UK answered some of the criticism levelled at them, replying that they never claim to be the cheapest, but provide “competitively priced, quality products and services but we never claim to be cheapest at all times. …. the products are designed to be relied on by older people in an ever changing marketplace.”

Michael Ward, managing director of, comments, “Age UK has admitted that they are targeting their products at ‘older people’. Often elderly people do not have access to the Internet and rely on telephone sales, where they are given only one price. Our elderly customers much prefer using's telephone quote service, where they get a range of prices and discuss the options available. 

“Age UK has taken advantage of their trusted brand status and is potentially overcharging customers for their energy and insurance premiums. My best advice is to shop around to find the best price for your circumstances. Sometimes you can be ripped off by the brands you ought to be able to trust the most, which shouldn’t be allowed.”


Bupa Chief Legal Officer Announces Plan To Retire

Bupa announced the intention of Chief Legal Officer Paul Newton to retire at the end of the year, after 29 years of service. 

Paul joined Bupa as a legal adviser in 1987. He became Bupa’s General Counsel in 2005 and joined the Bupa Executive Team in 2013.  

Stuart Fletcher CEO Bupa paid tribute to Paul’s contribution and commitment to the organisation.  

"Whilst I'm personally very sorry to be losing Paul from the company and the Bupa Executive Team I fully understand and respect his decision to retire following 29 years of outstanding service. 

"Paul has built our Legal function into an externally recognised world-class team. I value his counsel, experience and contribution immensely.  He has been a true champion of Bupa’s values and purpose and has played a key role in the development of many long-term careers at Bupa. His deep commitment to growing others has enabled us to set a standard for leadership across the global Legal function that few organisations can match.   The appointment of Penny as Paul's successor is evidence of the effective talent management framework we have established."

Penny Dudley, currently Director of Legal and Corporate Affairs, Bupa Global Market Unit, will succeed Paul and be appointed Chief Legal Officer from 1 April 2016.  She will also join the Executive Team from the same date.  

Penny joined Bupa in 2010 as a Head of Legal for Bupa's international health insurance business and has held a number of roles within the organisation before being appointed Legal Director for Bupa Global in May 2013.  

Paul will remain a member of the Bupa Executive Team ahead of his retirement and will work closely with Penny during the transition period, acting as Bupa’s General Counsel and leading a number of specific significant business projects.


Transforming The Business Protection Market With Interactive Underwriting

Aviva has launched two new business protection products on the Aviva Life Protection Solutions (ALPS) online platform, including a market first Relevant Life Insurance with the option to add critical illness cover.

The inclusion of critical illness benefit as an option on Aviva’s Relevant Life Insurance, which provides individual death in service benefit for an employee, represents a significant change for the business protection market and will make it even easier for advisers to cover their clients’ business protection needs in one application.

Aviva will also offer Business Life Insurance Options, which will provide life and critical illness cover for business clients.

Through the ALPS platform, advisers will be able to quote and apply for the new business protection products simply and seamlessly, and with interactive underwriting can expect a straight-through rate of around 75%, providing certainty and convenience for their clients. The self serve function allows advisers to deal with case administration at a time and place that suits them, with all policy documents stored online for simple access.

The platform provides a full online quote, apply and track facility, with multi-product applications enabling advisers to apply for both of Aviva’s business protection products at the same time. An enhanced protection promise up to £1 million benefit recognises the higher average case size for business protection.

Business protection advisers will also benefit from expertise and end-to-end support from Aviva through a support line and specialist account managers. This includes a dedicated team for high value cases, who will provide pro-active support as well as help with any underwriting, tax or trust queries.                                                                      

The two protection products help businesses protect against any financial loss in the event of death or critical illness of a business owner or key individual, and provide cover to employees. This includes access to a network of medical experts through Second Opinion by Best Doctors, at no extra cost.

Louise Colley, Managing Director of Protection at Aviva, said:, “Interactive underwriting and an intuitive end-to-end application process on our ALPS platform is really transforming personal protection writing, so I’m delighted that business protection writers will also have the same easy access to these new products, in order to help protect more lives.

“Historically, relevant life policies have tended to only include a death benefit and terminal illness benefit, so I’m equally delighted that following extensive research and advice from external legal counsel, we are able to offer a fully-compliant critical illness benefit on our new Relevant Life Insurance. This is a market first and we believe that it will really help advisers write more protection business more easily.”


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.”



Significant Storm Events In The U.S. And U.K. Contribute To $4bn December Insurance Bill

Aon Benfield's catastrophe model development team launches the latest edition of its monthly Global Catastrophe Recap report, which evaluates the impact of the natural disaster events that occurred worldwide during December 2015

The study will be shortly followed by Impact Forecasting's Annual Global Climate and Catastrophe report – scheduled to be launched on January 13 – which will offer a comprehensive analysis of the natural disaster events of 2015, and whose preliminary data reveal that despite a higher than normal number of disasters, overall losses were below normal on both an economic and insured loss basis. The United States accounted for 60 percent of all global insured losses in 2015.

The December catastrophe report reveals that a complex weather pattern impacted multiple regions of the United States, killing at least 64 people. Parts of the Midwest, Plains, Southeast, Rockies and Northeast were all impacted by the inclement weather, though the states of Missouri, Texas, Illinois, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Mississippi, Tennessee, Alabama,Kentucky and Indiana were among the hardest-hit.

Preliminary estimates suggest that total economic losses from the weather events during the month will exceed USD4.0 billion, with insured losses likely to approach or exceed USD2.0 billion. The Insurance Council of Texas reported losses of USD1.2 billion in the Dallasmetropolitan area alone.

The severe weather pattern resulted in at least 58 tornado touch-downs, historic flooding in the Mississippi Valley and Midwest, and record snowfall and ice that led to extensive travel disruption, as well as hail and damaging winds.

Meanwhile, rainfall from a series of North Atlantic storm systems led to extensive flooding across the United Kingdom and Ireland throughout the month. The arrival of windstorms Ted and Eckard – also known locally as Desmond and Frank – brought even more flood and wind damage. The hardest-hit areas included a large swath of southern Scotland, northernEngland, and Wales, where thousands of homes endured varying levels of flood inundation.

Various published reports, including from the Association of British Insurers, indicated that preliminary insured losses in the UK were expected to exceed GBP1.5 billion (USD2.2 billion), while overall economic losses were forecast to be around GBP2.8 billion (USD4.0 billion).

Further natural hazard events to have occurred during December include:

  • Areas of Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay and Brazil endured their worst flooding in at least 50 years, which killed at least 16 people and resulted in preliminary economic loss estimates in excess of USD200 million.
  • Typhoon Melor made multiple landfalls in the Philippines, killing at least 42 people and injuring 24 others. The Philippines' National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Center reported economic damages to agriculture and infrastructure alone at PHP6.5 billion (USD140 million).
  • A wildfire in the Australian state of Victoria destroyed at least 116 homes. The Insurance Council of Australia declared an insurance catastrophe, with preliminary insured losses listed at AUD53 million (USD38 million), and total economic losses expected to exceed USD100 million.
  • The Ethiopian National Risk Management Coordination Commission announced that it sought USD1.4 billion to deal with its worst drought in 30 years. At least 10 million people were affected.

To view the full Impact Forecasting December 2015 Global Catastrophe Recap report, please follow the link:  

Along with the report, users can access current and historical natural catastrophe data and event analysis on Impact Forecasting's Catastrophe Insight website, which is updated bi-monthly as new data become available:


UK Families At Risk Of Financial Shock As Death Remains Taboo

The taboo of mortality and a growing culture of “living in the moment” has left UK families woefully unprepared for the financial impact of death, Aviva’s latest Family Finances Report reveals.

Aviva’s data shows almost two in three UK adults (62%) feel death is a taboo subject, which makes it hard for people to discuss their concerns. While 43% say they talk openly about death and do not view it as a taboo subject themselves, more than half (51%) say they don’t want to think or talk about it because they just want to enjoy their life.

Funeral arrangements (18%) or life-changing illnesses (14%) rank among the topics people are most uncomfortable talking about with their wider adult family, alongside conversations about their sex life (55%), debts (22%) and general finances (21%).

Few have made the necessary practical preparations to protect their family in the event of their death, because of the discomfort and unwillingness to discuss the subject. Only 14% of parents have a formal, written plan of who will care for their children if anything was to happen to them, compared to 27% who have an organ donor card.

Couples with one child are the least likely to have a formal plan (11%), which may suggest that new parents are unlikely to have thought about making such provisions.

More worrying still is the fact that more than half (54%) of parents have made no plans whatsoever, including more than a quarter (28%) who don’t think they will ever need or want a plan for childcare if they were to pass away.

While one in five (20%) parents have an informal plan for contingency childcare which they have had conversations about, 13% have not discussed these plans with anyone yet.

Financial preparations stuck on families’ to-do list

Many families still haven’t made financial preparations for death, despite being aware of the need for these. More than half (55%) of UK adults feel they should have a will but have not yet arranged one, even though there is only a low cost attached.

Nearly six in ten (58%) have not yet made a list of financial arrangements and providers to help their family sort out their affairs should they die, despite feeling they should have. This rises to 61% of single parents raising children alone, who would arguably benefit most from these arrangements.

A similar proportion (57%) of all families recognise the need to have an accessible list of online account details but have not yet done this.

Some do not think making financial arrangements is even necessary: 14% do not think they will ever need or want a will, rising to a quarter (25%) of people who have not yet considered their own mortality. An even higher proportion don’t think they will ever need or want life insurance (26%) or death in service cover (44%), despite the fact that one in eight males and one in 12 females die during their working life.

Lack of practical preparation extends to parents’ wishes

Almost two in three (62%) adults whose parents are still alive have not had any conversations together about their wishes in the event of their death. Of these, most say it is because they’ve never thought about having this type of conversation (63%) although 14% say it is too upsetting while 13% do not want to upset their parents. One in ten (11%) say their parents find it too upsetting or uncomfortable.

Among those who have had these discussions, the majority have only done so because their parents initiated it (40%). Just 15% were responsible for bringing it up in conversation themselves. Even fewer have fully discussed the details of their parents’ funeral (13%) wishes and just one in five (20%) have fully discussed the details of their will.
Even among those who have already experienced the death of one parent, more than half (56%) have not discussed their remaining parent’s wishes, with 59% of these never thinking about having this type of conversation.

Louise Colley, managing director, protection, Aviva said, “It’s been said that there are only two things certain in life: death and taxes. It’s perfectly understandable why people are reluctant to talk about the latter, but if we can’t talk about something then it is impossible to plan for it."

“No-one likes to think of death, but it’s equally discomforting to think of family members being left financially vulnerable or unsure what to do if you were no longer around. There are certainly steps that can be taken to ease the practical and financial challenges that arise after the death of a loved one."

“We need to change the approach to conversations about mortality. Having honest and open discussions around financial and practical arrangements can really help to avoid even greater hardship if the worst should happen. Making sure your finances are in order – and taking appropriate steps to plan for the unforeseen – will provide peace of mind and mean you can continue to protect and support your family even after you are gone.”

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