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Global Rescue to Support U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association at 2014 Sochi Winter Olympic Games

Global Rescue, has announced that it will provide support to the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association (USSA) at the 2014 XXII Winter Games in Sochi, Russia.

The Winter Olympics run February 7-23, 2014. The U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association has partnered with Global Rescue since 2006. Global Rescue provides life-saving medical advisory, evacuation, security and other critical emergency services to skiers, their families and USSA’s elite athletes. Over the years, Global Rescue has performed dozens of missions for USSA and supported the teams at the 2006 and 2010 Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy, and Vancouver, Canada, respectively.

“With Global Rescue providing the highest level of medical and security services for USSA, we’re well-prepared for Sochi,” said Tiger Shaw chief operating officer of USSA.

“Our athletes can focus on delivering exceptional performances with the knowledge that Global Rescue is at the ready.” “We are honored to continue to serve the USSA,” said Dan Richards, CEO and founder of Global Rescue. “We are committed to protecting the health and safety of our athletes, both at Sochi and year-round.”


Sardinia Travel Advice and Warnings: State Of Emergency Declared

Take out comprehensive travel and medical insurance before you travel to Sardinia. Due to heavy rains and flooding a state of emergency has been declared in Sardinia.

Flight disruptions might occur at both Olbia airport and Cagliari airport. Many roads in the north are blocked. The main road between north and south, SS131, has not been closed but there are long delays due to flooding and subsidence. Train connections might also be affected.

The Italian Civil Protection Agency is closely monitoring the situation and is on site to provide assistance. Torrential rains are also affecting the south of Italy, in particular Calabria and Puglia and there are high waters in Venice. Local public transport strikes may affect travel at short notice.

Over 2.5 million British nationals visit Italy every year. Most visits are trouble-free.

If you are visiting a ski resort you should take advice on weather and avalanche conditions before you travel and familiarise yourself with local skiing laws and regulations. 


MSH INTERNATIONAL Acclaimed “Service Provider Of The Year 2013” At The Asia Insurance Industry Awards

MSH INTERNATIONAL was awarded the “Service Provider of the Year 2013” prize on November 6 in Singapore for its Chinese subsidiary by Asia Insurance Review, the leading regional magazine for insurance professionals.

This award rewards the high-end and innovative range of services provided by MSH INTERNATIONAL’s Chinese subsidiary to support the significant development of healthcare insurance for local high-net-worth individuals. The group has set up a global network of more than 1,000 healthcare providers in Mainland China to be the healthcare partner of its 800 client companies, including the regional subsidiaries of Google, Microsoft, Intel and General Electric. MSH INTERNATIONAL also successfully stands out from competition by offering entirely tailor-made services to all its insured members, with the creation in particular of the “Concierge Service”.

This service allows insured members who are not from the region to benefit from the local presence of MSH INTERNATIONAL’s bilingual staff in case of hospitalization, from admission to discharge from the hospital. The jury also highlighted the innovative nature of the drug home delivery service and the direct billing system implemented with partner pharmacies for members suffering from chronic diseases. As a pioneering company in the field of healthcare innovation, MSH INTERNATIONAL is also the first international healthcare insurance provider in China to be ISO 9001 and ISO 27001 certified, which attests to the high-quality security level of its administration IT system.


CEGA Wins 2013 ITIJ 'Assistance / Claims Handler of the Year' Award

CEGA Group has won the title of 'Assistance/Claims Handler of the Year' at the independently judged 2013 ITIJ Awards; recently held in Vienna to honor companies that have made an outstanding contribution to the global travel and health insurance industry over the past year.

The award follows a raft of new measures undertaken by CEGA in the last year to continually improve customer service; most significant among them a substantial investment in state of the art claims handling software.

“Everyone appreciates recognition for a job well done, especially when it comes from peers within your industry,” says CEGA’s Director of Sales and Marketing, Rob Upton. “This award recognises the efforts and dedication of all CEGA’s staff, who provide world-class service to our clients and their customers, wherever they are in the world, 24/7.”

In arriving at their decision, the ITIJ Award judges acknowledged that: “CEGA has now reached a standard which sets the norm for the market to aspire to - and some of the brand names within its clientele are testament to its success.”


Demand for Asia Pacific Catastrophe Reinsurance at a Record High in 2013

Total Asia Pacific catastrophe limit purchased in 2013 increased for the tenth year in a row, but once again failed to keep pace with strong GDP growth in the region, according to a new report released by Guy Carpenter & Company, LLC.

With excess capacity returning to the market in 2013, reinsurance buyers in the Asia Pacific region were able to secure greater value at renewal, although with recent losses etched into the collective memory of the market their ability to achieve significant price reductions was limited. Total catastrophe excess of limit in the region continued to grow.

In the Asia Pacific Catastrophe Report 2013, Guy Carpenter discusses some of the key drivers that have fuelled this growth in limit over the past ten years, notably an increasing focus on risk-based capital standards, growing awareness of non-modelled perils and rising insurance penetration in our emerging economies. Despite this strong record of catastrophe limit growth over the past ten years, the fact is that it has failed to keep pace with growth in the rapidly expanding economies of the Asia Pacific region over the same period. In many markets the purchase of insurance is still not a priority. In others the actual product on offer does not satisfy the demand.

With dedicated traditional reinsurance sector capital for Asia Pacific at a record high and with alternative capital seeking peak zone catastrophe opportunities in the region, Guy Carpenter predicts that the conditions are ripe for a broader reinsurance community to respond positively to this growth opportunity with innovative and customised solutions. The full report reviews the catastrophe exposure and reinsurance market conditions of major countries in the Asia Pacific region, helping set the stage for the 2014 renewals.


Floods And Typhoons Are The Biggest Weather Risks In Eastern Asia

Eastern Asia has been hard hit by weather-related loss events in the past three decades. Their number has increased by more than a factor of four, causing overall losses from weather-related events of some US$ 700bn during this period.

The insured losses of US$ 76bn amounted to only around 10% of overall losses, with 62% of these attributable to Japan. Floods caused 56% of the overall losses in Eastern Asia, but only 30% of insured losses. The number of floods has increased strongly and is expected to increase further in the coming decades.

With insured losses of US$ 16bn, the 2011 Thailand floods caused the biggest-ever weather-related insured loss in the region. After floods, it is typhoons that cause the greatest weather-related losses. New analyses indicate a clear cycle of activity for typhoons, and increased typhoon activity is expected over the coming years. The last 33 years have seen a significant increase in losses from weather-related events in Eastern Asia. This is borne out by Munich Re NatCatSERVICE's data since 1980, which were analysed for Munich Re's publication "Severe Weather in Eastern Asia".

This publication was written by Munich Re experts and renowned international guest authors from a variety of disciplines. The study focuses on the eight countries of Japan, South Korea, China, Taiwan, Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines.

Ludger Arnoldussen, Munich Re Board member responsible for Asia-Pacific region: "Typhoon Haiyan, which swept across the Philippines on 8 November, has caused a terrible human catastrophe. It underlines how important analyses and a deep understanding of these weather phenomena are. Governments and insurers need to develop risk-minimisation strategies in order to reduce the number of victims and losses in the future."

With the exception of Japan, the countries analysed in this study will continue to be inadequately insured against weather risks in the years to come. At the same time, however, the loss potentials are set to increase drastically as values rise. Insurers in particular can provide solutions to effectively manage weather-related risks.

Successful examples of this can be found in the form of public-private partnerships, which help to increase insurance penetration or cover state assets such as infrastructure. Nearly half (45%) of all weather-related events in the period under consideration were floods, followed by storms (39%) and forest fires, heatwaves and droughts (16%).

A total of 120,000 people have lost their lives since 1980 as a result of these weather catastrophes, 57% from flooding alone, 39% from storm events. Four of the five costliest weather-related catastrophes are also attributable to floods. At US$ 393bn, floods accounted for 56% of overall losses, followed by storms with overall losses of US$ 233bn (34%).

Peter Höppe, Head of Munich Re’s Geo Risks Research unit, comments: "There is no region of Eastern Asia that is immune to the threat of flooding. The reasons for the strong increase in losses from weather catastrophes like floods are primarily socio-economic factors such as continued strong economic growth and the resultant increase in values in exposed regions. Urban agglomerations in coastal regions and rapidly expanding industrial parks located in river deltas are particularly at risk."

The greatest weather threat after flooding comes from typhoons, which are among the most loss-intensive weather events. Their greatest threat is to urban conurbations in Eastern Asia, especially in Japan, Vietnam, Taiwan and the Philippines, and the burgeoning megacities of Eastern China. The occurrence of typhoons is influenced by periodic climate fluctuations, with phases lasting some 30 years.

"In the last ten years, typhoon activity has been below the long-term mean level. Extrapolating these cycles into the future, we expect a phase of higher typhoon activity in the next few years", says Höppe.

Here is a brief description of significant weather-related events that have caused major losses:

Japan is primarily affected by typhoons, torrential rainfall and flooding. With an overall loss of US$ 10bn, Typhoon Mireille in 1991 was one of the biggest storms ever to hit Japan. Typhoon Songda in 2004 caused overall losses of some US$ 9bn. In both cases, flooding was a major source of losses.

South Korea is affected by torrential rainfall and typhoons. Super Typhoon Maemi in 2003 remains the strongest storm ever to hit the country, with an overall loss of US$ 4.8bn.

China is severely threatened by weather catastrophes, in particular flooding, typhoons and hail but also heatwaves and sand storms. The worst weather catastrophe in China's history remains the flooding of the Yangtze and Songhua Rivers in 1998 with more than 4,000 fatalities and an overall loss of more than US$ 30bn.

Taiwan is particularly exposed to typhoons, hail and flood. Typhoon Morakot in August 2009 was one of the costliest storms in the country's history with an overall loss of US$ 3.4bn.

Floods pose the greatest weather risk in Thailand. The 2011 flood was the costliest natural catastrophe ever to hit the country and the most expensive flood catastrophe worldwide, with overall losses of US$ 43bn.


Downward Pressure on Airline Insurance Premiums Expected to Increase

Abundant capacity, high levels of competition, limited loss activity and an aggressive broking community will benefit airline insurance buyers renewing in the final quarter of 2013, according to the Q3 Issue of Airline Insight, from Willis Group Holdings (NYSE:WSH), the global risk adviser, insurance and reinsurance broker.

Consolidation in the airline industry together with the migration of renewal dates to later in the year has created a concentration of renewal activity in the final six weeks of 2013. The sheer volume of renewals and competition at this time of year means that buyers are likely to achieve significant premium reductions. As well as a sharp rise in the number of programmes renewing in the final quarter, the overall size of programmes has increased. In this respect, a number of the largest airline programmes, both in the U.S. and China, come to market between now and the end of the year.

"Insurers' desire to participate on the world's blue chip airlines will continue to keep competition in this area high," said Phil Smaje, CEO of Willis Aerospace. "The consolidation that has taken place in recent years has created a smaller number of very large programmes of significant interest to the market."

Another factor expected to accelerate the slide in premiums is the industry's safety record which, despite some losses, remains very good. Total hull losses in the airline industry to October amounted to approximately US$615 million.

Meanwhile, liability losses in the same period were of the order of US$226 million. Willis estimates that overall insurance losses in the airline sector in 2013 will be US$1.2 billion, including a pro-rata estimate of "attritional losses."

"Despite many believing the market couldn't go any lower than it has in recent years, the low loss levels, plentiful capacity and growth in exposures will continue to provide ideal conditions for buyers and challenges for underwriters," said Smaje.


iPMI Magazine speaks with Phil Austin, Head of Global Individual Private Medical Insurance at Cigna

Phil Austin runs Cigna’s Global Individual Private Medical Insurance business, based in Glasgow, Scotland. He first joined Cigna International in 2002 as Partnership Director for the UK corporate business.

As Head of Cigna’s Global Individual Private Medical Insurance division, Phil is developing and implementing the company’s individual consumer strategy on an international scale and creating a world-class international individual business. He is also responsible for building the business segment and driving profitable growth, targeting high net worth and globally mobile individuals through various channels such as the internet, bancassurance and intermediaries in key global markets.

Phil brings over 20 years of experience in global sales, marketing, product strategy and general management to the Cigna Global Health Options team. He returns to Cigna after serving as Vice President of the European Group A&H (Accident and Health) Business for Chartis.

Phil first joined Cigna International in 2002 as Partnership Director for the UK business. He went on to hold several positions within the organisation, including Health, Life & Accident (HL&A) Europe Sales & Marketing Director and Interim CEO for HL&A Europe.  

Cigna, the US based global health insurer posted a staggering $29bn revenue last year, and has over 14 million customers on its books. They have just launched a new set of IPMI products targeted at global expatriates and iPMIM finds out more.

You rejoined Cigna in 2011. Why did you return?

We launched our global individual PMI business in 2011, and it was an opportunity I simply couldn’t miss. This is clearly a market which is seeing exponential growth, it’s a very fast moving market, and that’s something I really wanted to be part of. Getting the chance to run our global individual expatriate business has certainly presented its own challenges. In a lot of ways it’s very different from the Corporate business, but the principles are still the same – Cigna have a reputation for high service, high quality plans, and that is now being continued in the individual market. The other thing that really excites me about Cigna is the way that the customer truly is at the centre of everything we do – everything is focused on the needs of the individual, and we don’t get closer to this than in the expatriate individual business.

What is Cigna’s take on iPMI?

Our individual iPMI products have been built around the needs of customers and brokers. We stripped back the concept of what an iPMI plan ‘should’ look like, and rebuilt this with things like flexible module options, cost shares and deductibles. What we have now are 3 plans which give our customers and brokers absolutely flexibility and choice to build a plan which meets their unique needs and fits their budget. Our top level Platinum product has some of the richest benefits on the market; whilst our Silver and Gold products present options for expatriates who are still looking for a quality plan, but perhaps don’t need cover for things like maternity. Every customer still benefits from the customer service which Cigna is known for, and gets access to our 24-hour global control centre and network of over 1 million hospitals and physicians worldwide.

Cigna has a huge amount of experience in the expatriate market, primarily through Corporate plans. We’ve also worked extensively in global markets for the last 30 years offering individual health, life and accident plans – so moving into iPMI was a natural next step in this journey. We’re now taking those years of experience and learnings and applying them to the iPMI market, which has given us a really great platform to provide our customers with what they want.

The expat market is clearly growing. Where are you seeing trends?

We are offering a truly global product, serving expats all around the world. I’m seeing a lot of movement out of the US and Europe into Asia, and when you look at where we’re selling policies, there is a growing trend towards Asia. Whilst the new plans expand into the mid-market, we still see a lot of demand at the upper end of the market for our Platinum plan. This goes to show that when moving abroad, people don’t want to take chances with their healthcare and are often quite willing to pay to get the very best - both in terms of ease of access to and the quality of the providers themselves.

As an insights-driven organization, we commissioned proprietary, independent research to look at market sizing and distribution channels in this market and to understand the core needs of the stakeholders (customers, brokers, medical providers, etc). We have grown a very successful direct to consumer business online, we have a growing intermediary channel and we also sell our range through bancassurance partners.

In 2013 insurance is a given. What are consumers looking for when selecting private medical insurance coverage?

We are more and more seeing customers ask what else we can give them over and above just paying their claims, and we’ve recognised that insurance is a given. Consumers are becoming much more discerning and demanding of insurers. We’ve recognised this and are leading the way in developing additional value add tools and services which customers value.

We recently launched a travel toolkit which provides consumers with an array of tools and services fitting for the traveler on the move – for example, online eDocument storage, emergency travel alerts, and dynamic country guides which our customers can refer to as they travel. Marry this with our online Health Risk Assessments (HRAs), and focus on preventative health, and our customers are getting a lot more than just insurance.

Globalization is driven by technology, consumerism and the search for new business. What role is technology playing in your private medical insurance plans?

Of course, health insurance has moved on from just paying claims. Whilst the ability to do that efficiently is crucial: making it simple and easy for our customers is among our top priorities, we’ve asked what else we can do to improve our offering for the broker market through better technology. We can offer full online medical underwriting which will often give you an instant decision in many cases, provided no additional information is required. This forms part of the online Intermediary Zone through which brokers can generate quotes, manage their client database and view clients’ documents online.

Whilst the online functionality is great to have, we know brokers often want to be able to speak to someone directly, so we support this with a real-time Intermediary Support Team who have the capability to generate quotes, and set up policies on a broker’s behalf.

Whilst the majority of our team is based in Glasgow, Scotland, we have local Business Development Managers (BDMs) in Central Europe, Hong Kong, Singapore and the US. Such is the value we feel local decision makers can make to our broker community, we have plans in place to increase the size and footprint of our BDM team and provide more localized Intermediary Support agents to support brokers in market. Each market has its own legal, regulatory and cultural nuances, its own ways of doing business, and its own approach to healthcare - so it’s crucial we have local people in the local market who can bridge those needs.

What is important when designing a private medical insurance product?

You absolutely have to listen to your customer, and listen to the market. We spent a lot of time carrying out research to build a unique proposition in the market, and this has been critical to our success. There’s a lot to be said for asking customers and brokers a direct question – ‘what do you want from a health insurance plan?’ 9 times out of 10 you will get an answer along the lines of making it easier to build a plan that suits their needs – both in terms of plan design and budget. That’s why we’ve invested a lot in building out or proposition, launching 3 brand new products, and creating completely modular plans.

How do you see the cost of expat healthcare changing in the next five years?

Rising medical costs are a universal challenge. Aging populations and increased global health risks have driven up medical trend over the years. We’re seeing this starting to stabilize in some markets, but the research is telling us this is only likely to grow further elsewhere, especially in Asia. This is where our product development team comes in. By developing modular products which give our customers and brokers the maximum level of choice and flexibility, they can build a plan which is customized to what they need. After all, if you know you’re not going to have a baby, you don’t necessarily want to include maternity care on your plan.

It’s all about choice. Our customers get the opportunity to manage their premiums with cost share and deductible options across the core inpatient and outpatient modules on all of our plans. In addition, by looking at preventative health management and offering things like online Health Risk Assessments (HRAs) which are available in our Health & Wellbeing module, customers can proactively manage their own health before they get to the stage of a doctors’ or specialists’ visit - reducing costs accordingly.

For worldwide insurance brokers who want to better understand International Private Medical Insurance, what advice would you give them?

Every time I go out and meet a broker, the lasting impression I get is that people are often surprised about the level of opportunity in this market. There’s a lot of interest out there both at the upper end of the market with Directors and Consultants following their careers, and also at the mid to low end, particularly in the student and retiree markets. The research only points to further growth, with increasing numbers of expatriates becoming ever more globally mobile.

There is undoubtedly a distinct lack of information out there for people looking to move abroad, which is where I really see the broker adding value. Brokers can position themselves as the experts and offer the solutions that best meet the ever-changing needs of their customers.

If you are an insurance broker, intermediary or agent, interested in selling Cigna Global Health Options Individual Medical Insurance Plans, simply click here to register.

iPMI Magazine speaks with Phil Austin, Head of Global Individual Private Medical Insurance at Cigna


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RSA Selects Sapiens Reinsurance Solution

Sapiens International Corporation, (NASDAQ and TASE: SPNS), a global provider of innovative software solutions for the financial services industry, announced today that Royal and Sun Alliance (RSA) – one of the world’s leading multinational general insurance groups, serving customers in around 140 countries – has selected Sapiens Reinsurance, a comprehensive business management and accounting solution, to manage its Group Reinsurance portfolio.

Anticipated benefits include improved management and control of RSA’s reinsurance program and global operations. Sapiens Reinsurance will also provide full support for risk accumulation and exposure management, ensuring accuracy and control of all business processes via automated workflow activities and business functionality, including comprehensive audit and tracking of all business activities and accounting procedures. The solution also features a single repository for all information, providing support for operational reporting, management information and business analytics, statutory requirements and compliance.

Commenting on the selection of Sapiens Reinsurance, RSA’s Head of Group Reinsurance Operations, Steve Lague said, “We have selected Sapiens due to the rich business functionality of its solution – Sapiens Reinsurance – combined with the professionalism of their personnel. We see a tremendous amount of value in Sapiens’ domain expertise and understanding of our unique business needs, as well as the cultural alignment between the organizations which bodes well for the relationship going forwards.”

Roni Al-Dor, President and CEO of Sapiens commented, “We are proud to have RSA as our customer, and appreciate their recognition of our reinsurance solution and the value of our dedicated and skilled staff. RSA joins a growing and impressive portfolio of customers that have chosen to work with Sapiens, and we look forward to helping RSA derive the highest possible value from this solution.”

Raj Ghuman, VP Sales and Operations - Sapiens Europe noted, “We are delighted to have RSA as our customer. The commitment RSA has shown to the Sapiens Reinsurance solution is a strong vote of confidence in both our product and team, and is testimony to the quality and value of the partnership developed between Sapiens and RSA during the selection process.”

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Expatriate Health Insurance

Compare Expatriate Health and Medical Insurance Plans, Coverage, Quotes and Companies, with iPMI Magazine. iPMIM represents leading providers of expat medical, health and travel insurance plans. Find the right and most appropriate Expatriate Health Insurance for overseas travel, global mobility and relocation