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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.


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.


GeoBlue® Makes Medical Care More Convenient for Global Travelers

GeoBlue®, a leader and innovator in serving the health care needs of world travelers, have announced the release of an update to the free member app for iOS, Android and Amazon Kindle devices.

GeoBlue plans combine concierge-level service and mobile technology to help expatriates and travelers identify, access and pay trusted doctors and hospitals in over 180 countries around the globe.

"GeoBlue is committed to providing convenient solutions that allow our members to manage their health care without the added stress of dealing with cumbersome administrative processes," says Liz Dunlavey, Managing Director for GeoBlue. "Today's expats and world travelers rely heavily on their mobile devices, so do our solutions."

The GeoBlue app allows members to travel the world with a convenient way to locate medical providers, request appointments and find local equivalents for over-the-counter and prescription medications. The latest update includes the following enhancements to make it even easier to connect to local quality care in any situation:

  • Updated service request features, including the ability to arrange direct billing to secure cashless access for care
  • Audio translations for medical terms and phrases in twelve languages: Arabic, Chinese, English, French, German, Hebrew, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish
  • U.S. Embassy location and contact information
  • Health and safety alerts detailing security and health issues around the world

The GeoBlue app is available to members through the App Store, Google Play and


GeoBlue® Introduces Global EAP Services for Expats

GeoBlue®, a leading provider of international health insurance for expatriates, announced today that it is introducing global employee assistance (EAP) and wellness coaching for its group members.

These services are offered in partnership with Workplace Options, the world's leading global employee effectiveness company. GeoBlue is the trade name for the international health insurance programs of Worldwide Insurance Services, an independent licensee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association.

"GeoBlue selected Workplace Options based on the company's global reach, resources and track record for top notch service," said Rob Howard, Director of Group Product Sales for GeoBlue. "Our new global EAP and wellness coaching fully round out GeoBlue's outstanding wellness and counseling services for international assignees and their families."

Workplace Options' global EAP services are offered outside of the United States and include confidential counseling and support in more than 200 countries and territories worldwide. All calls are live-answered 24-hours a day by mental health professionals qualified to provide support for work, personal and family challenges. GeoBlue members also have access to extensive web-based content and services from Workplace Options at

What's more, Workplace Options collaborates with Mayo Clinic to deliver enhanced the wellness coaching services now offered by GeoBlue, including weight loss, tobacco cessation and stress management. GeoBlue also offers online wellness services such as health assessments and news, trends and advice on exercise, diet and stress reduction programming provided by the Mayo Clinic.

"We are very pleased to be offering our services through GeoBlue," said Dean Debnam, chief executive officer of Workplace Options. "As a global company committed to increasing employee effectiveness worldwide, this relationship will allow us the opportunity to improve the lives of thousands of expats and their families." GeoBlue began rolling out its global EAP and wellness coaching services to new and existing group expatriate health insurance members in October.

GeoBlue is the trade name for the international health insurance programs of Worldwide Insurance Services, an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. Setting the industry standard, GeoBlue's mission is to provide peace of mind to long- and short-term global travelers by offering competitive insurance protection and technology-powered assistance, including an elite community of thousands of carefully selected, contracted doctors and hospitals in almost every country in the world as well as its signature destination databases, mobile tools and concierge-level services.

The scope of GeoBlue's services and technology creates a complete, reliable, convenient way to keep international travelers and expats healthy and productive. GeoBlue provides group and individual health insurance plans. For more information on group plans, visit

For information on individual plans, visit

Workplace Options helps employees balance their work, family and personal life in order to make their lives healthier, easier and more productive. The company's world-class employee support and work-life services provide information, resources, referrals and consultation on a variety of issues ranging from dependent care, legal and financial issues to stress management and wellness.

Drawing from an international network of credentialed providers and professionals, Workplace Options is the world's largest integrated employee support services and work-life provider. Service centers in Raleigh, N.C., London, Toronto, Dublin, Singapore, Panama, and Tokyo support more than 42 million employees in over 32,000 organizations, across more than 200 countries and territories.

To learn more, visit


Cambodia Travel Advice: Next Mass Protest Will Take Place Over Three Days From 23-25 October 2013 Freedom Park Central Phnom Penh

105,000 British nationals visited Cambodia in 2012. Most visits are trouble-free but there have been reports of assaults and armed robberies against foreigners. There is a low threat from terrorism. Take out comprehensive travel and medical insurance before you travel.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advise against all travel to the Preah Vihear (Khaoi Pra Viharn in Thai) temple area and the Ta Krabey/Ta Moan temple area located on the Thai-Cambodian border. Cambodia held its general election on 28 July in a mostly peaceful environment.

On Monday 29 July, the main opposition party announced it was disputing the results and has called for an investigation into alleged irregularities in the electoral process. From 15 to 17 September a mass opposition protest took place in Phnom Penh and some clashes occurred between police and protestors resulting in one death and several injuries. Small scale protests are ongoing in Phnom Penh and are likely to continue. There have been frequent roadblocks.

The opposition has announced that the next mass protest will take place over three days from 23-25 October. Although the protest will be based in Freedom Park in central Phnom Penh, the opposition plan to march to various embassies around the city, including the British Embassy on the morning of 24 October 2013.

You should expect road blocks, traffic congestion and a heavy police presence. There is a risk of confrontation between protestors and the security forces. Allow extra time for journeys, follow local media and avoid all public gatherings.

There have been a number of security alerts over recent weeks about small explosive devices found around Phnom Penh, the most recent on 13 September outside the National Assembly building.

There is wide scale flooding in Cambodia, including in some parts of popular tourist destinations like Phnom Penh, Siem Riep and Battambang. You should check the state of the roads and airport access before you travel and allow extra time for journeys.

Cambodia Travel Advice: Next Mass Protest Will Take Place Over Three Days From 23-25 October 2013 Freedom Park Central Phnom Penh


Willis Launches Global 360 to Specialty Clients

Willis Limited, a subsidiary of Willis Group Holdings Plc (NYSE:WSH), has announced the first set of insurers offering to support Global 360, a pioneering suite of capacity facilities for its specialty insurance clients.

The first set of insurers will provide clients with a stable and consistent source of new, or additional, follow-market capacity. They are Hiscox, People's Insurance Company of China (PICC) and Berkshire Hathaway. Willis is also in on-going discussions with other Lloyd's Syndicates.

This new suite of facilities will lead to faster placement and claims agreement for Willis's clients and promote greater price competition in the specialty insurance market. Global 360 will function as a set of seven optional capacity facilities across Willis's Aviation, Inspace, Construction, Property & Casualty, Marine, Energy and Facultative Reinsurance London-market subscription business.

The amount of capacity allocated to each portfolio will reflect the market conditions for the particular line of business.

Commenting on the launch of Global 360, Steve Hearn, Chief Executive Officer of Willis Ltd. and Deputy Chief Executive Officer of Willis Group, said: "Willis is constantly seeking to improve our client service and capabilities and we are confident this innovative facility will provide our specialty clients with superior service and further peace of mind around their insurance placements. The proposition of access to whole portfolios of business has proven to be very appealing to capital providers. We have attracted high-quality capital from around the world: insurers who wish to provide additional capacity to the specialty market or expand into new lines of business or territories, and reinsurers who want to enter the market in a cost-effective way. We expect to be able to announce further partners in due course. By providing a door though which additional capital can access portfolios of risk, our clients will benefit from increased price competition and faster placements and claims agreement. This will be a welcome addition to our offering."


Squaremouth Launches Travel Insurance Products from APRIL Travel Protection

Squaremouth, America's fastest growing travel insurance comparison site, is proud to introduce APRIL Travel Protection as its newest travel insurance provider.

APRIL Travel Protection adds five new travel insurance policies to Squaremouth's growing product list, increasing the total number of available policies to 114. APRIL's policies are designed to enhance a 21st century travel experience with a range of insurance and assistance services, including Stress Less benefits and one touch support from anywhere in the world. APRIL offers concierge and assistance services that help travelers locate doctors and medical facilities, translate paperwork, re-book tickets and even schedule dinner reservations. In most cases, medical and travel-related emergencies can be immediately paid for by APRIL because of its Stress Less benefits approach. This means policyholders can avoid the inconvenience of filing claims and paying bills when they return home. Travelers can access their APRIL insurance and assistance services via Skype, live chat, text, email or phone while away from home.

APRIL's U.S. based call center specialists are equipped to communicate with a global network of contacts in over 100 countries.

"We believe that to successfully provide travelers with superior experience, we need to offer comprehensive and hassle-free travel insurance and assistance that doesn't stop with insuring the things we don't want to happen," says Philip Namiech, CEO of APRIL Travel Protection.


Munich Re appoints Bernhard Kaufmann Chief Risk Officer

Munich Re has appointed Bernhard Kaufmann (44) Group Chief Risk Officer with effect from 1 January 2014.

He succeeds Joachim Oechslin, who will be joining the Executive Board of the Credit Suisse Group from that date. Kaufmann has been with Munich Re since 2000, working in several positions. Since 2008, he has been Chief Risk Officer and Head of Integrated Risk Management with Munich Re’s ERGO Insurance Group.

CEO Nikolaus von Bomhard: “Prudent risk management that actively supports our business has been and will remain key to Munich Re's success. We are pleased that, in the person of Bernhard Kaufmann, we are acquiring a new Chief Risk Officer who not only knows all the facets of risk management but is also already familiar with the business segments of Munich Re.”


Aetna Names Tim Cocchi As Country Manager For Hong Kong Operations

Aetna (NYSE: AET), a leading global diversified health care solutions company, has named Tim Cocchi, 52, as country manager for its business operations in Hong Kong.

The appointment is effective immediately. In this new position, Cocchi will be responsible for sales and account management for Aetna’s growing business in Hong Kong and Macau and general management guidance for the company’s Hong Kong office.

“We’re pleased that Tim will be leading our dynamic team in Hong Kong, which is an important growth area for Aetna,” said Larry Hartshorn, Aetna International’s interim general manager, Greater China. “With his deep industry knowledge and years of experience in countries around the world, Tim will help us further expand our role as a major provider of individual and group health care benefits plans for expatriates and local nationals.”

Cocchi brings to Aetna more than 30 years’ experience in the employee benefits and insurance industries, both in the United States and internationally. He began his overseas career in Dubai as AIG’s regional head for group medical and managed care business in the Middle East. He later held similar regional roles stationed in Paris, Tokyo and Athens, where he continued to lead profitable growth in AIG’s Accident & Health lines of business. Most recently, Cocchi worked for AIA in a regional role based in Hong Kong. Cocchi received an M.B.A. from the University of Connecticut and a B.A. in business administration from Western New England College.

Aetna has maintained offices in Hong Kong since 2007 and employs 48 people there. Through a strategic alliance announced earlier this year, Aetna’s medical insurance policies in Hong Kong are underwritten by Starr International, a leading insurance firm licensed by the Hong Kong Insurance Authority.


HCC Ratings Affirmed by A.M. Best and Fitch

HCC Insurance Holdings, Inc. (NYSE:HCC) today announced that A.M. Best Company, Inc. and Fitch Ratings have affirmed the Company's ratings.

"We are very pleased that A.M. Best and Fitch have affirmed HCC's financial strength ratings of "A+" and "AA," respectively. These strong ratings reflect our continued commitment to underwriting discipline and consistent profitability," said Christopher J.B. Williams, HCC's Chief Executive Officer.

On October 3, 2013, A.M. Best announced that it had affirmed the "A+ (Superior)" financial strength ratings (FSR) and "aa" issuer credit ratings (ICR) of the property/casualty companies in the Houston Casualty Group and HCC Life Insurance Company. Additionally, A.M. Best affirmed ICR and debt ratings of "a" on the holding company's $300 million 6.300% Senior Notes due 2019. The outlook for all of A.M. Best's ratings is Stable. The following property/casualty insurance companies comprise Houston Casualty Group, as defined by A.M. Best:

  • Houston Casualty Company
  • U.S. Specialty Insurance Company
  • Avemco Insurance Company
  • HCC Specialty Insurance Company

A.M. Best also affirmed the "A+ (Superior)" FSR and "aa-" ICR for the following insurance company subsidiaries:

  • American Contractors Indemnity Company
  • United States Surety Company

On October 1, 2013, Fitch Ratings announced that it had affirmed the "AA (Very Strong)" insurer financial strength (IFS) ratings for HCC's insurance company subsidiaries and the "A+" issuer default rating for HCC Insurance Holdings, Inc.

In addition, Fitch affirmed the "A" debt rating on the holding company's $300 million 6.300% Senior Notes due 2019. The outlook for all of Fitch's ratings is Stable.

These IFS ratings apply to the following insurance company subsidiaries:

  • Houston Casualty Company
  • U.S. Specialty Insurance Company
  • Avemco Insurance Company
  • HCC Specialty Insurance Company
  • HCC Life Insurance Company
  • American Contractors Indemnity Company
  • United States Surety Company

Headquartered in Houston, Texas, HCC Insurance Holdings, Inc. is a leading specialty insurer with offices in the United States, the United Kingdom, Spain and Ireland. As of June 30, 2013, HCC had assets of $10.2 billion and shareholders' equity of $3.5 billion. HCC's major domestic and international insurance companies have financial strength ratings of "AA (Very Strong)" from Standard & Poor's Corporation, "A+ (Superior)" from A.M. Best Company, Inc., "AA (Very Strong)" from Fitch Ratings, and "A1 (Good Security)" from Moody's Investors Service, Inc.

For more information about HCC, please visit


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