iPMI Magazine Is Proudly Sponsored By:
For a healthier journey.
Healthcare International

International Private Medical Insurance VS Local Health Insurance

In the most recent International Private Medical Insurance Magazine Executive Round Table business forum, we speak with leading C-Level Executives about the major differences between international and local health insurance plans.


As expatriate hot spots around the world continue to mandate health insurance cover for expat employees, under various visa and employment laws, questions from the business community continue to be raised. Issues focus around how new laws will help and assist expatriates and what levels of cover they may expect from local health insurance plans.




Critical Considerations When Designing International Private Medical Health Insurance Plans

Introducing a business into new emerging markets is the response from worldwide business owners to the pre-eminent mega trend that is globalisation. Establishing a global footprint may be of pivotal importance to a wide range of industry, and according to PWC, cross-border assignments are showing no signs of a slowdown. In fact, 59% of CEOs plan to send more staff on international assignments with predictions that global corporate travel and international assignments will increase 50% by 2020.

In the most recent exclusive iPMI Magazine Medical Insurance Round Table, we spoke with leading C-Level Executives at ALC Health, Cigna Global Individual Private Medical Insurance, GeoBlue and Globality Health, about the importance of individual iPMI and how to best approach plan design.


Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota Reports 2014 Results

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota and its family of companies (Blue Cross) today announced audited financial results for 2014. Blue Cross closed out the year with net income of $61.5 million, reflecting positive investment portfolio performance that offset slight operational losses. The organization reported a net operating loss of $8.2 million on full-year revenues of $10.1 billion, for a negative operating margin of one-tenth of one percent (0.1%).

Blue Cross reported more than $9.1 billion paid in medical claims for the year, representing 90 cents of every premium dollar collected going directly to cover health care costs. Additionally, Blue Cross paid more than $205 million in taxes, assessments and surcharges for the year. Overall year-end 2014 enrollment of 2.6 million members represents a slight decrease from year-end 2013.

“Our operating performance for 2014 was favorable to projections, amounting to a near break-even year for the organization,” said Michael Guyette, president and CEO of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota. “We knew 2014 would be a challenging year, as the market continued to go through significant transition related to health reform. We continue to engage with multiple stakeholders in order to explore ways of bringing additional cost and coverage stability for both the short- and long-term.”

During 2014, Blue Cross celebrated several successes in communities across the state. Among them:

  •     Collaborated with Allina, Entira, Minnesota Community Health Network (MCHN), Northern Health Alliance and Sanford Health in support of innovations that promote advancements in health care affordability and quality.
  •     Opened the company’s first health insurance retail store, where Minnesotans can receive health plan information, service and claims support.
  •     Raised more than $1 million in employee donations through the annual Community Giving Campaign to benefit more than 700 nonprofits statewide.
  •      Supported efforts of Minnesota communities to enhance access to health coverage and improve health, including:

o    Southern Prairie Community Care, an Accountable Community for Health, focused on improving the health of residents of 12 southwestern Minnesota counties.
o    Access to coverage grants, helping low-income Minnesotans enroll in insurance.
o    Act on Alzheimer’s, helping foster dementia-friendly communities.
o    Increasing access to various dental care programs in Mankato, Bemidji, Duluth and Rochester.

Audited results include the consolidated financial statements for businesses operating under Aware Integrated Inc. (AII), a non-profit corporation and parent organization. AII serves as the holding company for all affiliates and subsidiaries, including the following regulated businesses associated with Blue Cross:

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota — A nonprofit health insurance company and independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.

Blue Plus — A nonprofit health maintenance organization (HMO) that offers health plans and contracted provider networks throughout Minnesota to individuals and local, state and national groups.

SelectAccount — A third-party administrator of medical spending accounts included in consumer-directed health plans throughout the country.

Blue Cross provides all information, reports and audited details as required by the State of Minnesota for both commercial and public program products. Detailed financial statements for the organization’s regulated businesses are filed with the Minnesota Department of Commerce. A consolidated earnings statement for 2014 results is available at

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, with headquarters in the St. Paul suburb of Eagan, was chartered in 1933 as Minnesota’s first health plan and continues to carry out its charter mission today as a health company: to promote a wider, more economical and timely availability of health services for the people of Minnesota. Blue Cross is a not-for-profit, taxable organization. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, headquartered in Chicago. Go to to learn more about Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota.


Insured Losses From Disasters Below Average In 2014 Despite Record Number Of Natural Catastrophe Events

According to the latest sigma study, global insured losses from natural catastrophes and man-made disasters were USD 35 billion in 2014, down from USD 44 billion in 2013 and well below the USD 64 billion-average of the previous 10 years. There were 189 natural catastrophe events in 2014, the highest ever onsigma records, causing global economic losses of USD 110 billion. Around 12 700 people lost their lives in all disaster events, down from as many as 27 000 in 2013, making it one of the lowest numbers ever recorded in a single year.

Total economic losses from all disaster events in 2014 were USD 110 billion, down from USD 138 billion in 2013, and well below the previous 10-year annual average of USD 200 billion. Of these total economic losses, USD 101 billion were due to natural catastrophes, with cyclones in Asia Pacific causing the most damage. Of the USD 35 billion in global insured losses last year, USD 28 billion were attributed to natural catastrophe events.

Weather events in the US, Europe and Japan cause most insured losses

"The frequency of catastrophic events appear to be increasing, with a record number of natural catastrophes last year," says Kurt Karl, Swiss Re's Chief Economist. For example, a series of severe thunderstorms triggered sizable losses in both the US and Europe last year. In May, a spate of severe storms with hail in the US resulted in the largest insured loss event of the year, with insurance claims of USD 2.9 billion.

In Europe in the following month, the low pressure system Ela brought large and damaging hail to parts of France and Belgium, and strong winds in Germany. The combined insured losses were USD 2.2 billion, making Ela the second most expensive hail event in Europe on sigma records.

Harsh winters in the US and in Japan were another major cause of insurance claims in 2014. The US experienced multiple storms with heavy snow and long stretches of freezing temperatures. Insured losses from all winter storms in the US were USD 2.4 billion, more than double the average of the previous 10 years. The largest loss event was a storm in January that impacted 17 states, with snow falling as far south as Florida, leading to overall insured losses of USD 1.7 billion. Meanwhile in Japan, a severe cold snap in mid-February brought the heaviest snow in decades, killing 26 people and injuring many more, primarily in road accidents. The insured loss total was estimated at USD 2.5 billion.

It was another quiet hurricane season in the North Atlantic in 2014, with no major hurricane making US landfall for the ninth year in succession. This was the main reason for the overall below-average insured losses last year. In contrast, there were 20 named storms in the eastern Pacific, the most since 1992. Of those, in September  Hurricane Odile in the Baja of California, Mexico, caused the biggest event loss. The region is a tourist destination with many hotels and commercial properties and consequently, insurance penetration is relatively high. The insured losses were USD 1.7 billion, making Odile the second  largest insured loss event ever in Mexico, after Hurricane Wilma in 2005 which caused insured losses of USD 2.1 billion.

Protection gap issues remain
Lack of insurance cover, however, remains an issue in many countries. For example, in May, low pressure system Yvette brought very heavy rain to Serbia, Bosnia and Croatia, in some areas the heaviest downpour in 120 years. Several dams failed and the ensuing floods and debris flows destroyed houses, infrastructure and crops. There were 82 deaths, the largest loss of life from a natural catastrophe event in Europe in 2014, and total losses were estimated to be USD 3 billion, mostly uninsured. Italy also endured a very wet year, with a series of flash floods events causing overall economic losses of more than USD 1 billion, also largely uninsured.

There are areas which are underinsured in the US also. In August last year, the South Napa earthquake caused structural and inventory damage totaling USD 0.7 billion, particularly in the numerous barrel storage facilities of the local wine industry. However, the insured loss was just USD 0.16 billion. "In spite of high exposure to seismic risk, insurance take-up in San Francisco County and California state generally is still very low, even for commercial properties. That's why insured losses, in certain areas, can be surprisingly low when disaster events happen," says Lucia Bevere, co-author of the study.

Severe thunderstorms generate mounting losses
This sigma includes a special chapter on severe thunderstorms, which are also called severe convective storms.1 The total costs and insured losses of severe convective storms have been on an upward trend over the last 25 years. This is mainly due to rising losses in the US where the frequency of storms (particularly tornadoes) and insurance penetration are highest, and in Europe where hail storms and flash flooding happen often.

The global insured losses from severe convective storms rose by an average annual rate of 9% in the period 1990 and 2014.2 Insured losses from all-weather events in the same period rose by 6.6% on the same basis. In the US alone, insured losses from severe convective storms averaged USD 8 billion annually between 1990 and 2014. And from 2008, those losses have exceeded USD 10 billion every year, including in 2014 when insured losses were USD 13 billion, the fourth highest on sigma records.

 [1] Severe convective storms include tornadoes, hail, thunder, heavy rains and flash floods. Generally speaking, a storm is classified as “severe” based on the threshold where damage is expected to occur, typically winds of 90 km/26 miles per hour and/or hail of  2 cm in diametre or more in countries using the metric system and 1 inch or more in US reference terminology,

[2] To smooth out the short term-fluctuations and highlight the longer-term trends, the annual growth rate is calculated based on the average of the years 1986-1990 and 2010-2014.


Adobe Introduces Document Cloud

Adobe have announced Adobe Document Cloud, a modern way to manage critical documents at home, in the office and across devices. Adobe Document Cloud will address the waste and inefficiency associated with document processes. Whether its school permission slips, health insurance forms or complex enterprise document workflows, Adobe will transform how people and businesses get work done. From the inventor of the PDF document standard, Adobe’s Document Cloud builds on the success of its Creative and Marketing Clouds, which are radically transforming the creative and marketing professions. At the heart of Document Cloud is the all-new Adobe Acrobat DC, which will take e-signatures mainstream by delivering free e-signing as part of the integrated solution.

Adobe Document Cloud consists of a set of integrated services that use a consistent online profile and personal document hub. People will be able to create, review, approve, sign and track documents whether on a desktop or mobile device. Acrobat DC, with a touch-enabled user interface, will be available both via subscription and one-time purchase.

“People and businesses are stuck in document-based processes that are slow, wasteful, and fragmented. While most forms of content have successfully made the move to digital (books, movies, music), documents and the process of working with them have not, and that needs to change,” said Bryan Lamkin, senior vice president of Technology and Corporate Development at Adobe. “Adobe Document Cloud will revolutionize and simplify how people get work done with critical documents.”

A study by Adobe titled Paper Jam: Why Documents are Dragging Us Down, has exposed how antiquated business processes and outdated ways of working with documents are having a dramatic impact on productivity, efficiency and worker satisfaction. The findings show that 83 percent of workers feel their success and ability to be productive at work are slowed down by outdated ways of working with documents, and 61 percent said they would change jobs if the only benefit was dramatically less document and administrative work. It’s a problem that businesses can no longer afford to ignore. Read the Paper Jam press release here.

Adobe Document Cloud will include:

  • All-new Acrobat DC
    With Acrobat DC, Adobe is taking the world’s best PDF solution to an entirely new level. With an intuitive, touch-enabled interface, Acrobat DC delivers powerful new functionality to get work done anywhere. The new Tool Center offers simplified and quick access to the tools you use most. And, Acrobat DC uses Photoshop imaging magic to convert any paper document into a digital, editable file that can be sent for signature. Click here to discover more about Acrobat DC.
  • E-signing Anywhere, for Everyone
    eSign Services (formerly Adobe EchoSign) will be included with every subscription of Acrobat DC, which is part of both Document Cloud and Adobe Creative Cloud. Now you can electronically send and sign any document from any device. New Fill & Sign makes signing anything fast and easy, including smart autofill across devices.
  • Introducing Mobile Link and New Mobile Apps
    Access your work as you move between desktop and devices, and pick up that form or document where you left off with new Mobile Link — your files, settings and signatures stay with you. With two new mobile apps, Acrobat Mobile and Fill & Sign, people can create, edit, comment and sign documents directly on their mobile devices. Plus, use the camera on your device as a portable scanner to easily convert any paper documents to digital, editable files that can be sent for signature.
  • Document Management & Control
    Services such as Send & Track let you manage, track and control your documents. With intelligent tracking, you gain visibility into where critical documents are along their process, including who has opened them and when. Control features also help to protect sensitive information, both inside and outside the firewall, for business or personal use.

Integration with Adobe Creative Cloud and Marketing Cloud

Acrobat has been central to Adobe Creative Cloud and its massive success — enabling creative mock-ups, markup and response, pre-press support, and more. Adobe Document Cloud will extend that use, allowing creatives to work with PDFs anywhere, and adding e-signing capabilities and the ability to synch with Creative Cloud. Adobe Creative Cloud customers will have access to Document Cloud through Acrobat DC, which will be included with a membership to Creative Cloud.

Today, Adobe Document Cloud e-Sign services integrates with Adobe Experience Manager Forms to provide seamless experiences to customers across Web and mobile sites. In the future, Adobe will integrate key components of Adobe Marketing Cloud to help businesses test, measure and manage documents, providing the same visibility into usage and interactions with documents that marketers already have with digital marketing assets today.

Document Cloud for the Enterprise

According to a recent survey by IDC¹, disconnected document processes are pervasive and negatively impact all areas of business. More than 80 percent of document work is still not digital, with documents often making one or more transitions into and out of paper, especially when signatures are involved. Each time that happens, valuable time is lost. In addition, workers are spending more than one-third of their time on administrative process instead of core work.

“Our study shows that organizations of all kinds are suffering from what we call the ‘document disconnect’,” said Melissa Webster, Program Vice President, Content and Digital Media Technologies, IDC. “[It] afflicts organizations of all sizes in all industries around the world. It results in significant delays and errors across critical business functions such as sales contracting and quoting, procurement, talent acquisition, and onboarding. And it is a serious impediment to business that — according to our respondents — negatively affects revenue, compliance, cost, productivity and customer experience.”

Document Cloud for the enterprise addresses this disconnect by providing departments and entire organizations with services, including enterprise-class e-sign services, that bring speed and efficiency to business document workflows, both inside and outside the organization. Document Cloud for the enterprise offers solutions for industries including healthcare and insurance, financial services, media and entertainment, government, and schools and universities. In addition, enterprises can centrally manage Document Cloud and Creative Cloud user accounts and licenses with single sign-on (SSO) in the Adobe Enterprise Dashboard.

According to the IDC survey, business leaders have estimated that the potential benefits of addressing the ‘document disconnect’ would increase revenue by 36 percent, reduce costs by 30 percent while reducing compliance risks by 23 percent. It’s an upside that any business should embrace.


Whiplash Costs £2.5bn Per Year, Adding £93 To Motor Premiums

Whiplash-type claims have returned to near-record levels and are costing motorists £2.5bn*, which adds £93 to the average motor insurance premium of £372**.

A new report commissioned by Aviva, the UK’s largest insurer, concludes that fundamental reform is needed to reduce the number and cost of whiplash claims which will, in turn, cut the cost of motor insurance for the long term.

The UK is on track to submit more than 840,000 motor injury claims*** to the Claims Portal for the year ending April 2015, or 2,300 claims every day. This is up 9% on the previous year - or 200 extra claims per day.

Aviva analysed the motor injury claims it received in 2014 and found that 80% included whiplash, a significantly higher figure than seen in many other European countries. One of the reasons for the high number of whiplash claims is the huge financial incentives for the third parties who submit the claims. Aviva’s data shows that 96% of personal injury claims it received last year were brought by third parties such as claims management companies (CMCs), personal injury lawyers and alternative business structures (ABS).

Maurice Tulloch, CEO, UK and Ireland General Insurance, Aviva said, “Last summer Aviva said that motor premiums will have ‘nowhere to go but up’ if we failed to address the excessive numbers of minor motor injury claims and the escalating costs surrounding them. We are here to help our customers when they need it, and pay genuine claims quickly. But we must address how to best treat the excessive number of fraudulent, exaggerated and minor whiplash claims which are driving up the cost of insurance.

“Sadly, we are now witnessing a resurgence in the number and cost of whiplash and soft-tissue injury claims despite some very positive developments, such as the LASPO Act, which helped reduce customer premiums. The introduction of a new system for sourcing medical reports in soft tissue injury claims (known as MedCo) is also a step forward.”

Out of step with Europe
Aviva commissioned Frontier Economics to understand what the UK could learn from countries that have successfully reduced the number and cost of whiplash claims between 2005 and 2013. Their analysis established that UK motor premium rates rose faster than other European countries over the last decade, including Germany, France, Sweden, Norway and Spain.

Issue UK France Germany
Average Motor Premium £372 On average, 40% less than UK premiums^ On average 50% less than UK premiums^
Whiplash claims 80% of motor injury claims 3% of motor injury claims^ 47% of injury claims^
Injury claims trend Up 62% from 2005-13; accidents fell 30% during same period Down 55% from 2000-14, in line with fall in number of accidents^ Down 50% over 40 years, in line with fall in number of accidents^
Lawyers used/ Legal fees Fixed fees of £500 + 25% contingency fees  95% of low value injury claims settle without court proceedings^ Fixed fees of €300 (£216)^

Aviva’s Roadmap to Fighting Whiplash
Aviva has developed six recommendations for reducing the number and cost of whiplash claims. Introducing these in the UK could achieve the desired outcome of fewer whiplash claims, lower premiums, helping those with genuine injuries get the care they deserve and tackling those who seek to abuse the system by profiting from fraudulent, exaggerated, or minor, short-term injuries. Key features include:

  1. Reduced Limitation Period: All whiplash/ soft tissue injury claims should be made within 12 months of the accident as opposed to the usual three year limitation period.
  2. Time Limits and a Threshold: The claimant’s symptoms should last longer than 3 months. This should be evidenced by medical records.
  3. Rehabilitation – care, not cash: Insurers should provide treatment of up to three months to their policyholders or the injured party regardless of who is at fault for the accident.
  4. Medical Evidence - Where the symptoms persist beyond three months, an independent medical report should be obtained from the new Government vehicle MedCo between three and 12 months after the accident for whiplash/soft tissue injury claims. 
  5. Level of Disability – Medical reports should assess the level of disability, and compensation would be recoverable if there is actual evidence of injury. 
  6. Predictable damages – Where a claimant is able to demonstrate he or she has overcome the threshold, damages for pain, suffering and loss of amenity should be awarded against a clear, transparent tariff.

Aviva’s package of reforms demonstrates how a ‘care, not cash’ system of treating minor, short-term whiplash-type injuries could operate. Aviva first outlined its suggestion of treating minor whiplash with rehabilitation in July last year, which, in conjunction with other reforms such as banning all referral fees and raising the Small Claims Track Limit, could save £50 on the cost of motor insurance. Both referral fees and the excessive legal fees are adding to the cost of motor insurance, but failing to deliver any tangible value for the customer.

Maurice Tulloch continued, “The UK’s compensation culture is at the root cause of the £93 cost of whiplash claims paid by motorists within their insurance premiums. Our customers have told us they are fed up with compensation culture and all its trimmings: the nuisance texts and calls from claims management companies, excessive lawyers’ fees and fraudsters abusing the system for their own financial gain. It doesn’t have to be like this.

“Aviva’s plan shows that it is possible to cut the cost of motor insurance and ensure those who have suffered genuine injuries get the care or compensation they deserve.

“We believe that everyone is entitled to fairly priced insurance to protect what is important to them. Introducing these reforms is a challenge but we will not hide away from this - the UK’s motorists deserve even more affordable motor insurance.”

* £2.5bn figure uses Datamonitor settled claims data, Aviva average whiplash settled claim value and Aviva whiplash claims incidence.
** ABI Motor Premium Tracker Q4 2014
*** Claims Portal RTA Management Information, January 2015
^ Frontier Economics, Motor insurance compensation systems with a focus on whiplash and soft tissue injuries, March 2015
^^Aviva, Road to Reform: Tackling the UK’s Compensation Culture, July 2014


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. 


CEGA Group Appoints New Chief Executive To Drive Future Growth Plans

CEGA Group ("CEGA"), the independent medical assistance and claims business, is delighted to announce that it has appointed Alistair Hardie as its new Group Chief Executive with effect from 30th January 2015, strengthening its management team and continuing its on-going investment in its core business.

Alistair will focus on driving an ambitious growth agenda with both existing and new clients, building on international partnerships and developing further propositions for insurers and the increasingly active standalone corporate market. Alistair has 30 years' experience delivering solutions to the insurance and corporate sectors with a particular focus on Travel, Health and Accident Insurance and outsourcing. Most recently Alistair was CEO Europe for Cigna's Individual Health, Life and Accident business, having previously been part of the management team of FirstAssist Insurance Services when it was acquired by Cigna in 2011.

Out-going CEO, Graham Ponsford, who will become Group Chairman, commented, "CEGA has built a market-leading range of propositions from international assistance and medical transfers to claims management and pre-travel consultancy. This further investment will help us drive these further into our chosen markets, both in the UK and internationally through our global partners. As a result of Alistair's appointment CEGA will strengthen its relationships with its blue-chip partners, and develop additional long-term revenue streams."

Alistair Hardie said "CEGA's reputation for excellence in patient care and exceptional customer service is a fantastic foundation on which we can build further success. I look forward to working with the management team and all the committed staff across the business to create a full service, end-to-end range of solutions for insurers, corporates and public sector bodies who have customers or staff requiring medical advice or assistance when travelling, need help in planning or risk assessing their activities, or require cost-effective delivery of outsourced claims services.”


Pacific Prime’s Health Insurance Hong Kong Team Strengthened With New Renewals Manager

Pacific Prime is delighted to announce the arrival of the latest addition to its health insurance Hong Kong team, Danielle Cotton. Taking up the role of Renewals Manager, Mrs. Cotton will oversee the renewals team as a whole with a strong focus on the renewal of corporate accounts in particular.

Initially starting her Pacific Prime venture in 2009, Mrs. Cotton first joined the Pacific Prime team in Shanghai where she took up the role of Business Development. By applying her customer service skills experience, Mrs. Cotton was able to guide clients towards suitable plans and advise them during the application process, becoming the main point of contact for Pacific Prime clients in Shanghai.

In 2010, Mrs. Cotton shifted to Pacific Prime’s renewals team where her responsibilities evolved to assist existing clients with their renewal options and the associated tasks involved in this process. Upon returning from maternity leave in 2013, Mrs. Cotton took up the Renewals Manager role, overseeing the Shanghai renewals team and assisting them in finding ways to continually improve renewal retention rates. During her time as Renewals Manager in Shanghai, Mrs. Cotton focused her skills on improving the existing internal renewal procedures and was able to introduce greater levels of control regarding the handling of renewals and perfecting the system so as to offer clients the most efficient service possible.

Regarding her new role, Mrs. Cotton commented “I look forward to working with [the Hong Kong team] to make the team even stronger as well as trying to improve internal procedures and bring our systems into line with our other offices.”

Mrs. Cotton has shown great success in striving to enhance the profitability of Pacific Prime, and after increasing efficiency levels in Shanghai, it looks like she is already following the same path here in the Hong Kong office. With her six years of experience in the health insurance industry, Mrs. Cotton will undoubtedly be a key player in the Hong Kong team, assisting Pacific Prime in maintaining its title as Hong Kong’s largest international private medical insurance provider.


Trends in Asia Pacific Employee Engagement Report

Aon Hewitt, has launched the 2014 Trends in Asia Pacific Employee Engagement Report.

As the global economy continues to stabilize, GDP growth improved across most of the Asia Pacific region during the past year, with an overall growth rate of 4%. The outlook for Asia Pacific’s growth is to remain steady and higher than the global average, at 5.4% in 2014 and 5.5% in 2015. Overall, positive changes have impacted engagement levels in Asia Pacific, as reflected in the key findings below.

“In many cases, employers in Asia Pacific will be building on a strong foundation: our report shows that employees in the region have already attained levels of engagement that are on par with the global average. There is also plenty of room for improvement: 24% of Asia Pacific employees are only passively engaged. The challenge for employers is to improve and sustain levels, to support continued business growth”, said Gabriela Domicelj, Regional Engagement Practice Leader, Asia Pacific.

Asia Pacific employee engagement in 2013 was higher than before the financial crisis. Rising from 58% in 2012 to 61% in 2013, Asia Pacific’s average engagement score rose to 61% in 2013 from 58% in 2012, a bigger increase than was seen in the global engagement score, which rose to 61% in 2013 from 60% in 2012. In 2013, Asia Pacific shares the same engagement score of 61% as the global average. Of the 12 countries represented in this report, nine saw improvements in employee engagement levels in 2013, two saw scores decline, and one remained the same. Compared to the global average, Asia Pacific employees are more willing to advocate for their employers, but less willing to stay in the organization.

In 2013, Asia Pacific reported increases in all Say, Stay and Strive scores (see Appendix for Aon Hewitt’s Engagement Model). Most significantly, Say scores increased by six points to 69%, showing that more employees are saying good things about their employers. Despite an increase since 2012, the Stay score of 55% remained the lowest of the three, reflecting that just under half of employees in Asia Pacific are willing to stay with their organizations. Almost two-thirds of all employees in Asia Pacific are engaged; 24% are passively engaged and present a great opportunity for employers to improve their engagement levels.

The engagement distribution in Asia Pacific shares an identical pattern with global employee engagement distributions. 21% of employees are highly engaged, leaving a large potential for employers to improve engagement, as 64% of employees in Asia Pacific are either moderately or passively engaged. With the right management and work conditions, these employees could become highly engaged. The overall work experience in Asia Pacific is improving. Globally, overall work experience improved by 4%, while Asia Pacific showed an increase of 6%. The areas that have improved the most are employer brand and foundational elements (i.e., safety, resources).

However, perception of leadership and company practices has dropped. This may be because Asia Pacific employees are becoming more sophisticated and therefore more discerning about business and strategic imperatives. Career Opportunities and Pay remain the top two engagement drivers in Asia Pacific. Career Opportunities were the number one driver both globally and in Asia Pacific in 2013 (Career Opportunities ranked as the top engagement driver in nine out of 12 countries). Pay has a particularly higher ranking in Asia Pacific compared to the rest of the world, and is valued notably in China, South Korea, and Thailand.

Anand Shankar, Performance, Talent and Rewards Regional Practice leader, Asia Pacific, said, “Employees today have access to vast amounts of data that allow them to compare potential and current employers on multiple levels, and they are using it to ensure they get the best jobs and conditions possible. Employees in Asia Pacific are becoming increasingly clear and vocal about what they want. Our research shows that employees in Asia Pacific want career opportunities even more than they want pay increases.”

Gabriela Domicelj added: “Engagement drivers differ substantially by country. Asia Pacific shows a great deal of cultural, economic, and political diversity. Talent management practices also vary greatly in maturity across countries and industries in this region. Operating in this complex environment presents a challenge for leaders trying to drive high levels of employee engagement.

Organizations that invest in understanding and managing the key drivers of employee engagement across their multiple constituencies will be able to drive performance in more efficient and effective ways”. The report first analyzes employee engagement trends for the Asia Pacific region, then goes into a detailed breakdown of each of the 12 countries surveyed. These data-backed insights are important for helping employers understand how current trends in demographics and culture are reshaping what employees want in exchange for their efforts. With these trends in mind, companies need to take action to optimize employees’ motivation and productivity.

Overall, in 2013, Asia Pacific witnessed changes in employee engagement. In particular, the region saw improvements in the number of “highly engaged” employees, which increased by 5% to 21%, and in the engagement levels of Millennials, which rose by 5% in 2013 compared with 2012. Looking ahead, employers should focus on ways to sustain growth and avoid volatility in employee engagement levels, especially in fast-growing economies such as China, Indonesia, Thailand and India. Investing wisely in engagement-improvement initiatives is the key for business and HR leaders. The following top five engagement drivers in Asia Pacific highlight the opportunities we see for organizations to improve their employee engagement levels.

Career Opportunities – consistently shows up as the most important employee engagement driver across all Asia Pacific countries. The importance of Career Opportunities within an organization is evident across generations, job levels and job function. Thus, having a flexible and clearly defined career path is one of the most critical improvements for employers to focus on.

Career Opportunities also includes having options for short-term assignments and geographic transfers. Strengths in this area will certainly be a differentiating factor for employers in Asia Pacific.

Pay – After rising in the rankings for two years, Pay remains the second most important engagement driver in Asia Pacific. The findings around pay indicate that economic pressures, threats of inflation, and historical pay constraints may have caused pay to be more highly sought after in specific Asia Pacific countries. Employers should focus on “pay-for performance” strategies, drive more variation in reward levels that are aligned with engagement and performance output, and motivate their employees to give their best performance.

Brand Alignment – Brand Alignment has risen from number four to number three in the list of top five impact drivers. It is important that organizations are consistent in keeping the promises they make to their employees and in providing the promised experience for employees once on-board. Those organizations that focus on articulating a unique and compelling employee value proposition for prospective and current employees and who then deliver on that proposition will be rewarded with higher employee engagement.

Recognition – Recognition schemes are certainly less costly for an employer than direct pay and can also have a significant impact on employee engagement. Despite many economic and business pressures, engagement is on the rise – more employees have said good things about their company are committed to staying with them and have put in extra efforts at work. These employees deserve recognition from their employers, which will in turn result in sustained or even higher engagement.

Managing Performance – The only driver that is new on the list compared to the previous year. Employees in Asia Pacific want to work for organizations that focus on clear performance outcomes. Employers need a holistic approach to ‘employee performance’ as part of their culture, and one that is supported by enabling performance management processes, effective people management, ensuring learning and development supports the capability required to perform, and reinforcing performance through rewards and recognition.

Gabriela Domicelj concluded, “Today’s talent challenges in Asia Pacific are significant. Organizations have to invest wisely in their employees to stay ahead of the race. Getting employee engagement right is a major step towards driving positive business results through increased employee productivity. Now is the time to focus on improving employee engagement in workplaces across Asia Pacific”.

Subscribe to this RSS feed

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