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Travel Advice and Warnings Italy: Large Demonstrations Are Expected To Take Place In Rome On 18 And 19 October

Over 2.5 million British nationals visit Italy every year. Most visits are trouble-free. Take out comprehensive travel and medical insurance before you travel.

Large demonstrations are expected to take place in Rome on 18 and 19 October. You should take extra care and avoid all demonstrations.

Local public transport strikes may affect travel at short notice.

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. 

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Interdean Welcomes New Job Opportunities for Expats in Qatar

According to Expat Forum, a new report has suggested that the nation’s population is estimated to grow to more than 2 million in the last quarter of 2013, increasing to 2.2 million the following year.

This population growth means additional investments in housing, roads and schools will be needed, leading to economic growth in the years ahead. The last spell of population growth was during 2004-2009, where population grew at an average annual rate of 15.5%, during the development of Qatar’s hydrocarbon sector. International removals company, Interdean, specialises in providing a comprehensive moving service for a variety of customers around the world, including those moving to Qatar.

Experienced in the needs of expats when arriving in a new country, the specialists were pleased to hear the recent news. A representative shares their thoughts. “It can be difficult to find employment in a new country, so we’re really pleased to see that a popular expat destination such as Qatar is offering so many new vacancies over the coming years. Our advice to those seeking new employment overseas would be to demonstrate their dedication by becoming familiar with the local language as far as possible, as well as carrying out plenty of research beforehand.”

Interdean is pleased to have an office in Qatar, as well as across 122 other countries around the world.

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Allianz Global Assistance Launches New and Enhanced Products for Travel Agent Channel

Allianz Global Assistance, one of the largest travel insurance and assistance providers in the U.S., today announced that it has launched a new portfolio of Allianz Travel Insurance core retail plans sold by travel agents.

The company's popular "Classic Plan" is now a family of plans that include optional additional coverage to better fit the needs of travelers. The company is also introducing an inexpensive "Essential Plan" for travelers who do not require post departure benefits such as medical and baggage protection.

"As the country's leading travel insurance provider, we pay close attention to trends in leisure travel and we are continually innovating to meet the changing needs of today's traveler," said Brad Gray, director of retail channel management for Allianz Global Assistance USA. "This new portfolio provides travel agents with the simplest and most competitive line of products that we have ever offered."

The new core retail lineup includes these plans: Essential Basic Classic (base plan) Classic with optional Required to Work enhancement Classic with Trip+ Classic with Cancel Anytime The company's "Classic" family of plans now includes a base plan as well as optional benefit enhancements such as Required to Work, which provides coverage for specific work obligations; and Trip+, which has double the coverage limits compared to the base plan, for benefits that include missed connections, emergency medical and dental, emergency medical transportation, baggage loss/damage and baggage delay.

"Classic with Cancel Anytime," provides 100% cash back when trips are canceled or interrupted due to a covered reason, and 80% cash back for most other unforeseen reasons. On all Classic plans, kids 17 and under can be added for no additional cost when traveling with parents or grandparents.

The company's former "Deluxe" product has been retired, but many of that product's benefits can now be found in Classic with Trip Plus.

"Agents told us to make selling travel insurance simpler, which is why we're so excited about the entire Classic family of products," said Gray. "They only need to learn one product -- Classic -- and then add coverage options. Classic with Trip+ solves an age-old conundrum for agents who sold international trips to families: Do they offer the value of kids being added at no additional cost or do they offer a product with more coverage? Classic with Trip+ solves this problem by including higher coverage limits while still insuring kids 17 and under at no additional cost when traveling with their parents or grandparents."

The new Essential Plan offers a cost-effective insurance option for agents who sell domestic air trips to their clients who already have domestic health insurance. It was designed for people who need some cancellation coverage and existing medical conditions coverage to protect their domestic air investments. As with all Allianz Travel Insurance products, the Essential Plan doesn't have any non-commissionable processing fees which means agents get credit for 100% of their customer's purchase.

* - Not all situations are covered. Nothing in the above should be interpreted to suggest that any other particular situation would be covered. Terms, conditions, limitations and exclusions apply to all plans and benefits described herein. For a complete description of the coverage, carefully review the terms and conditions of the certificate of insurance. Insurance coverage is underwritten by BCS Insurance Company (OH, Administrative Office: Oakbrook Terrace, Ill), rated "A-"(Excellent) by A.M. Best Co., under BCS Form No. 52.201 series or 52.401 series, or Jefferson Insurance Company (NY, Administrative Office: Richmond, VA), rated "A" (Excellent) by A.M. Best Co., under Jefferson Form No. 102-C series or 102-P series, or Jefferson Form No. 105-C series or 105-P series, depending on the insured's state. Allianz Global Assistance and Allianz Travel Insurance are brands of AGA Service Company. AGA Service Company is the licensed producer and administrator of this plan and an affiliate of Jefferson Insurance Company. The insured shall not receive any special benefit or advantage because of the affiliation between AGA Service Company and Jefferson Insurance Company.

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Foreign Travel Advice Burma: Small Explosion At The Traders Hotel In Rangoon

We are aware of reports of a small explosion at the Traders hotel in Rangoon on Monday 14 October. Reports are that one US citizen was injured. There are no reports of any British nationals injured in the incident.

Around 7,300 British tourists visited Burma in 2011. Most visits are trouble-free. Take out comprehensive travel and medical insurance before you travel.

Credit and Debit cards are not widely accepted.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advise against all but essential travel to the townships of Meiktila, Mahlaing, Tharzi and Wundwin in Meiktila town, Mandalay region.

The FCO advise against all but essential travel to Rakhine State except for the tourist resort of Ngapali and travel to/from the resort via Thandwe airport.

The FCO advise against all but essential travel to Kachin State (except the towns of Myitkyina, Bhamo and Putao) due to continued risk of armed conflict.

Take care in the border areas with Thailand, Laos or China. The situation in ethnic states where armed groups operate is volatile. There is ongoing conflict in the far north of Shan State and recent low level conflict in Mon State.

There is a high threat from terrorism.

Avoid all demonstrations and large gatherings and don’t take photographs or videos of the military, the police or demonstrations.

There are restrictions on freedom of movement and speech.

British Embassy officials are not allowed to travel freely outside Rangoon without permission from the Burmese government, except to a limited number of destinations. Consular assistance in an emergency may be restricted or delayed.

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Vertafore Further Automates Producer Sales Authorizations with Producer Manager

Vertafore have announced Producer Sales Authorizations in Producer Manager, which uses producer credentials to help insurers determine if a producer holds the required credentials to sell their products.

Producer Manager is an automated solution for just-in-time producer sales authorizations, supplying actionable insight into producer status to improve time-to-market while lowering costs and compliance risk. In an April 2013 survey of insurance professionals conducted by Vertafore regarding producer lifecycle management, nearly 65 percent of respondents said new business had been delayed due to authorization gaps.

A centralized rules engine ensures that policies are being followed consistently, and is easier to use by underwriting techs that often are not familiar with licensing and related producer sales authorization compliance issues and requirements. For carriers wanting to know if a producer is authorized to sell, the solution can automatically turn a “no” answer into “yes” so that business is not interrupted while waiting for manual appointment processing.

This is the ideal solution for carriers seeking to implement a just-in-time appointment process. For agencies, it delivers visibility into sales agent activity so that the licensing department can be proactive about solving issues.

“Managing producer sales authorizations is a critical requirement in the business of insurance. Without it, the risk of compliance fines increase, growth can stall due to reputation issues and operational bottlenecks, and more importantly insurance issuance can be delayed negatively affecting customer satisfaction,” said Tim Owen, vice president of product management at Vertafore. “Vertafore delivers one of the most complete processes and technology packages to ensure agencies and carriers remain compliant and are well positioned for the future.”

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MLOZ Selects Sapiens IDIT Software Suite for Mutual, Mandatory and Complementary Health Insurances

Sapiens International Corporation, (NASDAQ and TASE: SPNS), a global provider of innovative software solutions for the financial services industry, announced today that MLOZ, the National Federation of Independent Health Insurance Funds, offering services to more than 18% of the Belgian population, has selected Sapiens IDIT Software Suite, to manage its health insurance portfolio, in a multimillion dollar deal.

As part of the organization’s overall strategy to facilitate the health insurance services in Belgium, MLOZ will be implementing the Sapiens IDIT Software Suite to modernize its technology environment to support the provision and management of health insurances, including: mutual insurances ("SMA"), mandatory health insurances, and complementary health insurances. Anticipated benefits from this multi-year IDIT Software Suite implementation include:

Support for thousands of concurrent online users;

  • A holistic view of the client;
  • Ability to leverage data for improved customer relations;
  • Improved time to market for new products;
  • Best practices in product design and business process optimization;
  • Reduced overall IT costs.

Commenting on the selection of Sapiens IDIT, MLOZ’s Managing Director, Xavier Brenez said, “We have selected Sapiens due to the rich business functionality of its software and the professionalism and quality 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 MLOZ as our customer, and appreciate their recognition of our software and the value of our dedicated and skilled staff. MLOZ joins a growing and impressive portfolio of customers that have chosen to work with Sapiens, and we look forward to helping MLOZ derive the highest possible value from this solution.”

Al-Dor continued, “We see a lot of opportunities for Sapiens in the health insurance market and feel the MLOZ win validates our strong position and will help us to further expand our health market footprint.”

Yoel Amir, Managing Director, Sapiens General insurance & Non-life Division added, “The commitment MLOZ has shown to the Sapiens IDIT 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 MLOZ during the selection process. The addition of MLOZ to the Sapiens client family further validates the value that IDIT Software Suite offers to health insurers.”

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Companies Focused on Global Expansion and Opportunity have A New Option for Travel Risk Management

Companies focused on expansion and taking advantage of global opportunities now have a new option for travel risk management - one that brings together the expertise of two companies specializing in the fields of individual crisis protection and international business risk consultancy.

Europ Assistance USA today announced the launch of Asterisk™, a travel risk management service designed to support companies' global ambitions. Launched in conjunction with security partner, Drum Cussac, Asterisk™ provides companies with the intelligence to better understand the environments in which they wish to do business and the tools and support to minimize and mitigate the risk associated with international business travel. Asterisk™ representatives will be onsite at the ASIS International 59th Annual Seminar and Exhibits (ASIS 2013) in Chicago this week, giving attendees access to industry experts.

"Our approach to travel risk management stands apart from what's available today in the market and is focused on going beyond duty of care," said Guillaume Deybach, CEO Europ Assistance USA. "Asterisk was really modeled with the forward-looking company in mind, no matter its size," Deybach continued. "We want to be a true partner to our clients in every sense of the word, ensuring the services we offer are not only tailored to their needs, but also help them achieve and secure their global ambitions."

The Asterisk™ suite of products include location-based travel risk intelligence, traveler tracking, travel security awareness training and access to 24/7 response centers to assist travelers with medical and/or security incidents.

For more information about Asterisk™, please visit http://www.europassistance-usa.com/asterisk.

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Array Health and Microsoft Collaborate to Power Private Health Insurance Exchanges

Array Health, a leading provider of private insurance exchange technology, today announced its alliance with Microsoft Corp. to power Array Health’s private exchange solution.

Array Health’s Spectrum cloud-based software takes advantage of a suite of Microsoft products to give health insurers such as Highmark Health Services the security features, scalability and high level of performance they need to run a successful private exchange.

“Our technology relationship with Microsoft gives us a competitive edge when attracting major insurers,” said Daniel Wolf, CTO of Array Health. “We chose to build our software on top of a Microsoft technology platform to give our customers a security-enhanced, scalable and extensible architecture that would meet their private exchange needs today and in the future.”

Array Health’s Spectrum solution takes advantage of Microsoft Internet Information Services, the .NET Framework, SQL Server 2012, and Windows Server 2008. As a trusted enterprise software provider, Microsoft provides a flexible, high-availability technology platform that enables Array Health to adapt quickly to changing market demands and develop a leading-edge consumer marketplace.

“Array Health is a pioneer and innovator in the private exchange marketplace,” said Hector Rodriguez, Director of the Health and Life Sciences Industry Technology Unit at Microsoft Corp. “The company’s unique combination of a world-class consumer experience and robust back-end solutions takes advantage of many aspects of the Microsoft technology platform to give health insurers an important strategic sales channel in today’s competitive market.”

Taking advantage of Array Health’s Spectrum, Highmark Health Services, one of the largest health insurers in the U.S. and the fourth-largest Blue Cross and Blue Shield-affiliated company, has been able to scale its exchange to help efficiently and securely handle large membership volumes. The solution was able to pass Highmark Health Services’ rigorous performance stress test in preparation for its peak enrollment season.

“When selecting a partner, it was critical that the entire technology stack met the highest standards of security and performance,” said Steven Nelson, senior vice president of strategy, product and marketing at Highmark Health Services.

“The Array Health solution satisfied our needs from both perspectives and delivers a great shopping experience for our members, as well as a more secure way to handle the back-end data processes essential for our platform.”

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Employees Likely to See Changes When Enrolling in Health Benefits This Year

Workers who plan to automatically default into the same health plan in which they were enrolled the previous year would be wise to rethink that strategy for the 2014 annual enrollment season, according to Aon Hewitt, the global talent, retirement and health solutions business of Aon plc (NYSE: AON). Employees can expect to see a number of changes to their health benefits driven by rising health costs and the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). Aon Hewitt urges employees to do their homework this year to understand the impact of these changes and make informed benefits elections for them and their families.

A more expensive price tag – Aon Hewitt's research shows that most employers plan to subsidize employees' health coverage at the same percentage rate as last year. However, as health care costs increase overall, the amount of money employees will need to contribute out of their paychecks is continuing to climb. In addition, almost one in five employers has increased surcharges for adult dependents with access to coverage elsewhere.

More options for coverage – Starting in 2014, all Americans will be required to have health care coverage or risk paying a penalty. Some employees—particularly those who are not offered health coverage through their employer—may wish to purchase individual coverage through the new state and federal marketplaces.

A higher probability of being in a consumer-driven health plan – Consumer-driven health plans (CDHPs) continue to rise in popularity and have surpassed HMOs as the second most offered plans by employers. In fact, a growing number of employers are offering CDHPs as the only plan option. While just 10 percent of companies do so today, another 44 percent are considering it in the next three to five years[1].

Programs that promote health awareness and education – With employers facing the impacts of rising health care costs and declining health of the population, employees can expect to see more employers offering programs that encourage them to take a more active role in managing their health. For example, 75 percent of employers offer health risk questionnaires (HRQs) and 71 percent offer biometric screenings such as blood pressure and cholesterol.

More incentive opportunities for exhibiting healthy behaviors – Workers can also expect to see an increasing number of employers providing an incentive—either through a reward or a penalty—related to completion of programs such as HRQs and biometric screenings. Eighty-three percent of employers have such an incentive in place now[2].

New eligibility rules – Employers may be making changes to rules that determine which employees are eligible for health coverage, particularly as they evaluate requirements of the "employer mandate" provision of PPACA (which was delayed until 2015). In addition, the recent Supreme Court decision that resulted in federal recognition of same-sex marriages may mean more dependents will now be eligible for benefits coverage.

"Employees typically spend very little time choosing their health benefits each year," said Craig Rosenberg, Aon Hewitt's Health & Welfare Benefits Administration practice leader. "This year, that can be a risky—and potentially costly—strategy. In some cases, not making an active decision during enrollment means employees could get defaulted into a health care plan that doesn't meet their needs—or even worse—leaves them and their families with no coverage at all. It's up to employees to read the fine print and take an active role in understanding if and how these changes may impact them."

Making the Most of the 2014 Benefits Enrollment Season

To ensure employees optimize their health care and other benefits choices, Aon Hewitt offers the following tips this enrollment season:

Participate in the enrollment process

Make sure you understand what's changing, when you need to make your choices, and what your employer is requiring of you. Most employers provide information and tools to help you understand your options and make your decisions.

Review coverage offered by your employer before making a decision about purchasing coverage through a marketplace in your state

You will hear a lot about these new marketplaces, including the availability of federal subsidies based on your income. In most cases, if your employer offers coverage that meets certain minimum coverage and cost levels, you will not be eligible for a subsidy in the marketplace. Make sure you take the time to understand the health plans your employer offers before declining this coverage to purchase insurance through the marketplace. It is important to note that most employers subsidize coverage they offer and allow you to pay for it on a pre-tax basis, which saves you money by lowering your taxable income. Coverage purchased through the marketplace, however, is not pre-tax. You can visit healthcare.gov to learn more about the marketplaces.

Evaluate whether a CDHP is right for you

CDHPs often have lower premiums, and a growing number of employers are making these plans more attractive options for you to consider. Of the companies that offer CDHPs, 44 percent subsidize premiums for these plans at a higher rate than other plan options. Many employers also couple these plans with Health Reimbursement Accounts (HRAs) or Health Savings Accounts (HSAs), which you can use to help pay for eligible out-of-pocket health care costs. HSAs allow you to save money by contributing on a pre-tax basis, up to $3,300 in 2014 or $6,550 if you have family coverage, with no "use it or lose it" rule.

When evaluating CDHPs as an option, you should figure out how much you are likely to spend in out-of-pocket costs before you meet your deductible. Potentially higher deductibles for CDHPs, particularly those paired with HSAs, could mean that you will be spending more than you think. You should also factor in how much your employer will put into your HRA or whether they will make contributions to your HSA.

Reassess your and your dependents' health care needs

Reserve some time before open enrollment begins to take a fresh look at your health care needs for the year ahead and how you and your family have used health care in the past year. Consider how much you've spent out-of-pocket (e.g., deductibles, co-pays, and co-insurance), the number of doctor visits you typically make and the cost of regular prescription drugs. Most employers offer online tools and modelers to help you calculate your prior expenses and estimate your future health care needs.

If you are participating in a Health Care Flexible Spending Account (FSA), evaluate if your contribution is too little or too much, based on your actual and anticipated expenses. Remember that you must use any money in an FSA within the current year or risk losing it. If you plan to enroll in a CDHP with an HSA, ensure that you understand how your health care FSA is impacted as special rules apply. For example, the health care FSA may be limited to covering dental and vision care expenses.

Take advantage of opportunities to improve your health and lower your health costs

Most employers offer tools and programs such as health risk questionnaires and biometric screenings (e.g., blood pressure and cholesterol screenings) to help you understand more about your health. In fact, you may be able to take advantage of a financial incentive from your employer for doing so. These programs have the added benefit of providing you with better insight into your health risks so you can take action earlier.

Consider any supplemental benefits your employer may offer

Aon Hewitt's research shows that 28 percent of employers include access to voluntary supplemental coverage, such as critical illness and hospital indemnity insurance, as part of their annual enrollment process. Be sure to carefully review the available options and determine if certain voluntary coverage meets your needs. Often, this extra coverage is available at a lower cost through your employer than if you were to purchase it on your own.

Take a "health and wealth" view to spend your dollars wisely

As you assess your health plan options for 2014, it's important to look holistically at your health and financial wellbeing, including health care, income protection (e.g., life and disability insurance), and retirement planning. Does your spending reflect your needs and priorities? For example, if you aren't contributing to your 401(k) plan, now may be the time to start. Beginning to save earlier in your career helps to ensure you're on track to meet your long-term savings goals.

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Manulife Financial Implements Travel Insurance Business Arrangements with RBC Insurance

Manulife Financial has implemented its previously announced travel insurance business arrangements with RBC Insurance Company of Canada ("RBC Insurance"). Under these arrangements, Manulife has agreed to reinsure the travel coverage sold by RBC Insurance through travel agencies. These arrangements include the transfer of sales and distribution support for the travel agency business from RBC Insurance to Manulife.

In addition, participating travel agencies will be offered the opportunity to renew their agency agreements with Manulife upon the expiration of their current contracts with RBC Insurance. RBC Insurance will continue to be the insurance provider for the travel agencies until the expiration of the current travel agency contracts.

"With the implementation of the transaction now complete, our focus is the continued delivery of outstanding service and sales support to those travel agents selling RBC Insurance's line of travel insurance," said Brian Gooding, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Affinity Markets, Manulife Financial.

"The travel agency channel is an important part of our growth strategy and we have a tremendous opportunity to develop strong partnerships and build on our leading market position."

This latest arrangement will complement Manulife Financial's current strategy to broaden its presence in the travel insurance market. In a 2009 transaction, Manulife assumed the business of PS Travel Insurance Brokers Inc.

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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