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More Life Companies Buying Reinsurance Ahead Of Solvency II

Aon Benfield, the global reinsurance intermediary and capital advisor of Aon plc (NYSE:AON) today launches its annual Life Catastrophe Benchmarking Study 2013 of global life insurers to provide insight into catastrophe reinsurance purchasing patterns and help benchmark retentions, quantity and price.

The survey is based on the responses of 290 life insurers from 17 countries or groups of countries, which buy a combined catastrophe reinsurance capacity of EUR7.5 billion in terms of XL per-event treaties. The geographical scope of the study is focused on Europe but also includes Canada, China, Israel and Japan. The survey enables actuaries to verify pricing calculations for alternative reinsurance pricing structures, and gives intermediaries the data to place and negotiate the most effective and fair reinsurance terms and conditions.

This is part of Aon Benfield’s global breath of capabilities for Life insurers, including catastrophe models from Impact Forecasting, ReMetrica – its dynamic financial analysis tool for life and broking expertise.


Liberia Travel Advice and Warnings: Muggings in the Sinkor Beach Area of Monrovia

The small British Embassy and Honorary Consul in Monrovia can only offer limited consular assistance. There is a low threat from terrorism. Take out comprehensive travel and medical insurance before you travel.

The FCO advise against all but essential travel to Grand Gedeh and River Gee counties where there have been reports of armed groups living near the border with Côte d’Ivoire. The ability of the national authorities and the UN to provide emergency help outside Monrovia is limited. Check the security situation before travelling to any part of the country.

Violent incidents, particularly in rural areas, are possible as a result of land disputes, illegal mining and occupation of rubber plantations.

Illegal rubber tappers have been responsible for a number of attacks on security forces in the Firestone rubber plantation. Avoid travelling away from the major routes within the plantation.

Organised groups of former combatants may be present in areas of the country where there is limited government and UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) presence, including Sinoe rubber plantation and Sapo National Park. The Samuel K Doe Stadium in Monrovia can become overcrowded during major football matches or events.

There is a high level of crime in Monrovia, including armed robbery. The Liberian National Police has very limited capability to prevent or detect crime, or to provide emergency response in any part of the country. Levels of crime are much higher after dark. Don’t walk anywhere in the city at night.

Take care when walking alone and only do so during daylight hours in areas frequented by foreigners. Most crime is opportunistic theft, but there are organised criminal gangs. Thieves are often armed with knives or machetes, but occasionally also carry firearms. While Liberians are the main victims of crime, the relative wealth of international visitors makes them an attractive target for criminals. Avoid carrying valuables in public and be vigilant at all times, especially at night.

Mobile phones and laptops are common targets of theft. Foreigners have been mugged in the Mamba Point and Sinkor areas of Monrovia (including Sinkor beach in broad daylight), where most international visitors stay. Be wary if you are approached by strangers. Criminals also operate in nightclubs and beaches.

Accommodation occupied by international workers has occasionally been targeted by burglars. Thefts have occurred in taxis. You should avoid local public transport. There is a high incidence of rape in Liberia and there have been cases of rapes and attempted rapes involving foreign women.

Take extra care when driving in heavy traffic or off the main roads. Consider your security arrangements carefully before your arrival in Liberia.

Make sure you are supported by a reliable organisation with a comprehensive and adequate security plan.

Stay only in reputable accommodation with adequate guarding and other security arrangements, and arrange for transport for the duration of your stay, including travel to and from the airport.

Roberts International Airport is around 30 miles from central Monrovia, much of the journey passing through rural areas.

Liberia Travel Advice and Warnings: Muggings in the Sinkor Beach Area of Monrovia



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


Kenyan Tragedy A Wake Up Call For Expatriates With No Health Insurance

Think of a growing economy in Africa, and Kenya is bound to be high on the list. Kenyan national statistics show GDP growth of over 5% in the first quarter of 2013 and 4.3 per cent in the second quarter which put many mature Western economies to shame.

Democratic, growing and stable, the capital Nairobi is home to many regional corporate offices and has thriving European and US expatriate, student and NGO communities. Many come for the lifestyle too, which has long been recognised as relaxed and very attractive. Recently, several large Western-style malls have sprung up offering families the chance of a day out shopping, eating or going to the cinema. The Malls are busiest on Saturday mornings when local shopper numbers are boosted by large numbers of expatriates who call the Kenyan capital home.

However, Kenya has long displayed huge disparities in wealth, leading to an ever present threat of robberies, car-jackings, and home invasions. Homes are hidden behind high walls, often topped with razor wire. Home alarm systems and lockable safe rooms are essential in many houses rented to foreigners. Restaurants popular with expats are hidden from the street outside. Kenya too is a front line State in many other ways – with an army active in Somalia, Operation Linda Nchi ("Protect the country") is the codename for a co-ordinated military operation between the Somalian military, the Kenyan military and the Ethiopian military that began on 16 October 2011, when troops from Kenya crossed the border into the conflict zones of southern Somalia.

The soldiers were in pursuit of Al-Shabaab militants that are alleged to have kidnapped several foreign tourists and aid workers inside Kenya. Kenya is no stranger to terrorist attacks either. In 1998, Al Qaeda’s first major international strike was the twin bombings of the US embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, killing more than 200 people including 12 Americans.

Four years later, jihadists trained in Somalia tried to down an Israeli jet with a rocket-propelled grenade, and they crashed a truck full of explosives into a Kenyan hotel on the Indian Ocean, leaving 13 people dead. Against this background, or perhaps because of it, the country remains a popular destination for working expatriates and NGOs.

The recent tragedy of the Westgate shopping Mall illustrates brutally the importance of expatriates in the community. Of the estimated 67 dead, around six are known to be British, with a similar number of UK citizens still missing. With a heightened country risk profile, life insurers such as Friends Provident International have withdrawn life insurance for expatriates living and working there, so where does this leave those needing protection, for example in the area of international private medical insurance?

When countries are experiencing civil unrest or perhaps in the immediate aftermath of a major conflict, many expatriate health insurers will classify such situations as having a ”passive war risk” and, as a result, will limit cover available. For foreign workers of all nationalities, this presents significant problems and can act to deter workers from moving to such places to carry out vital reconstruction and development work at precisely the time when it is most needed.

Debbie Purser, managing director of MediCare International comments, “Passive war is a specific term used in the industry to describe a heightened risk which may be due to a number of factors. For the expatriate worker it is vital to check whether their international medical insurance cover is still valid or limited in any way. At MediCare International, we offer full passive war cover, meaning if you are unlucky enough to be taken ill or injured in such circumstances, your policy will still be active.”


Alliance Group Launch Operations in Thailand

With Asia Pacific being a driver for the global economy, many western companies have allocated considerable focus and investment towards expansion in this region.

The potential to tap new markets and supplement sales at home, Asia has proven itself to provide companies with the opportunity to grow. Alliance Group is the latest to take an aggressive approach to expansion throughout the Asia Pacific region having already launched operations in Hong Kong, China and Indonesia since 2009 and has now announced the launch of Alliance Group in Thailand.

The insurance and financial services company's venture into Thailand began this month with the introduction of their insurance aggregator, the World's first international insurance comparison website and Alliance Group's flagship personal insurance company.

Dan Smith, Director of Alliance International said: "Thailand is seen as a strategic focus for Alliance globally and is expected to contribute significantly to our expansion plans."

Alliance has been no stranger to expansion over recent years having reported growth rates in excess of 150% year on year with much of this being gained through the success of NowCompare.

Dan Smith continued to say: "we are pleased with the progress we have made in the region and will be announcing further expansion plans over the coming year."


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.


Japan Travel Advice and Warnings: Typhoon Wipha Forecast To Bring Hazardous Sea And Weather Conditions To Parts Of Japan From 15 October

Take out comprehensive travel and medical insurance before you travel. 140,099 British nationals visited Japan in 2011. Most visits are trouble free.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advise against all travel to the exclusion zones around the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear facility identified by the Japanese authorities. Reports on 19 August and 1 September 2013, detail a new leak of around 300 tons of radioactive water at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear facility, which caused Japanese regulators to issue an INES Level 3 rating.

The typhoon season runs from June to December with most activity between July and September. You should monitor the progress of approaching storms. Typhoon Wipha is forecast to bring hazardous sea and weather conditions to parts of Japan from 15 October. There may be some disruption to transport and other infrastructure in the parts of north-eastern Honshu most affected by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami. Check with the local authorities or your travel company before you go.

In recent months, the North Korean government has raised tensions through a series of strong public rhetorical statements. The FCO assess that there is no immediate increased risk or danger to those living in or travelling to Japan. However, you should continue to follow this travel advice, where further information will be posted should the situation change.

You should also follow guidance issued by the local authorities.

There is a continuous risk of earthquakes and tsunamis throughout Japan. Latest warnings and advisories are published on the Japan Meteorological Agency website.

There is a low threat from terrorism.


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



UPMC Health Plan Launches Products on the Health Insurance Marketplace

UPMC Health Plan will offer a wide variety of health plans for individuals residing in western Pennsylvania through the newly created Health Insurance Marketplace.

All of UPMC Health Plan's health insurance plans will offer a network of excellent community physicians and hospitals as well as the top-ranked UPMC physicians and UPMC hospitals, according to U.S. News & World Report.

"UPMC Health Plan is proud to offer high-quality plans that offer access to the best doctors and hospitals at affordable prices," said Diane P. Holder, President and CEO, UPMC Health Plan. "We listened to what consumers wanted, and they asked for plans that give them access to UPMC as well as the ability to obtain affordable, predictable out-of-pocket expenses. We are committed to offering long-term value for the region."

There are three things that most people need to look at when they buy a health insurance plan: the monthly premium; the doctors and hospitals included in the network; and the additional costs incurred when seeking care, such as copays, deductibles, and coinsurance.

"Comparing plans can be confusing, and the plan with the lowest premium is not always the best value. It is important when consumers compare plans that they are smart shoppers. UPMC offers copays as low as $0 for PCP visits and no-cost options for medication to help people with chronic conditions," added Ms. Holder. "Because we know insurance choices can be confusing, we have staffed our UPMC Health Plan Connect Service and Sales Centers with experts who can help you understand your options."

Health Insurance News


American Expatriates Can NowCompare the Market

Ensuring you have the right level of medical insurance in place should be a top financial priority for any expat living in Hong Kong. Hong Kong has world-class private hospitals, but is second only to the US in terms of the cost of receiving treatment in them.

Surgical fees for relatively simple procedures, such as repairing a hernia, start at US$4,000, while the cost of treating more complex medical problems can quickly reach six or even seven figure sums, leaving those without adequate cover with a significant financial liability. The good news is that, the World’s first international insurance comparison website, this month launched online services for American Expatriates that wish to obtain the cover they need from the diverse choice of medical insurance plans available.

The first stage for anyone looking to take out medical insurance is to decide exactly what level of cover they want. Hong Kong has a subsidised public healthcare system, available to anyone with a Hong Kong ID card, regardless of whether or not they are a permanent resident, so in theory, most people could simply rely on this. But, like many public healthcare systems, Hong Kong’s services are in high demand, which can lead to very long waiting times, while wards are often crowded. Many American expats also feel more comfortable being treated in the private sector, as this enables them to pick a doctor who has been trained in the US, Australia or Europe, and who speaks good English.

Expats will often get some health insurance through their employer, but it is important to study the policy carefully to understand exactly what cover it offers. Doug Ramsay, director of NowCompare, explained that there are four broad types of medical insurance available in Hong Kong. The first type he classes as local policies. These are generally the cheapest type of cover, with premiums of around US$1,300 a year for a 35-year-old. But they have a low level of benefits, often with maximum annual limits of around US$20,000, as well as restrictions on the amount that can be claimed for individual treatments.

Ramsay said: “These policies are designed to give people some money towards their treatment, but they are not designed to put you into a private hospital. There is a place for the local policies in the market, but they are not designed for expats.” 

Ramsay dubs the next level up hybrid policies. These policies have much higher levels of coverage, generally around US$1.5 million a year. They will cover the cost of treatment in a private room in a private hospital, as well as some outpatient treatments, and they also have 24-hour helplines. Premiums are generally around US$3,000 for a 35-year-old.

At the top of the health insurance tree are international policies, which break down into two types: normal and full comprehensive. Both types of policy have annual limits of US$3 million-plus, as well as added benefits, such as free annual health checks. The fully comprehensive versions also include dental cover, Chinese medicine and maternity cover. Reflecting the higher level of benefits, premiums are also higher at around US$4,000 a year for the normal policies and US$5,000 for the fully comprehensive ones for a 35-year-old. While the costs may appear high, there are steps American’s can take to bring premiums down.

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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