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iPMI Magazine successfully rebranded to iPMI Global in 2023 and has moved to a new home on the internet. To visit the brand new international private medical insurance business intelligence platform, please go to www.ipmiglobal.com

Zurich’s New Mobile App Enables Customers To Respond Quickly To Environmental Spill Emergencies

Imagine a diesel fuel truck overturning on an icy and treacherous road or a freight train hauling a chemical tanker suddenly jumping the track. These accidents can lead to hazardous chemical leaks and serious contamination of land and groundwater. Every passing minute counts, as the contaminants can continue to spill into the environment.

Fortunately, Zurich qualified customers in industries that deal with hazardous materials, such as transportation and manufacturing, now have available to them a technological solution to speed up their response to environmental spills.

Zurich has launched the new Zurich Environmental Emergency Response (ZEERTM) mobile app. ZEER, originally developed for Zurich’s environmental underwriting and claims professionals, in collaboration with Spill Center, Inc.,* an environmental emergency response company, can assist Zurich qualified customers in dealing with any spill that requires emergency environmental cleanup. The new ZEER mobile app can help reduce the time it takes to begin cleanup.

The world is experiencing a huge increase in innovation of various kinds, changing the way we live and work. Zurich is focused on the way these changes are impacting government, businesses, and society as a whole. Zurich is incorporating new technology into its own efforts to increase efficiency and profitability and, in turn, improve the quality of products and services we provide to our customers.

“An accidental spill that results in an environmental hazard is, for most businesses, an extraordinary occurrence. Yet, every business should be prepared for such an event and the ZEER mobile app can help customers mitigate damages and reduce potential liability associated with spills,” said Steve Hatch, Chief Claims Officer for Zurich North America. “The ZEER mobile app will help bring Zurich’s knowledge and insight to customers, at their fingertips.”

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Now Health International Launches New Mobile App

Now Health International has announced details of their new mobile app for customers.  Available today for both iPhone initially and Android to follow, the app has many useful functions including the ability to find a medical provider within the Now Health cashless network and submit a reimbursement claim in just a few simple touches.

The app will allow customers to search for their nearest medical provider from the network list using either their exact location or by typing a location or name of medical facility.  It can be used for in-patient and out-patient treatment and will provide a list of the top 100 providers that are closest to the location of the customer.  A few more taps on the screen will also enable the customer to see the provider location on a map, make a call to book an appointment and add it into their calendars!

If a customer doesn’t have access to the cashless network, they can use the new app to submit a reimbursement claim.  To make it familiar, it is in the same format as the current claim form.  Plus, once the customer has made a claim, and wishes to submit another, any previous information will have been saved to make the claiming process even quicker and simpler.

Now Health’s Marketing and Ecommerce Director, Alison Massey says, “We are really excited to offer this new mobile app as part of our proposition.  Customers want fast access to our cashless network of medical providers and when they’ve paid for treatment, to claim back their expenses.  We already process our customer’s claims in five working days or less and the addition of the app will make submitting claims much less time-consuming.  We will continue to update and add to the app over time, which will include offering the functions in Simplified Chinese in the near future.”

To download the iPhone app, click here.

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Cigna Global Health Benefits Appoints Javier Cano European Managing Director

Cigna (NYSE: CI) has named Javier Cano as Managing Director of its Global Health Benefits business in Europe to ensure the growing number of globally mobile customers benefit from Cigna's global capabilities and local expertise. 

Cigna Global Health Benefits is a leading provider of group healthcare and employee benefits solutions for globally mobile employees of small, medium and large businesses, multinational corporates and IGOs/NGOs. We are a truly international organisation with operations in more than 30 countries and over 50 years of experience. Currently, Cigna provides global health care insurance benefits and related services to more than one million customers worldwide. 

Javier joined Cigna in 2006 as Business Development Director for the Spanish business. In 2010 he launched Cigna’s Individual PMI business in Europe, building new direct channels alongside established intermediary distribution. Javier then became Spain Country Manager for Cigna in 2011 where he has successfully grown the business across the individual, domestic and global benefits’ segments. He will continue to lead Cigna’s business in Spain as part of his new role.

While Javier continues to be based in Madrid, he leads a team operating across Europe with key operational hubs in UK, Belgium and Spain.

Javier commented, “I’m delighted to bring together Cigna’s resources in Europe at a time when global mobility and demand for health benefits are both increasing. There’s no doubt that global mobility has an important part to play in economic growth. And I’m confident that Cigna is well-positioned to support the different global health benefits needs of employers across Europe.”

Cigna Global Health Benefits is part of Cigna, a US-based global health service company, dedicated to helping the people we serve improve their health, well-being and sense of security. To learn more please visit www.cignaglobalhealth.com  and www.cignainspire.com 

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Travel Oracle App Mobilizes And Simplifies Business Traveller Safety

Healix International’s new Travel Oracle mobile App provides an instant lifeline for business travellers and expatriate employees as well as access to critical information and support, before and during their travels.

Key features include an instantly accessible Mayday call, automated personal tracking, online storage of all travel documents, instant news reports of unrest pushed to impacted travellers, e-learning travel security certification and destination profiles.

“Duty of Care requires that measures be taken to protect employees and Travel Oracle accomplishes that,” said Scott Sunderman, Group CEO of Healix International. “Emergencies can strike at any time. On average, we airlift six medical emergency cases every day and respond to more than 450,000 assistance calls every year. The Travel Oracle App provides a safety net for employees and employers to provide protection for security issues and medical emergencies. Traveller tracking systems have provided travellers and corporations with peace of mind over the years, but they have significant limitations. Travel Oracle overcomes those limitations by making traveller tracking personal and proactive. This new tool helps corporations provide end-to-end travel security.”

Travel Oracle leverages e-Learning, live personal tracking and situational awareness to drive traveller empowerment. Combined with Healix International’s global capabilities and resources in the event of an emergency, a Travel Oracle traveller will be safer, and employers have the confidence that they have exceeded duty of care responsibilities.

Key features include:

  • Emergency Call Function - calls are instantly sent to a 24/7 Command Center
  • Mayday Alert-Personal Tracking - alerts nominated contacts of traveller whereabouts via email, takes situational photographs, sends an audio recording and current GPS location, if pre-authorised
  • Online Personal Profile & Documents - online storage of travel documents and photographs
  • News Alerts and Live Support - global incident monitoring service with real-time country alerts sent directly to employee mobile devices. Access to 24/7 Emergency Assistance Helpdesk
  • e-Learning – travel safety courses, including certification upon successful completion
  • Country Profiles - comprehensive country briefings on over 200 countries including country risks and cultural differences
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Aviva Launches MyAviva App

Aviva is launching a new app for its UK customers, allowing them to view all their policies across life, general and private medical insurance all in one place. And – just in time for the Aviva Premiership Rugby Finals on 31 May.

To encourage Aviva customers to download and explore the benefits of the MyAviva app, Aviva is giving away a free hot drink from Caffe Nero to the first 40,000 customers who download the app and register their customer details. Heather Smith, Marketing Director, Aviva UK, said, “The new MyAviva app brings together the products that help you protect your life, your health, your loved ones, your future and your possessions into one helpful, secure and easy-to-use place. “The app also gives customers access to a wealth of special offers and rewards, including exclusive rugby news and highlights – a perfect compliment to the upcoming Aviva Rugby Premiership Finals.”

The MyAviva app is now available for download on iTunes, and includes car, van, breakdown, motorcycle, travel and home insurance policies as well as life, investment bonds, pensions and annuities, and private healthcare policies.

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Shipping Losses Decline, Emerging Risks Pose Serious Challenges To Marine Industry And Insurers

  • 94 large ships lost worldwide in 2013, down 20% from last year, with foundering most common cause.
  • Piracy focus shifts away from Somalia to new hotspots: Indonesia and West Africa.
  • Indonesia attacks up 700% in five years. Evolving piracy tactics present new challenges.
  • Mega ships, Arctic shipping and alternative fuels create new industry risks.

Shipping losses continued their downward trend with 94 losses reported worldwide in 2013, coming in below 100 for only the second time in 12 years.

Losses declined by 20 percent from 2012 when there were 117 reported losses. The 2013 accident year also represents a significant improvement on the previous 10-year loss average with total worldwide shipping losses declining 45 percent since 2003.

“More than 90 percent of global trade is carried by sea so the safety of international shipping vessels and routes is critical to the health of the global economy,” said Tim Donney, Global Head of Marine Risk Consulting. “While the long-term downward trend in shipping losses is encouraging, there is more work to be done to improve the overall safety of these vessels as well as their cargo, crew and passengers, especially in Asian waters. As an insurer we are always concerned about recognized issues such as training and safety management, - human error is not something we can ignore and lack of skilled workforce is still an issue - but we also need to be alert for new risks as the industry continues to develop.”

Asia saw highest number of marine losses and continues to be an area of focus According to the report, more than a third of 2013’s total losses were concentrated in two maritime regions. As in 2012, the South China, Indo China, Indonesia and the Philippines region saw the highest number of losses (18 ships), closely followed by the seas around Japan, Korea and North China (17 ships).

More than two years after the Costa Concordia disaster, improving passenger ship safety continues to be a priority, with 2014 likely to see the 100th loss of a passenger vessel since 2002. Asia remains a hotspot for passenger shipping losses, especially for smaller passenger vessels and ferries as demonstrated by the sinking of the ferry St. Thomas of Aquinas as a result of a collision with another vessel off Cebu in the Philippines in August 2013, with the loss of at least 116 lives.

“We have to ask how some Asian ship operators measure safety and quality, particularly when speaking about domestic trade shipping in South East Asia,” said Captain Jarek Klimczak, Senior Marine Risk Consultant at AGCS. “The understanding of quality and standards can sometimes appear 50 years behind Europe – maybe even more.”

Around the world, more than a third of the vessels lost were cargo ships with fishery and bulk carriers the only other type of vessels to record double-digit losses. The total loss of two bulk carriers in Asian waters in 2013, Harita Bauxite and Trans Summer, highlighted the importance of proper cargo handling and stowage of bulk cargoes. AGCS experts believe high moisture content and subsequent liquidization, leading to free flowing instabilization of the cargo to be the primary cause of the accidents. The most common cause of losses in the past year was foundering (sinking or submerging), often driven by heavy weather, accounting for almost 75 percent of all losses, which was a significant increase from both 2012 (47 percent) and the previous 10-year average (44 percent).

For the first time the report includes not only total losses but also the total number of shipping casualties by region. The East Mediterranean and Black Sea region is shown to be a casualty hotspot, responsible for 464 casualties (18%) out of a worldwide total of 2,596 during 2013, including the year’s oldest ship to be a total loss:

the 108 year old Hantallar which grounded off Tekirdag, Turkey. This region combines busy shipping routes and a reputation for weaker safety management practices with a regional fleet that has a higher proportion of lower quality older vessels. The report also shows that over the past decade the British Isles have been the location of the most casualties, while January is the worst month for all casualties (including total losses) in the Northern Hemisphere.

In the Southern Hemisphere it is July. Piracy attacks still a concern – different models pose new challenges In 2013, piracy attacks declined 11 percent to 264 reported incidents worldwide according to International Maritime Bureau statistics - 106 of these occurred in Indonesia, which has seen a 700 percent increase in attacks since 2009.

Most of these attacks remain low level opportunistic thefts carried out by small bands of individuals but one third of incidents in these waters were reported in the last quarter of 2013, and there is potential for such attacks to escalate into a more organized piracy model unless they are controlled.

An emerging piracy hotspot with more organized crime is the Gulf of Guinea with 48 incidents in 2013, accounting for 18 percent of all attacks worldwide. Piracy attacks in Somalia have declined dramatically with only seven incidents in 2013 compared with 160 attacks in 2011. The report suggests the piracy model could be broken in Somalia in a couple of years if naval patrols continue.

Emerging Risks

An increasingly difficult operating climate for ship operators has forced a number of innovations, including larger ship sizes to capitalize on economies of scale, the use of alternative fuels and changes in ship designs. At the same time, more economical trading routes are fast appearing in Arctic regions during the summer months, but these present their own set of challenges.

Emerging risks identified include:

Vessel size: Last year marked the arrival of the largest container vessel on record, over 400 meters long and boasting capacity in excess of 18,000 teu. This trend is set to continue. AGCS estimates capacity grows by around 30 per cent every four to five years, meaning the arrival of 24,000 teu carriers can be anticipated around 2018.

“The claims arising out of maritime emergencies of these ‘mega ships’ can be huge. For example, just think of the business interruption of ports and terminals if an accident was to block the entrance,” said Dr. Sven Gerhard, Global Product Leader, Hull & Marine Liabilities, AGCS. “In addition, salvage might require unprecedented efforts and complex operations – in some cases it may take many months, or possibly a year or longer, to remove all the containers, particularly if the accident were to happen in a remote location. The large loss potential has increased for events which are not extraordinary on these big ships. And these are unchartered waters for salvors.”

Rise of LNG[1]-fueled vessels: Use of liquefied natural gas to power ships is expected to dramatically increase by 2020. There are safety concerns however, as the industry will see the rise of ports that have never previously handled LNG providing bunkering stations on dock.

“We need to ask what risks LNG-fueled ships will present to the industry. The concern is storing the LNG as fuel and handling it onboard. LNG expertise is not easily available – there needs to be a change in mindset and training,” said Capt. Rahul Khanna, Senior Risk Consultant, Marine, AGCS. Arctic trading routes: Shipping casualties in Arctic Circle waters have increased to an average of 45 per year during 2009-2013 from only 7 during 2002-2007. Damage to machinery caused a third of these incidents, higher than the average elsewhere, reflecting the harsher operating environment.

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10 Resolutions For Managing Globally Mobile Talent In 2014

Mercer’s surveys of multinational employers show that most intend to increase the number of employees they send on both long-term and short-term global assignments over the next two years.

While some employers have large, mature mobility programs with hundreds of expatriates in dozens of countries, others have small, newer programs. Yet all want to attract the right employees and send them on the right type of assignment for the right amount of time – all while controlling costs and the amount of effort it takes to administer their programs.

To help HR professionals better manage an expanding globally mobile workforce in 2014, Mercer suggests 10 resolutions:

  1. Step back and get some perspective Knowing where your assignment policies stand versus those of your peers is an important first step in maintaining an effective global mobility program. Some of your policies may vary significantly from those of your peer companies. That variation may be justified, but you should at least know its direction and extent. Also, the first of the year is a good time to check with leadership to confirm whether your global mobility program is meeting their strategic and operational objectives.
  2. Get assignee feedback from the right source Surprisingly, assignees rarely express dissatisfaction about their compensation and allowances in opinion surveys. But issues that typically bother them most – poor communications, lack of relocation support, ineffective service providers, and repatriation planning – cannot be fixed simply by spending more money. To get candid feedback that can result in meaningful policy improvements, consider using a third party that will keep assignees’ responses confidential.
  3. Look at your map, then ask directions Many employers are pushing beyond typical expatriate locations, such as Hong Kong, Shanghai, London, and Dubai to less typical ones (sub-Saharan Africa, smaller cities in China, Eastern Europe). Ensure that you have the proper incentives in place to support programs in non-traditional host locations. And look carefully at expatriates’ home countries; if they are leaving a relatively low-wage country such as India, the traditional “balance sheet” approach to compensation may not be appropriate.
  4. Check for the right mix of flexibility, complexity, and equity Flexibility can be built in at the business level (so managers can decide on certain optional compensation elements for expatriates) or at the individual level (using lump sums that expatriates can spend as they choose). While managers may be pushing for more flexibility, it can lead to greater complexity in managing your program and less equity among expatriates. Be prepared to give your leadership clear metrics to understand the balance of priorities.
  5. Scout host neighborhoods for new expatriates Housing costs are often the largest discretionary portion of total mobility costs (after salary and related taxes), and local housing markets can change significantly during the year. For expatriates heading out in 2014, be sure to use timely, accurate, neighborhood-specific housing cost data for “host” cities. Set appropriate rental guidelines and communicate them clearly to expatriates and relocation firms before they search for housing. Consider moving your approval process farther up the chain of command so that senior managers must approve exceptions to stated policies.
  6. Match expatriate programs to talent management strategies Define specific competencies for global leaders and then ensure their global mobility programs build “bench strength” to fill future leadership slots. As your company expands in other countries, it becomes increasingly important that senior executives have hands-on experience outside their own home countries. For each assignment, consider whether it is growing the business, developing global leaders, or filling a critical skill gap, but do not leave talent mobility to chance.
  7. Track your business travelers and short-term assignees closely As governments seek new areas of potential tax revenue, employers need to know precisely how many days per year their business travelers and short-term employees are situated in which locations, both domestically and internationally. It is critical to manage not only their presence, but their remuneration. Consider whether they should be on regular expense-reimbursement programs or set up in serviced flats with cost-effective per diem expenses.
  8. Consider “local plus” as a compensation program Are some of your expatriates locally hired foreigners or directly hired on one-way or indefinite assignments? If so, a “local plus” compensation package (adding a handful of allowances to local salaries) may be more appropriate than a traditional home balance sheet package premised on maintaining home country ties. Local-plus adjustments may be particularly appropriate in Asia, where this approach has gained traction in recent years.
  9. Localize when ties to a “home” country are loose It may make sense to hire locally rather than to send an expatriate from a home country depending on the country, the expatriate’s role and purpose, and talent availability. Or you may be able to “localize” existing expatriated employees by aligning their compensation and benefits package with local market levels. Look critically at the duration of your longer-term expatriates’ tenure in their host countries – if they have been in-country for five or more years, it may be time to consider localizing them.
  10. Tweak index-based allowances Re-examine assumptions made when computing cost-of-living allowances and hardship premiums based on differences between home and host locations. Most cost-of-living indexes embed assumptions about employees’ familiarity with host location spending patterns. Changing those indices can be both cost-effective and realistic. In an increasingly global economy with younger workers, you may be able to reduce them over time. Note: The 10 resolutions reflect considerations that are applicable to many multinational employers generally, but should not be deemed to be advice to any specific employer or with respect to any particular set of circumstances. Employers interested in reviewing their global mobility program should seek the advice of a qualified consultant.
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CarePass(R) from Aetna Makes It Easier to Manage Medications with Addition of Care4Today(TM) Mobile Health Manager from Janssen Healthcare Innovation

More than 120 million adults in the U.S. own a smartphone, and 19 percent of smartphone owners have at least one health app on their phone.(1)

To leverage the reach and power of mobile technology and make it more convenient for consumers to take their medications, Aetna AET +0.39% recently added the Care4Today(TM) Mobile Health Manager app to the CarePass(R) from Aetna health and wellness digital platform. Care4Today(TM) Mobile Health Manager was developed by Janssen Healthcare Innovation, a team within Janssen Research & Development LLC, part of the pharmaceutical companies of Johnson & Johnson.

CarePass helps people set and track personalized health and wellness goals in areas such as physical activity, sleep and nutrition. By adding Care4Today(TM) Mobile Health Manager to the more than 20 market-leading apps already available through CarePass, users will now be able to track their medication usage as part of their overall health. The Care4Today(TM) Mobile Health Manager platform is designed to help people stay on schedule with their medications, including making it easier for family members and loved ones to support one another by monitoring their medications. Care4Today(TM) Mobile Health Manager also is designed to motivate users, allowing users to select a charity that will receive a donation from the sponsors for each day a user indicates he or she has taken all of his or her medications.

"Many Americans have a lower quality of life and experience preventable health issues, adding billions of dollars to the health care system, because people do not take their prescribed medications. There are a myriad of reasons why medication adherence is low and we believe removing barriers and making it easier for consumers to take their medications is important," said Martha L. Wofford, vice president and head of CarePass from Aetna. "As we continue to add new areas to CarePass around medication adherence and stress, we seek to provide people tools to manage their whole health and hopefully help people shift from thinking about health care to taking care of their health."

(1) Pew Internet & American Life Project. Mobile Health 2012. November 8, 2012.

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Expatriates Want More from Their Employers

A new survey from Cigna (NYSE:CI) and the National Foreign Trade Council (NFTC) shows areas of dissatisfaction among the globally mobile workforce that may jeopardize employees’ successful completion of assignments outside their home countries and diminish their employers’ return on investment in them.

  • Expats lack awareness of many employer benefits and services;
  • 78% access medical care while on assignment;
  • Expat trends: older, on shorter assignments, leaving family behind;
  • Experience of expats in the U.S. can be as tough as in BRIC countries;
  • Needs vary by country; highest satisfaction in Australia, Europe Expats seek understanding of the expat experience from HR.

In the century since Ernest Hemingway and others romanticized expatriate life in Paris, the globally mobile population has grown dramatically along with increased global business. Family stress, cultural differences, increased workloads and burn-out can undermine up to one third of all global expatriate assignments, despite a significant investment by multinational companies estimated at three to five times an employee’s salary. The NFTC and Cigna's Global Health Benefits business sponsored a new independent study of expatriates to gain insights into their perceptions and experiences and to track trends since Cigna and the NFTC conducted a similar study in 2001 – all with the goal of helping employers better understand and satisfy the needs of their globally mobile workforce.

“While many industry surveys illustrate the job employers feel they’ve been doing to prepare and support their corporate expats, little has been heard from the expats themselves in the last decade. This survey allows us to examine disconnects between employees and employers – and sheds light on how to better support the globally mobile workforce, and in turn, the companies who appreciate their valued assets around the world,” said Sheldon Kenton, Senior Vice President, Global Employer Sales, Cigna.

According to this survey, in most cases, employers are providing the resources rated as most important by expats, including general relocation services (80 percent), settling in services (63 percent) and medical preparedness (65 percent). However, there are many unmet expectations among the expats surveyed:

59 percent of expats said they were unaware of their employer’s repatriation assistance and didn’t know whether their employer would track what happens to them after they return home. This low awareness score can be translated into dissatisfaction, as expats perceive lack of employer interest in them after their assignment concludes.

Mobile technology was not a key factor in these expats’ communication needs, with 70 percent saying they relied on their laptops to access information and only 10 percent saying they preferred to use a smartphone.

78 percent of expats or their family members have accessed medical care while on assignment. Expats under age 34 were considerably less informed about the specifics of their health insurance plans. For example, their uncertainty about claim handling was four times higher than the average of other age segments, and their lack of knowledge about where to access health care services was triple that of other segments.

The survey also indicated that having a family greatly influences an expat’s health care behaviors. Those on assignment with spouses or partners and children were most likely to access care, with percentages as high as 91 percent in these segments compared to single expats (64 percent) and expats without children (67 percent.) Expats with spouses, partners and children back in their home country were most likely to seek routine treatment in their home country rather than locally where they were assigned. For example, only 41 percent of expats without family had accessed care locally while 83 percent of expats with spouses or family with them accessed care locally.

Bill Sheridan, Vice President International Human Resources, National Foreign Trade Council stated, “It’s imperative for employers to ensure that their most valued resource – their human capital – is equipped with all of the information necessary to ensure a successful expatriate assignment. Valuable employer-sponsored programs and services made available to expats scarcely yield their intended benefit when they aren’t effectively communicated.”

Trends from 2001 to 2013

When compared to expats in the Cigna-NFTC 2001 survey, today’s expat is older, on shorter assignments, and is leaving his or her spouse and family back home more often. In 2001, expats aged 25 to 34 made up 35 percent of the survey, down to 17 percent in 2013. In 2001, eight percent of expats with a spouse or partner were traveling without their spouse or partner on their assignments, while in 2013, that number nearly tripled to 23 percent. In 2001, 18 percent of expats with children did not have their children with them on assignment, and in 2013 that number almost doubled to 34 percent.

The trend toward shorter assignments has doubled since the 2001 survey, with 13 percent expected to be on assignment a year or less in 2013, compared with six percent in 2001. Today, 37 percent expect to be on assignment two to three years. Expats in the 2013 survey were seasoned professionals, with 44 percent having one to three assignments already and 50 percent of respondents saying they’re likely to take additional assignments in the future.

In the 2001 survey, five percent of expats were from Asia, a number that has grown to 13 percent in the 2013 survey. In 2001, 63 percent of expats were from North America, down to 49 percent in 2013. Other major trends in expat assignments include the shift from Europe, where 43 percent of expats surveyed were assigned in 2001 versus 22 percent in 2013, and in Middle East/North Africa/Greater Arabia, where six percent were assigned in 2001 compared with 23 percent today.

Customization of Assignment Packages by Country Is Critical

Where expats are assigned makes a significant difference in their experiences and perceptions. Satisfaction with their employers’ efforts was lowest from expatriates on assignment in Sub-Saharan Africa, Middle East, and South America and highest in Australia and Europe. Survey respondents noted the following priorities by their location:

  • Middle East and Sub-Saharan Africa: Medical preparedness tops the list
  • North and South America: Consultation regarding financial and tax consequences ranks much higher in importance in these regions
  • Central America and Sub-Saharan Africa: Assistance with schools is more critical
  • Asia and Middle East: Cross-cultural training ranks slightly higher

Experience versus expectations also brings variation:

  • Central America and Middle East: These regions had the highest percentage of unmet expectations in relation to the quality of life—this dissatisfaction was more than double other regions
  • Australia and Europe: Highest satisfaction in quality of life category
  • Middle East and Sub-Saharan Africa: Highest amount of dissatisfaction related to impact on the family
  • North America: While overall 13 percent of respondents reported unmet expectations regarding their assignment benefits package, nearly double (21 percent) reported dissatisfaction in the United States and Canada

“Survey results suggest many employers may be providing expatriates with services that adequately address the wider population, but not those on assignment in lesser developed countries,” said Sheridan. “Enhanced understanding, awareness and flexibility are necessary when considering the complexity of global assignments. Customization is key, as a one-size-fits-all approach to developing packages for expatriates simply cannot provide a pathway to success in every geography.”

U.S. Can Be as Difficult as BRIC countries

Industry surveys of employers indicate they believe the most difficult countries for expat assignments include Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa. Results from the Cigna-NFTC expatriate study confirm some difficulties in these regions, but also point out other key areas:

  • Middle East: High degree of dissatisfaction, higher importance ratings regarding several components (including services provided by employers, such as cultural training and health benefits)
  • Sub-Saharan Africa: In addition to South Africa, there are a number of other countries in the lower half of Africa where medical preparedness is a great concern and the need for school assistance is more critical
  • North America: The complexities of a number of issues (ease of finding a doctor, language issues, knowledge of the health care system, understanding of financial and tax consequences) have led to much lower satisfaction scores than other regions—especially in the United States—which remains the most frequent country for expatriate assignments.

“Greater recognition of the challenges of being on assignment in the United States is vital. Navigating a complex health system, as well as developing an understanding of the financial and tax consequences of working in the U.S., all present considerable challenges to U.S.-bound expats. My personal experience as an expat has further driven home the crucial need for better preparation, guidance and support,” Kenton said.

The NFTC believes that these candid insights from corporate expats can prove valuable to all companies with globally mobile employees. “An enhanced understanding of how expats feel about their experiences should cause companies to give greater consideration to the many factors that influence the success of global assignments when designing packages,” Sheridan said.

Expats Need Understanding from HR

When asked open-ended questions regarding their experiences, expats frequently cited human resource-related issues.

“Given the integral role human resource professionals play in designing programs for expatriates, an enhanced awareness of the typical challenges and potential barriers to success for expatriates while they’re on assignment is critical. The survey results indicate companies could benefit from elevating this group’s understanding of the unique needs and concerns of this population, either through consultancy or hiring HR professionals with actual expatriate assignment experience,” Sheridan said.

Expatriates volunteered a list of specific concerns:

  • Lack of understanding – expatriates state many HR personnel have likely never experienced living internationally; therefore, they may have low awareness of the type of challenges expatriates face
  • Relocation – expatriates cite a lack of clear information regarding this process
  • Real estate market differences – HR representatives may not know about these differences
  • Responsiveness – expatriates in various industries point out delays in response time
  • Slower and or confusing processes, such as work permits
  • Mobility and Relocation Policy limitations
  • Cost of travel

“Like most studies comparing and contrasting viewpoints of employers and their employees, there exists a gap that, if understood and addressed, can guide employers to make impactful decisions to better design and communicate assignment packages that more adeptly address the needs of their employees abroad and increase their satisfaction,” Kenton said.

About the Survey

Similar to the 2001 study, the “Expatriate Trends Study 2013” was conducted though a web survey instrument. No self-identifying information was captured, keeping all individual responses anonymous and confidential. This chosen method of anonymity encourages more candid feedback from respondents. Data Collection occurred by The Marketing Audit over eight weeks from August 2 to September 30, 2013 with a sample sizes of 1,511 in 140 countries and a confidence rate of 95 percent, with margin of error at +/- 2.3 percent. Respondents were recruited through multiple channels, which included member companies of NFTC and their expatriate populations, clients of Cigna Global Health Benefits, and other channels.

The inaugural study, which took place in 2001, explored the views of both international employers and their expatriate employees—before, during, and after international assignments. Throughout this report, references to the overall findings from the 2001 study explain how the climate for expats has evolved over the past decade. The 2001 study surveyed 143 human resources executives (representing the employer perspective) and 453 expatriates on assignment in more than 70 countries around the world.

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Travel Advice Philippines: 7.2 Magnitude Earthquake Hits The Island Of Bohol

Around 113,282 British nationals visited the Philippines in 2012. Most visits are trouble-free. Take out comprehensive travel and medical insurance before you travel. A major 7.2 magnitude earthquake struck the island of Bohol on Tuesday at 08:12 local time (0012 GMT).

The epicentre was 629 km from Manila. Cebu City is about 60 km away. There have been some reports of casualties on Cebu. The initial earthquake was followed by two aftershocks, each measuring more than 5.0 in magnitude. The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center did not issue a Pacific-wide tsunami threat. The United States Geological Survey have issued a yellow warning saying “some casualties and damage are possible and the impact should be relatively localised.

Past yellow alerts have required a local or regional level response.”

British nationals affected by the earthquake are asked to contact the Consular Section in Manila at +63 02 858 2200.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advise against all travel to south-west Mindanao and the Sulu archipelago because of on-going terrorist activity and clashes between the military and insurgent groups. The FCO advise against all but essential travel to the remainder of Mindanao for the same reasons. There is a high threat from terrorism, including kidnapping.

The FCO is aware of a credible and imminent kidnap threat against foreigners in Zamboanga del Norte Province in Mindanao.

On 10 October the US Embassy issued an emergency message to US citizens warning them of the continuing threat from terrorism in southern Mindanao, including Davao, North and South Cotabato, Sultan Kudurat, Sarangani and Maguindinao.

On 16 September 2013 the Philippine Bureau of Immigration warned foreign nationals against joining rallies and other mass action protests. Foreign nationals taking part in these rallies may face deportation for violating Philippine immigration laws.

On 9 September 2013 armed clashes took place between militants and the Philippines security forces in Zamboanga city. Sporadic fighting continues and the city’s airport has been closed. A curfew is in place from 8pm until 5am.

The FCO advise against all travel to this region. Any British nationals in Zamboanga city should remain indoors and follow the instructions of local authorities.

Around 20 typhoons hit the Philippines each year, usually between June and November. You should monitor local weather reports and follow the advice of local authorities. With the exception of Philippine Airlines (PAL), all air carriers certified in the Philippines are banned from operating to/from the EU. 

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