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Employee Benefit Trends Study Reveals That Employees Are Less Loyal Than Employers Think

MetLife’s China Employee Benefit Trends Study (EBTS), finds that 47% of employers in China are concerned that talent shortages will affect their business in the next 12 months. Most employers in China, (71%) say that retaining existing talent is difficult, the highest compared to other markets including the USA, Poland, Russia and UAE.

MetLife’s study surveyed both employers and employees in China to gain insights into employee loyalty, their concerns, employee engagement and productivity. One of the world’s most comprehensive workplace studies in the market, EBTS is now in its 13th year in the United States with China being its 11th global market surveyed. This also marks the first time that MetLife has conducted the study in this market.

The China market presents tremendous opportunities for domestic and multinational companies (MNCs). Chinese businesses have been highly effective in competing in global markets, while more and more MNCs have been attracted to set up businesses in China over the last decade, making the competition for highly-skilled talent more fierce than ever.

Spare a thought for employee engagement

The study also revealed a vast chasm between employees’ and employers’ perceptions when it comes to loyalty. Sixty eight percent of employers think their employees are “loyal”, but only 39% of employees agree. This misalignment is wider in China compared with many other markets MetLife has surveyed, underscoring employee engagement as an issue too big to ignore.

“Globally, we are seeing employers increasingly challenged to find innovative ways to attract, retain and engage talent, and China is no exception,” said Maria Morris, executive vice president, Global Employee Benefits, MetLife. “This is why we conduct our global employee benefit trends study in dynamic markets like China. Our study enables us to examine what’s on the minds of employees, and at the same time, provide employers with valuable insights to address their talent challenges. We continue to see, across all markets, that a well-designed and communicated benefits package is a key differentiator for a company looking to set itself apart from its competitors.”

So, what concerns employees in China?

Employees in China are stressed about their financial responsibilities. Most employees aged 18 to 40 have the additional responsibility of caring for their parents, and 59% of them are concerned about the resources to do so, according to EBTS. This may be driven by the effects of the One Child Policy in China.

Employees also care about their health. Topping the list of employees’ health concerns are medical problems (65%), emotional health (69%) and lifestyle issues (e.g. exercise and eating habits etc.) (69%). Therefore, they are interested in wellness programs offered by their employers. Seventy nine percent said they would like their employer to offer more health programs.

Although the Chinese Government’s policy to postpone the retirement age to 65 would allow employees working longer to save more money for their retirement, the survey finds that 47% of employees plan to retire before the age of 60. Unfortunately, half of the surveyed employees said they either lacking or are behind on their retirement saving goals. Sixty two percent agree their company has the responsibility to help them ensure they have enough money for retirement.

Big ways to address employees’ needs and boost employee value propositions

EBTS reveals that it does matter if employers empathize with their employees’ problems and offer programs that address their concerns. According to the study, for each additional notch higher in the agreement that the employees think their boss is caring or that they value their benefits and wellness programs, employees show a 16% increase in their commitment to their employer.

While an increase in salary is always the most effective motivator for employees around the world to stay with a company, 58% of employees who are considering making a move said an improved benefits package would make them more likely to stay with their company.

“Basic health coverage is more commonplace in China, while a broader benefit package that includes life insurance and retirement elements is less common. However, employers have to understand that employees have different financial responsibilities and needs, so they wish to personalize their benefits package or protection to fit for their priorities and purposes,” said George Tan, CEO of MetLife China.

“We see encouraging data in the study - employees (68%) who rate their health as “very good or excellent” display higher levels of engagement and readiness to deliver in their job. Healthy employees would have a direct positive impact on employers’ bottom line. Higher productivity and lower health-related absenteeism are the greatest financial advantages to companies,” added Tan.

For promoting wellness amongst employees, employers may consider a wide range of programs such as vaccines and flu shots, smoking cessation programs, healthy eating plans and stress management programs etc. EBTS confirms that caring about employees’ health is highly rewarding, 97% of employees taking part in wellness programs said the programs have had a positive impact of their health.

Voluntary benefits are another flexible option that is highly cost effective without incurring big benefit costs, and our study shows that employees in China are receptive to them. The benefits can be co-paid by employees and employers or solely contributed by employees. According to the study, medical-related benefits are the most sought after benefits (72%), followed by life insurance (65%) and retirement plans (63%) if employees have to pay the full costs. If employers are willing to share the costs, employees’ interest in these voluntary benefits will be even greater. For example, percentage of employees who are interested to buy medical-related benefits will shoot up from 72% to 83% if their employer agrees to sponsor part of the costs. Voluntary benefits provide a powerful opportunity to help employees solve their problems around medical issues, retirement and financial liabilities and increase commitment/loyalty at the same time Employers can also offer financial planning services as part of their benefits offerings.

“We see encouraging data in the study - employees (68%) who rate their health as “very good or excellent” display higher levels of engagement and readiness to deliver in their job. Healthy employees would have a direct positive impact on employers’ bottom line. Higher productivity and lower health-related absenteeism are the greatest financial advantages to companies,” added Tan.

For promoting wellness amongst employees, employers may consider a wide range of programs such as vaccines and flu shots, smoking cessation programs, healthy eating plans and stress management programs etc. EBTS confirms that caring about employees’ health is highly rewarding, 97% of employees taking part in wellness programs said the programs have had a positive impact of their health.


Survey Reveals What Canadians Don't Know About Their Travel Health Insurance

Canadians need to better understand their travel health insurance policies if they want to ensure they aren't in debt for out-of-country medical expenses, based on findings from a Travel Health Insurance Association (THiA) survey.  Forty-seven per cent of respondents have never reviewed their policies even though 23 per cent have required medical care while travelling.

"Policies vary from provider to provider. It's important to understand what will impact your coverage for medical expenses outside of Canada, or even within Canada," said Alex Bittner, THiA President. "Everyone should have a carefree holiday and not worry about unexpected medical expenses".

A survey of Canadian travel insurance providers shows that more than 95.3 per cent of travel health claims are successfully paid. THiA wants to see this number increase. This year's survey was designed to identify the public's understanding of common factors that can lead to a claim being denied.  Some key points that travellers need to read and understand about their travel health insurance policies include the following.

Diagnostic tests or prescription changes

A claim can be denied if a physician orders you a diagnostic test or prescribes a change in medication prior to travelling.  If you have a pre-existing condition that you are looking to cover, it needs to be stable for a period of time as specified in the policy, meaning no change in health or even a change of meds (dosage or type).  More than 55 per cent of respondents did not realize that a blood test that indicates a change in health status could compromise their medical stability, and as a result their coverage. Sixty-four per cent do not realize that a change in prescription can qualify as a change in health status.   "I've coined it 'Doctor Disconnect'.  To have a physician unwittingly compromise travel insurance coverage is unfortunate.  None of us want that." said Bittner.  Education is key.

Travelling while pregnant

Most travel health insurance policies do not cover women more than 31 weeks pregnant. This means that any kind of health condition experienced after the specified period in the policy will not be covered. Forty-three per cent of respondents believe that pre-term infants are covered by travel health insurance when the reality is that virtually no policies cover pre-term infants born while travelling.  Neo-natal intensive care can bankrupt a family. Does this mean that the ever popular 'baby-moon' should be banned? Not necessarily but perhaps consider taking that last trip in the first half of the pregnancy, and realize that even if you are covered, the baby may not be.

Being intoxicated

Thirty-nine per cent admitted to being intoxicated while on vacation but a full 52 per cent admit to being unaware that an injury or illness that occurs with high blood alcohol levels can lead to a claim being denied.

Business travel requires travel health insurance too, especially for entrepreneurs

Less than one per cent of respondents purchase travel insurance when travelling for business. Many companies have extended travel health insurance but it's the travellers' responsibility to understand their coverage. Employee benefit plans also are subject to exclusions and limitations.  Small business owners should double check and ensure they have the necessary coverage.  And good news, it's tax deductible.

What constitutes an extreme sport?

Some policies consider hiking a form of mountaineering. Thirty-four per cent of those surveyed have hiked on vacation. Buying the wrong policy can be costly as a broken leg can cost up to $10,000 per day (and much more if there are complications) for medical treatment in the United States.

"We want people to have confidence in their travel health insurance policies. Understanding your policy and coverage will help ensure that you are looked after in the event of unexpected medical emergencies," said Bittner.

Three Golden Rules

THiA recommends that Canadians do the following to have carefree vacations:

  1. Understand your travel insurance policy – Insurance providers have staff available to answer any questions related to policies
  2. Know your health and consult a health care provider if you have any questions
  3. Know your trip - How long will you be gone? Are you a snowbird? Will you be travelling many times during the year? Do you plan to scuba dive? Some policies will be more suitable for you than others




What Are The Key Differences Between An iPMI And A Local Insurance Plan?

In a recent International Private Medical Insurance Magazine executive round table business forum, we spoke with leading C-Level executives about the major differences between international private medical insurance plans and local insurance plans.

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

GREGOR SCHULTE Globality Health: At their heart, international health insurance plans are designed to cover all costs of high quality medical care regardless of the location of the insured person and the standard of local health services. Whereas a local plan is designed to provide cover primarily in a single country, taking into account the insurance practice and requirements of that country, access to state healthcare provisions and treatment costs in local hospitals only.

Of course international plans offer cover that transcends borders and generally include benefits specifically applicable to expatriates, such as repatriation and evacuation cover, assistance services and benefits, portability and freedom to choose the healthcare provider. The result is that iPMI usually provides far higher levels of benefits than those available from ‘local’ schemes, although this is dependent on which country is considered.

ANDREW APPS ALC Health*: Superficially there are many similarities between a local and international private medical (iPMI) plan. The fundamental difference is the target audience for each of these two very different products.

An iPMI plan is designed to cover a policyholder, usually an expatriate, for practically any health-related matter they may encounter, a local scheme does not have the same mandate, being designed with the local population in mind and most often acting as a support to local, often staterun facilities. This means that the features of each of these plans are markedly different.

The most noticeable difference is that an international plan usually offers a wider, more comprehensive range of benefits and with much higher benefit limits. For example, with an iPMI plan there can be generous cover for items such as GP visits, full chronic conditions cover, routine pregnancy and childbirth cover, evacuation and repatriation cover, and usually overall sum insured amounts that can be ten or twenty times higher than those of a local scheme.

Typically, an iPMI plan will also be portable, and not restricted to their country of residence, allowing the geographically mobile policyholder full access to all of their benefits wherever they are, in their chosen area of cover. Some iPMI plans also do not require their insured members to seek treatment within a network. The policyholder has the freedom to choose where they wish to receive treatment.

Naturally local schemes are usually less expensive than international plans, but correspondingly, the benefits are far less comprehensive, with low benefit limits (sometimes the benefits are blatantly only a contribution towards the total cost of treatment), out-of-network penalties, co-pay benefits, none or very limited out-of-country coverage. Most local schemes also do not offer 24 hour support.

Similarly by their very nature, local schemes are very much tailored to the local population with policy documentation available only in the local language and the benefits tailored to the audience the plan is designed for. The unwary expatriate with local cover may well find that he either has to make do with low levels of cover, or more likely will have to self-pay at least part of his treatment.

PHIL AUSTIN Cigna: International Health Insurance plans by their nature are better suited to expatriate life than local plans. They usually provide cover worldwide, meaning that wherever the individual happens to be in the world, they will be able to receive treatment.

Local plans on the other hand will normally only provide cover in a single country. This means that when the expatriate is making a trip back home, or is spending time in another country, they are potentially ineligible for treatment.

Moving to a new country often brings about basic challenges like language barriers and cultural adjustments. An international health insurance plan helps the expatriate remove a lot of this uncertainty as they will be dealing with a provider with experience in working with expats and experience in global healthcare. This means that often a language barrier can be removed by speaking to the insurer who can communicate directly with the hospital, and the expat can seek advice about local customs and peculiarities.

Finally and perhaps most importantly, expatriates who are not permanent residents or citizens of the country they are moving to may be ineligible for a local plan.

SHIRLEY PUCCINO GeoBlue: Local plans are designed to deliver coverage and services inside the host county and tend to incorporate underlying government health programs, networks, and delivery systems reflecting local languages, customs, business practices and provider relationships. International health insurance plans strive to provide more comprehensive global cover and an optimal experience globally, while to the extent possible, allow for local nuances in plan administration, delivery and practices.


*At the time of round table publication Andrew was working at ALC Health.


High Growth And Wider Product Offering Spurs Expatriate Group Rebrand

Expatriate Healthcare has rebranded as Expatriate Group to reflect the fact that the fast-growing business has significantly expanded the range of products it offers to its international clients.

London-based Expatriate was founded in 2003 to offer healthcare insurance for expats. As a result of growing demand from clients for other products, the company now also offers term life insurance, travel insurance and income replacement insurance.

In financial year 2013-2014, Expatriate recorded a 128% increase in new customers, and for the first quarter of 2015, new policy purchases have increased by 206% compared to Q1 2014.

“As a result of growing demand from our clients for products other than healthcare, we have had to expand our lines of business,” said Expatriate Group Manager Lee Gerry. “Our clients have been really happy with the products and standards of service we deliver and they have been asking us to provide them with further products to support their lifestyles overseas.

“Since 2013, as many clients have been finding us for non-healthcare products as for healthcare, which is extremely pleasing.”

He said that the change of name to Expatriate Group reflected the company’s aim to become a “one stop shop” for expats and companies with an international presence, providing them with all the financial protection products they require.

Mr. Gerry added that Expatriate Group will consider launching a further range of products for expats within the next 12 months. 

About Expatriate Group

Expatriate Group provides medical healthcare, as well as Life, Travel and Income Replacement, that is designed solely for expatriates. All plans are created by experienced expatriate underwriters. The policies are comprehensive and easy-to-understand, and backed up 24 hours a day by a friendly medical team. London-based Expatriate Group provides health insurance to 103 nationalities in 151 countries, representing 77% of the countries in the world.

For further information on Expatriate Group, visit





Traveling Abroad with Confidence: ACE Provides Essential Tips for Overseas Business Travel

Multinational business travel is an important part of a growing global economy, but the potential for peril is immense — from becoming seriously ill far from home, to being stranded following a natural disaster. Recognizing that existing dangers only increase when travelers are unaware and unprepared, ACE Group today released a tip sheet that identifies several travel scenarios and the proactive steps organizations can take to help mitigate the associated risks.

Developed by ACE’s Accident and Health division, Safety Tips for Business Travel offers concise recommendations for safeguarding your employees and your organization in a variety of travel situations, including:

  • Protecting employees and limiting business interruption in the event of a natural disaster
  • Ensuring all employees receive the same protection worldwide, regardless of their home country
  • Protecting employees while traveling on the road and in the air
  • Ensuring the safety of employees and their belongings in a hotel

“ACE has helped hundreds of organizations protect employees who are traveling abroad. We understand the risks of business travel, from everyday hazards to worst case scenarios, and realize it can be as stressful as it is necessary,” said Joseph Weiss, Vice President, ACE Accident & Health. “I’m excited that we can offer these valuable tips to help organizations identify and mitigate potential risks before they happen. Our experience has shown us that the more proactive you are in planning a safe and secure business trip, the more successful it will be.”

To access this document, please visit our website. For more information about ACE’s multinational travel accident and sickness products and services, visit

The material presented in this document is not intended to provide legal or other expert advice. It is presented as information only. Readers should consult legal counsel or other technical experts, as applicable, with any specific questions they may have.


Critical Considerations When Designing International Private Medical Health Insurance Plans

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

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


Discovery And John Hancock Announce Strategic Partnership

Discovery Limited (“Discovery”) and John Hancock Insurance (“John Hancock”) have entered into a strategic partnership which will see the introduction of a comprehensive healthy living program for U.S. consumers. John Hancock, a division of the global financial services group Manulife, is one of the largest life insurers in the United States.

Adrian Gore, Chief Executive of Discovery says, “Discovery and John Hancock share a commitment to improving the lives of our customers, and with more than 150 years of experience and a history of innovation, John Hancock is the perfect partner to help expand the solution that’s at the centre of Discovery’s shared-value insurance model in the US.”

Craig Bromley, President of John Hancock Financial Services comments: “We are reinventing the consumer life insurance experience and changing the way people think about this critical component of their overall financial health. We believe this offering will make life insurance relevant for new generations of consumers and reinvigorate the entire category.”

Discovery’s shared-value insurance model is based on the combination of engaging policyholders and incentivising them to manage their health, and dynamically pricing their behaviour into the cost of insurance. The model leverages insights from behavioural economics in an immediate rewards system that drives positive behaviour change over the long term. The change in behaviour results in lower insurance costs and savings that are then used to fund incentives. Customers benefit from the shared-value model through better health and financial rewards.

Recent research conducted in South Africa showed that Vitality incentives have a positive and measurable impact towards improving healthy lifestyle choices. The research also revealed that membership of the Vitality wellness programme is closely linked to the tendency to undertake a health screening, and as a result to also take preventive measures against potentially life threating non-communicable diseases.

The partnership with John Hancock strengthens Discovery’s position as the global leader in the field of incentivised wellness. Discovery has a global presence through partnerships with Ping An in China, AIA in Asia and Australia, and The Generali Group in Europe. Discovery also wholly owns VitalityLife and VitalityHealth in the UK (previously PruProtect and PruHealth respectively).


14th January 2015 Latest International Private Medical Health Insurance Magazine News Articles

Healthy Passenger Demand in November

Global passenger traffic results for November 2014 show a continuation of the healthy demand trend of recent months. Total revenue passenger kilometers (RPKs) rose 6.0% compared to November 2013, which was ahead of the 5.7% year-over-year growth recorded in October as well as the 10-year average growth rate of 5.6%. November capacity expanded by 5.4%, leading to a 0.5 percentage point rise in the load factor to 76.7%. Growth was driven primarily by domestic markets which experienced a 6.9% increase in demand over the previous November (an acceleration over the 5.3% year-to-date average for domestic travel).

November Global Air Freight Growth Concentrates In Asia And Middle East

November 2014 data for global air freight markets showing that demand measured in freight tonne kilometers (FTK) grew 4.2% compared to November 2013. Capacity grew by 3.3% over the previous November. Compared to October 2014, air freight demand expanded by a healthy 0.8%. The most significant growth was recorded by carriers in the Asia-Pacific and Middle East regions, at 5.9% and 12.9%, respectively.

Cigna Life Insurance New Zealand Launches New Travel Insurance Cover

Cigna’s new comprehensive travel insurance provides mature customers with peace of mind and sense of security when travelling away from home. Cigna announced today its entry into the travel insurance market, with the new Cigna 50+ Travel Insurance designed specifically with the mature traveller in mind. Cigna already provides travel insurance through partner companies, but this is their first travel insurance product under the Cigna brand.

Status Global Insurance Now Offering Travel Insurance For Extensive Pre-Existing Medical Conditions

Status Global Insurance are excited to announce the ground-breaking launch of the specialised travel insurance product, Fit-4-Travel, which offers comprehensive cover, with no upper age limit to UK citizens residing throughout the EU, who have extensive pre-existing medical conditions. Many insurance companies aren’t able to provide travel insurance for pre-existing medical conditions, or if they do you end up paying an absurdly expensive premium. This can leave travellers’ well-being, and wallets dangerously exposed if they have a flare-up of an existing medical condition when abroad. Arranged in partnership with International Travel and Healthcare Ltd Fit-4-Travel provides a reasonably priced product that will cover a very wide range of pre-existing medical conditions.

Alternate Health Care Delivery Models And Payment Reform May Stall At Current Levels

A joint pulse survey between Aon Hewitt, the global talent, retirement and health solutions business of Aon (NYSE: AON), and Catalyst for Payment Reform, an independent, non-profit employer coalition pushing for better value in U.S. health care, shows that while employers find alternative provider delivery models and payment reform attractive, most admit they do not understand them or the value they provide. As a result, they may miss a significant opportunity to lead and improve results (health and financial) for their workforce and business.

Natural Catastrophe Insurance Losses Hit Five-Year Low In 2014

Impact Forecasting has launched its Annual Global Climate and Catastrophe Report, which evaluates the impact of the natural disaster events that occurred worldwide during 2014. The report reveals that 258 separate global natural disasters occurred in 2014, compared to a ten-year average of 260 events, causing a combined total insured loss of USD39 billion – 38 percent below the ten-year average of USD63 billion, and the lowest annual insured loss total since 2009. The two costliest insured loss events of the year were both a result of severe thunderstorms, in June (Europe: USD3.0 billion) and in May (United States: USD2.9 billion). Meanwhile, global economic losses from natural catastrophes in 2014 stood at USD132 billion – 37 percent below the ten-year average of USD211 billion. The September flood event in northern India and Pakistan resulted in the largest economic loss of the year, causing an estimated USD18 billion in damage and representing the fifth consecutive year that Pakistan has registered a billion-dollar flood event.

Workers Compensation Claims Will Decrease In 2015

Aon Risk Solutions has released its second Health Care Workers Compensation Barometer report. The report explores trends in frequency, severity and overall loss rates related to workers’ compensation for approximately 1,150 heath care facilities across the country. The 2014 report projects workers compensation loss rates will decrease one percent annually. The Health Care Workers Compensation Barometer report also shows that frequency of workers compensation claims has been slowly and consistently decreasing at the same one percent level over the ten year experience period analyzed.

Merger Creates One Of The Largest Providers In Canadian Travel Insurance

Allianz Worldwide Partners and The Co-operators have announced the completion of the merger of their respective Canadian travel insurance companies. The merger of Allianz Global Assistance Canada and TIC Travel Insurance Coordinators, first announced in September, has created one of the largest travel insurance providers in the country, operating as Allianz Global Assistance. The combined entity will leverage the strengths of the two organizations to offer industry-leading products and services for Canadian travellers and visitors to Canada.


Aviva Appoints Andrew Brem As Chief Digital Officer

Aviva announces the appointment of Andrew Brem as Chief Digital Officer (“CDO”), reporting to Mark Wilson, Aviva’s Chief Executive Officer.

In this new role, Andrew will drive Aviva’s group-wide digital transformation which will have a significant impact on Aviva’s customer interactions, including: product innovation and development through data analytics, customer insights and risk management direct distribution, interactive communication and claims handling marketing and branding across social media and the mobile internet.

Andrew has held significant e-commerce and digital leadership roles. From 2012 to 2014, Andrew was Managing Director, Commercial & Product Development at British Gas. In this role he created a new brand, Hive, which focuses on the benefits of ‘connected homes’ and which has already become the market leader with 40% of customers using its new remote heating control system every day. Prior to British Gas, Andrew held various leadership roles at Carphone Warehouse including Managing Director, Multichannel eCommerce & Services, and senior positions at ASDA and McKinsey.

Mark Wilson, Group Chief Executive Officer, said, “Andrew is an exciting addition to the leadership team and will ensure Aviva delivers its ‘digital first’ strategy. The insurance industry punches below its weight when it comes to digital propositions that customers are looking for. Coming from outside the insurance industry, Andrew will bring a fresh perspective. I am confident he will drive Aviva’s digital transformation.”

Andrew Brem commented, “I am thrilled to be joining Aviva – a strong brand committed to becoming a truly digital insurer. We’ve all seen how technology has changed the way we live our lives; from buying groceries online to controlling our heating from anywhere with an app. Now is the time to bring the digital revolution to insurance; transforming the way people can buy and use our products every day.”


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Medical, Healthcare, Expatriate And Travel Insurance

A guide to leading international medical, healthcare, expatriate and travel insurance underwriters, companies, providers, operating within leisure, expatriate and corporate travel business markets, globally.