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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

Bupa Appoints Simon Blair And Janet Voûte As Board Directors

Bupa announces the appointment of Simon Blair and Janet Voûte to its Board as non-executive directors.

Simon joins the Board following an extensive career in Australia and New Zealand, a key market for Bupa. Most recently, Simon was Group Executive International Financial Services for the Commonwealth Bank of Australia. Prior to this, his roles included Chief Operating Officer at Australian health insurer, Medibank, Lead Health Specialist for the World Bank, and CEO of Australia’s largest public hospital group. Simon also holds a number of other non-executive positions.

Janet is currently Global Head of Public Affairs at Nestlé SA and Chairman of the Creating Shared Value Council focusing on nutrition, water and rural development. Previously she served as Partnership Advisor at the World Health Organisation in the area of non-communicable diseases and mental health. Janet also spent eight years as the CEO of the World Heart Federation. Her early career was in management consulting including at The Boston Consulting Group and Bain & Company, where her final position was Vice President and Partner.

Lord Leitch, Chairman of Bupa, said, “We are delighted to welcome Simon and Janet to the Board. Their international experience and understanding of the insurance and healthcare sectors complements the skill-set of existing Board members. We look forward to benefitting from their expertise as we seek to make a positive impact on the health of millions more people around the world."

Simon and Janet will join the Bupa Board on 12 January 2016.

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Somalia Travel Warning Advice News: 2 Car Bombs Explode Jazeera Hotel near Mogadishu International Airport, 11 People Dead

1 January 2014: two car bombs exploded at the Jazeera Hotel near Mogadishu International Airport, killing 11 people; there was also indirect fire into Mogadishu International Airport with no casualties currently reported.

10 Reasons You Need Medical Insurance Before Travel to Somalia:

  • 27 December 2013: a bomb exploded at a restaurant in Mogadishu, reportedly killing 11 people;
  • 8 November 2013: 6 people were killed and scores injured after a car bomb attack on the Makkah Al-Mukarama Hotel in Mogadishu;
  • 21 August 2013: gunmen attacked the convoy of a Swedish politician at the K4 junction in Mogadishu injuring her and killing 2 people;
  • 12 July 2013: a grenade attack took place against the Barwaqo Hotel in Mogadishu killing 2 people and injuring several more: on the same day a suicide car bomb attack on an African Union convoy on the Maka al-Mukarama Road near Mogadishu Airport killed 4 people and left many others injured;
  • 19 June 2013: in a complex attack, a car bomb exploded outside the UN Common Compound in Mogadishu: armed insurgents then entered the compound killing 8 local and international staff;
  • 5 May 2013: a suicide car bomb was used to attack a Somali government convoy at the K4 Junction in Mogadishu, killing a number of people;
  • 14 April 2013: a number of co-ordinated suicide and bomb attacks took place in Mogadishu at the Banadir High Court and close to the UN Common Compound; at least 28 people were killed with many more injured 18 March 2013: a car bomb exploded near the Presidential Palace in Mogadishu a number of people are reported to have been killed;
  • 29 January 2013: there was suicide attack on the President’s compound killing a number of people;
  • 7 November 2012: a car bomb exploded near the parliament compound in Mogadishu; at least one person was killed;
  • 20 September 2012: an improvised explosive device (IED) was detonated, followed by two suicide bomb attacks at the Village Restaurant, a popular cafe in Mogadishu: the attack killed 21 people, including three journalists and injured 30 others.
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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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International SOS And China National Petroleum Corporation Establish Strategic Partnership

China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) and International SOS have confirmed their partnership by signing a Global Strategic Partnership Framework.

This partnership dates back to 2000, when International SOS provided global medical and security assistance support to BGP, one of CNPC’s subsidiaries. Since then, both parties have continued to explore collaboration opportunities within the CNPC Group and other subsidiaries. International SOS currently provides CNPC Group and its subsidiaries with world-class medical and travel security support in over 30 medical staffing projects across 12 countries.

Mr. Zhang Xin, General Manager of the Foreign Affairs Department of CNPC received a delegation led by Mr. Laurent Sabourin, Group Managing Director of International SOS. The signing ceremony took place at CNPC’s global headquarters in Beijing, China. Mr. Zhang Xin and Mr. John Williams, International SOS Managing Director of China, were present to sign the framework. Mr. Zhang and Mr. Sabourin discussed how both parties can strengthen this partnership further.

By signing the new framework, they confirmed their commitment to forming a stronger global collaboration where International SOS will provide comprehensive medical and security support to CNPC’s expatriates and international travellers.

As China’s leading oil and gas company, CNPC is continuously expanding its global operations and now has a presence in over 70 countries. Many are in extremely challenging regions where medical and security support is inadequate. The wellbeing of its employees has always been CNPC’s top priority. This framework further demonstrates CNPC’s commitment to provide Duty of Care to its employees. As well as support in medical and security emergencies, CNPC will also work with International SOS to provide preventative medical support, as well as pre-travel medical and security awareness training to its employees.

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Mutual Benefit Group Deploys Accenture’s Software to Improve Insurance Claims Efficiency

Accenture (NYSE: ACN) have announced  that Mutual Benefit Group, a personal and commercial lines insurance provider based in the United States, went into production with Accenture Claim Components.

Mutual Benefit chose software from Accenture to improve efficiency in handling and paying claims by automating certain claims processes and enabling sharper focus on value-adding activities. The software was implemented jointly by Accenture and Mutual Benefit and is integrated into the insurer’s existing Accenture Duck Creek Policy Administration system, ensuring a seamless transfer of information between underwriters and claims adjusters.

“Taking care of our customers' claims is a top priority, so we identified key areas that could be improved by transforming some current claims operation functions,” said Mark Russell, Vice President of Claims, Mutual Benefit Group. “Our successful implementation of Accenture Claim Components is a result of the coordination and hard work by Accenture and Mutual Benefit teams. We expect to reap the benefits of modern technology in improved customer service and lower costs, as well as improve operational efficiencies through integrations with existing Accenture Duck Creek software.”

“We are proud to help Mutual Benefit Group deliver efficient claims processes and improve their customer experience through our modern software capabilities,” said Michael A. Jackowski, global managing director of Accenture Software for P&C insurance. “The implementation of Accenture Claim Components at Mutual Benefit Group demonstrates how Accenture brings leading, affordable technology to mid-size insurance carriers in order to improve their processes and customer service.”

Accenture’s industry-leading policy, claims and billing software offers carriers an integrated suite of software with modules that can be implemented individually or as part of a broader migration strategy. The combined software helps insurers of all sizes to benefit from a flexible suite of property & casualty (P&C) software to configure products, transact lines of business and process claims.

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RSA Selects Sapiens Reinsurance Solution

Sapiens International Corporation, (NASDAQ and TASE: SPNS), a global provider of innovative software solutions for the financial services industry, announced today that Royal and Sun Alliance (RSA) – one of the world’s leading multinational general insurance groups, serving customers in around 140 countries – has selected Sapiens Reinsurance, a comprehensive business management and accounting solution, to manage its Group Reinsurance portfolio.

Anticipated benefits include improved management and control of RSA’s reinsurance program and global operations. Sapiens Reinsurance will also provide full support for risk accumulation and exposure management, ensuring accuracy and control of all business processes via automated workflow activities and business functionality, including comprehensive audit and tracking of all business activities and accounting procedures. The solution also features a single repository for all information, providing support for operational reporting, management information and business analytics, statutory requirements and compliance.

Commenting on the selection of Sapiens Reinsurance, RSA’s Head of Group Reinsurance Operations, Steve Lague said, “We have selected Sapiens due to the rich business functionality of its solution – Sapiens Reinsurance – combined with the professionalism of their personnel. We see a tremendous amount of value in Sapiens’ domain expertise and understanding of our unique business needs, as well as the cultural alignment between the organizations which bodes well for the relationship going forwards.”

Roni Al-Dor, President and CEO of Sapiens commented, “We are proud to have RSA as our customer, and appreciate their recognition of our reinsurance solution and the value of our dedicated and skilled staff. RSA joins a growing and impressive portfolio of customers that have chosen to work with Sapiens, and we look forward to helping RSA derive the highest possible value from this solution.”

Raj Ghuman, VP Sales and Operations - Sapiens Europe noted, “We are delighted to have RSA as our customer. The commitment RSA has shown to the Sapiens Reinsurance solution is a strong vote of confidence in both our product and team, and is testimony to the quality and value of the partnership developed between Sapiens and RSA during the selection process.”

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Round Table: Critical Considerations When Designing Individual Expat Medical Insurance Plans

Critical Considerations When Designing Medical Insurance Plans

Whats important when designing medical insurance plans for overseas assignments, relocation, business and leisure travel? How are insurers viewing the market and is there a shift towards short-term cover, for individual expatriates and travelers

Job Title: C-Level ONLY

Questions:

What factors must one consider when designing health and medical insurance plans for individual expatriates?

Talk us through your under writing capabilities and ideas: (think about Full medical underwriting, Continuing Personal Medical Exclusions (CPME) and Moratorium)

What benefits does full medical underwriting bring?

How do your private medical insurance plans cover pre-existing conditions?

What is the key to success when designing health insurance plans for individual expats?

Can you talk us through your distribution channels and any new trends you have identified?

How does designing a good expatriate health insurance product equal quality driven healthcare anywhere, at any time?

How important is the portability of an individual expatriate insurance plan?

How can insurers add value to expatriate health insurance plans?

Currently, what is your most popular and appropriate plan for an individual expat working on a short-term assignment?

What new plan features and benefits can we expect to see in the next 5 years?

Specifics: iPMIM Executive Round Tables are not open to all and remain invite only. You may apply for a position if you satisfy the following criteria:

  • You are a specialist and recognised underwriter or provider of private medical insurance products;
  • You have an established network of third party service providers including healthcare providers and distribution partners.

PLEASE note that satisfying the criteria and applying will not guarantee a position at the table.

Participants enjoy:

  • Complete inclusion in 4 executive round tables;
  • Full professional executive bio;
  • Company logo;
  • Company bio;
  • Single or double page advertisement;
  • Complete online promotion.

About International Private Medical Insurance Magazine (iPMIM) Round Tables

The aim of iPMIM Round Tables is to facilitate Dialog and Debate at an Industry and Government level. Bringing together International Industry Leaders and Policy Makers, iPMI Magazine Round Tables represent the perfect arena for educational, interactive, cross border, cross culture and cross industry discussion, at the highest level.

 

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Round Table: The Effects of the Maritime Labour Convention on the Global Insurance Industry

The Effects of the Maritime Labour Convention on the Global Insurance Industry

The Maritime Labour Convention (MLC) is an International Labour Organization convention established in 2006 as the Fourth pillar of international maritime law and embodies "all up-to-date standards of existing international maritime labour Conventions and Recommendations, as well as the fundamental principles to be found in other international labour Conventions".

Title 4 of the MLC covers Health Protection, Medical Care, Welfare and Social Security Protection

Medical care on board ship and ashore: Seafarers should be covered for and have access to medical care while on board; in principle at no cost and of a quality comparable to the standards of health care on shore. Countries through which territory a ship is passing should guarantee treatment on shore in serious cases.

Shipowners' liability: Seafarers should be protected from the financial effects of "sickness, injury or death occurring in connection with their employment". This includes at least 16 weeks of payment of wages after start of sickness.

Health and safety protection and accident prevention: A safe and hygienic environment should be provided to seafarers both during working and resting hours and measures should be taken to take reasonable safety measures.

Access to shore-based welfare facilities: Port states should provide "welfare, cultural, recreational and information facilities and services" and to provide easy access to these services. The access to these facilities should be open to all seafarers irrespective of race, sex, religion or political opinion.

Social security: Social security coverage should be available to seafarers (and in case it is customary in the flag state: their relatives).

Job Title: C-Level ONLY

Specifics: iPMIM Executive Round Tables are not open to all and remain invite only.

You may apply for a position if you satisfy the following criteria:

  • You are a specialist and recognised underwriter or provider of private medical insurance products for the maritime industry;
  • You have an established network of third party service providers including healthcare providers and distribution partners.

Participants enjoy:

  • Complete inclusion in 4 executive round tables;
  • Full professional executive bio;
  • Company logo;
  • Company bio;
  • Single or double page advertisement;
  • Complete online promotion.

Click here to see a demo of how the round tables will be published.

Questions:

  • What has the Maritime Labour Convention meant for the insurance industry?
  • What insurance plan do you provide for the maritime and marine industry?
  • What opportunities exist for insurers in the maritime and marine business?
  • What challenges do insurance companies face in the marine and maritime industry?
  • How complex an operation is the repatriation of crew, to suitable medical facilities, in the case of an incident?
  • In the case of a mass casualty disaster, how prepared is the industry to respond?
  • How prepared are payor provider networks for such situations?
  • With an estimated 1.5 million workers, the Maritime Industry crosses cultural, political and physical borders every day.
  • How popular are value added services like Employee Assistance Services, in the maritime and marine industry?
  • What is important when designing maritime and marine insurance plans?
  • How can maritime insurance plans assist in the fight against piracy in the Indian Ocean?
  • How will the maritime and marine industry develop over the next 5 years and what will this mean for insurance companies?

About International Private Medical Insurance Magazine (iPMIM) Round Tables

The aim of iPMIM Round Tables is to facilitate Dialog and Debate at an Industry and Government level. Bringing together International Industry Leaders and Policy Makers, iPMI Magazine Round Tables represent the perfect arena for educational, interactive, cross border, cross culture and cross industry discussion, at the highest level.

To apply for a position please click here.

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African, European And Asian Cities Dominate The Top 10 Most Expensive Locations For Expatriates

Although more European cities dominate the world’s top costliest locations for expatriates, according to Mercer’s latest Cost of Living Survey, several cities in Asia are among the top 10 while Luanda holds the number one position. Mercer's 2013 Cost of Living Survey is one of the world’s most comprehensive, and is designed to help multinational companies and governments determine compensation allowances for their expatriate employees.

New York is used as the base city, and all cities are compared against it. Currency movements are measured against the US dollar. The survey covers 214 cities across five continents and measures the comparative cost of over 200 items in each location, including housing, transportation, food, clothing, household goods, and entertainment. The difference in cost for these items can be dramatic.

For example the cost of a cup of coffee in Managua, Nicaragua is $1.54 compared to $8.29 in Moscow; a fast food hamburger meal is $3.62 in Kolkata (Calcutta), India, versus $13.49 in Caracas, and a cinema ticket is $5.91 in Johannesburg compared to $20.10 in London. These are but a few examples of the thousands of comparisons to be found in Mercer’s full report that aid employers in setting cost of living and other expatriate allowances. Mercer produces individual cost of living and rental accommodation cost reports for each city surveyed.

The cost of expatriate housing is typically the biggest expense for employers, and it plays an important part in determining the rankings. The Russian capital of Moscow follows Luanda as the second most expensive city because of high costs for rental accommodation and imported goods and services commonly purchased by expatriates commanding a premium. A luxury two bedroom unfurnished apartment rental for one month in Moscow is $4,600 a month or 14 times as much than Karachi. Rounding out the top five most expensive cities for expatriate living, which also have pricey rental accommodations, are Tokyo, the Chad city Ndjamena, and Singapore.

“Recent world events, including economic and political upheavals, which resulted in currency fluctuations, cost inflation for goods and services, and volatility in accommodation prices have impacted these cities making them expensive,” said Barb Marder, Senior Partner and Mercer’s Global Mobility Practice Leader. “Despite being one of Africa’s major oil producers, Angola is a relatively poor country yet expensive for expatriates since imported goods can be costly. In addition, finding secure living accommodations that meet the standards of expatriates can be challenging and quite costly." The other cities appearing in Mercer’s list of top 10 costliest cities for expatriates are Hong Kong, Geneva, Bern and Zurich.

According to Ms. Marder, “A recent Mercer global mobility survey shows that all different types of international assignments are on the rise. Given the increasing numbers of business travelers, global ‘commuters’ and longer-term expatriates, companies are keeping a close eye on the cost of living for international assignees in different cities around the world. Organizations need to evaluate the impact of currency fluctuations, inflation, and political instability when sending employees on overseas assignments while ensuring they can facilitate the moves they need to drive the business results by offering fair and competitive compensation packages.” Currency fluctuations and the impact of inflation on goods and services have affected the cost of expatriate programs as well as the city rankings.

“Overall, the cost of living in cities across parts of Europe has gone up in the ranking as a result of the slight strengthening of local currencies against the US dollar, whereas in Asia about half of the cities went down in the ranking – Japan especially – due to local currencies’ weakening against the US dollar,” said Nathalie Constantin-Métral, Principal at Mercer with responsibility for compiling the survey ranking.

Four European cities are among the top 10 most expensive despite moderate price increases in most European countries. Switzerland remains one of the costliest locations for expatriates despite decreasing or stable accommodation costs and a robust Swiss franc. Some African cities rank high in Mercer’s 2013 survey, reflecting high living costs for expatriate employees. In the Americas, cities in South America are the most expensive locations for expatriates.

Some cities dropped in the ranking as a result of local currencies weakening against the US dollar such as Brazilian cities, while others jumped as a result of high inflation on goods and services and rentals. New York, the base city for Mercer’s Cost of Living ranking, is the most expensive city in the United States.

“Overall, US cities either remained stable in the ranking or have slightly decreased due to the movement of the US dollar against the majority of currencies worldwide,” explained Ms. Constantin-Métral. ”Yet several cities, including New York, moved up in the ranking due to a rise in the rental accommodation market.” Canadian cities generally moved down in the ranking this year as a result of a slight decrease of the Canadian dollar against the US dollar, and because the prices of goods and services increased at a lower pace than in New York.

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Powered by iPMI Magazine, iPMI Magazine Round Tables facilitate the best industry dialog and debate, at an industry and government level. iPMI Magazine Round Tables host the most important industry players and VIP's from various sectors of the international private medical insurance industry.

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Educate, discuss and lead from the front. Learn from peers and network with new clients, iPMI Magazine Round Tables are designed by the industry, for the industry.