Ppportunities in international PMI cover
One of my clients has recently come back from a holiday in Spain and liked it so much they are thinking of buying a house for longer holidays, with the intention of retiring there in the future. They’ve asked about changing their UK private medical plan to cover them whilst in Spain, with a view to the longer term. Where do I start?
Following the growth of the low cost airlines and comparatively low price of housing in the Mediterranean (not to say the better weather) – this type of ‘post summer holiday’ enquiry is becoming much more common over recent years.
As a broker faced with this type of customer query, in addition to the usual ‘demands and needs’, coverage and budgetary requirements, there are a few additional points to be mindful of based upon the clients initial and future intentions.
Firstly, who is their current UK provider? Very few UK health insurance providers have an international private medical insurance (iPMI) product that an existing UK insured can transfer onto – but it is worth asking as the first port of call.
Even if the UK provider has an international plan available, it is worth shopping around and seeing what else is available – the Association of International Medical Insurance Providers’ website is a good place to start (www.aimip.org.uk).
There are a wide variety of iPMI products and providers available. Most provide portable international plans and some also have specialist products tailored towards a certain region such as the Mediterranean or other niche markets or regions.
The broker needs to establish whether the customer is planning on returning to the UK at some point, periodically, or permanently. This is important as some iPMI policies will only cover policyholders as an expatriate and not when, or if, they return home to the UK.
Likewise, it is worth checking with the iPMI provider as to whether they have any transfer capabilities from a UK plan as a few iPMI plans will consider transfers, whereas many others will not.
Additionally, it is important to find out whether the customers will require portability of cover between countries or the ability to seek treatment outside their country of residence or back in the UK, as many expats often spend a few years in one location and then move yet again to another country (or indeed return home if it does not work out).
STUART SCULLION - SALES AND MARKETING DIRECTOR, THE PRIVATE HEALTH PARTNERSHIP
How and when did you start advising on PMI?
In January 1994 I was appointed business development manager at Strasbourgeoise UK, the UK subsidiary of the French insurer Strasbourgeoise Assurances Mutuelle, which was the underwriter of the Clinicare PMI products. I was one of only three staff at that time, with a responsibility to develop primarily group business through both the intermediated and direct channels.
Do you advise on individual/corporate –or both?
As sales & marketing director at PHP my responsibility is not to give advice personally. My responsibility is to develop marketing initiatives to expand our distribution channels across the entire business to achieve both the new business sales and retention targets.
Who/what gets you through the day?
I am self motivated as a person. I want to win in everything I do and have an expectation my business does the same. We all spend too much time at work not to enjoy it, so I try to do everything with a smile on my face, although my children think I’m the next Victor Meldrew!
Do you work with introducers and how?
Working with introducers is a key part of our distribution strategy. Our
Source: RGA UK Services Ltd
relationship with our introducer intermediaries varies. Some just refer the occasional case where they do not feel they have the expertise. Others consider us to be their strategic partners in the health and wellbeing area.
What in your view is the key issue in PMI market today?
Advances in the pharmaceutical industry mean that life is sustainable for many patients suffering from cancer, who would previously have died, which is fantastic. However, the cost of some of these drugs makes it unsustainable in both the private and NHS sectors for us to fund them for all those who would benefit. Finding a solution is possibly the biggest challenge currently being faced in the PMI market today.
Who in the PMI industry do you most admire and why?
I admire our MD, Jan Lawson. She is a single minded lady, who together with Peter Bye, has grown PHP to become one of the top ten PMI brokerages in the UK from humble beginnings. I respect a number of people on both the provider and intermediary side of the industry, but I won’t embarrass them by putting their names in print! Generally, I like positive people with a can do attitude, I’ve not got a lot of time for whingers.