The HI Profile: Cigna's Phil Austin

Health Insurance editor David Sawers asks the questions

Cigna enjoys an excellent reputation in the group international private medical insurance sector and now it is turning its attentions to the individual market. Health Insurance editor David Sawers meets the man taking on the challenge

Returning to Cigna to drive forward the insurer's push into the individual international private medical insurance (iPMI) market was an opportunity, Phil Austin tells me, that was too good to miss.

After all, the provider enjoys a solid reputation among brokers in terms of both domestic and international corporate healthcare. Cigna is one of the world's largest medical insurers. And the iPMI market is said – although meaningful independent data remains hard to come by – to be booming.

But, I point out, while Cigna has pack a punch in terms of group iPMI for some time now, individual health cover is a relatively new – and already crowded – market for it. That, though, is not a major issue, Austin says.

“We are new into the individual international healthcare business, yes, but you have to look at Cigna’s heritage over many, many years that has supported large corporate customers in terms of satisfaction,” says Austin, who rejoined the insurer after a spell with Chartis. “We are taking the same service principle and putting it into the individual market. Brokers should know that our individual product is probably one of the best products in the market in terms of coverage and service. And we’re supporting it with our many, many years as a service provider.”

It is certainly clear that Cigna sees the individual iPMI market as a key one and has realigned its international business accordingly. When Cigna launched Cigna Global Health Options – its new individual iPMI business line – towards the end of 2010, the latter was operating as part of Cigna International Expatriate Benefits (CIEB). Then, in order to give the international individual business line more strategic focus, it was formally moved to its own business line in the summer of 2011, before Austin was appointed in October to head it up.

MANAGEMENT TEAM AND STRUCTURE

The new structure means that there are now four business lines which constitute “Cigna International”. Operating in parallel to Cigna Global Health Options, Cigna Global Expatriate Benefits provides international group PMI and incorporates Cigna Global Health Benefits (formerly CIEB) and also Vanbreda International, the provider Cigna acquired in 2010. Cigna HealthCare Benefits provides domestic group cover in the UK and Spain, while Cigna Health, Life & Accident provides short-term risk-based products such as critical illness, personal accident and term assurance cover.

The management team heading up the new structure includes Andrew Kielty, who is president, Cigna Global Health Benefits, while Sheldon Kenton, another figure well know to the UK broker market, is global head of sales and client management. While both Kielty and Kenton are based in Delaware in the US, another senior figure, Wouter Reggers, who joined Cigna with Vanbreda, is managing director, Cigna Global Health Benefits, Europe, and is based in Antwerp, Belgium. Austin, meanwhile reports into Mike Ross, senior vice president, individual private medical insurance & business development.

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