The HI Profile: Cigna's Phil Austin

It is a structure and a management team which Austin believes will enable Cigna to translate its experience and success in the group iPMI market into the individual sector. It is one that is appealing to him professionally too.

“We’re known for quality, customer care and service and we’re taking it to the individual market which is not something Cigna’s really done before,” he says. “So the challenge was just too good to not come back. It had the international focus, it was very strategically important to Cigna [...] in terms of our global strategy. Most of my career has been starting something new and really trying to grow and develop.”

Austin's career to date has seen him take on a number of roles which means he is familiar with many of the key players in both the insurer and intermediary communities in the UK.

“We have a strong presence in the UK broker market and Cigna has a high recognition factor,” he explains, “especially in the corporate arena for both domestic and international healthcare – which means they’re prepared to listen to what we have to offer.”

Cigna, Austin explains, is offering a “very high end, high net worth product” to begin with.

“It is what people would expect from Cigna, in terms of high level benefits,” he says. “The one thing we found with high net worths is they don’t mind paying the money but they want the best product possible. They don’t want to be going to a hospital in Brazil, for example, and suddenly finding out its limitations.”

EXPANDING THE MARKET

Plans are afoot, however, to expand the offering to a broader group of customers too.

“We are generating a huge amount of leads across a mass continuum of people,” Austin says. “There are the high net worths, the mass affluents, the affluents, teachers, travellers and so on. So we are looking to bring a mid-range product later this year. It will be low level benefits which would meet the needs of some of those affluent people who are looking for a lower range product.”

Cigna Global Health Options has plans, Austin continues, to expand the individual iPMI market as opposed to just simply grabbing a share of the existing continuation and group leaver market. New products and propositions will be developed to that end.

“In most markets there is a limited amount of international individual healthcare business written at the moment,” Austin explains. “From what we’ve seen most brokers have group leavers and continuations. There are a few brokers who concentrate on individuals but at the moment it’s quite limited.”

He continues: “If we want to truly work with brokers and expand we have to offer more products and services so we have to be able to offer them new methods of underwriting business, switch business with these continuations. So there will be a new wave coming through from Global Health Options around products and services.”

Austin stresses that while product is key, there are other things that iPMI providers need to do to stand out from the pack. Additional services and website capabilities are just two areas that brokers need to consider when choosing a provider to work with, while paying claims should of course be a given.

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