Latest international trends

01 October 2008 Edward Daniels, Africa Interglobal

IPMI providers are constantly evolving their products and benefits solutions to differentiate themselves in the market and provide clients with peace of mind whilst living or working abroad.

Recent years have seen significant growth in the international private medical insurance (IPMI) market. With global mobility becoming more common place and more people moving overseas for a new life abroad to live, work or retire.

International employers are also becoming increasingly aware that international private medical insurance is a key consideration when sending expatriates on assignment overseas.

"Wellness" benefits now standard

The importance of living a healthy lifestyle and taking preventative measures to reduce the risk of illness has transformed "wellness" from a buzzword to a standard benefit requirement for international insurance policies. Initially, wellness benefits were a new "nice-to-have" benefit as part of an IPMI policy. Today, it is expected that wellness is included as a standard benefit requirement.

What is actually catered for under wellness differs from policy to policy, so it is advisable to check exactly what is covered. Some policies offer routine health checks and preventative tests such as cancer screenings, examinations and vaccinations as part of their wellness benefit after a defined waiting period. Other policies do not have a waiting period and allow immediate access to wellness benefits without affecting the no-claims discounts accrued on the respective policies.

War or terrorism

International health insurance can cover treatment needed as a result of an act of war or terrorism. Some policies will completely exclude cover for any treatment arising from war or terrorism, but some only exclude the cover if the claimant has been an active participant. In such cases, if the person was an innocent bystander, their medical treatment would be covered.

In recent months, media attention has focussed on political unrest in Africa, with elections resulting in violence both during and after voting. Other than avoiding travel to areas of high risk, there is often nothing that an individual can do to prevent being caught up in such incidents. However, IPMI plans are developing to provide support and peace of mind should such a situation arise.

Security solutions

Some IPMI providers have entered into partnership with security experts in order to provide 24 7 security services and solutions to ensure that insured persons are prepared for the unexpected. These services are essential for those travelling to countries where there is a risk of political instability.

Partnerships with security experts not only protect insured persons when they unexpectedly find themselves at risk in a violent situation, they can also provide insured persons with preventative and proactive advice to minimise their exposure to such situations. They can be provided with up to date security information and advice on a particular country either online or via a security helpline as well as on the ground support including security evacuation if required.

Of course, the occurrence of such incidents remains rare. But international health insurance continues to evolve in order to offer peace of mind and protection, as well as access to professional private medical and assistance services wherever and whenever they are needed.

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