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Q&A: Alistair Hardie, Cega

Alistair Hardie CEGA CEO

Almost two years since it was acquired by Charles Taylor, Jonathan Swift spoke to Cega's CEO Alistair Hardie about what the deal has meant for the global assistance, travel risk and claims management services provider.

What has changed most about Cega since its acquisition by Charles Taylor?

Most significantly, we are now part of a £200m plus global insurance services business that employs 2100 people in 107 locations across the world – and that gives us access to international resources, expertise and networks to support our vigorous growth agenda.

The result is that we’ve enhanced our core product offering for UK travel and health insurance clients, while also extending our services to international insurers. We’ve also brought a range of innovative tools and products to market for both UK and international insurers. In doing so, we’ve expanded our client-facing teams and drawn on profitable joint-working opportunities to extend service provision.

At the same time, it’s been business as usual. Our management team still has the customer-focused values of our once-family-owned enterprise. The Cega operations staff continue to provide a range of end-to-end travel and health insurance services; global medical assistance, claims management and travel risk mitigation among them. And we operate from the same three bases in Chichester, Bournemouth and London.

How did your insurer clients respond to the acquisition?

Our clients were supportive of the acquisition and rightly foresaw the benefits to their own operations. Not least among these are Cega’s increased financial strength, a commensurate reduction in risk, and an opportunity for creative new global service and product propositions. All supported by Charles Taylor’s operational and technological capabilities, the breadth and depth of its client relationships and its international reach.

How would you describe Charles Taylor as Cega’s owner/majority shareholder?

When Charles Taylor acquired Cega in July 2016, its CEO David Marock said that we would remain a business in our own right, and that it would give us the space to offer our services in the way our clients want them to. This is exactly the case today. Shared resources, ideas and technologies are complemented by the autonomy of our successful operation. To quote Marock again: “Charles Taylor has integrated Cega in all the ways that really matter, in ensuring it can access clients and enhance its capabilities.”

What new solutions have you developed since the deal?

Almost two years on, our ambitious growth agenda has produced a raft of integrated new solutions for insurers and their customers.

On the digital front, we’ve collaborated with Charles Taylor Insuretech to introduce fully automated claims to our end-to-end travel and health claims management services: maximising customer choice, accelerating the claims journey and minimising operating costs. We’ve also launched an agile medical screening product, Antidote, to automate the pre-travel medical assessment process. This allows customers to self-declare pre-existing medical conditions to their travel insurers quickly and seamlessly.

By adding our own global cross-sector fraud investigation services to Charles Taylor’s loss adjusting capabilities we’ve drawn on collaborative opportunities again, and enhanced our ability to offer clients end-to-end multi-sector fraud investigation solutions both at home and abroad.

Significant among our other innovative developments are a bespoke offshore assistance service for the energy sector, and a range of state-of-the-art travel risk management solutions to address changing risks overseas, stringent duty-of-care obligations and the interdependence of medical and security assistance.

What do you have planned for the future?

Our recent appointment of a head of proposition development shows just how committed we are to keeping the developmental momentum going in an ever-evolving insurance landscape.

We now plan to continue creating flexible digital and operational solutions to ease processes for all those involved in the insurance chain; from insurers themselves, to brokers, intermediaries, and consumers. Among these is Digital Doctor, which will soon see us integrating video doctor and advanced diagnostic services into the medical assistance process.

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