Technology in the international private medical insurance market

Tim Mutton

Tim Mutton looks at the role of technology in the international private medical insurance market.

Virtually every country in the world has expatriates and local nationals who take out international private medical insurance (IPMI) to insure themselves and their families against the cost of medical care - and that care can be provided in many hundreds of locations. Not only can plan holders be treated in their main country of residence, they might need to be evacuated, work on short-term assignments in different locations or elect to be repatriated for treatment.

In many industries, technology is key to delivering a high-level of customer service, and this complex market is no exception.

The industry consists of around 20 IPMI provides comprising a mixture of insurers, MGAs and marketing fronters, all of which need to have a global medical, assistance, technological and communications infrastructure in place. Each is at a different stage of development in terms of their technology. Some are pushing the boundaries, but in all cases they recognise the increasingly important role technology is playing in this service-led industry.

As in many insurance markets, IPMI providers are frequently plagued by legacy systems, should existing systems simply be maintained, should they be replaced module by module, or should they develop an entirely new system in parallel? And, if the new system route is chosen, can data be successfully migrated without compromising the service the provided to clients?

As a start-up, Now Health International had the opportunity to build a system from scratch - or, more precisely, to tailor an existing platform to deliver the exact functionality required. While it was not technologically possible to create everything the team would have liked, many of the required features were achieved.

Looking at what brokers want technology to deliver for them and their clients, the table below provide a reference point for both intermediaries operating in the IPMI and those in the wider insurance and financial services space who are interest in comparing developments in related markets.

 

 

Functionality

Features

Full policy life-cycle management

Ability to manage all plan stages for the clients - quote, purchase, client area, downloadable documentation

Instant quotations

Ability to generate quotes, often in seconds. Minimal underwriting referrals.

Seamless purchase process

Quick and easy purchase process.  Client data automatically transferred to back-office systems.  Sales and commission records automatically updated.

Claims tracking

Track client claims quickly and easily online.

Back-office integration

Administration or claims adjustments automatically updated on providers back-office system

Marketing material

All marketing documentation easily available to send to clients where necessary

 

For those brokers looking to recommend not only the best possible plans to clients, but also the best service, the following functionality is important:

 

Functionality

Features

Access to client data globally

Provider’s regional service offices able to access same client data wherever they are in the world.

Instant client documentation

Clients receive documentation instantly online or given option to receive hard copy.

Claims tracking

Clients able to track claims and payments in real-time

Client ‘micro-sites’

Individual ‘micro-sites’ for groups containing all personalised documentation, contact numbers, administrator information, details of staff-members covered, run reports and so on.

Client administration

Groups and individuals able to manage administration themselves – add and delete members, adjust personal information, renewals, MTAs and so on.

 

While not exhaustive, the listed functionalities highlight some interesting developments in the IMPI market that have taken place relatively recently.

Not only does the IPMI market provide brokers and intermediaries with a variety of new revenue opportunities, it also shows how technology can be used to push customer service boundaries.

Tim Mutton is business development director Europe at Now Health International

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