Pacific Prime has always worked closely with Integra Global and recent developments by the insurer have made policy plans even more attractive to Pacific Prime clients.
Integra have long been a niche player in the global medical insurance market but have gained momentum by building a strong track record in quality of customer service, premium management and claims handling performance. Over the past five years, Integra has shown solid and stable client management, allowing Pacific Prime to build a substantial client base that is likely to continue to grow with these latest developments.
South East Asia has always been a key market for Integra Global, and to enhance customer service, Integra now offers an expanded direct settlement network in Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand. This has been made possible due to Integra’s relationship with Medilink Global out of Malaysia and all Pacific Prime clients with Integra policies in China, Hong Kong, Macau, Singapore and Malaysia will now be added into their central system. This will be a massive advantage for customer service, as policyholders can now use their policy card for a seamless claims settlement.
Neil Raymond, CEO of Pacific Prime commented: “Insurance providers generally do not appreciate the importance of direct settlement to clients, particularly in countries where the postal system is poor and the banking system slow and expensive to use…Integra, as a focused and well organized company, has noticed what is really important to medical policyholders and can deliver on this”. Integra has a similar arrangement in Thailand with Medilink Thailand and Pacific Prime Integra Global policyholders also now have access to seamless direct billing capability in both Thailand and Vietnam with Medilink.
Integra are striving to further implement their goal of ‘flexibility and quality of coverage offered by a global policy but with the convenience and customer service of a local plan’. An important milestone on the horizon for Integra is that in the Middle East, a region which is sure to be a game changer for many insurers, locally fronted options for individual and corporate clients will soon be possible.
Pacific Prime sees a move like this as critical for the growth of any company in the region. Dubai is becoming increasingly regulated and the corporate market is already almost completely onshore. In the not too distant future, Pacific Prime predicts that the individual and corporate markets will only be open to onshore providers.
Fronting international medical insurance plans through a local insurer is common practice in the Middle East, and is already a well established approach by major providers such as Bupa International and Allianz Worldwide Care. The good news for Integra is that, due to the established nature of the ‘onshoring’ method’, it can be done at a relatively low incremental cost (a cost which ultimately needs to be passed on to clients). Pacific Prime estimates that the ‘onshoring’ of a plan in the Middle Eas twill adds 5-10% to premium totals.
Mr Raymond commented on the Middle East development: “People often forget how large the expat medical insurance market is in the Middle East and their attention gets drawn to the emerging markets such as India, China and Brazil. I think the point is that, for a focused player with a good service track record like Integra Global, opportunities in the Middle East are bigger than anywhere else.”
Pacific Prime’s relationship with Integra started in 2010 and since then, it has become a key player in offering unique options to clients. Integra Global’s continuous efforts to develop have consistently impressed Pacific Prime, however, the new EU Gender Directive will have an impact on product offerings and it is unclear if this will be positive or negative.
The new directive, which came into force in December 2012, no longer allows EU based plans to price policies based on gender, something which Integra has always done on their ‘Personal Health’ and ‘Premier Health’ plans. Rather than just converting rates over to a “gender neutral” rate, which would have potentially negative effects on either males or females depending on the emphasis, Integra has taken a novel approach and have come out with four new plans that focus on individuals and families respectively. YourLife and PremierLife are focused on the expat individual or couple whereas YourFamily and PremierFamily plans are geared toward families and the bespoke benefits and protection families require. A specific family health plan design is a unique approach and it will be interesting to see how this will be accepted by the market.
One final piece of good news from Integra Global is the launch of their new ‘MarineSure’ plan. Many international medical insurers have started to focus on industry professions, and the marine industry is not unique in this regard. As an industry sector, in fact, it has unique medical insurance requirements regarding medical evacuation and country of cover, and is well suited to a bespoke plan structure. Pacific Prime’s early evaluation of the MarineSure plan from Integra indicates it will be a serious competitor in this sector, with attractive premiums and good service.