Are you getting the best from your employee benefits broker?

an employee benefits broker smiles warmly from behind his desk

Did you know that brokers and intermediaries account for a significant majority of the businesses in the insurance sector? This is an important point to know when it comes to ensuring you’re getting the best corporate benefits package in the market. Many are well aware of big-name players like Bupa Global and Cigna Global, as well as the insurance services they provide, but how well do you know the employee benefits broker market? And how can you tell if your intermediary measures up against its competitors?

Here, Pacific Prime discusses what an intermediary does, why they exist, and how you can tell if you’re getting the best from your employee benefits broker.

What is an employee benefits broker?

Instead of going direct to an insurer or benefits provider, a broker acts as your middleman. An intermediary is a person or business that sells insurance products on behalf of an insurer or provider, often falling into two types; insurance agents, and independent brokers.

Agents are usually brokers that have a specific provider they sell for. Independent brokers, however, will sell plans and benefits packages from any insurer they’re authorized to sell for. For insurers, this means extending their consumer reach without the need to invest heavily in their own sales capacity.

Understanding the role of an employee benefits broker

Sales is the main role of an employee benefits broker, however, there’s a lot more to their place in the insurance industry than connecting you with the right plan. In fact, the best brokers in the business offer comprehensive services for both clients and insurers.

an employee benefits broker shows a client what his claims data means

For clients

A good employee benefits intermediary will not just help you find a plan, but ensure that your plan remains efficient and effective throughout its lifetime. Initially, they’ll want to gather information about your business and staff to gain a decent understanding of the types of package your company will need. From there, a good broker can:

  • Assess your historical claims data to more accurately determine the performance of your current plan
  • Compare your current employee benefits package and premium against the market to ensure it’s still competitive
  • Negotiate with providers to ensure any specific conditions or circumstances can be met
  • Provide education and communications assistance to increase engagement with your staff
  • Assist with policy and benefits administration; including handling staff benefit enquiries, and processing claims and new staff applications
  • Perform annual benchmarking, and planning
  • Carry out the renewal processes. This includes re-negotiating for better terms or opening a tender process to guarantee competitiveness

The more established a broker is, the better their position will be when it comes to negotiation on your behalf. Those with a well-regarded reputation in the insurance and employee benefits industry will grant you an advantage over your competitors by virtue of the fact their influence will be stronger than if you negotiated alone.

For insurers

Brokers also offer a range of added services that help insurers. These include:

  • Reduction or intervention of application and claims errors by brokers who offer processing support
  • Minimize dissatisfaction with benefits by increasing staff education and engagement
  • Replace providers in the role of an insurance advisor and claims data analyst
  • Foster client loyalty where insurers and benefits providers have performed or exceeded expectations
  • Ensure a fair loss ratio that doesn’t take advantage of a client, while still keeping the premium attractive to an insurer

Essentially, an employee benefits broker that works well provides value in their role as a middleman; to both clients and the insurer. An intermediary that doesn’t enrich the relationship between an employee benefits provider and the client can quickly find themselves short on either.

“If you’re left with more questions than answers, perhaps this broker isn’t the right one for you.”

What should I expect from a top benefits intermediary?

Regardless of whether you currently have an existing broker or you’re starting to think you need one, there are a number of core services you should expect from an intermediary:

They’re knowledgeable

Any employee benefits broker worth their money will be well prepared to provide you with answers. Ask them about the products and insurers they sell, as well as the ones they don’t. An honest intermediary will be able to give you the good and the bad of the industry, and explain how these products will benefit your company and staff. They’ll even be transparent about their commission; some countries make divulging this mandatory, but there’s never really a need to be secretive about it.

Also find out how a broker handles your claims data, and question them about what your current claims data tells them. If you’re simply getting answers that you could already get from an insurer, then perhaps they’re not as knowledgeable as they appear.

It is also beneficial to ask any prospective broker about their benchmarking process. Most brokers will have a process, but it’s absolutely worth finding out how their system works and how they think it will benefit you.

Finally, question them about your industry and competitors. A well connected and established broker will be able to give you a picture of how your employee benefits package compares to others in your sector, and will explain just how attractive it might be to potential talent. If you’re left with more questions than answers, perhaps this broker isn’t the right one for your company.

They’re accessible

You should be able to contact a broker when you need to, and bigger companies should expect an account manager or someone with which your management can deal with for high-level discussions. Hands-off, lower tier brokers will only ever contact you during renewal time, find out what communications a potential intermediary offers during the year and why it’s valuable to your working relationship.

Some employee benefits brokers will offer online portals and other digital ways to connect with both your management, and your staff. If these are available, be sure to ask more about how they work.

They’re supportive

A big question for many companies is what exactly a broker will do to make your current processes easier. Some may simply sign you up for an employee benefits package and then leave you to deal with the provider for all administrative duties. Others will take some or all of those duties on themselves, and leave your staff with more time to focus on other priorities. See if the intermediary you’re talking to offers support for applications, claims, or other areas.

It’s also worth finding out if your broker will help develop a communication strategy for educating and engaging your staff about their benefits. A high level of communication is vital to ensuring the satisfaction levels of your employee benefits plan, so question whether an intermediary offers educational seminars, orientations, or other related services.

They’re detailed and analytical

Benchmarking and reporting are important in all businesses, and brokering employee benefits is no exception. An experienced broker will demonstrate their knowledge by showing you things about your claims data that no other will have highlighted before. More than just knowing what to look for, a good employee benefits broker will provide you with clear and concise information related to the health and status of your package, empowering you and your management teams to make the right decision when required.

Those brokers with solid analysis experience will also be able to use the data to negotiate better terms or premiums for your business, dependent on what the information shows. Remember to ask what your company can expect in terms of reporting from a broker, and ask for examples of how companies like yours have had better outcomes delivered as a result of that broker’s service.

an employee benefits broker shakes hands with a client

What makes Pacific Prime believe it’s your best employee benefits broker option?

Not all brokers are specialists in employee benefits. Most major intermediaries specialize in other areas, such as Human Resources or financial services, but a specialized employee benefits broker knows corporate health insurance plans better than most. Pacific Prime specializes in providing employee benefits and corporate insurance solutions for professional service firms of any industry. Here’s what you can expect from our unparalleled brokering service:

  • Veteran employee benefits experience and knowledge: We’ve been operating for nearly 20 years in most major expatriate locations, and we work with virtually all of the top benefits providers in the world. We’re one of the biggest distributors of international health insurance plans for a number of global insurers, and we specialize in delivering services for the high-needs staff of professional service firms.
  • Support beyond sales: We’re one of the most involved employee benefits intermediaries in the market, having designed our entire business process around adding value after sales. We become the main point of contact for your company and staff, look after applications, claims, management and maintenance, staff education, communication; and we even have our own in-house developed technology and tools that can offer you a bespoke, tailor solution that fits your business needs.
  • Industry-leading analysis and insights: We offer unparalleled analysis of claims data, sound advice on current and future employee benefits planning, and can make all of this information available to you whenever you need it – not just at the end of the year.
  • A global footprint: Our global family of dedicated offices are located in many major locations, including Hong Kong, Singapore, Dubai, China, and more. Wherever in the world you are, you can be sure that Pacific Prime will be nearby to provide all of these outstanding employee benefits broker services.

We know what our strengths are and we’re confident that you won’t find better elsewhere. If you’re in the market for a new broker, or you believe that engaging an intermediary might be a good next step for your business, we’d love the opportunity to talk to you. Our Corporate consultants will happily meet with you to discuss what our services are, and how we can help you control and improve the employee benefits you offer your staff.

To find out more, visit our Corporate website, or contact our team today to arrange a meeting.

 

Employee benefits planning: communicating important changes to your staff

man in a suit addresses his staff with his employee benefits planning changes

For many HR teams, a change in employee benefits can seem like a coming tidal wave looming on the horizon. The top of that wave peaks white with inevitable questions from staff about the new package. Perhaps the rising roar of it warns of the potential discontent of those thinking they’re losing value in their benefits. The coming crash? A potential onslaught of complaints or even threats to leave once the changes have had time to wash over people. When it comes to employee benefits planning, a solid communication strategy can be key for staying above the tide when your company needs to make changes.

At Pacific Prime, we’re specialists in employee benefits solutions for corporates. We excel in professional services environments where your workforce can be more demanding than the average; these people have worked hard to get where they are, with the salaries, perks, and benefits they have. As such, here’s our handy tips for communicating employee benefits changes effectively to ensure a high buy-in from staff, and a smooth transition in employee healthcare benefits.

Talking to your staff: the benefit of a communication strategy

Businesses changing employee benefits are more common than you might think. An interview with Willis Towers Watson regional health and benefit heads found that there is a wide range of drivers impacting the way employers approach compensation packages; from changes in demographics, impacts from government regulations, and reducing company budgets due to economic factors. The result has seen some businesses rethink and rearrange their employee benefits package, while others looked to change and, in some cases, reduce their offerings to staff completely.

In terms of challenges businesses face, Head of Health Benefits in Latin America Maximo Saravi says that educating staff on what a package entails has become a focus for some in his region. Employees often under appreciate the investment employers invest in benefits, something Saravi attributes to poor communication. In a 2007 study of employee benefits by Prudential, as little as 35% of employees believed that their employer’s communication efforts were “highly effective”. Employers themselves rated themselves lower, with only 21% giving their communication plans high marks.

In our experience, communication is key to the success of your employee benefits plan. When your staff are empowered and educated about the benefits of your compensation packages, you’ll find much better engagement with the employee health solutions you have offered. Plan administration also becomes easier, and employee dissatisfaction will be lowered too. A communication strategy will help your employee benefits planning immensely; but how do you do it?

Keys for a successful employee benefits communication plan

Richard Cushing said “Always plan ahead. It wasn’t raining when Noah built the ark.” If your company is serious about keeping its head above water should the rains come in, early and thoughtful communications planning will be your ark in the flood. Harvard Business Review’s 2013 engagement survey indicated that 70% of people feel most engaged when their senior leaders provide updates and communicates company strategy frequently.

A good communication strategy, we think, means you’ll have thought about the following:

1. Start your plan as soon as you can

As soon as you know that your company might be considering changes to its employee benefits solutions, start thinking about how you might communicate that early. You’ll be more prepared and confident when delivering the news to staff, and it’ll also help head off any rumor mills that might arise. According to Koenig’s Rumor in the marketplace, workplace gossip can chip away at morale and fuel anxiety, conflicts, and misunderstanding. Getting the right information out early will help stem employee dissatisfaction based on the wrong office talk.

2. Think about who’s in your audience

Today’s workplaces can feature three different generations amongst them; Baby Boomers, Gen X, and Gen Y or Millennials. You’ll also have a mix of genders, religions, and cultures, especially those with multiple global offices. It’s important to remember that these people have different perspectives, values, and views on what they need. Employee benefits are about meeting their needs, and so you should expect to tailor at least some communications similarly.

Also, don’t forget that employees really do want to understand what’s happening with their benefits, but some may be more interested than others. A Bank of America report on workplace benefits found that men participate in financial education plans more than women, Millennials showed higher interest in engaging with education about their benefits, yet all three generations had different life motivations for wanting to better their understanding of their employee benefits.

3. Plan your education strategy

For some workplaces, one seminar on employee benefits planning changes might suffice. Others might require constant engagement and frequent messages, so those of you who know this is what your business will need should plan accordingly. This can take the form of periodic change updates, featured spotlights on specific benefits, and employee success stories, distributed via emails or through your work intranet page. Plan to take advantage of your existing communication tools for the best education and engagement result.

4. Stocktake your communication tools and how to use them

You know who you’re targeting, and what messages to target them with; but how do you get your communication to them? Take stock of all the channels you have available to you and work them into your communication strategy, such as:

  • HR portal
  • Mobile device applications
  • Email notifications, intranet videos and articles, online satisfaction surveys
  • Social media
  • Print media

Use the tools available to you to better educate staff on the employee benefits changes you’re making, and maintain engagement as the changes are embedded.

5. Be honest and transparent about the changes

According to a survey by the American Psychological Association, only half of workers believe their employer is open and upfront with them. Trust plays an important role in all workplaces and can affect the wellbeing and performance of your employees. Trust comes from employees feeling valued, which leads to higher levels of engagement. When preparing your communication strategy, remember that an honest discussion that clearly outlines the changes and why they’re needed is best. Don’t sugar-coat bad changes. Give employees the facts and explain why your company has made the decision it has.

Trust in your employees to understand your decision and gain their trust in your employee benefit changes.

employees fist bump after a successful employee benefits planning session

Dealing with potential fallout from your employees

Obviously, you can’t please everyone. There’s always going to be someone that’s negatively affected by a change, so how do you minimize the impact of your decision? Here are a few tips that can save you, your senior leaders, and HR teams from unnecessary conflict arising from changes to your company benefits:

  • Understand exactly what your employee benefit changes will do, and how they will affect your staff
  • Prepare your leaders (management, team leaders, HR staff) with the information you suspect that employees will want from them
  • Provide staff with as much fact and information as is appropriate, in as many ways as possible
  • Allow for feedback or input from staff about the changes, and create systems/strategies for addressing these concerns
  • Be prepared to discuss and negotiate important concerns with your employee benefits provider, it’s possible they may have an easy solution

Some businesses will be more flexible with their employee benefits planning than others. Giving information to employees, however, is easy, and empowers them to take a little bit of ownership for not only their own benefits and perks but also in the future of your company. Being open and providing information can also give you and your HR teams a little breathing space to deal with complaints from staff who claim “I didn’t know this would happen!” If staff choose not to engage with your communication strategy, then they only have themselves to blame.

Is there an easier way of planning employee benefits and communicating change?

Of course there is! You could always choose to turn your back on the coming tide and hope you don’t drown should it strike. Or you could reach out to someone well experienced in dealing with a flood of employee health benefit enquiries.

Our Pacific Prime Corporate team see this as an essential part of our brokering service. The many professional service firms we work with are always in different stages of their employee benefits planning; some are happy with their solutions and just need simple administration, others are looking to change their perks and benefits to suit budgetary, talent acquisition, or a number of other business goals. Whatever our client’s needs are, Pacific Prime is there to ensure the whole process runs as smoothly and efficiently as possible.

We offer benefits orientations for new clients or existing partners looking to change employee health solutions, can take over the function of plan administration, analysis and claims processing, and will provide a communication strategy for any employee benefits changes you might decide upon at any time during our relationship. This includes having our advisors present to your staff and answer any questions they might have about how they’re affected, or how to best take advantage of their new benefits plan.

We’re more than just an insurance broker, we’re an employee benefits specialist. Find out more about our whole approach to delivering exceptional corporate solutions, or contact us now to set up a meeting where we can explain why we’re the broker of choice for both businesses and employee benefits providers around the world.

Valuing employees key to managing staff retention: Using benefits to show you care

Corporate man reads the business pages outside a coffee shop, symbolizing how people are interested in reading about employee benefits and staff retention

Managing for employee retention takes some strategic thinking and sincere actions to ensure that your staff remain committed to championing your company’s cause. In today’s uncertain economic climate, efforts to re-engage and keep your staff motivated are challenged by the fact that you, like many businesses, might be planning to keep budgets for raises relatively flat. You might have room to reward top performers who have augmented your business during the year, but how do you retain those who just need a little extra time and effort? Valuing employees by offering bonuses in the form of employee benefits can be helpful.

Flatter compensation budgets expected

According to Aon Hewitt, employers in the US aren’t projected to spend more on compensation budgets for 2017. The company’s 2016 Salary Increase Survey found that challenging conditions for businesses and international competition were hampering what businesses were forecasting to spend on staff salaries. Base pay was expected to rise 3.0% in 2017, with spending on variable pay projected to make up 12.8% of payroll. This is despite the local job market improving, meaning many companies may now face more competition for the top talent around.

For businesses looking to attract high performers, or those concerned about trying to retain valued employees in this market, the global professional services firm suggests reconsidering your compensation strategy or emphasizing other benefits. That fact is even more important when you consider that a separate Aon Hewitt report found that lackluster compensation is the reason for 52% of US workers being open to a new job opportunity, and 44% saying they were actively looking for a new role. Only 38% of workers felt they were fairly paid, while 62% recognized pay and benefits as a leading factor in where they would choose to work.

staff retention represented by staff working in a modern office utilizing good employee benefits

Staff retention: why do employees stay or leave?

Salary is obviously still a very strong motivator for individuals; a good pay package earned through hard work can keep staff with you, while an attractive offer from a competitor might entice them away. Sometimes the reasons are things you can’t help; your staff member wants to start a family, they want to return to school, or other personal factors causing them to voluntarily leave a solid position. Focusing on employee retention, according to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), can also deliver quality, productivity, performance, and employee morale benefits to companies found valuing employees.

Why people leave a company

Here are some common reasons why people, in today’s job market, might consider leaving you for greener pastures:

  • Employee dissatisfaction: This can be anything from a general sense of disconnection from the role, the business, or discontent for the work environment or the people they share their daily time and space with. Those with good skills who feel taken advantaged of, those whose abilities are feeling stifled, or those who simply don’t feel valued because their workplace comfort isn’t a concern of the company, may all start looking elsewhere for a better offer; even if the salary doesn’t compare to what you already pay them.
  • Attractive alternatives: Those who are ready to be recognized more for the work they do may consider leaving a good role with a good environment if they feel the alternatives on offer do a better job of seeing their worth. The bump in salary doesn’t even need to be that high. According to a Gallup survey, 44% of employees would consider taking a job with a different company for a raise of 20% of less. Add generational considerations into the mix, and you’ll also find that 93% of Millennials have changed employers for advancement rather than taking a new position with the same company.
  • Planned/unplanned exits: As mentioned, some employees have personal or professional plans they’re following; to either get married and have children, or to gain enough experience and financial security to move abroad. Others will leave without a map for where they’re headed. Impulse resignations can indicate an individual employee may have found they weren’t the right fit for your business, or it can indicate problems in your workplace (such as harassment or bullying). In both cases, lessons can be learned around what you offer in pay and benefits, and what pulled them away.

Why people stay with a company

Beyond the obvious reward and recognition reasons for why employees stay loyal, here are a few things that help staff retention you might not have thought about:

  • Foundations and networks: The SHRM article further highlighted that employees who have become embedded in their jobs and communities find it harder to justify leaving, as they have developed a web of fulfilling and positive networks and relationships. Leaving for a new employer can mean having to reestablish these connections, often setting an individual back months or even years.
  • Company culture: Employee turnover is costly. Not having a clear and defined organizational identity (with values and goals) can be the difference between whether you or your exiting employees control your workplace culture. If you continually hire staff that don’t fit the culture you want, you’ll quickly find those who do will leave for places that better align with their values. Attracting and retaining people who mesh well with your company environment will reinforce to your current workforce your commitment to valuing employees by ensuring they’re surrounded by like-minded individuals.
  • Employee benefits package: Perhaps as an effect of decades of constrained wage negotiations, coupled with the changing way employment and careers are being perceived by younger generations, non-salary benefits are growing in importance for job seekers and the currently-employed alike. According to a Towers Watson (now Willis Towers Watson) survey, 46% of respondents said health care benefits were the most important benefit for people considering job offers. For retention, employees highlighted retiree medical benefits and health care benefits as the most important reason they stay with an employer.

Employee recognition transformation tech company, Bonusly, states that more than one-quarter of employees are in a high-risk-retention category, and more than half of all organizations around the world are struggling to retain some of their most marketable employee groups.

employee staring at a project board, symbolizing an individual's search for the right job and how important employee benefits for staff retention is

How can employee benefits package help my company with staff retention?

Valuing your employees is more than just monetary. More and more people are viewing benefits as almost a standard part of an employment package, meaning those companies solely offering salaries are doing themselves a disadvantage. According to the Glassdoor 2015 Employment Confidence Survey, 80% of employees said they would prefer new or additional benefits to a salary increase. Women and men were fairly even in their desire for employee benefits, while the number of younger people (18 to 34, 89%) willing to sacrifice money for perks were higher than their older counterparts (55 to 64, 66%)

Online publication, HR in Asia, has reiterated that the advantage in employment negotiations has shifted from the employer to the employee; workers are more fluid and less tied to a single employer for life, and many expect to find employment elsewhere within three years or less. This means taking into account what employees actually want in their employee benefits is even more crucial to ensuring high retention rates and saving yourself the cost of high turnover.

Again, Glassdoor found these employee benefits were valued highly by respondents:

  • Healthcare insurance (e.g. medical, dental) – 40%
  • Extra vacation/paid time off/annual leave – 37%
  • Performance bonuses – 35%
  • Paid sick days – 32%
  • Retirement plans/pension – 31%
  • Flexible work arrangements (working from home, flexitime) – 30%
  • Employee development – 19%
  • Tuition reimbursement – 18%
  • Employee discounts – 17%
  • Gym memberships/wellness programs – 16%

Career mobility confidence has increased for people who are employed, meaning they’re less concerned about having too few options should they decide to leave their current employer. Only half of employees, however, expect a salary increase, putting more emphasis on ensuring that not just having employee benefits, but having the right employee benefits will be key to showing how companies are valuing employees in fiscally-tight conditions.

Pacific Prime: supporting your staff retention with targeted employee benefits

As the Harvard Business Review will tell you, you don’t need a Google-sized budget in order to offer meaningful and attractive benefits to current and prospective staff. After health insurance or group health benefits, employees will place higher value on benefits that are of relatively low-cost to employers: flexible hours, more paid leave, work-from-home options. However, getting the biggest drawcard, medical insurance, right first can be a huge challenge for many companies.

Using a specialized broker like Pacific Prime can put you ahead of the rest by ensuring that you can get the right type of employee benefits package that fits your company culture, and meets the desires of the staff you value so highly. Our Corporate team has a range of solutions that are utilized by thousands of professional firms and businesses around the world, including:

Our difference is in our service. Most brokers will sell you an employee benefits plan and leave you to do the rest. At Pacific Prime, we provide ongoing administration and staff support for the life of your policy, and will work with you using our unparalleled broker framework and benchmarking process to ensure that your plan still delivers while remaining cost effective and competitive. Use our market advantage and decades of experience to ensure your company remains attractive, not just to new employees, but your trusted and valued staff too.

To discuss more about how Pacific Prime can support how your company is valuing employees, contact the Corporate team today!

 

Global health insurance provider Aetna buys Bupa Thailand

global health insurance provider Aetna acquires Bupa Thailand

At the end of July, leading global health insurance provider Aetna Inc. announced that it had acquired UK-based Bupa Group’s Thai business, Bupa Thailand, for an undisclosed amount. The acquisition allows Aetna to significantly increase its presence in the Asia region, and is key to their strategy to go ‘broader and deeper’ into local healthcare markets around the world. Shortly after the acquisition was announced, Aetna also outlined the launch of its new service approach for large organizations with over 1,500 staff overseas.

Read on to learn more about Aetna’s acquisition of Bupa Thailand, and to find out about the global health insurance provider’s new service approach for international corporations.

About Aetna’s acquisition of Bupa Thailand

Aetna’s latest acquisition strategically combines the strengths and deep reach of both insurance companies to provide enhanced offerings to health insurance customers in Thailand. Bupa Thailand’s in-depth knowledge of the Thai healthcare market, system and culture, coupled with Aetna’s vast product portfolio and global health insurance expertise, will ultimately result in broader insurance product offerings in Thailand, as well as build on Bupa Thailand’s exceptional service.

“This is a significant and exciting expansion for Aetna in Asia, and clearly demonstrates our commitment to investment and growth in the region and globally”, commented Richard di Benedetto, President of US-headquartered Aetna International. “Thailand is an important market for us, with increasing local wealth driving greater adoption of health insurance.  Aetna’s wide product portfolio, together with an excellent talent and knowledge base transferring from Bupa, will put us in a very strong position in the local market.”

Established more than 30 years ago, Bupa is one of Thailand’s top health insurance providers, with over 300,000 members and a network of over 400 medical providers in the region. For a short period of time, Bupa Thailand will continue operating under the Bupa brand name before rebranding as Aetna.

Thailand: A lucrative market for global health insurance providers

As one of Asia’s most lucrative markets, Thailand continues to attract the attention of world leading global health insurance providers, many of whom are keen on establishing and growing their presence in the region. One key reason for this is continual economic growth in Thailand, which has resulted in a wealthier population.

According to our Cost of International Health Insurance – 2017 report, it is anticipated that the middle class population in Thailand will exceed 200 million by 2020. Not only are we witnessing a growing middle class, but the number of High Net Worth (HNW) individuals is also increasing. For example, the number of HNW in the region increased from 49,800 in 2009 to 95,700 in 2015. This increase in wealth has led to a growth in demand for both local and global health insurance products in Thailand.

Aetna’s new service approach for international corporations

Shortly after announcing its latest acquisition in Thailand, global health insurance provider Aetna also outlined the details of its new service approach for international corporations with over 1,500 staff overseas. Following detailed health insurance broker consultations, the company has developed a fully flexible solution designed to meet the corporate insurance needs of large companies with international operations.

Damian Lenihan, Executive Director of UK Distribution at Aetna International, outlined the new service approach in this article by Health Insurance & Protection Daily. According to Lenihan, the proposition consists of the following four main pillars:

Member support

By focusing on member needs, employer-provided health insurance policies should cover both core benefits (like inpatient and outpatient treatment), as well as additional health and wellness benefits (like dental insurance), as per customer requirements.

Service delivery

Everything from language needs to claims processing requirements should be tailored around member specifications. Aetna will also be able to provide solutions to clients looking to self-insure.

Full program transparency

“Granular analytical data and bespoke management reporting” are instrumental in helping employers understand their group policy’s medical costs, and where savings are made.

Partnership approach

By adopting a partnership approach, Aetna focuses on providing clients with a fully resourced and responsive team, who are able to deal with and handle every eventuality.

Pacific Prime: Your global health insurance specialist

With almost two decades of experience advising and matching clients with the best global health insurance solutions, Pacific Prime has developed longstanding partnerships with the world’s largest and most reputable insurers, including Aetna, Bupa, Liberty Insurance, Cigna, MSIG, and many more. As we are not beholden to one particular insurer, you can rest assured that we will find you a local, regional, or global health insurance plan that provides the best value for your specific needs and budget requirements.

If you have any questions, or would like to learn more about your insurance options, be sure to get in touch with one of our helpful advisors today. Those looking for further information on corporate insurance solutions can also check out our new online resource for corporate clients here.

Managing risks involved with overseas-based staff

airport flight board showing international destinations as a sign for companies to consider managing risks better

For Human Resources staff, ensuring the safety of your workers heading abroad on overseas assignments means assessing and mitigating the potential risks involved. When it comes to managing risks, securing appropriate insurance can go a long way. Often the things that we perceive as being major threats are the last things that will go wrong; but the small stuff can really ruin an overseas experience.

Following a recent article printed in the International Travel & Health Insurance Journal, Pacific Prime delves into the considerations you should make insurance-wise when you’re sending staff overseas.

Weighing up the likelihood of travel-related issues

When it comes to assessing the possible dangers of working abroad, we have a tendency to think of more high-profile risks such as terrorism or natural disasters. While these are concerns that absolutely should be considered during an assessment, their likelihood of occurring can be extremely low. Instead, we tend to ignore some of the more low-profile concerns, such as stolen items or hygiene illnesses, which can happen at a much higher frequency.

In countries where kidnapping is more common, such as those in Latin America or South East Asia, it is wise to ensure that your company provides coverage in case the unthinkable does happen. However, it’s just as important to consider things such as purse snatching, vehicle accidents, and bouts of food poisoning; all of which are more likely to affect your staff and, eventually, disrupt your business operations, should they occur.

Preparing your staff for life overseas

Using common sense and taking personal precautions is a must when travelling. Often, business travelers can be the cause of their own risk; either by simply ignoring the conditions of the country they’re in, or by making poor decisions. Obviously drink driving is dangerous and illegal the world over, however the number of tourists and working visa holders appearing in court in places like New Zealand have reached national attention.

Socializing and mixing can be a common and frequent part of a travelling business person’s life. Managing the risks associated with those expectations might mean setting a strict company policy, or simply ensuring your own company liability insurance can cover what should hopefully be an infrequent, unlikely event.

Understand the risks in countries you do business in

The issues and risks your staff may face will vary from country to country; so it’s important to clearly understand what might occur, and where. Again, some countries are more prone to problems like kidnapping or acts of terrorism. Other destinations will be Zika-affected locations, and as such will cause special concern from those at risk while travelling there. Risk mapping can be an appropriate way to proactively mitigate any potential issues.

This can help you by managing risks per geographical location, and per the staff expected to operate in those areas. A kidnapping protection policy can be expensive, but it might be absolutely appropriate for some staff, while others might need tailored international health insurance plans to cover them for location-specific illnesses. Targeted risk profiling will mean targeted coverage for your staff overseas, and may save you money.

Be clear about your expectations of staff while abroad

Sending staff overseas is a big responsibility for companies, but can also be a huge opportunity for your staff. While travelling employees will no doubt know to put their best foot forward when representing your company internationally, you should also be very clear about your company safety guidelines, and the importance of complying with them.

Putting the effort into risk mapping, country profiling, arranging flights and accommodations, and acquiring relevant right-to-work visas can all be undone by a staff member who fails to keep themselves safe. This is why, as part of managing risks for overseas employees, you need to absolutely stress that adhering to your company safety and wellbeing policy is non-negotiable.

Prepare for what you know, be aware of what you don’t

Part of assessing business travel risk also means ensuring staff keep their wits about them. Travellers often have access to large amounts of information online and friendly advice from colleagues about what to watch out for when abroad; but what about things that people don’t know about? The reason travel blogs still exist is that countries and locations are dynamic; the people, culture, and even threats, can change a lot over a relatively short period of time.

Some of the information you read online might be out of date, or colleagues may have anecdotes from when they visited an area more than a few years ago. If your focus is only on major concerns such as a terrorist attack while in Africa or being victim to a robbery whilst on a tuk tuk in Thailand, then you might not see an unknown threat such as ATM card-scanners, or an increase in dangerous climate conditions due to changing weather patterns.

Being responsive and adaptive to things you don’t know can help you and your staff overcome any unseen challenges that may threaten to disrupt your business, and put your employees at risk.

What can I do to better protect my staff and my business?

There are a number of actions that you can take as a company to mitigate risks when you’re sending staff abroad. Some, such as strengthening internal policies, and installing protocols and systems for managing risks for overseas employees, are steps your business can take. As for matters of insurance, the best decision you can make is to work with a reputable, international insurance broker such as Pacific Prime.

We are experts in all things insurance, particularly those with international and corporate considerations. Our staff in Hong Kong have previously discussed what specific insurance requirements a company might have when sending staff overseas, while our Singapore office has an article on disaster insurance that many businesses will find useful to know.

If you’re a company that wants to know if you have covered all your bases for staff that you’re posting overseas, check out our Corporate Site or contact the team at Pacific Prime today! 

Cyber attacks vs natural disasters: Which cost more?

cyber attacks

It’s a sad thing to say, but there have been a plethora of storms happening recently. At the time of this article’s writing, much of Houston, Texas is underwater. Hurricane Harvey barreled down upon the city, dumping over 11 trillion gallons of water on the area and causing widespread flooding that has devastated the local community. We at Pacific Prime certainly wish Houston a speedy recovery from Hurricane Harvey, but as insurance professionals, we know that once a modicum of normality is restored to Houston and the surrounding area, insurance companies are going to be counting their losses and comparing this disaster to those in history. To be sure, hurricanes and typhoons are incredibly destructive and costly occurrences, but a new report from Lloyd’s puts these massive natural disasters on par with a danger that is not as much in the forefront of the average person’s mind: cyber attacks. Here, we discuss the report’s findings and examine the potential magnitude of large scale cyber attacks with regards to potential financial losses.

Superstorms cause super losses

In Pacific Prime’s headquarters city of Hong Kong, there were recently two separate typhoons in a single week. The first of which, Typhoon Hato, has been estimated to have caused about USD1 billion in damages. Being a city that is strongly constructed out of steel and concrete, this is actually not nearly as high a figure as it could have been, even though Hato was one of the strongest storms in Hong Kong’s recorded history. Hato’s damage to Macau, which was substantially more affected by the storm, remain unclear at this point.

Unlike Hong Kong, the homes in Houston, which are generally constructed from wood and other materials that are lighter than what is usually found in a Hong Kong skyscraper, are less able to resist the forces of a large storm. Couple this with the flooding that occurred and the fact that so many more homes are on ground level, and you have a recipe for major damage to property and financial loss. Of course US insurers are highly concerned with how much Hurricane Harvey will cost them in the end. Preliminary reports suggest that losses may come in at around the same amount incurred following landfall of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, which ended up being the United State’s most costly natural disaster in recorded history.

Hurricane Katrina was a somewhat similar situation to what is happening in Houston, as a powerful storm resulted in the flooding of New Orleans, Louisiana and surrounding areas. The damage caused by Katrina was to the tune of USD108 billion! As high as this number seems, it is very possible that Hurricane Harvey will create a similar loss figure.

A digital perfect storm?

Considering that all of the above mentioned losses come from huge natural disasters that affect millions of lives in a single go, it might be hard to believe that a single cyber attack could possibly result in as much damage (monetarily, at least). So if this Lloyd’s analysis is true, how exactly would a cyber attack go about doing as much damage as Hurricane Harvey has done to Houston? Lloyd’s wanted to get the point across that cyber crimes, while they may not get the attention in the media that natural disasters do, can affect people and businesses on a very large scale.

As Lloyd’s reports, a hack which takes down a single cloud service provider could see cumulative losses up to USD121 billion, while a virus affecting computer operating systems for many global businesses could come with a USD28.7 billion price tag. What’s more, while Cyber Insurance is gaining popularity around the world, in the event that such a cyber attack were to happen, a large majority of those affected would have zero insurance coverage. So, depending on the degree to which a business is affected, a large loss due to a cyber attack could be back breaking. Even if money lost to hackers is not a major worry, the damage that can be done to a company’s image or reputation can be irreparable. This is because clients and partners can begin to question the security a company has in place, and may think that they are exposing themselves to too much risk.

From an insurer’s point of view, cyber attacks can be just as much of a headache as a natural disaster merely due to the logistics of addressing claims related to large scale attacks. The more people that are affected, the more claims that are made, the more manpower that must be put forth by insurance company staff. Beyond reimbursing damages to policyholders, this is an additional costs that insurers must consider. Of course, not having to send out agents to assess physical damage is certainly a savings for insurers servicing Cyber Insurance policies versus property insurance policies.

Cyber attacks case in point

One need not search too far back in history to find a cyber attack that caused huge losses for businesses and individuals around the world. As recently as May of 2017, a widespread ransomware known as WannaCry began infesting the systems of Windows operating system users around the world. Exploiting a security flaw that had already been known and addressed by many through Windows updates, the virus made its way into unprotected computers and held all the data on them for ransom. If users did not pay the amount stipulated by the software, it would erase all data on an infected computer.

This ransomware attack alone resulted in a total global loss of approximately USD4 billion.

Preventing damage with Cyber Insurance

Much like no amount of Home Insurance can stop a hurricane from wreaking havoc upon a person’s belongings, Cyber Insurance is not a fail safe against being hacked, having computer systems become infected with a virus, or data loss or theft. Ensuring computer systems and data security is something that every business needs to work closely on with their IT team. However, where Home Insurance can repair or replace damage to one’s belongings, Cyber Insurance can go a long way towards protecting a business and ensuring that it weathers the proverbial ‘storm’ of cyber attacks.

Cyber Insurance provides policyholders with different levels of protection. First off, liability for the loss of others’ data is addressed with payouts up to maximum amount, so the insured will likely be protected from all litigation as long as their maximums are set to an appropriate level.

Another way in which Cyber Insurance can provide protection is by making up for the lost revenue that may occur due to a stoppage of business. If, for instance, a cyber attack caused lengthy downtime while computer systems are rebuilt, Cyber Insurance can help to pay for overhead costs that may become burdensome on a business without a continuous flow of income coming in.

Additionally, Cyber Insurance will address costs related to actually restoring computer systems and lost electronic data.

Finally, many will no doubt want to attempt to catch the individual(s) responsible for hurting their business, so Cyber Insurance can provide benefits to go toward investigation of cyber attacks in the hopes of identifying perpetrators and bringing them to justice.

Of course, like cyber attacks themselves, Cyber Insurance is changing and evolving all the time. For more information on Cyber Insurance, contact the knowledgeable insurance professionals at Pacific Prime today! They can answer all of your questions and get your started on the path towards peace of mind both personally and professionally.

Pacific Prime launches new corporate section for global businesses

corporate section

Never ones to rest on our laurels, Pacific Prime Insurance Brokers is proud to announce the launch of a new section on our website, PacificPrime.com! The new corporate section is an enhanced one-stop shop for all business insurance needs! If your company has any questions related to group health insurance, international health insurance or any other related topic, be sure to check out this new section, the homepage of which can be found here.

So what’s on offer? Let’s find out:

Insurance solutions

What kind of group health insurance coverages are out there? In the insurance solutions portion of the corporate section, find out about the various facets of group health insurance plans and why you might want to consider each for your employees. Medical insurance does not just mean coverage for medicine, hospital stays and surgeries. There are a number of other benefits that you can consider. This includes dental, vision, wellness, maternity, disability and life insurances, and more!

Outside of these above solutions that will address the needs of your employees, Pacific Prime also provides in this section information about some of the business-specific benefits that every company should know about, including:

  • Property insurance
  • Liability insurances
  • Group travel and accident insurance
  • Professional indemnity insurance
  • Business interruption insurance

With information on comprehensive medical and corporate insurance solutions, this page is a great place to start when searching for group and corporate insurance information.

Our approach

Lots of companies sell insurance for businesses and other organizations. Where Pacific Prime really shines, however, is in our methodology. With over 17 years of insurance broking experience, we now have the various processes that our members use down pat. Not only in assisting with making claims, but also when going through other planning and analysis. Not only do we provide policy broking service, but also consulting and plan administration, which you may not get with other brokers.

Even our closest competitors cannot match the technological advantages that Pacific Prime provides, including:

  • Census and premium management/accounting tools
  • A claims management tool
  • A document management platform

These in-house systems are all yours to take advantage of at zero additional costs versus going with an insurance company directly.  Check the ‘Our approach’ page to start to find out about why Pacific Prime will be your preferred choice.

Partners

As a corporate insurance broker, everything that we offer is one consideration, but it’s still only one piece of the equation where your insurance needs are concerned. We work with a good number of the world’s best global insurance companies, as well as the most highly regarded local insurers in the countries where our offices are located. Our ‘Partners’ section is the place where corporate members can go to find out more about our relationships with insurers.

Beyond the insurers we work with, you can also find out about some of the prestigious members that have made Pacific Prime their choice for group health and corporate insurance benefits. Learn some of the industries that we have the most experience with, such as professional service firms and schools. Then dig a little deeper to find out how our experience translates to advantages for our members when it comes to negotiating plans with insurers at renewal time or analyzing claims data.

Corporate section resources

The last part of the corporate section to mention is our resources page. Here, for corporate members that like to stay up to date on the latest in international insurance data, Pacific Prime regularly publishes reports related to various important industry trends including the cost of health insurance, international medical insurance inflation, and industry trends. Want to know how insurance in the countries in which your organization operates compares to policies found in other areas? Look no further!

Purchasing corporate insurance is no small decision. Pacific Prime recognizes this and wants to make sure that you are delivered the plan which best fits your needs, at a value that fits your budget. We have created the new corporate section to give a great introduction to what we can offer you, but there really is no better way to figure that out today than to contact us! Do so now and get advice directly from one of our insurance advisors. They can provide you with a plan comparison and free quote.