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          International Private Medical Insurance – a world of opportunity

          The continued double-digit growth of the international private medical insurance market has been well publicised. Our own CEO, Marco Giacomelli has gone on record to say that he believes this €10bn by premium global market is growing at around 12% annually.

          The implication is clear: the IPMI market represents an excellent opportunity for brokers, advisers and IFAs, especially those with an existing book of domestic PMI business, looking for a new income stream.

          In this article, we examine the main differences between international PMI and domestic PMI, and provide guidance for intermediaries interested in the potential of IPMI for their business.

          Domestic PMI vs International PMI

          Domestic private medical insurance provides cover for individuals based in one specific country. International PMI (IPMI) is aimed at globally mobile individuals and their families; in effect, people who work abroad as expats or travel extensively either for work or in their personal lives.

          Some of the key differences between the two types of plan are as follows:

          Feature

          Difference

          Territories

          PMI provides cover for one country. IPMI coverage is global

          Cover benefits

          IPMI tends to offer richer benefits and fewer exclusions as standard than domestic PMI plans. Benefits such as maternity and vision are more common with IPMI plans

          Emergency evacuation

          Offered as standard on IPMI plans. Not offered on domestic plans

          Premiums

          IPMI premiums tend to be higher than for domestic PMI

          Churn

          Tends to be lower for IPMI plans, allowing brokers a richer and more secure source of income

          Regulations

          More complex with IPMI, and vary from country to country

          Where to start

          So you see the potential, and you’re interested. But where do you start?

          Firstly, ask your insurer what support they provide. They may have created information or videos that can help, offer training courses or have a help line that brokers can call into with technical IPMI questions.

          When it comes to the team you have several choices.

          Hiring someone with international knowledge and experience can make sense. This can be expensive, of course, but if they can also support the domestic team it helps to spread the cost by adding value across the two disciplines.

          Alternatively, train a domestic specialist in international PMI or get the wider domestic team to spend some of their time on international PMI. This way they can cross-learn and share ideas.

          Either way, it is important to build close relationships with specialist IPMI providers who have a global footprint and who can both support you in presenting the options to a client, as well as answer your questions quickly and accurately.

          Building a book of business

          A fundamental question: how do I start to build my IPMI book?

          First step is to look at your clients and identify which have staff working overseas, or if any have any foreign nationals working for them.

          There may be a consulting opportunity to advise on what cover is in place and whether it’s suitable. There are plenty of ways an IPMI policy supports employers with their duty of care obligations so it’s worth reading up on what these are to strengthen your case.

          If sufficient international cover does exist, asking if you can provide an alternative quote to the incumbent at renewal shouldn’t cause an issue. After all, you’re likely to have a good enough relationship with your clients to do this.

          And if you email clients on a regular basis with useful information on their areas of interest, introduce a section on IPMI. This will educate and inform them about the cover, and ensure that you have a better chance of being in the right place at the right time when it comes to providing quotes.

          Promotion and networking

          Extracting value from your existing book should deliver some business, and this is a good place to start. From here there are various methods you can use to generate opportunities:

          Many brokers won’t have the luxury of a sales person on the ground in key expat locations, so most of your promotional opportunities will be targeting via online channels.

          Social networking

          Try networking on sites such as LinkedIn and Twitter. Make it known that you provide IPMI insurance by posting relevant content on your offering and observations on the market. Many of these sites will have forums for specific groups, so seek these out and work out a way to get involved without overtly selling your wares.

          Appearing in Google’s search results

          If you have a website, look to boost how well it shows up in natural search for terms related to IPMI. Boosting your site’s search engine optimisation is a long term game but worth getting some advice on how to set the wheels in motion.

          Paying for clicks

          And in the short term, look at pay per click. These ads appear alongside natural search results and you only pay when someone clicks on your advert. The better your ad, the better chance of paying for a worthwhile click. And if you invest a lot in PPC, think about introducing specific landing pages for people who click through.

          Have a professional website

          Don’t forget your website itself. Make sure it’s as professional and compelling as possible, and that people can see immediately you are an IPMI broker. A strong site instils confidence in the people visiting it.

          Great content

          Create content that is relevant to globally mobile people. Host this on your website and post to a variety of social channels such as YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram.

          Public relations

          Think about some niche public relations activity. Get in touch with a magazine or website that publishes for expatriates and offer to write a piece about IPMI insurance and how this type of cover can benefit those living and working abroad.

          Niche strategies

          Focussing on a niche may be worth considering. If you have contacts in a particular field, your IPMI insurer might work with you to develop a product for that specific market. Tailored cover benefits and targeted branding can all help to make a product easier to sell.

          IPMI is a big market

          There’s no doubt that IPMI is a big market that offers significant opportunities to brokers. There’s no magic wand, of course, and building a strong book takes perseverance, hard work and innovative thinking.

          However, premiums are relatively high and it’s well know that churn in the IPMI market tends to be less than in domestic PMI markets. So once you have a book, your long term rewards are likely to be worthwhile.

          Find at least one IPMI provider who supports you beyond just providing quotes and can be your go to for IPMI questions, as well as supporting you more broadly with the latest news, trends and of course market leading product options for your regional or global customers.