In December, Bupa International joined the ranks of international private medical insurers that offer insurance policies with full medical underwriting (FMU) options that cover individuals for pre-existing conditions.
Until recently, it has been very difficult for expatriates to obtain coverage of pre-existing conditions on individual insurance policies, as few insurers would cover them. Many group policies may be underwritten with medical history disregarded once the group is sizable enough, however customers seeking individual coverage are often left with little choice but to take up policies that either exclude coverage of any pre-existing conditions or policies which will provide coverage after a moratorium.
Bupa International will now offer customers the ability to apply for full medical underwriting when enrolling in the Worldwide Health Options product, an option that would provide coverage of a list of over 60 pre-existing medical conditions the customer may already have.
Although the list of pre-existing conditions already includes cancer, high cholesterol, hypertension and asthma among others, Bupa International’s Medical Director Dr. Sneh Khemka has said that Bupa will hope to include cardiovascular conditions and diabetes in the list in the near future. One eventual aim is to work towards setting up a system where brokers could add the premium loading themselves in clear-cut cases, in order to streamline the process.
However, Bupa International is hardly the first to pioneer international health insurance products with full medical underwriting, with companies such as DKV Globality, InterGlobal and ihi Bupa already having earned names for themselves as providers which are more flexible in covering pre-existing conditions. While InterGlobal has been offering cover for pre-existing coverage in January 2010, DKV Globality has been extending individual customers that option since 2008 leveraging its access to Munich Re’s knowledge, group expertise and scale.
The Group Underwriting Director and InterGlobal, Barry Remington, said that “It has been welcomed by the market and is an excellent means for expats to have certainty that they will be covered for pre-existing conditions which may have become excluded if they had a reoccurrence of their condition under a moratorium scheme.”
Despite the fact that ihi Bupa, previously IHI Danmark, already offered FMU options prior to being purchased by Bupa in 2005, Bupa International decided not to emulate the product in its lineup due to the fact that their IT systems and medical technology were insufficient at the time. Another reason for keeping FMU products distinct was the fact that each appealed to different markets, with Bupa International finding traction in European markets and ihi Bupa performing similarly in Asian Markets.
As one of the largest international medical insurance providers, the announcement that Bupa International will introduce full medical underwriting options could cause a change in the landscape of the international PMI industry, potentially forcing competing major insurance companies to begin offering similar products.
Insurance Companies Mentioned:
Bupa was established more than 60 years ago in the UK and is now has ten million customers in over 190 countries, and over 52,000 employees around the world. Bupa is a leading international healthcare provider, offering personal and corporate health insurance, workplace health services and health assessments. As a provident association Bupa has no shareholders, because of this it uses its profits to invest in healthcare and medical facilities around the world. Bupa has operations around the world, principally in the UK, Australia, Spain, New Zealand and the US, as well as Hong Kong, Thailand, Saudi Arabia, India, and China and across Latin America.
DKV Globality is a leading international health insurer with a special focus on expatriates, i.e. people working or studying abroad. Global companies and their expatriate staff as well as individuals and their families place their trust in DKV Globality’s expertise. The company stands for more than 80 years’ experience in health insurance and the proven competence of an international network of assistance and service partners. It is a member of Munich Health with more than 5,000 experts at 26 locations worldwide, providing its clients and partners around the world with innovative healthcare solutions. DKV Globality is a subsidiary of Munich Re, offering the financial strength and security of one of the world’s leading (re)insurers.
Originally dubbed IHI Danmark, the company has 30 years of history as an innovative international health insurer. The company was purchased by Bupa in 2005, and became a branch in 2009 beginning to operate under the banner of ihi Bupa.
InterGlobal is an international health insurance company offering international private medical insurance to expatriates, frequently traveling business people and companies around the world. InterGlobal was founded in the UK in 1998 as a joint venture company between the UK-based Inter Group and New Zealand-based Mike Henry Group. Since their founding, InterGlobal has expanded to the point where it now handles policies for clients in more than 189 countries around the globe, operating from 10 regional offices in the UK, Singapore, Kuwait, China, Dubai, Thailand, Japan, South Africa, Qatar and Vietnam.
Both Bupa and Allianz are making moves to expand their international operations this year. Bupa has added a sales and support center in Fuengirola, Spain to provide administrative support for Bupa International and IHI Bupa customers. The 12 person service center will also aid distributors in Europe, Africa and the Middle East.
Allianz, on the other hand, is opening new gateways in China. It has recently been given approval from regulators to change the status of their fully-owned Allianz Insurance Co. Guangzhou Branch from a branch office to a subsidiary of Allianz Versicherungs A.G.
Previously, China only allowed foreign joint-venture companies to enter two new provinces a year. Changing the status of the company to a subsidiary makes the company an independent legal entity which allows it to apply for setting up its own branch offices in other provinces in China. While this may allow Allianz to enter more than two provinces in China per year, it still depends heavily on collaboration and negotiations between the Allianz subsidiary and a variety of Chinese regulators.
The Allianz casualty and property branch office opened in 2003, they have been growing their business selling engineering, domestic credit, liability, property, marine, short-term health insurance and accident insurance in the province to clients both foreign and domestic.
Given the new opportunities for expansion into new provinces, Allianz intends to keep the focus on growing their core industrial and commercial business, as well as expanding retail distribution of their products during 2010.
Bupa – Since being started in 1947, The British United Provident Association, or Bupa, has grown to an international company offering health insurance, health and care services to over 10 million customers in 190 countries around the world.
IHI Bupa – Originally dubbed IHI Danmark, the company has 30 years of history as an innovative international health insurer. The company was purchased by Bupa in 2005, and became a branch in 2009 beginning to operate under the banner of ihi Bupa.
Allianz – Founded in 1890 as an accident and transport insurer, Allianz has grown into a international insurer with over 75 million customers in approximately 70 countries.