Posted on May 04, 2012 by Sergio Ulloa
New research out this week from prominent international medical insurance provider William Russell warns that an alarming number of expatriates are currently risking their livelihoods overseas without an adequate life or income protection policy in force.
William Russell carried out a customer survey
with over 650 of its expatriate insurance policyholders from all over the world, with questions ranging from coverage tendencies to evolving consumer product and technology attitudes. The main finding the insurer took away from the study was that while a lot of expatriate clients consider international private medical insurance an important investment to make before working abroad, purchasing life and income protection policies have not been given similar deference thus far and this could lead to significant hardships for underinsured expatriates if adverse events transpire while overseas.
When William Russell's health insurance clients were asked whether they had a life or income protection policy in place, through themselves or any another insurer, well over half the respondents (61.4 percent) said that they didn't. A further 5.7 percent of those polled indicated that they were unsure whether they had more coverage, while the remaining 33 percent claimed that they had at least one of the life and/or income protection products in force.
William Russell's survey then found that, conversely, when these expatriate clients with life and income protection plans were asked about their health coverage situation, almost 70 percent said they had already had a medical insurance policy in place, while a further 7 percent were unsure as to their arrangements. These results show that the majority of expatriates are only making provisions to take care of their immediate health and are ignoring insurance policies that could help in the event of an untimely death or protracted workplace absence and income loss due to an illness or injury.
Speaking on the customer survey findings, William Russell's Sales Director, James Cooper commented that more work clearly needs to be done in convincing expatriate clients to broaden their insurance portfolio. "Although we are pleased to see that a high number of expatriates are making provision against the risk of needing expensive medical treatment whilst they're abroad, it is worrying to see how many expatriates are not making financial provision in the event of their untimely death, or an illness or accident that would prevent them from working."
While the discrepancy between health and life insurance cover for expatriates in the survey was considerable, William Russell concluded that ultimately the results were unsurprising given that domestic figures have been falling in a similar fashion over the past few years. Regardless of this fact however, expatriate consumers need to be better advised and informed about the risks of being uninsured outside their home country. Having sufficient protection in place has always been important, but is particularly so if you are living abroad, as you may not be able to rely on the financial support of family, friends or government benefits if you suffer an unforeseen injury or illness and lose your workplace income for an extended period of time. Because of this, William Russell and other multinational insurers offer global life insurance protection plans for expatriates, which provide valuable security to families in the event of a sudden death or incapacitation. Also, with advances in modern medicine meaning that more people can now live for longer with a serious illness or injury, the need for income protection insurance has now become just as significant as the need for traditional life insurance cover.
In addition to policy purchasing behaviour, William Russell's survey also revealed some interesting developments in expatriate consumer attitudes. While online technology has fast become the industry standard, over a quarter of William Russell policyholders claimed, when asked, that they would still prefer to access and view their insurance documents in a hard copy format. In addition to this, the rise in importance and popularity of smartphones was made evident by the fact that almost 2 in 3 respondents said they would encourage the development of a William Russell specific mobile application.
The customer survey also provided some interesting insights into the social networking habits of expatriates, certainly valuable information for marketers. According to the survey, Facebook is the most popular social networking service, with just under 60 percent of expatriate respondents indicating that they have an account there. LinkedIn finished second with 47.3 percent of respondents online. Perhaps surprisingly Google+ was more popular than Twitter amongst the expatriates polled, with 19 percent using Google+, while 14.5 percent are on Twitter. The remaining respondents, around 25 percent of the total, have not held an account on any of these social networking platforms.
Inez Cooper, Managing Director at William Russell concluded the report, saying that is now incumbent on insurers and financial advisors to use whatever channels are available to them to better convey the importance of comprehensive insurance coverage for expatriates. "We would certainly encourage insurance brokers and Financial Advisers to advise and inform their expatriate clients about the risks of being uninsured," Inez Cooper said, adding that "an insurance solution can be found that will protect families today and into the future."
William Russell is an international health insurance company, focused on providing health, life and income protection products to expatriates across the globe. Based in the United Kingdom, William Russell opened its doors in 1992 as a family-run company and since then has grown into an international company that does business with people of every nationality in over 180 countries around the world. They have central offices in the UK, Indonesia and Dubai and offer their customers a 24/7 emergency medical assistance hotline.