Most international private medical insurance (IPMI) providers are acutely aware that the expatriate community is, by and large, seasoned with an incredibly strong online presence across social networks and the blogosphere.
It is no surprise, then, that more and more IPMI business is beingtransacted via the internet, which presents providers with the question of how best to utilise their website.
Hence, providers are now beginning to move away from the static, ‘shop window’ approach, instead integrating aspects of automation in order to deliver their policy holders ever more functionality and interactivity. The question remains, though, as to how far this online automation should go.
Harnessing the considerable online expatriate presence to utilise the internet as a vehicle for automation has a number of advantages. Aside from being notably quicker, online automation also resolves the potentially problematic issue of time differences.
Wherever the client is, providing they have an internet connection, they can be afforded immediate access to their policy details and other online administration facilities.
When decisions can be made quickly, answers to queries and issues can be communicated back to clients almost immediately.
Due to these advantages, customers are understandably keen for providers to initiate these enhancements. Speaking to a William Russell claims survey, one customer wrote: “I would like to see the claims system available online as it will reduce the amount of papers and postage needed to settle claims. Granted, there may be an element of fraud, but I’m sure it won’t outweigh the benefits.”
This growing customer demand has necessitated many providers having to update their IT systems, driving some to completely replace their entire system, while others opting to supplement their existing technology with enhanced web integration capabilities.
Of course, these changes can be costly, and entail a considerable time investment in terms of planning and testing prior to release. In the current market, though, such investment has become essential for providers to remain competitive. One particular challenge for the IPMI industry is that of fraud, which is widely expected to increase as more policy holders are able to submit their claims online.
Traditionally, providers have insisted upon receiving the original invoices for each and every claim submitted. But the shift towards an online claims system now means the acceptance of scanned copies of invoices.
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