Case study - IPMI

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My firm has broadened out to offer international private medical insurance advice. Global marketing has pulled overseas clients into the business, many of whom are Russian. For those that do not speak English, what support can I offer in helping them through the policy statement and claiming process?

Dawn Sheldrake, Expatriate Insurance Services

Firstly, the adviser needs to contact each insurer and ask if they can provide a copy of their policy wording and claims process translated into Russian. Also check if they have any Russian-speaking capabilities within their claims team, as this would obviously help this client at point of claim.

An insurer is unlikely to provide this unless it is for a large book of business due to the large cost of legally correct and authenticated translation. Another option, and one which we are pursuing, although a slightly longer term development, is to develop a relationship with a Russian, or other language speaking, brokerage that would be happy to communicate to the client on your behalf for either a fee or for a split of your commission.

A local Russia-based broker can be sourced from the internet, through LinkedIn or through personal connections. The broker can then translate the policy wording and claims process to the client and even help with communications at point of claim. If you issue anything to the client by using a translation service from the broker then you must ensure you put a caveat on it regarding its accuracy.

The important thing to reiterate is that these are generally English law contracts written in English and sold by English speaking companies.  They are not really suitable for non-English speakers due to the legality of understanding contract law and insurance contracts.  The best option would be to refer the client back to a Russian-speaking broker.

Carl Carter, IMG Europe

Unless the provider can fully support Russian language customer service, then the broker should be turning this business away. Brokers and IPMI providers cannot be all things to all people in all languages. But it is very rare that a non-English speaker would apply for an IPMI policy presented in English.

The first thing the broker should do is contact the provider to clarify non-English routine customer service support they can offer. The second thing would be to get product training and market the firm better to customers that can be effectively sold and supported by both broker and provider.

While IPMI providers will probably have the capabilities to support claims documents in Russian, chances are they may not have customer service or claims handling capabilities. English as a second language should be a basic broker fact-find requirement for overseas nationals.

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