International PMI - Life's a beach

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For those seeking a break from the norm, Owain Thomas discovers the IPMI market is both growing strongly and increasingly dynamic

“I wouldn’t wish to infer anything that I can’t substantiate, but it is an active market now with mergers and acquisitions pending, strong brands with their own activities to increase a global foothold, and niche players investing in entering the market.

“It is a market which is very much alive as part of a PMI and employee benefits market that is pretty much stagnant,” he added.

While Mutton confirmed Now Health was not one of those looking at mergers or acquisitions activity, he did reveal that the insurer was increasingly looking at providing plans to local nationals, particularly in China.

“The high net-worth population of cities such as Hong Kong and Shanghai is huge, and these people buy IPMI regularly because, by definition, they are ­constantly travelling and a number of players are developing propositions for local nationals in Asia.

“Certainly in China, there is the local national marketplace. If we can work out how to get at the needs of that market, one would be in sunlit uplands because there are an awful lot of Chinese people with an increasing ­availability or access to funds,” he concluded.

With China and India already marked out as key markets to target in the short-term, where else should advisers be expecting their clients to be heading off to?

Despite the current economic woes, the US and Europe are still massive markets due simply to their already developed nature. However, it is further afield that the most significant growth is expected.

It appears that Asia, in general, is the number one priority. But eastern Europe, Russia and Latin America are also major centres for expatriates.

As Carl Carter, managing director at IMG ­Europe, discussed, some of this can be put down to the lack of trust in the solvency of local firms.

“In economies such as Russia and some parts of Africa and Asia, clients don’t trust the local insurer as the ­capitalisation would not be sufficient if they were in, for example, the UK.

“What we see is that people buy IPMI for their local requirements, but the fact is they might travel to Europe or America for treatment.

“In addition, you will find that in some of the markets – ­particularly in Asia – the local provider will push the ­reinsurer’s name, which is like admitting they might not be able to stand the $1m hit in the US for a massive medical claim. So, it is reinsured.”

 

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