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Understanding cover for staff working abroad is essential for advisers operating in today’s global village, says Edmund Tirbutt

Administration expenses are the major cost for group risk products in international flex schemes, but a new wave of techno-friendly insurers, particularly those from the Continent, should result in these being dramatically slashed.

Michael Whitfield, chief executive of flex provider Thomsons Online Benefits, says: “Admin costs currently account for anything between 20 and 30 per cent of premiums, but we should be able to get this down to 10 per cent in the next two years. The days when international group risk has been divided into different countries are disappearing and the internet is allowing new insurers to drive prices down and provide flex cross-border.

But Mark Carman, marketing and communications director at flex provider Motivano, warns that from a communications perspective it will still be necessary to tackle things country by country.

He says: “I don’t think a one-size-fits-all approach is feasible as it will always be necessary to take into account different cultures. For example, in the UK people are quite happy to have on-line information whereas in Europe most people want it to be paper-based.

“When you are designing and launching a scheme you require good consultancy advice from people on the ground in different countries. You need to get country heads and HR involved under an overall project manager. Sometimes everyone attends the same meeting or, alternatively, a project champion can go to visit all Whitfield: Admin costs down by two-thirds in two yearsthe different countries to co-ordinate proceedings.”