From the Tundra to the Tropics, International PMI is a Hot Topic

International Private Medical Insurance has suddenly become a hot topic - but why now? Teresa Rogers, International Sales and Marketing Manager at Aviva UK Health, explains…

In an age of budget airlines, the world has become a much, much smaller place. But it’s not just inexpensive holidays that have had us all reaching for our passports. The economic climate effect has meant that many companies are searching new horizons for stability and growth. Suddenly, more costeffective resources and business opportunities outside the UK seem like an idea worth pursuing, and that means employees are spending more and more time abroad.

The result? Never before have we seen such a focus on International Private Medical Insurance (PMI). Everybody’s talking about it, which is excellent news.

For one reason or another, many advisers shy away from the International PMI market. It could be due to the product’s perceived complexities, but we think that most of those concerns are unfounded. International PMI and domestic private medical insurance are very much alike. The benefits may differ slightly and, naturally, the cover has geographic limitations. But commission levels are often higher. And statistics show that there’s a compelling case for advisers to get involved.

  • The number of people on international assignments increased by 25% in the last decade and a further 50 per cent growth is predicted by 2020.¹
  • When we conducted a ’Semi- Gration’ study, which canvassed a number of UK individuals aged 18 to 30, over half (56%) believed there are better prospects abroad – and 54% said they’re actually considering a move.²
  • A quarter (25%) said that the NHS is one of the things they’d miss the most, and almost two thirds (64%) believed the UK offers superior state health benefits over other countries.³

It’s a big market. It’s a small addition to your product portfolio. It could be a relatively easy – and a very rewarding – sale.

Healthcare varies considerably across the world. From the tundra to the tropics, providers are constantly responding to changes in legislation – but that’s for us to worry about, not you.

The fact is that we have two over-riding aims that we want to share with advisers: giving your clients’ employees the best possible private medical insurance, and making your life easier as you sell it.

Any business that is re-locating their employees needs your support. Worryingly, PMI Global’s recent study suggests that 20% of companies fail to provide employees with international PMI when they go abroad for six months or more.3 Surely employees deserve to be reassured that they’ll receive quality medical treatment whenever and wherever they need it? The irony is that, unlike domestic PMI, which is seen as an alternative to the NHS, International PMI is a ’must-have’ purchase in some countries, not an optional benefit. It’s often a mandatory requirement in the application for a work visa.

The right provider is another matter: for your clients and for you. Not everyone provides the same levels of benefit or flexibility. Not all providers are willing to offer you as much, or as little, support as you need. Our advice? Explore the market. Research the products available then take a closer look at your existing business. You may be surprised to find out how many of your clients have employees based abroad. You may also uncover clients who aren’t giving their employees appropriate protection, which means you can demonstrate the value of your expertise.

What we can’t do, is over-emphasise the value of International PMI for individuals and employees who are based abroad or the world of opportunities that’s waiting for advisers. If you’re entering the market for the first time, you may want to take small steps. But the journey is well worth it.


¹ Talent Mobility 2020: The next generation of international assignments. PriceWaterhouseCoopers, 2010

² The Aviva UK Health ’Semi-Gration’ study of 1000 UK workers aged 18 to 30, conducted in March 2010

³ Study highlights international risk’,, 2010