Started his career in risk management at Generali in 1994, Marco Giacomelli has climbed the ranks and undertaken various roles around the globe. After two decades under Employee Benefits, Mr. Giacomelli moved on to lead a new division, Generali Global Health last year in January. Dealing with international private health insurance, Mr. Giacomelli said it is a subset of Employee Benefits, which specialises in various insurance solutions for multinational employers.
Spotting a need for products – not just for expatriates, but mobile local nationals as well – Global Choice plan, which emphasises on flexibility and convenience, was recently launched. Coupled with a strong management team and strategic partnerships, Generali Global Health plans to expand in United Arab Emirates, Central Eastern Europe and Asia in 2016. Furthermore, Mr. Giacomelli shared with Global Health Insider how Generali is keeping up with the changing landscape by being fully-compliant across markets, providing check-ups and wellness benefits, and moving towards a ‘lifestyle-based underwriting’ model.
I joined Generali in 1994 as an Actuary, based in my home-town of Trieste, Italy. Since then I’ve worked for the group in various positions around the world, including Latin America, the Philippines, Brussels, New York and London. In January 2015, after 20 years’ in Employee Benefits, I was given the opportunity to lead a new division of the business - Generali Global Health (GGH), which provides international private health insurance. My current title is Head of Generali Global Health.
GGH sits naturally alongside the Generali Employee Benefits (GEB) Network. As the Generali group’s specialised provider of international health insurance plans, GGH’s offer complements the range of insurance solutions distributed by GEB to multinational corporations, which also include group life, pension and income protection plans.
Health insurance is the primary protection benefit offered to employees across the world, especially when they’re travelling overseas. And despite the challenges faced in the world economy over recent years, companies continue to open new offices and establish their business in different markets around the world, and this in turn, is driving continued need for a healthy, driven workforce.
However, with inconsistencies in the quality and availability of care available around the world, employers need an insurer that can give employees access to the best healthcare available, for a quicker recovery and return to work, and who can provide a global insurance coverage to mitigate the financial consequences of a medical occurrence anywhere it might happen.
Traditionally, International Private Medical Insurance (IPMI) products were primarily designed for expatriates, however this definition is becoming gradually obsolete, as more and more local nationals are travelling globally or regionally, and more and more people in general seek the peace of mind and protection that comes from an international health insurance cover.
To respond to this, we established a specialist team of international health insurance experts that have created products which integrate with, and enhance, the overall Generali insurance and assistance benefits for employees. Our shared goal is to ensure that we develop long term relationships with our clients through provision of a broad and innovative range of products and a superior customer service.
Building a central management team and product proposition has been high on the agenda.
Our senior team now comprises some of the most experienced people from within the international health insurance market, giving us a solid platform from which to grow and prosper as a business.
With these roles filled, in April we launched Global Choice, one of the most flexible international health insurance products available on the market today.
To distribute this and other products, we’ve established strategic partnerships and distribution agreements in the UAE as well as selected local markets in the Central Eastern Europe and Asia regions and we will further expand our footprint throughout 2016.
Given the regulatory complexity and local licencing challenges that come with this truly international footprint, we aim to be the first international health insurer that is fully compliant in all markets. In order to do this we are leveraging on Generali’s health insurance licences in over 100 countries, as well as selected local partners to provide locally compliant plans from the outset.
With these fundamentals in place, the key challenge is to remain focused on the end-customer – our members. Although we provide cover for group schemes, the ultimate recipients of our insurance cover are the employees and their dependants. We need to make sure our members have access to the right level of healthcare wherever they are working, even remote locations such as mining or energy sites. Therefore, convenience and flexibility needs to run through everything we do, from client to member services.
For this reason, vertical integration is one of the key advantages at GGH, whereby all member assistance services and the management of our health provider network are performed in-house through wholly owned Generali companies.
Global Choice is a fully modular plan aimed at groups with a minimum of three employees. It allows the flexibility to create truly bespoke benefits schedules for companies of any size, with the convenience of a streamlined pricing structure and agile administration.
Customers start by choosing one of three core in-patient plans, which vary in the level of cover provided. Out-patient benefits are then added from a further three options. Finally, more specialist healthcare services such as fertility, vision and dental care or wellness check-ups can then be included as optional extras, with a variety of benefit levels and limits to choose from. The benefit of this modular approach is that you can vary the level of cover across each of the three modules. For example if you want high levels of in-patient cover, but lower out-patient, this is possible. What’s more, you can segment your workforce into groups of three or more employees, so you’re creating more cost-effective and relevant cover to meet the individual needs of your employees.
Finally, Global Choice offers an important pricing and budgeting benefit to customers. It provides a single adult and child rate based on the average age of the workforce. This means that customers know precisely the cost implications of members joining or leaving, allowing them to budget with relative ease compared to plans which work from age-band pricing.
‘Wellness’ is the word of the moment. Healthy employees are more productive and spend less time off work. In addition, clients want to see value for money through benefiting from their policies even when their workforce is well. So we’re experiencing a big demand from employers to provide benefits like health check-ups and wellness services to their employees. As a result, cover for regular check-ups are arguably becoming a more important part of an international health insurance policy. Linked to this is the evolution of the underwriting process towards a ‘lifestyle-based underwriting’, whereby premiums are priced based on the prospective health of a group, in addition to the more standard factors such as age and location. Generali is in a unique position to shape and lead our markets also on this front, also thanks to its joint venture with Vitality across Europe.
Of course, technology is always in focus when discussing market trends. The IPMI market is picking up the reins in this regard and investing in technology for smart mobile devices to add convenience for the member. Our clients and their members can now routinely make claims and locate important policy information through their mobiles and tablets, which is the key when you’re globally mobile and time poor.
Virtual medicine is another development that is gathering pace. Clients can speak to their consultant over the internet, receive prescriptions and keep a recording of the conversation so that important medical recommendations aren’t missed. This type of service is especially important for the expatriate market with the potential for members to be located far away from urban areas.
Worldwide, our partners are able to take advantage of working with one of the leading global insurance groups and all of the services, heritage and financial strength we offer. They are able to offer their customers 24/7 multi-lingual call centres, access to emergency assistance and a network of over 600,000 medical facilities worldwide. We offer flexibility not only with our products and clients, but also to our partners, working with them to create products for their customers and markets. Our strapline is “international health protection that flexes around you” and that says everything about how we work as a business and the products we offer. If you are broker who needs a flexible IPMI partner and product then GGH is the insurance provider for you.
In the medium term, our focus is continuing to grow and develop new markets, particularly in Central Eastern Europe and Asia. We will continue to look at enhancing our products to ensure we meet our customers’ needs and changes in the markets.