Mr Darren Manning, the Managing Director of Global Albatross, an IPMI Brokerage firm with a global client base shares his experiences with Global Health Insider. Mr Manning has experience in the IPMI market in Asia and the Pacific regions through his years of experience as an IPMI broker in Shanghai, China as well as in New Zealand.
As the Managing Director of Global Albatross, he is responsible for the company’s global expansion. Learn more from his experiences in his full interview below.
Global Albatross is a specialist medical insurance advisory. Our name is derived from the most legendary of birds, the Royal Albatross, which is known to travel vast distances before eventually returning home. We felt this was a good fit as it is something many expatriates experience, we travel huge distances globally, but thereafter generally return to a familiar home base.
At Global Albatross, we focus solely on international medical insurance rather than provide a broad range of general household insurance products, so we have specialist knowledge of the inner workings of policies.
We partner with our clients to understand their situation and needs and find a cover that is responsive, of maximum benefit and within budget.
We present options and assist with policy selection providing information on plan suitability and insurer service levels.
We manage all claims to ensure an accurate outcome is achieved.
We advocate for clients in emergency situations to ensure all benefits are delivered in a timely manner. This ensures clients receive everything they are entitled to under their policy and allows them to focus on the medical situation at hand rather than the insurance side of things.
At renewal, we review the client’s policy, and get an updated needs analysis, as a lot can change within a year. The family finances might have changed, there might be a new family member, any number of scenarios can occur, so blindly sending out policy renewal documents is not our style. We find out what the client needs, compare and benchmark against the market to ensure benefits and premium are the most competitive and beneficial.
Although we're smaller than other brokers, we believe our size is an advantage. We’ve structured Global Albatross around the ethos of personalised service and relationship management, which along with our value-add service, we consider is unmatched in the industry.
At Global Albatross, an experienced advisor personally manages a client’s policy in its entirety, from initial contact, policy inception and implementation, to administration, claims handling and emergency situation support. Further, the same advisor undertakes the policy review, benchmarking and renewal. This means clients don’t get shunted from person to person according to the different functions involved in managing the policy, which often occurs at the larger firms and leads to a disjointed and unbalanced relationship with the client who ends up missing out on receiving the maximum benefits under their policy.
Our personal approach means the advisor has a clear and in-depth knowledge of the client’s situation, their needs and budget, and can effectively work in their best interests. This is of particular value at claim time as we immediately know the policy detail, clauses and sub-clauses, medical history, what was disclosed to the insurer upon application, and the previously settled claims. This means we know if claims decisions are unfair or inaccurate, and can advocate for our clients without delay. We’ve had several claims decisions overturned by simply pointing out the correct application of insurance clauses in the respective policies.
Another point of difference between ourselves and other brokers is that we are on call 24/7 because we know that medical treatment and emergencies do not schedule themselves to occur during business hours.
In some locations, treatment is only provided once the medical facility receives a letter from the insurer stating the cost of the treatment will be covered. So if one of our clients’ needs us to liaise with the insurer at 11 pm on a Saturday night to ensure they don’t have to pay out of their own pocket, then that’s what we do.
How the insurer also performs and responds to our client’s needs is also important. Therefore, we do everything necessary to ensure the experience our clients have with their insurer is nothing but exceptional.
The industry is an interesting and sometimes challenging space to operate in. I’ve learned a lot from the industry and know of some top-quality brokers who work in the best interests of clients.
This is evident in those working at 3 am in the morning to make sure an insurer activates all available policy benefits when a client is experiencing an urgent medical event. Or it might mean forgoing taking on a client if it would pose a risk for them to shift from one insurer to another if medical conditions on their policy might then be lost because of the change.
For the most part, the industry has some quality players, unfortunately, however, I’ve seen a surprising amount of misrepresentation and dishonest activity, which does not reflect well on the industry and is disappointing, to say the least.
I've seen evidence that some brokers tell their clients they’ve paid their premium on their behalf in order to trick clients into paying a renewal premium.
I’ve also seen fraudulent behaviour where an employee of a large broking firm has altered and deleted information on a client’s application form without the client’s knowledge to simply earn more commission. This can happen where there is a dominant focus in the business development function of securing new business and driving money through the door rather than working in the client’s best interests.
These acts might seem small to the sales employees who act to quietly increase their commission payments, but they have far worse implications for the clients, who will only find out they don’t have cover when they experience a medical event and are at their most vulnerable. These clients will ultimately have claims declined through non-disclosure, and risk having insurance cover cancelled or declined across the insurance spectrum through making untrue declarations.
For me, this type of behaviour has no place in the industry as clients’ financial and physical health, and wellbeing are at stake. Operating ethically, delivering quality core services and adding value to clients’ medical cover will win through in the end.
Medical care in Asia can be prohibitively expensive, therefore expatriates in the region are generally aware of the need for comprehensive medical insurance, knowing that without it, they could otherwise find themselves in financial strife.
In the Pacific, however, particularly in countries that have robust national health systems where care is free, the awareness of, and the need for private medical insurance, let alone international medical insurance, can be limited. There is certainly the market for it, however, with limited awareness of IPMI products and the fact they can appear quite expensive when compared to the level of benefits available in the national health systems, can impact on purchasing decisions.
So the markets differ significantly, however it is a matter of identifying those, educating people in specific areas regarding IPMI, and responding to those differing needs.
We have a number a focuses in the pipeline that will further assist us in delivering our unique personalised service to clients. Our efforts at the moment are concentrated on sustainable growth.
In a short space of time, we have already achieved significant growth purely based on the unique service we deliver our clients.
With the cost of medical care increasing around the globe and medical insurance premiums shifting upwards as a result, clients need to derive the maximum benefits from their policies. They want to be looked after and valued, they want comprehensive policies, and they want support at claim time to receive all available entitlements under their policy. At Global Albatross we deliver this.