Safe Meridian’s Managing Director on InsurTech Developments and the Growing Competition in Asia and MENA Region



Safe Meridian is an international health insurance provider more prominent in the MENA and APAC region. Their Managing Director, Nathan Hannah has led the company since 2015 following his position as the Director for Asia Pacific in Henner-GMC Services.


Mr Hannah shares information about Safe Meridian’s newest plan, ‘Globalis’ as well as his insights about the current developments in IPMI including InsurTech developments and how he handles growing competition in Safe Meridian’s primary regions of service. Learn more from Mr Hannah’s experiences in his full interview below.


Q: Can you tell us more about your background and your career path in the IPMI industry?

A: I have worked in the insurance industry in Asia for almost 25 years and experienced it from all sides – insuring risk, service provision, and living within it as a customer myself. 

I started with an Australian Health Insurer, before moving to Asia to lead a Third Party Administrator. I ended up founding one of those myself. Our clients included both international and local insurers and many large companies self-funding their employee benefit schemes for tens of thousands of staff. We managed claims, hospital admissions, emergency situations and 24/7 call centres for all of them. It was very much “hands-on”, assisting clients and members every day of the week.

I then worked as Regional Director for a European insurance broker, which had its own international health insurance products, and wanted to expand its business in Asia. I came to know the regional teams of a great many brokers and distributors in Asia, how they sold, and what they needed. 

All of that combined has provided me with a sound understanding of the IPMI benefits and services customers need and value the most.


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Q: Can you give us a brief description of your new plan, Globalis?

A: The idea behind Globalis originated from the messages we received from both distributors and consumers: the need for flexible, affordable plans offering sustainable premiums. 

In the development of Globalis, we sought to create a plan which provides distributors with the flexibility required to meet the needs of a diverse group and individual client bases. Globalis incorporates eight plan design options, including deductibles, coinsurances, healthcare provider network access, hospital room types, annual plan limits, among others. 

These plan design options allow distributors to tailor Globalis to each client’s specific requirements, both in terms of coverage requirements and premium, with the eight options each providing opportunities to discount the overall annual premium. In addition, the cost-sharing nature of these options incentivizes more responsible utilisation behaviour, thereby improving loss ratios and lower annual premium increases. 

Even within a single family, each member may choose their plan and options. School-age children may also receive cover on their own, so long as a parent or guardian is named as the policyholder.  Included in every Globalis individual plan are Travel Benefits to provide protection against travel-related inconveniences and liabilities. 

We also believe healthy living and responsible utilisation of healthcare resources ought to be rewarded. Globalis offers a ‘No Claim Discount’ for each claim-free policy year, up to a maximum premium discount of 25%. 


Q: How is Safe Meridian positioning itself facing the growing competition for IPMI in Asia and the Middle-East?

A: Safe Meridian is focused on delivering comprehensive, cost-effective health solutions and superior customer service to our distribution partners and members around the world. The existing, and new, market participants continue to offer the same type of plans, at the same price point, with minimal allowances for personalization of individual coverage. We believe a growing segment of international health insurance buyers are looking for solutions that provide the necessary level of coverage at a lower, and sustainable price point. 

Globalis delivers differentiation through the plan design options to customise coverage, achieve cost-containment, and obtain premium reductions. Over the long-term, the premium sustainability of Globalis will serve as the better differentiator for us in a marketplace still dealing with double-digit annual premium increases. Going forward, we will be introducing a diversified suite of products to provide our distribution partners with health insurance solutions across multiple consumer segments. 

To support members, we find that utilising local administration specialists offers superior levels of customer service, adding their local market knowledge to ours, to guide members and manage local healthcare providers. 

This localised approach also delivers enhanced risk management capabilities, which again adds to the sustainability of our products and premiums.


Q: Are there any plans for InsurTech developments for Safe Meridian?

A: From our side, we are constantly developing and enhancing our platforms and systems, so that we can respond to an always changing marketplace. The data we derive from our administration and services platforms allows us to meet the evolving needs of our distribution partners and members and further enhance our relationships with them, and the services and products we offer them. 

We have a number of platforms and services in development that are a little out of the ordinary for IPMI providers, and we are focused on using data analytics to build better plans, to ensure all of our plans are sustainable - something that many of our competitors have struggled with. My experience as a Third Party Administrator, paying thousands of claims a week, has helped us to build systems that generate the data we need to administer better healthcare providers, price products, and determine which services areas distribution partners and members utilise and value most.


Q: What are the trends and changes that you see developing in the IPMI industry recently?

A: We are convinced IPMI products are outdated, bloated with ‘bells and whistles,’ and unnecessarily costing expatriates and companies a fortune. You need only look at the massive premium increases, or dramatic benefit restrictions and redesigns, that many apply each year. Customers are caught in the middle, and are understandably not happy, especially if they rarely access their own plan’s benefits.  Insurers seem to offer no solutions other than to increase premiums and add-on benefits that are rarely if ever used. 

The increasing numbers of those needing to make their decisions, and from their own pockets, about international cover, require cost-effective, sustainable health insurance solutions. 

The slowly emerging confluence of traditional purchasers of international health products with the emerging domestic market consumers, who are usually more cost-and-benefit focused, leads us to believe that there is a huge demand for something different, less expensive, yet sustainable.


Q: How do you nourish your relationship with your brokers?

A: Our first, and foremost, priority in our distributor engagement is to make working with us as easy as possible. This occurs at the initial point-of-sale and then throughout the lifetime of the policy. The eight Globalis plan design options, allowing personalization and premium reductions, was conceived of to provide our distribution partners with a product that was easy to customise to their clients’ individual needs. Our focus on premium sustainability over the long-term allows for an easier renewal process with more reasonable annual increases.

We are fortunate to have many, long-standing ties with key distribution partners around the world. To best support their businesses, we prioritise providing our distribution partners prompt, reliable client management and sales support services. To that end, we have just recently launched a new online platform, IntermediaryOnline, dedicated to supporting our distribution partners business development and account management activities. IntermediaryOnline offers a library of product information and documentation, as well as a premium calculation tool to issue immediate quotation proposals. 


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