What does the future look like for international health insurance in the UAE? And how will the rise of InsurTech impact the sector?
The UAE health insurance sector has been growing at a rapid pace over the past few years, fuelled by an array of factors, including new advances in digital technologies. Statistics from the UAE Insurance Authority show that medical insurance accounted for 47.8% of total property and liability premiums in 2015, reaching AED 13.1 billion, a growth rate of almost 10% compared to the previous year.
The sector is expected to continue growing, reaching $19.5 billion by 2020. International health insurance has also seen rapid growth in the region, with expats now making up over 80% of the UAE population, largely concentrated in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, creating a wide pool of residents eligible for this type of cover.
Recent regulatory changes regarding mandatory company health insurance in Abu Dhabi and Dubai has also helped raise awareness of international health insurance, which has created some strong growth momentum in this highly competitive sector. As businesses face increased competition to attract global talent, international health insurance has also come to the fore as a key benefit that employees consider when making decisions about their next career move.
Meeting expat needs
The international private medical insurance (IPMI) landscape in the UAE is likely to see more change over the next five years than it has in the past 20 years, as innovation and technological advancements change both customer behaviour and the way international healthcare is managed and delivered.
RSA UAE has tied up with Now Health International, a leading international health insurance provider, to provide expat customers in the UAE with premium health coverage that suits their global as well as local needs. Together we work to serve our globally-minded customers who want fast and easy access to quality healthcare, wherever they are in the world.
Increasingly we are also seeing the expat workforce demanding more than just health insurance, but a global health partner who can help support their overall well-being, encompassing everything from healthy lifestyle behaviours, to support with finding expert medical practitioners and the maintenance of chronic diseases.
Customers in the UAE demand the latest in innovative digital tools, with a recent Accenture survey finding that UAE customers are ahead of global averages in terms of readiness to adopt AI-powered devices and services. There is a clear appetite amongst consumers to adopt such technological innovations when it comes to their health and well-being, with shipments of wearables, including fitness trackers, up 30.2% y-o-y in the MEA region (IDC’s Worldwide Quarterly Wearable Device Tracker for Q1 2017).
The globally mobile workforce demand better digital solutions to ensure their health insurance cover is genuinely accessible, anytime and anywhere, with just a few simple clicks. In the past few years, we have seen evidence of these trends worldwide, with near field communication, augmented reality and iBeacons already changing the way insurers interact with their customers. Wearable devices are now being linked to health insurance plans and can be used to reduce premiums for those demonstrating healthier lifestyle habits.
We see harnessing technology and innovation to enhance the customer experience as key to an organisation’s proposition in the region. For example, RSA gives customers in the UAE access to the Now Health International smartphone App and online portal which enable members to better manage their plan online, including viewing their plan documents electronically, finding the nearest medical provider, and even submitting claims and pre-authorisation requests for treatment.
Claims process is another area where new technology has greatly impacted the IPMI industry, causing great changes in recent years.
A glimpse into the future
Our next focus is on the development of virtual membership cards to further create a seamless experience for customers in the UAE.
Picture this: As you walk into your local clinic, the receptionist can immediately see your name, level of cover, and medical history appearing on a screen before you even reach the counter. On the way out, you swipe your virtual membership card via your smartphone which is linked to your credit card so you don’t even need to submit a claim. You are automatically reimbursed a few days later. That evening, you get an automated reminder on your smart watch to take the medication your doctor has prescribed.
This reality may seem a way off yet, but it is a step in the ongoing journey towards a truly more integrated health insurance service.
The next five years will be game changing for both the IPMI and the broader healthcare industries. Increasing demand for international health insurance will need to be met by new products and service innovations, enhanced digital tools, true product portability and flexibility, and a more integrated approach to the overall customer experience. Providers which can effectively harness a digital culture via the use of new technologies and the data they generate, will reap the rewards in the years ahead.
Authored by Mr Damian Delaney, Chief Commercial Officer, Now Health International Group, and Mr David Harris, Director Distribution, UAE & Bahrain at RSA.