A lot of coverage in the press and from the providers seems to assume that all potential clients come from countries whose national health service can catch the medical conditions and situations not covered by their plans.
This may be a way of providing the service at a low cost but it ignores the requirements of an ever increasing number of clients for who no such back up is available, such as those that originally come from parts of Asia, Africa and the Middle East.
These conditions include chronic illnesses, maternity, congenital and existing conditions and non-emergency dental treatment. And this is not the end of the problem. Additionally, many of the current uncertainties of whether a condition is chronic or becomes chronic or is classed as an existing condition need to be addressed.
Without very clear definitions in these areas clients will not have the confidence that the cover will meet their needs and may not be willing to pay the high premiums that are certain to go with such products.
This is the classic dilemma of trading breadth of cover off against cost.
The range of conditions being considered here are integral to international private medical insurance (PMI) and to some clients the cost is irrelevant, but to capture the wider market competitive pricing is essential.
The industry needs to focus on the ways to tackle this. Areas such as individual underwriting, co-payment policies or fixed excesses, budget limit on claims or fixed rate term contracts need to be considered. In addition perhaps some incentive to reward those who do not claim or for staying with the same company would be attractive in the longer term.
It looks as if some of the new entrants from overseas appear to be going in this direction but the onus is on the UK’s international PMI providers to offer the kind of cover clients require. This needs to be addressed sooner rather than later.