There can be no doubt that private health insurance has become a major focus for both individuals and corporates as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. This is a reflection not only of rising concerns over the ability of state-backed health services to meet demand on their services, but also equates to a greater social awareness of the importance of health and an increasing onus on prevention and wellness.

From an insurance perspective, there is still an underlying belief that PMI will continue to be a growing market, and on a global scale. There has been a real surge in interest for additional private health care – be this as a top up for domestic state provision, conventional comprehensive coverage, and offerings somewhere in between. There has been a clear shift in priorities, as people look to divert existing or newly available disposable income towards protecting their family and to mitigate the concerns of accessibility to healthcare when it is required the most.

The corporate sector is also seeing considerable activity, again mirrored across the globe, as employers look to ensure they are offering the best cover to retain talented staff and reassure staff working abroad who could feel the most exposed by a lack of local care provision for them and their family. However, this interest in cover is tempered by a downward pressure on price, particularly as some sectors – such as hotels and leisure - have been ravaged economically during the pandemic. Equally, many insurers will be aiming to retain as much sustainable business as they can utilising the favourable impact on loss ratio the last 18 months has seen to buffer any aggressive pricing from competitors.

Drivers of change

The challenge of balancing increased demand against the downward pressure on cost could result in a drive to a change in the way the market thinks when it comes to product design with increasing modularity. This underwriting approach is enabling customers to have more choice than is offered by off-the-shelf solutions, and to only pay for the cover they actually need.

Clearly the market will change, it would not be a surprise to see a shift in your typical Expatriate member with a younger cohort starting to emerge who are less intimidated by recent events. The ever-present High Net Worth and mass affluent market demand should remain as they still seek to supplement low healthcare provision.

These market dynamics sit at the heart of HDI Global Specialty’s entrance into the PMI and iPMI market. Our focus is on providing new capacity, new ideas and opportunities ultimately helping our clients expand their customer offerings in this space.

Innovation call

It wouldn’t be unfair to say that historically some of the additional services most insurers have embedded into their proposition have been underutilised. However, in this post-covid digital era the market is changing – as are customer expectations and interactions – with a real need for innovation to meet the demands of a virtual world.

Employee Assistance Programmes, Second Medical Opinion facilities, Telehealth and innovative stress measurement and management tools are available to satisfy everything from wellness and prevention to acute care to complex healthcare needs.

Traditional, albeit attritional claims, have also fallen across the board during the pandemic, with ongoing non-critical treatment programmes, such as physiotherapy programmes, dental and vision treatment being curtailed or simply abandoned as a result of a lack of accessibility and availability. This fall is however likely to just be a blip rather than a permanent change in claims patterns and expectations.

Innovation sits at the heart of the HDI Global Specialty approach as a capacity provider in this market. We are highly experienced at supporting coverholders, helping them develop their propositions and to expand across their markets, as part of long-term trusted relationships.

Despite only launching into this market this year we have been been inundated with enquires requiring capacity and the wealth of our expertise from introducers and brokers, not only in Europe, but across the world. This interest has been driven not only be increased demand for PMI and iPMI products but also by changes in the insurance market itself.

The traditional private health insurance market is also undergoing upheaval, with a number of capacity providers having pulled out of the sector or been unable to continue to provide continuity of capacity due to the regulatory demands around Brexit. This search for new capacity has also been accompanied by a flight to quality following increasing concerns about unrated capacity and the potential for cover to evaporate overnight.

As a fully Brexit-compliant and A plus rated capacity provider, with an excellent market reputation we are excited about the way forward as we look to support our partners in their quest to grow their PMI and iPMI business.