Vice President for Provider Relations is a wide-ranging job with a lot of responsibilities! What does a typical day for you entail?
In fact, the versatility of my position is the favourite part of my role. I do not have a ‘typical day’. The way my day develops depends on the season and the challenges we are facing. With so many different dreams to bring to life – a new digital solution, a new product, or selecting a new vendor – most of my days are very different from one another. Perhaps because of the changing reality we have experienced over the past 18 months, I often find myself having to find a solution for a new and complicated situation. I always try to spend part of my day with our amazing BI team to analyse the different activities from all angles so we can progress, learn and improve continuously.
Why do you think that customers demand so much more from their insurance providers than they used to?
I believe the key word is ‘certainty’. The Covid pandemic robbed us of whatever certainty we had, so customers are looking for something to hold onto as a shield against anything that might happen. They choose us as their insurance company because we are stable, up to date, and offer strong capabilities to provide some certainty. They know that they can enjoy their stay abroad with us because we will be there for them, no matter what. An insurance company should see every new situation as an opportunity to challenge the customer experience and raise the bar.
Are we ever going to get to a point where insurers are able to offer an Amazon-type experience with on-demand service delivery, or is the health insurance product simply too complex?
Some parts of the industry have been introducing innovative and straightforward digital solutions. I believe what you describe is feasible for some products and certain types of customers. I am also pleased that the industry carefully considers where and when to offer these new products, since products need to evolve to fit the experience without risking our commitment to the customers. The industry has already taken several steps in this direction.
How is PassportCard/DavidShield shaking up the insurance industry with new products/innovative approaches to customer satisfaction?
Leading our industry and innovating continually is our daily goal and the reason we started our 100 per cent no-out-of-pocket solution. We keep adding service channels through PassportCard and DavidShield. As long as the regulations and data security allow, we will seek to meet the customers in the channels where they feel the most comfortable. During Covid-19, we adapted our offering many times to solve as many concerns and questions as possible for our members. Our approach is to listen, never take anything for granted, and ensure the human, personal and warm support we provide does not fall behind our technical solutions. Both worlds need to evolve hand in hand to create a unique customer experience.
What use has the company made of telemedicine services during the pandemic, and do you think they are here to stay?
At some point in the pandemic, telemedicine was the main, sometimes even the only, solution available. Although we have been offering telemedicine solutions for the past 20 years, we upgraded our solutions quickly not long after the pandemic started. As a result, we now use telemedicine for a broad range of needs. It is fascinating to see how many patients who used telemedicine for the first time only because they had no choice, now choose to use it regularly. Thus, telemedicine is undoubtedly here to stay. Moreover, the technology solutions already on the market and those introduced shortly will take telemedicine to a different level.
Making use of different distribution channels is key to ensuring reach in the travel and health insurance marketplace. What are your key distribution channels, and how have these changed in the last five years?
Our main distribution channels include insurance brokers. We believe that travel insurance and IPMI need to be customised by an insurance professional who knows the client. We operate in different markets with different needs. I can say that after a decade of moving towards direct sales by direct insurance companies, the markets in which we operate are continuously working with insurance brokers who provide an individual, customised service.
Managing the employee relocation process is costly and time-consuming; what more can insurance companies do to help globally mobile employees and their employers be successful in their moves?
Cutting through the bureaucracy, simplifying procedures for the employees and employers, and looking after the employees’ wellbeing with coverage and access to data could come a long way in helping all the parties involved.
You’re active in Cyprus, Germany, Israel, and Australia. With such different regulatory environments in each one, how different do your products have to be to ensure compliance and also that they are meeting the needs of the different cultures in which they are used?
It is definitely a huge challenge to adjust to all the aspects of the different market environments. Still, regulations and culture are part of our decision making process in new markets. Only after they are solved can we move forward. While we offer different products in different markets, the company’s DNA and service standards are the same regardless of our location. We are constantly in communication between all operations to ensure we preserve the values we stand for.
What advice would you give to startup companies in the travel insurance sphere right now?
Technology, digital or another, are tools, but not a goal. As such, it plays a significant role in our plans. But at the same time, we must never forget there are people, and situations involving people, that we are handling daily. Hence, we need to ensure we use technology to enhance the personal experience, the service level and reinforce customer experience and customer loyalty.