The IPMI market is set to become a major growth sector for the insurance industry and brokers have a real opportunity to access new business and in new ways.

According to the World International Health Insurance (IPMI) Market Overview Report 2021 there are 80 million expatriates, 5 million international students, 4 million temporary foreign workers, and 18 million high net worth individuals of which 2.7 million are ultra high net worth. All these are targets for international private medical insurance.

The expectation is that the number of expats is set to increase as workers look for new opportunities and firms look to emerging markets for rapid growth. But insurers are also alive to the growing needs of others. Locals, students, NGO workers and travellers need cover and they are driving demand for IPMI as the lines between PMI and IPMI become increasingly blurred.

Many countries are also making IPMI and PMI compulsory as they look to support their national healthcare infrastructure and with it has come the demand for new products and new ways of delivery.

COVID has had an impact. While the world is slowly reopening as economies seek to rebound there are concerns that we will undergo a fourth wave and those concerns have seen many workers looking not only to the protection of themselves but increasingly their family members. Expats and local workers of global companies and HNW individuals may no longer have the option of flying home or to another country for medical treatment so may have to rely on local healthcare.

In almost every country the state healthcare network is under never before experienced pressure so access to private healthcare is increasingly essential.

In some countries, expats will be at the back of the queue for state healthcare. In some countries, even access to private healthcare may be strained and hospitals may have to prioritise healthcare for long-term partners such as insurance companies over one-time private patients.

However insurers are viewing the current pressures as a real opportunity

An increasing number of insurers are moving from being health insurers to healthcare providers protected by health insurance. With a linked move to Artificial Intelligence and teleconsultation, the world of IPMI is changing.

It means that brokers now have a real opportunity to access the IPMI market at a time when the market will only increase in size.

Insurers are recognising the complexity the products and are taking steps to make the policies more easily understood, for both intermediary and member alike.

While the products are becoming more transparent, the biggest debate is over how the market can drive efficiencies in distribution and sales.

Clients are well aware of the part technology plays in every aspect of their lives. Current IPMI members have seen the shift to the use of online and video consultations and increase in the number of support services delivered remotely.

Underwriters are also examining how they can better engage with a wider section of IFAs and brokers as demand begins to increase. The challenges for the market remain the speed of the placement process, the delivery of binding quotes, and the delivery of policy documentation.

Technology is viewed as providing the solution to the need for speed and there are those who believe that a system which would allow brokers to access a range of policies in a single platform may provide the answer.

There is a view that if the IPMI market is to seize the future opportunities brokers will play a key role in raising awareness of what is on offer and the benefits they can deliver.