An Insurance Industry Check-up for the Medical Tourism Industry
The average person visits the doctor several times annually to maintain health and prevent illness. In order to ensure the financial health of your company it is equally important to perform similar periodic check-ups. As your business changes and grows you need to assess your risks and determine whether you are properly insured. Doing so is critical to operating a stable business but it is also beneficial to your clients and partners. Clients will feel safe knowing they have the option of seeking financial recourse and partners prefer doing business with a financially secure company.
The medical tourism industry is booming but with growth comes increased risks and potential for loss if the unexpected occurs during a clients trip. As a medical tourism company you face unique risks that require proper insurance coverage to safeguard your organization. This checklist outlines various insurance options for medical tourism operators in addition to some policies your clients should consider before embarking on their journey overseas.
Do you have Insurance on Your Radar?
If you are in the process of developing a business plan for a medical tourism company now is the time for an insurance industry check-up. When preparing a budget it is helpful to know how much the various premiums cost so that you can more accurately forecast revenue and expenses. Another reason to address your insurance needs early is that in many cases hospitals and outside vendors require proof of coverage before entering into a contract with a medical tourism company.
If your company is fully operational it is important to obtain coverage as soon as possible if you do not have it already. Once you have located a specialized insurance provider coverage can usually be issued very quickly if your information is correct and complete.
Do you have Professional and General Liability Insurance?
Many countries such as the United States are recognized for their highly litigious practices as a society and escalating settlement amounts particularly in the medical industry. One of the most important policies for anyone operating a business or organization is General Liability Insurance which protects your companys assets when a dispute arises. As with anyone working in or closely with the medical industry facilitators are at risk for a lawsuit if a client does not receive the expected results experiences complications after surgery or dies as a result of the treatment provided.
Even though you are not offering medical advice you are the first point of contact for your clients medical tourism experience so when something goes wrong you are likely to be the first place they turn to for help. Professional Liability or Errors & Omissions Insurance provides financial support for litigation defense and court costs related to a clients claim. If your organization is at fault the coverage will also pay the settlement amount up to the policy limits even if you are accused of misleading the client.
This insurance not only protects your company during litigation it provides coverage if any of your contractual partners file a lawsuit against you for negligence or breach of contractual terms subject to policy terms and conditions. This includes partners that are hospitals physicians spas or any other outside party that you are associated with.Another benefit of this coverage is worldwide jurisdiction which means your insurance is valid anywhere the suit is filed.
For example a medical tourism company based in China assists a client from Brazil undergoing surgery in Thailand. Later a September/October 2010 121 Copyright Medical Tourism Magazine suit is brought against the company in Brazil in connection with the trip. The companys Liability Insurance is employed here to protect their financial security.
Do you have Personal Accident Insurance?
What if your client suffers a permanent injury or becomes a victim in a fatal accident while traveling? Personal Accident Insurance provides Accidental Death and Disability coverage for your clients during the entire length of their trip. If the client suffers permanent total disability or death the policy will pay a pre-agreed fixed sum and an additional amount to repatriate the remains.
This policy also covers any incidents that occur on the trip from the actual medical procedure to the time the client spends exploring the city they are in for the procedure. The benefits can even be extended to continue coverage for the clients return to his/her home country for a limited period of time.The best way to offer this coverage to your clients is to package it with the rest of their trip. In doing so your company gains a competitive edge over industry peers.
Clients take comfort in knowing they will receive a guaranteed monetary benefit if the unexpected occurs which is an important value proposition that can convince clients to do business with you over your competitors.Also consider that if an incident occurs and a client and/ or their beneficiaries receive payment for the occurrence they are less likely to be inclined to file a lawsuit.
The amount they receive may be reasonable enough to deter them from going to court (possibly in a foreign jurisdiction) and incurring high legal costs in addition to waiting up to several years for a settlement and paying extra fees.
Do you have Trip Cancellation Insurance?
When advising your clients about their upcoming trip it is essential to provide information about Trip Cancellation Insurance. Many travel agencies offer insurance for various aspects of a trip but it is also advisable to offer clients coverage when they purchase a package from you.
Trip Cancellation Insurance refunds the cost of an entire trip if there is an incident that prevents the client from traveling. It insures against a variety of potential risks including cancellation due to personal reasons or a natural disaster that prohibits travel to the country.
Many medical tourism hotspots experience hazardous weather conditions such as cyclones typhoons earthquakes tsunamis and monsoons that can devastate a region without warning and bring travel plans to a halt because of inclement weather.
Do you have A Reliable Insurance Provider?
Realizing you need insurance is easy but finding an insurance provider can be a little more challenging. As the medical tourism industry grows so do the various insurance products developed to serve it. Still many providers frequently refuse to consider business in this market because of the high risk involved. The medical tourism industry is relatively new and incredibly unique so there is little historical evidence available for underwriters to reference in establishing risk profiles.
However a few providers recognized the need for comprehensive coverage in this industry and have become experts in insuring and creating specialized products for it. As medical tourism continues to flourish and insurers gain a stronger understanding of its intricacies the number of providers and products will increase as well.It is important to do your research when identifying and evaluating potential insurance providers.
Often international providers can provide the expertise necessary for an industry that operates in different countries with varying regulations. Also consider the companys reputation for customer service which could make or break your experience in a claim situation. Over the next decade the medical tourism industry is expected to prosper as more patients reach for their passports to undergo procedures.
With healthcare costs soaring and the amount of patients continuing to outnumber available physicians and nurses for care medical tourism companies can anticipate higher demand and exponential growth. In this emerging industry it is important to protect the financial security of your business with proper insurance coverage. In turn this will enhance your companys ability to provide exceptional service and effectively manage the unexpected.
About The Author
Smita Malik joined Clements International in 2006 and has over 14 years of insurance experience. As the director of commercial sales she specializes in customized insurance solutions for clients including medical tourism fleet solutions political risks cargo professional liability D&O general liability excess credit energy aviation and war risk. Smita began her insurance career in India in 1996 as a broker (insurance and reinsurance) and has worked in various insurance markets forging strong relationships with underwriters and insurance providers in India the U.K. U.A.E. and U.S.Clements International is the leading provider of insurance solutions for expatriates and international organizations. Founded in 1947 Clements offers worldwide auto property health life and commercial insurance with superior customer service and claims response to customers in more than 170 countries. For more information on Clements Internationals global list of programs and services please visit www.medicaltourisminsurance.com or www.clements.com.