Do firms need a medical insurance broker in the UAE? - Gulf Business
Now Reading
Do firms need a medical insurance broker in the UAE?

Do firms need a medical insurance broker in the UAE?

Does a broker add value or just another layer of cost?

Medical insurance brokers. What is it they actually do for their money? Surely it’s easy enough to cut out the middleman and organise your corporate medical insurance needs yourself? Isn’t a broker just adding another layer of cost? Don’t they simply call around to a few insurers to find the most competitive price? Come on, that’s got to be something you or someone within your organisation can do – especially in today’s world of direct contact with providers and online insurance aggregators. Right?

Okay, let’s pause for a moment.

Today, we live in a specialised world. We go to experts. So when we’re talking about something as critical as healthcare cover for your employees, why would the approach be any different?

Corporate medical insurance: The dangers of going it alone

We have seen a huge rise in consumer aggregators who claim to make the process of buying insurance easier. So why not take the same approach for your corporate medical insurance and save yourself time and money?

Well, there are many reasons why the direct-to-provider approach won’t work as it does for individual consumers. To start, the primary driver for insurance product selection should never be the cost. It’s easy to get seduced by short-term price reductions but cheaper premiums almost always mean a poorer level of coverage in the end. So insurance at the corporate level is about lowering your exposure to risk and having adequate cover in place for when any medical claims start to come in.

Because let’s be clear: Here in the UAE, approximately $1,200 is spent per person on healthcare, putting the region in the top 20 countries globally for annual healthcare spend. That’s why it’s vital to seek a market expert when it comes to purchasing your insurance cover.

If you were to ‘go it alone’ and not engage a broker, you could find yourself entering negotiations without someone who has critically evaluated individual insurer strengths and service propositions. Think about your own business – would you let the brand-new intern run a major meeting and expect to get the best outcome? Probably not.

For larger companies, having a designated procurement department is certainly an important function from a pricing perspective. But quality brokers are also able to demonstrate how technical expertise can deliver better pricing over a period of time as well as ensure the plan is fit for purpose.

So it’s sensible to use a broker when you are looking to provide adequate and appropriate medical insurance for your business. Get it wrong and you could be looking at considerable losses and shortfalls. Get it right and you have peace of mind and more time to focus on your business.

Choosing the right broker is particularly crucial here in the UAE due to high competition in both the insurance broker and provider markets. The challenge is finding one that delivers the wide range of skills and knowledge that you will need, from claim services and advocacy right through to a complete understanding of the broader HR benefit issues connected with medical insurance.

The qualities of a winning broker

Your broker will need to be an extension of your business and know your requirements inside-out. So let’s break down some of the skills and qualities you should be looking for when selecting a broker.

Investigate, review and negotiate: The broker needs to be involved throughout the term of your insurance policy. By consistently reviewing your current contract against what is available in the market place, they can be ahead of the game when it is time to renew cover. This means negotiations will be handled by a well-informed industry expert who can leverage the best rates and terms for your organisation, often achieving lower rates than if you were to go directly to the insurer yourself.

Analyse, strategise and then decide: The broker can push to the front of the crowd by using claims data analysis to shape your medical cover. They should be able to assess data on medication, tests, procedures and services to develop a strategic approach to your cover, with a view to obtaining better value for your premiums. Analysing and identifying patterns enables approaches that can reduce claims and translate to huge savings.

Cut cost, not cover: Your broker must be able to take the lead on cost containment recommendations by presenting quality solutions. They should have thorough knowledge of corporate wellness programmes, processes that give greater control against fraudulent claims, and cost comparisons of branded versus non-branded pharmaceuticals.

The goal is to improve the health of your workforce, and therefore begin to reduce costs. Using insurance market knowledge, it’s also possible for the broker to find opportunities to reduce overall premiums by combining various types of insurance for greater discounts.

A consultant, not a salesperson: When a broker is a consultant by nature, the relationship can flourish. Throughout the process, you may expect advice, direction and quick answers to your questions. Your broker should be service orientated, offering innovative and evidence-based solutions.

A good broker would also advise on the latest market trends, plus have a real understanding of (and adherence to) the continuous regulatory changes in both the UAE market and other regions where you do business.

Honesty and integrity: Establishing a good, open and honest relationship with a broker is essential and beneficial to all parties. They should act with honesty and integrity regarding the service they provide, as well as the costs.

Given that there will be access to sensitive data concerning your employees and company, it’s important you feel a strong element of trust. Using a credible broker and working with a shared ethos means improving the general health and wellbeing of your employees knowing that everything is adequately covered.

Finding that trusted partner

The bottom line is that when buying medical insurance for your business in the UAE, the guidance and market expertise of a broker is a must. The UAE healthcare market is crowded and it’s crucial to have someone not only to guide you through the maze but to anticipate the twists and turns before they even come in to view. And looking beyond the UAE, they should have a wide geographic and licensing presence across the globe.

A good broker leverages the best deals and avoids short-term ‘special offers’ that rarely provide quality or adequate coverage and will probably result in you switching providers every year. So choose your broker carefully, find one who has strong customer service and the experience to get value for you.

Don’t be tempted to cut corners and do-it-yourself in an effort to save some short-term money. You’ll end up with inadequate cover and cost yourself much more than you save. There are very few organisations in the market who can provide the kind of assistance and partnership outlined above, so it’s vital to take the time to find a qualified, credible broker who meets your needs and has strong consultancy roots.

You won’t regret the results in the long run.

Stephen MacLaren is the regional head of Distribution Human Capital and Benefits at Al Futtaim Willis


Scroll To Top