Group health insurance is a key consideration for any business operating in the UAE. However, finding the right partner and policy is no easy task. There’s a huge amount to consider, with business and HR leaders under pressure to manage costs while delivering a superior employee experience.
And the UAE insurance market is continuing to evolve. This is primarily being driven by changing employee habits, needs and expectations, which are forcing businesses to adapt and think harder about their insurance policies.
For example, the difficulties over the last 12 months have put the spotlight firmly on health and wellbeing in the UAE, with nearly three-quarters (71%) of HR professionals saying COVID-19 has increased employee expectations around health and wellness benefits. In particular, mental health is gaining more attention than ever before. 40% of UAE-based medical insurers predict that mental health conditions will be among the three most common conditions affecting healthcare costs within the next 18 months.
Businesses therefore must ensure that they are covering these areas as part of their insurance and benefits packages and are able to provide the support employees want and need. The challenge is that, for most businesses, knowing where to focus is easier said than done.
Market falling behind
The UAE insurance market is facing a significant issue: the outdated and inefficient system that is currently in place. Despite the accelerated digitization that has impacted many industries over the last 12 months, the insurance sector is still lagging behind.
For example, there are so many different players in the value chain and the majority of touchpoints are manual in nature. This fragmentation – there are more than 60 insurance providers in the UAE, each with 30-40 different plans – makes it much harder for businesses to get the best coverage for their needs.
It also means much of the initial consideration and planning phase is influenced by word of mouth, personal recommendations and anecdotal evidence. This is an extremely risky approach to picking a broker or insurer. Group health insurance represents a significant investment that will impact employees’ wellbeing and lock the company into a policy for 12 months, so businesses have to be sure that they pick the right partner.
In addition, many local brokers and insurers lack the data insights needed to help businesses proactively manage costs and provide employees with the best possible experience. Insurance companies rarely provide claims data to companies with less than 100 employees and utilization data is not provided in real-time.
This leaves many businesses lacking the specialized insights that would enable them to make more informed decisions. They don’t know that dental is the most popular pay & claim request in the UAE – comprising 28% of requests – followed by gynaecology and obstetrics (20%) and pediatrics (19%). Or that general medicine (35%), gynaecology and obstetrics (23%) and dermatology (18%) make up the top three consultant bookings. Having visibility into data like this would help businesses understand the areas they should be focusing on, whether as a core part of their policy or through additional on-demand services, yet it is worryingly lacking across the industry.
Ultimately, the current system simply isn’t effective. It’s time for a new approach that gives businesses access to the insights they need to make the right decisions.
The new age of insurance planning
Rather than settling for the status quo, businesses today have an opportunity to transform their approach to group health insurance – saving themselves valuable time and money and setting themselves up for future success.
Planning an insurance strategy is a complex process that must be guided by data insights and expert advice. Therefore, businesses must choose a digitally-native partner that is technology-driven, provider agnostic and customer obsessed. A partner that ticks all these boxes will have access to the real-time data insights that enable it to provide tailored strategic advice based on a customer’s unique needs.
Such a partner will be able to fill the gaps that exist in the market. For example, it would know that 64% of companies in the UAE insure dependents, and that companies with 101-200 employees have an average of four different insurance categories. Benchmarking data such as this can help businesses decide where they want to be – whether that’s matching their insurance offering to that of their competitors, staying above average, or being best-in-class.
This level of data accessibility instantly provides more value than any traditional broker or insurer ever could. Digital-first insurance partners can use real-world data to develop more creative and cost-effective solutions for their customers, as well as share tailored preventative plans to help businesses manage claims and year-on-year premiums.
This would completely transform the approach to insurance planning, putting businesses in a better position to deliver a world-class employee experience. Not only that, but they will also be able to manage their policy in a more efficient and effective way. It’s time for a new age of insurance – choosing a digital and data-first partner will help any business reap the rewards.
Want to simplify and enhance your group health insurance journey? Download our ‘Demystifying insurance’ ebook to discover the future of business insurance.