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Extending insurance to LGBTQ, fertility treatment, gig workers, pets, & more

Sudip Indani, National Head – Health & Benefits, Howden Insurance Brokers (India) shares the scenario of the corporate health insurance in India:

Extending insurance to LGBTQ, fertility treatment, gig workers, pets, & more

Ravi Lalwani: Can you provide information on corporate employee health insurance growth rate in India? Which regions have shown higher demand for corporate health insurance?

Sudip Indani: According to According to data from IRDAI, there has been steady growth in group health insurance premiums, which have increased by over 20% year-on-year. This growth is not limited to any particular region, as most areas have seen an increase in demand. However, the primary driver of this growth continues to be major metropolitan areas such as Mumbai, Bangalore, Delhi, Chennai, and Hyderabad. Even tier-2 cities like Pune, Kolkata, Ahmedabad, and Vadodara have shown promising growth trajectories, largely due to the increasing number of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

The growth of group health insurance premiums is being propelled by several factors, including a shift in employer preferences towards traditional Group Mediclaim (GMC) policies, even for blue-collar employees who have had post-covid experiences. Additionally, the evolving needs of employees and employers’ willingness to explore new product lines and enhance benefit structures are contributing to this positive trend. Medical inflation is also playing a vital role in the growth of claims, which leads to higher premiums and demands for enhanced sum insured limits.

Which industry verticals have the highest demand for corporate employee health insurance?

Employee health insurance has become a highly sought-after benefit in several industry verticals. Multinational corporations (MNCs), particularly those in Tier 1, as well as the IT/ITES, FMCG, BFSI, consulting, and pharmaceutical industries are leading the demand. Interestingly, even industries that previously placed more importance on salary packages have started to recognize the significance of employee benefits insurance. This shift in mindset is noticeable in manufacturing industries, micro, small, and MSMEs, and private firms, and it has gained momentum in the post-covid era.

Can you share any recent product or service innovations introduced by your organization for the employee health insurance category?

At Howden, we prioritize innovation in everything we do. We collaborate with a variety of partners, including insurers, third-party administrators (TPAs), wellness companies, and fintech firms to develop new and unique solutions for our clients. Our recent innovations include personalized benefits for individual employees, nationwide 100% cashless coverage through a strategic fintech partnership, and outpatient department (OPD) solutions that extend to in-home medical management. These innovations help to decrease corporate medical expenses while increasing convenience for members. We also offer risk management solutions for self-funded or hybrid plans that allow clients to manage risks cost-effectively without compromising the employee experience. Additionally, we have tailored solutions specifically for CXOs and the global workforce of Indian MNCs.

We are also proud to offer advanced data analytics capabilities that provide real-time insights into benefit benchmarking and claim utilization. Employers can now make informed decisions more quickly. Furthermore, we are integrating AI/ML technology into our operations to enhance the employee experience.

Does Howden provide coverage for hazardous sectors, such as mining and chemicals, under corporate health insurance products?

Our commitment to serving a wide range of industries remains steadfast, and we have established strong partnerships with numerous insurers and reinsurers. This enables us to provide customized solutions to all our clients, regardless of their industry or business profile. We ensure that our solutions comply with relevant legal regulations and are tailored to meet the specific needs of our clients.

Industries that pose higher health risks and accident possibilities, such as hazardous industries, require tailored solutions. To address these challenges, we offer comprehensive solutions that combine wellness programs with higher-risk coverage. This approach helps to minimize surprises during claims while providing enhanced death and disability benefits to support the families of employees.

Give examples of customization that your organization has done for your clients under the corporate employee health insurance category?

We take pride in the fact that customization is one of the key aspects of our service. We have always been quick to adapt to our clients’ changing needs, and have successfully implemented several unique requests. For example, we were approached by a client who wanted us to extend coverage to their employees’ pets. We worked closely with an insurer to create a plan that met their requirements. We have also noticed a growing demand for insurance coverage of fertility treatments, including egg storage, and have collaborated with insurers to offer these options. We have developed special coverage tailored to meet the needs of LGBTQ employees, gig workforces, and individuals with disabilities, reflecting the growing emphasis on diversity and inclusion. These customized solutions include coverage for gender reassignment surgery, additional coverage for artificial limbs for specially-abled members, mental health treatment, counselling services, and ‘pay as you use’ insurance plans for gig workers.

We have also seen a rise in Indian MNCs looking to extend benefits to their global workforce. Our commitment to adaptability has led us to develop capabilities that cater to the diverse needs and situations of our clients operating globally. With our extensive worldwide office network, we can create solutions that address the unique challenges faced by these organizations while ensuring that their employees worldwide have access to tailored and comprehensive coverage.

Has your organization introduced any new employee fitness and wellness products under the corporate insurance category?

In the aftermath of the covid-19 pandemic, there has been a significant spotlight on wellness, and employees are paying more attention to their health. Consequently, we have been working closely with our clients to develop customized wellness solutions that cater to their unique needs. To achieve this, we rely on a variety of data points, including demographics, past claims history, health checkup corporate reports, and health risk assessments (HRA). Our wellness solutions are organized around four critical areas: the mind, body, soul, and finances. We have introduced a flexible benefits package, delivered through an app, which enables employees to choose wellness products that align with their interests and needs. These services are provided by specialized wellness providers and are designed to meet the specific requirements of Howden’s clients. They encompass a broad range of activities, including gym access, marathons, yoga, Zumba, nutrition services, and more.

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