The market for international health insurance is large and growing quickly and is now estimated to be worth about US$16.5 billion in gross premiums in 2018, according to new research published by Finaccord. And looking ahead, Finaccord's research suggests that the compound annual growth rate in the value of this market is likely to pick up to 11.5% and be worth around US$25.5 billion by 2022 in terms of premiums.
There were about 97.4 million expatriates and students worldwide eligible for international health insurance last year – defined as those temporarily resident in a country other than their country of origin for a period of three months to 10 years. They are individual workers, corporate and other transferees (including diplomats and employees of charities and NGOs), retired individuals and students plus “others” -- defined as non-employed spouses and children of customers in the other four categories.
Take-up rates highest in Asia-Pacific
“By region of origin, these eligible individuals are most commonly from countries in the Asia-Pacific region,” said Finaccord consultant David Bowles. “Insurance take-up rates are highest among expatriates and students heading to destination countries in Africa, Latin America and North America, with the high cost of healthcare in the latter region, especially the U.S., a particularly important factor in this respect. Overall, just over 10% of all individuals eligible to buy international health cover actually do so in practice.”
Future expansion will be due primarily to rising average policy prices as well as to growth in the number of expatriates and students eligible for international health insurance rather than to an increase in the take-up for this type of insurance.
“If underwriters and intermediaries of international health cover can find ways to improve the distribution of their products then even a rise in take-up rates that is only slightly higher than our prediction could bring about a substantial increase in the forecast market value by 2022,” said Bowles.