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Global Benefits enters Jamaican market with health and travel insurance products

Published:Sunday | June 12, 2016 | 6:00 AMNeville Graham

International insurance company Global Benefits Group (GBG) is setting up business in Jamaica, from where it plans to push deeper into regional markets.

Having got approval from the Financial Services Commission, GBG rolled out five health and travel products in Kingston on Thursday, capping a four-year effort to enter the Jamaican market.

"We want to bring health and travel plans that will provide a full range of medical products," said GBG Senior Vice President for Travel and Speciality Risk Jim Pinto.

"These can be used in the local environment and in the international environment," he said, while outlining that coverage is available for up to US$5 million in preventive care, hospitalisation, major medical and medical emergencies.

GBG is a cover holder at Lloyd's of London.

The insurance policies will be offered through Jamaican insurance brokers and travel agencies.

Mark Neita, who is charge of business development at GBG, says the foray into the Jamaican market is just the start of a regional push.

"We're also looking to expand the product throughout the Caribbean, and Jamaica is a springboard for that being the largest regional market. Once the product takes root here, we're gonna look to roll it out to the other Caribbean islands," Neita said.

He declined to give details of the level of investment made in Jamaica.

Wants to become bigger player

Neita says GBG already has a presence in the Caribbean, but wants to become a more significant player.

"From a financial perspective and a long-term view of how we want to develop this product, Jamaica stands to benefit more than any place in the region because here is going to be the hub of the activity as we spread throughout the region," Neita said.

The five insurance products launched on Thursday - Global Security Plus, Inpatient Plus, Freedom Plus, Preferred Plus, and TravelCare 360 - offer coverage up to US$5 million along with a range of care, including outpatient care, surgery and emergency response.

"There are so many persons that I know or have knowledge of who have had medical challenges and have struggled because of the level of sophistication of our medical system," said Neita.

"It is not that we don't have great doctors, but the truth be told, facilities are lacking and I have seen many pay the price for not having access to an international health-insurance product that, in many instances, will save their lives," he said.

GBG has representation in 300 countries in North America, Latin America and Asia. It has been in business for 35 years. Its business model relies on selling customised health-insurance products utilising a range of hospitals and health-care providers worldwide. Web portals are used to establish policies, transact business and make referrals.

"If you have a client and who is at the airport and realises that they didn't buy travel insurance to go abroad, you can do that insurance over the phone on the portal and that insurance will turn up on their smartphone as an attachment," Pinto said.

neville.graham@gleanerjm.com