Global vs local companies: who do you choose for your medical insurance?
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Global vs local companies: who do you choose for your medical insurance?

Health insurance is a large market, which is an advantage for consumers looking to secure medical coverage. More players means more options, and more options means competition. As with most industries, your local insurance market will feature a mix of both local, homegrown insurance companies, and global insurance giants that operate in a number of jurisdictions. When wading through your options, it helps to know what you can expect from the different types of businesses vying for your money.

three tall skyscraper buildings reaching towards the sky representing local and global international medical insurance companies in the dubai insurance market

The Dubai medical insurance market

The first important point of any Dubai health insurance discussion will likely be the impact that Dubai Health Authority (DHA) reforms have had on the market. In a nutshell, laws were signed by the Dubai Government in 2015 that made holding health insurance mandatory for living in or even visiting the Emirate. These laws mandated minimum coverage requirements that all health insurance policies had to meet, which were:

  • A total maximum annual benefit limit of AED 150,000
  • Coverage in the area of Dubai, with emergency treatment coverage across the UAE
  • Coverage for ambulatory services, laboratory costs, inpatient, and outpatient coverage
  • Coverage of pre-existing conditions
  • Coverage for maternity care with a limit of AED 7,000 per normal delivery and AED 10,000 for c-section. Pre-natal tests are also covered with a 10% co-pay
  • Accommodation for companions staying in the hospital

So, by result of this law, all plans offered in Dubai should have at least these minimum levels of coverage. This is regardless of whether the company you purchase it from is a local or international insurance company. With that in mind, what’s the difference between the two?

Local medical insurance providers

In Dubai, there are a number of companies offering insurance plans that operate solely within the UAE. By that virtue, you can expect them to be much smaller in organizational size than their global counterparts. However, many of the same service features of a “local retail business” apply to local insurers: They can be cheaper, can generally feel more in-touch with the local community, and sometimes offer a more personalized service to customers.

Global health insurance companies

Giant, multinational insurance providers include your big-name brands such as Allianz, Bupa, and Cigna. These businesses operate all over the world, offering a wide range of insurance solutions in addition to their medical insurance offerings. As such, going with a global health insurance company means you can trust that their worldwide expertise will serve you well in some situations where a local insurer may not be as effective.

Which insurance company do I choose?

The best way to answer this question is to understand what your health and wellbeing needs are: Do you foresee needing complex and expensive medical treatment in the near or distant future? Do you need coverage solely for Dubai and the UAE, regional GCC/ME coverage, or a more international plan for frequent business or personal trips abroad? What sort of service is important to you, and what does excellent service look like?

The insurance market in Dubai and the UAE features locally-based plans and global health insurance policies from both local and worldwide companies. In fact, many global insurance providers, such as William Russell and Morgan Price, often partner with a local insurance business in order to deliver their insurance solutions to the UAE market. Other companies also deal in Takaful policies that meet Sharia Law requirements.

Which insurance company you choose is up to you, but here’s a few things to consider when weighing policies from different types of insurers:

Customer service

Generally, the standard of customer service you’ll receive from a global insurance provider will be high. These businesses have a reputation to uphold, and their integrity when it comes to providing exceptional care for clients is very important to them. That said, local insurance businesses often find themselves competing with larger players via a more personalized level of service; an approach where you’ll feel like less of a number and more of a valued friend.

International insurance companies stand out, however, when it comes to round-the-clock service, and the reach of their service. Most will have 24-hour contact centers able to provide assistance and support whenever you need it, which is especially useful when you have an international insurance plan and require medical treatment whilst overseas.

Policy administration

The difference between companies when it comes to efficient administration depends on the size of the organization, and the way it organizes its business. As you might expect, larger businesses will generally have a larger capacity for processing claims and inquiries, while smaller, local companies might have a smaller team that can only deal with so much at a given time.

Local companies and global insurance businesses can also do all of their claims and policy processing in-house, meaning your dealings with them will be handled directly and solely by their dedicated administrative teams. Global companies that partner with local businesses to deliver their products can sometimes have extra layers of administration, or leave customers dealing with multiple people in order to process a claim.

Service enhancements

Technology is forever changing the way companies do business, and insurance companies are well aware of this. Most major, international health insurance providers will have a wide range of online portals, web resources, and apps that can make your insurance experience easier and more user-friendly. Local companies may offer the same, however bigger companies usually have better resources and the ability to deliver fantastic technological enhancements.

Securing local or global health insurance in Dubai

Once you know what sort of service and company you’ll be comfortable dealing with for your medical insurance needs, the next step is finding the right one for you. There are a number of great insurance providers operating in Dubai, both locally-based and global, with a range of different policies and plans that expand on what the DHA has mandated as a legal minimum. When it comes to navigating your options, your best bet is to use a broker.

UAE Medical Insurance has been a leading medical coverage broker for both local and international health insurance policies in the region for decades. Our team of experienced experts can help you find the right sort of plan to meet your medical and service needs, and ensure that the plan you purchase delivers for you. For a free quote, visit our online comparison tool.

To discuss your situation further, contact the team at UAE Medical Insurance today.




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