Expo 2020 Dubai to witness short-term surge in insurance needs

Key challenge faced by the industry right now is the rise in demand for telemedicine

  
Expo 2020 Dubai spotlights five grassroots innovations that are tackling Covid-19 challenges and improving lives. Image courtesy Dubai Media Office Twitter handle.

Expo 2020 Dubai spotlights five grassroots innovations that are tackling Covid-19 challenges and improving lives. Image courtesy Dubai Media Office Twitter handle.

The upcoming Expo 2020 Dubai event will see a short-term surge in insurance needs, with more people requiring a whole range of solutions for the duration of their stay, experts have said.

Speaking to Khaleej Times, Georges Chidiac, EVP and GM of Damana, noted that with Expo shining a light on future technologies such as self-driving cars, smart home solutions, and other new and emerging trends, there could well be a raft of new business lines for the insurers to explore and innovate with new products and solutions.

The more immediate benefits of Expo, though, will be in the population uplift, he said. “For example, say even two to five per cent of those who visited the country for the Expo decide to stay and set up business or make the UAE their home, it is a whole new audience that will need insurance solutions across multiple business lines.”

Asked to elaborate on the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the insurance landscape in the UAE, Chidiac noted that a key challenge faced by the industry right now is the rise in demand for telemedicine and the speed in which insurers can adapt to this change.

Demand has increased, he said, with more people opting to call their medical service providers or GPs rather than go to a physical clinic or hospital to minimize the risk of infection.

“Insurers were faced with two main challenges: the first, how to regulate this to include telemedicine in the list of services covered at an adequate tariff; secondly, the lack of information and data in relation to telemedicine practice,” he explained. “To tackle these challenges, we looked at providing the right level of service, by profiling standalone telemedicine service providers and are assessing their capabilities and compliance with regulations before proceeding to the next stage. Telemedicine will eventually become the insurers’ remote monitoring facility, which should ultimately help tackle medical inflation, something that has long been a challenge for the Middle East health insurance sector.”

Highlighting trends which will be key drivers in the industry, he said that the pandemic created opportunities for major developments in other segments, including medical devices and personal protective equipment (PPE), breathing apparatus, ventilators, pharmaceuticals, and personal care. One segment that should be in focus is the cost of consumables in hospitals, which has increased by 2-5 per cent as a result of the need for more equipment and protection. This will keep rising as we move through the pandemic.

“There is also a surge in insurers placing a greater focus on preventative care,” he added. “Damana has been at the forefront of this trend and we recently cemented our position by joining forces with Medcare Hospitals & Medical Centres to launch the Chronic Care Management Programme (CCM) for people with chronic conditions.”

The initiative is designed specifically to assist patients with diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol and obesity. With real-time support of a case manager, treating physician and monitoring tools, members are guided through healthier habits and ways to manage and slow down disease progression. The programme, which is open to Damana SaicoHealth members, in the UAE, over the age of 30 with one of the four chronic conditions, strives to empower patients to better understand and manage their situation to lead a healthier lifestyle.

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