News Middle East20 Jan 2020

MENA:Quality drives growth, says insurance CEO

20 Jan 2020

A successful healthcare insurance strategy focuses on improving the well-being of individuals and society, and is not limited to generating business, says Cigna MENA CEO Jerome Droesch.

“Our mission is to improve the well-being and peace of mind of the people we serve. We are not here just to find solutions when people are afflicted by diseases or to pay claims; we also want to improve their health by influencing their behaviours,” he said.

Cigna recently launched its Stress Care initiative in the UAE, a first-ever tool that offers visual portraits of the impact of stress on the body and mind. The initiative aims to educate and empower people to take control of their own health and wellness.

Stress among UAE employees is high primarily due to their concerns about finances, job security, and being overworked, according to Cigna’s annual 360° Well-Being Survey. Many respondents admit to working long hours, with 91% reporting stress at work and 96% perceiving the negative impact of colleagues’ stress in the workplace.

In addition, only 43% of respondents confirm having a formal wellness programme at the workplace, with more than half stating that these programmes focus solely on physical wellness but fail to give mental well-being the attention it deserves.

Cigna’s Stress Care initiative aims to improve wellness through a personal simple four-step actionable P.L.A.N to manage stress. P.L.A.N is the acronym for: Period of time to unwind; a Location to de-stress; an Activity to enjoy; and the Name of someone to talk to.

“Very often, people believe that some diseases are related to the DNA. The reality is quite the opposite – 75% of diseases are linked to behavioural factors, not DNA. Therefore, there are many things people can do to positively improve their own health. This is the raison d'etre of this initiative,” said Mr Droesch.

With 84% of the worldwide population suffering from stress, it is necessary to address this issue, he said. “In the UAE, more than 20% of employees face ‘unmanageable levels’ of stress. Therefore, it is important for us to help the people we serve lower their stress levels.”

Focused strategy

Cigna continued its positive performance in 2019, Mr Droesch said, without giving more details. “We continue to grow fast. The UAE market growth is sluggish for many reasons as the economy is in the soft period of the cycle because of the oil price. Despite this, we are growing fast on the back of two pillars.”

The first pillar is Cigna’s reliable brand which attracts businesses. He added that the company’s value proposition to the market makes a difference. “Cigna enjoys strong capacity with its robust well-being programmes to help people improve their health, which customers extremely appreciate.”

The second pillar is the very strong clinical capabilities Cigna offers, said Mr Droesch. “We strive to ensure that the health and lives of our clients’ employees and their families are in good hands. Cigna is able to improve and manage difficult clinical cases in an efficient way. We also have strong capabilities in terms of quality of services, and this is critical for common diseases as people want hassle-free and timely solutions such as our 24/7 telehealth solutions. Our aim is to provide a very smooth customer journey.”

Overall, the company has been able to build confidence among its clients. “The people we have been serving for more than 10 years continue to rely on our services. Retention is very critical in this market as many insurers are struggling because they have high turnover rates and lose many customers.”

Cigna is engaged with its customers, he said. “We meet regularly with our clients to ensure that they are seeing an improvement in their employees’ well-being. Our engagement is continuous and does not stop after the product is sold.”

Growth continues

Cigna expects its future growth to be in the same range achieved in the past two years. “We might be very ambitious vis-à-vis market growth and most of the other players, but we believe we bring a differentiated value proposition to the market. Moreover, we are specialised as we go in-depth in terms of medical, knowledge, understanding and value proposition,” said Mr Droesch.

“We need to be ahead of the pack to make sure we grow. We need to stay active and serve well.”

Cigna Insurance Middle East clinched the Health Insurance Company of the Year award at the 6th Middle East Insurance Industry Awards 2019.


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