Global Health Insider has the chance to talk to Mark Bromhead, the Founder and Managing Director of Village Insurance Direct. Based in Hong Kong, Village Insurance has been selling corporate and personal insurance solutions throughout Asia since 2008. Despite the financial crisis then, Village Insurance has grown tremendously with the help of referrals. Find out what motivated the insurance veteran to start his own business, and how he plans to overcome the challenges ahead in our Q&A with him below.
Q: Can you tell us more about your background as an expat investment consultant and how you came to be the Managing Director of Village Insurance Direct?
I used to work as a financial advisor in Hong Kong (between 2001 – 2006) and I became disillusioned with the way the industry was going. I had clients who needed insurance advice and didn’t know who to approach. I had two young children and one on the way. From my side, I wanted to create a long-term recurring income, and I thought insurance was the perfect industry from which I can do it. I set up Village Holdings (now Village Insurance) in September 2008 and a week later, Lehmans went bust. However, the company has grown from a PA and myself to 14 staff today. It is all based around service.
Q: Which among Village’s wide range of products is the most challenging to market in Asia?
Medical insurance – the constant annual increase in premiums makes the policies harder and harder to keep on the books, as annual premium increases far outstrip rises in salaries. This will be a real problem for the industry in the future.
Q: Can your share your insights about healthcare and IPMI in Hong Kong?
As above – I think long term the industry is going to be difficult. Increases in medical insurance premiums are going to push more and more people out of the private sector, which is exactly what Governments don’t want. Policies need to become more restricted in certain areas, such as hospitals/clinics, so that there is an alternative, well-priced solution for the average expat in Hong Kong.
For expat families, new challenges such as moving and adjusting to another country are already on top of old ones, one of which is keeping up with your kids’ vaccinations. If you’re a family with more than two kids, it can be quite the struggle to stay on top of who has had which vaccination and when they are due the next one. Having the right healthcare practitioner to seek professional advice and support from can make all the difference.
Unlike babies less than a year old, children aged around 15 months and older need to be comforted when faced with the prospect of a visit to the doctor’s. While experts say that talking to your child beforehand isn’t likely to help, it is encouraged rather to psyche them up with the promise of a reward after the injections, such as a tasty snack, a new small toy, or a visit to their favorite play place.
It is also encouraged to explain to your child when they’re above two years old the importance of vaccinations and how it makes them healthy and strong. Liken the process as the reason how their favorite superheroes got their super strength.
One way to mentally prepare your child for their injections is to stay calm because children sometimes feed off of their parents’ moods. When they see that it’s not a big deal to you, it may help them relax. You can also distract them by talking about your plans after the visit instead of focusing on the visit itself. And never ever use a visit to the doctor’s as a form of punishment for bad behavior. It will just make it that much harder to do in the future.
Family vacations are great fun but vaccinations are once again a needed precaution or requirement before travel to another country. Research on the recommended vaccinations for your child and for a particular destination, and getting the injections one to two weeks before travel are two very important things to consider.
As for diseases one can’t vaccinate against, such as malaria and dengue, preventative measures such as anti-malaria tablets, insect repellent, and wearing protective clothing should be prepared for as well.
Mandatory vaccinations are a duty
One may be aware of the ongoing argument of whether or not to vaccinate a child and it is very important to be on the side of medical professionals when it comes to mandatory vaccinations. Doctors all over can’t stress enough the importance of vaccinating and the claims that they cause autism are unsubstantiated. If one isn’t fully aware of how important vaccinations are, refusing to do so is likely to have consequences of epidemic proportions. One example is last year’s measles outbreak that started in Disneyland in California and spread to Washington and Colorado, and has since been proven to be the effect of low vaccination rates.
There is also currently a worldwide whooping cough (pertussis) epidemic, the worst in the last 70 years. Small babies who have not received their vaccinations are most vulnerable to the disease. However, ensuring that their pertussis vaccinations are up to date can greatly boost their chances of protection.
With the help of the right healthcare plan, preparing a child’s vaccinations doesn’t have to be a daunting task for any parent. Village Insurance Direct helps expats in Hong Kong find comprehensive health insurance that cover the whole family. Ask us about it today.