The war in Ukraine has sparked global turmoil, including severe disruption for western companies doing business in Russia, Belarus and Ukraine. International health and life insurance brokers are no exception, finding themselves impacted by the conflict in a number of ways as economic sanctions on Russia take hold and travel is affected.
The conflict is also coinciding with and exacerbating a cost of living crisis, which in turn is impacting international insurance brokers’ businesses. Here, we look at the challenges international insurance brokers face, and offer some expert tips for supporting customers during this difficult time.
How does the war in Ukraine impact international insurance brokers?
International insurance brokers face a number of challenges as the war in Ukraine continues. The major ones include:
1/ Economic sanctions that will impact insurance brokers
Some of the most comprehensive economic sanctions in history have been placed on Russian organisations and individuals in a bid to end the invasion of Ukraine, and there may well be more to come.
Measures include cutting off a number of Russian and Belarusian banks from the SWIFT payments system through which money is transferred in and out of the country. This has led to difficulties in paying healthcare suppliers.
Other sanctions include a ban on doing business with some state-owned organisations, and the EU ban on Russian crude oil which came into force on 5 December 2022. Russian petroleum products will be banned from 5 February 2023.
2/ The challenges facing international health and travel because of the war in Ukraine
Several insurers and insurance brokers have suspended business and/or stopped renewals in Russia.
Because of this, Russian residents may have difficulty in getting international health insurance needed for travel to some destinations.
Meanwhile, Russian insurers are prohibited from doing business with brokers, insurers and reinsurers from states Russia considers hostile, which includes the UK and the EU.
EU airspace is also closed to all Russian-owned planes. However, William Russell is expecting members to travel outside of Russia to destinations such as Istanbul, Dubai and Beijing for elective medical treatment. We have also been working with our partner CEGA to provide emergency medical evacuation to members in Russia and Belarus.
3/ The cost of living crisis exacerbated by the war in Ukraine
The war in Ukraine isn’t the sole cause of the current cost of living crisis, but it has made it a lot worse.
Ukraine and Russia are major producers of basic foodstuffs, including sunflower oil, wheat, barley and maize, and food prices are rising as the conflict disrupts production and trade.
With oil and gas supplies also affected by the conflict, energy prices are set to increase by more than 50% in 2022, according to the World Bank.
These price rises are likely to have a huge impact on consumers’ budgets. And while international health insurance and international life insurance are vitally important, they are also things consumers might look to cut back on if they find themselves under financial pressure.
4/ Supporting customers in Russia and Ukraine
Many insurers have suspended or reduced their business in Russia. Allianz, for example, is not insuring new business in the country and Zurich is not taking on any new customers or renewals in Russia. Brokers Marsh McLennan and Willis Towers Watson have ended operations in Russia.
William Russell is continuing with renewals but we have suspended the purchase of new plans in Russia, Belarus and Ukraine. However, the war in Ukraine is making it more challenging for us to settle claims for members, and members in Ukraine may find it difficult to access medical treatment.
Find more information for our expat members in Ukraine, Russia and Belarus.
How to manage customers better during the war in Ukraine: broker tips
Brokers continuing to operate in Russia, Ukraine and Belarus will want to do all they can to support their customers. It’s vital to:
- Stay up to date with the rapidly evolving situation so you’re aware of what’s on the horizon and can help customers prepare accordingly
- Keep in close contact with customers, communicating regularly
- Be prepared to look at customers’ needs on a case-by-case basis
Partner with us
William Russell is a family-owned firm with over 30 years of providing international health insurance, international life insurance and income protection to expats. Our plans offer worldwide protection insured by the Allianz group, a Fortune 500 company and one of the world’s largest insurers.
We ensure our customers and partners are properly informed about the products we offer. Our staff are sensitive and compassionate, and importantly we will always honour our plan agreements.