How did you first get started in the assistance industry, and how did you come to be in your current role? After a career as an international athlete, I joined the British Army at rather a busy time. As a consequence I spent quite a lot of time on operations around the world including in a number of war zones, and involved in kidnapping scenarios of various descriptions. As a result, on leaving the Army I was recruited by a specialist kidnap and ransom underwriter. T e next progression was to the broking side, which brought me closer to the ‘assistance’ element before setting up Northcott Global Solutions (NGS).

Do you find that your previous role as an underwriter has given you an extra insight into how best to facilitate a smooth and co-operative relationship between an insurance company and an assistance company? It certainly means as a company we understand the insurers’ point of view more. T e reality is, everyone is trying to do the best job they can within the operational and/or fi nancial constraints that exist. We’ve never come across an insurer that has been unnecessarily awkward during a case, but that may be exactly because we come from that background and therefore understand their position.

NGS says that it aims to react ‘in hours rather than days’. The first hours of a potential crisis are critical in terms of mitigating risks

and avoiding escalation – what key measures should be taken to tackle a crisis early before it can spiral out of control? I love simple questions and this answer could not be more straightforward. Prior planning! Have a crisis plan, and a crisis team, engage with your incumbent assistance provider and identify exactly what their strengths and weaknesses are (a cost containment operation is great for day-to-day cases but of no help at all in a genuine emergency such as a hurricane). Identify your risk – who are you looking after and where are they specifi cally? How do you communicate with them in an emergency? Are your systems tested regularly? T ese are all very inexpensive (to free) to put in place operationally or on a proposal form, but make all the diff erence in the world to claims when a major incident occurs.

Can you give us an example of a recent assistance case that illustrates how the landscape for assistance provision has evolved over the last five to 10 years? Quite simply, the traditional assistance model – put a doctor on a plane and fl y to the nearest international airport within a week – has not kept pace with the exponential changes in travel patterns, either numerically or geographically. T e old system relies on a level of local emergency infrastructure that may very well not exist and is wholly medically orientated. Medical capability will always be by far the most important, but increasingly, assistance providers have to

40 | International Travel & Health Insurance Journal

ITIJ spoke to Ted Jones, CEO of Northcott Global Solutions, headquartered in the UK, about his career, the importance of prior planning, and the need for assistance companies to adapt to changing times

have a non-medical response capability even just to support medical operations in more challenging parts of the world, and this the majority are simply not set up to do. Every signifi cant assistance episode in the last decade has highlighted this, and they continue to do so. T e Arab Spring was not simply a medical problem, all the way through to Hurricane Irma, which was more a case of logistical support – information, fuel, security, non-medical evacuation. Insurers and other clients need a more multi-dimensional assistance provider to improve safety and lower costs.

Are there any hotspots around the world where the provision of assistance is particularly challenging at the moment? One has the usual over-charging issues in the US and elsewhere, and fraud hotspots like Mexico come and go. As important as these are to address, they are nothing new. In terms of the geopolitical hotspots, terror attacks are throwing up questions around identifying who has been involved in an incident. T ese attacks, or at least the high- profi le ones in the Western press, are not happening in challenging geographies, but on the streets of capital cities and involve tens of thousands of people. Technology is a big help here, allowing us to fi lter vast amounts of information and concentrate response resources on those that need it most. It also allows us to reassure clients as to who has actually reported themselves as safe. Over the last year, we have also seen a surge in maritime cases, which clearly come with their own unique challenges.

Congratulations to Northcott Global

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