" class="no-js "lang="en-US"> Exclusive: 'Changed in a heartbeat’ – Inez Cooper and Avin Talabani, William Russell in “The Insurtech Magazine” - Fintech Finance
Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Exclusive: ‘Changed in a heartbeat’ – Inez Cooper and Avin Talabani, William Russell in “The Insurtech Magazine”

William Russell has played a crucial role in helping expats whose lives have been upended by politics and a pandemic. Inez Cooper, the specialist insurer’s MD and Co-founder, and Avin Talabani, Transformation Manager, explain their ongoing response Inez Cooper, William Russell | Fintech Finance

Life as an expat has never been so uncertain – or, potentially, so expensive. It can be difficult enough, in normal circumstances, being separated from your homeland by family arrangements, study, work or happenstance. But, as we know, the past 18 months have been anything but normal.

A global pandemic and Brexit have left tens of millions of people unsure of their status, and feeling confused and vulnerable, especially when it comes to accessing medical support. In May, one of the biggest players in the international private medical insurance market (IPMI), UK-based William Russell, commissioned a survey among nearly 1,200 randomly-selected expats in five countries, to find out how they were holding up under the strain: the results were stark. Thirty-eight per cent said their mental health had declined during the COVID-19 crisis (12 per cent seriously), with 44 per cent regretting that they weren’t in their home country.

Avin Talabani, William Russell | Fintech Finance

Commenting on the response at the time, Inez Cooper, MD and co-founder of William Russell, said expats’ experience of the pandemic had been made more acute due to isolation from family and friends, and language and culture barriers, while a lack of local knowledge may have prevented many of them from seeking the mental health support they needed.

For those whose lives straddle the UK and the EU, the situation is doubly troubling. Many have found it difficult to register their residential status in their host country, post-Brexit, which can mean they’re denied state healthcare, including COVID-19 vaccines. But neither are they able to return home to protect themselves because of travel restrictions.

It’s at times like these that an insurer that can not only deliver services fast and simply through multiple digital channels, but also offer responsive human contact, comes into its own.

“We’ve been doing phenomenally well, if you look at our Feefo score. We’re rated 4.5 out of 5, which, in the insurance space, is unique and really differentiates us,” says Avin Talabani, transformation manager for William Russell, who has been in post since the pandemic began. “We definitely want to maintain that human service, but we are also ramping up the ability for customers to interact with their policies digitally, both in terms of managing them and submitting a claim, as well as managing their healthcare more holistically.”

The insurer’s recent experience of how clients wished to access its services has mirrored that of others in financial services – online, and, increasingly, via mobile.


This article was published in The Insurtech Magazine #06, Page 13-14

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