Offering employees real peace of mind

Mar 13, 2024

Why international employer-sponsored insurance solutions are the way to go

As more companies prioritise global talent acquisition, employer-sponsored insurance solutions that offer employees cover in hard currencies are becoming increasingly sought-after.

We asked Unisure’s Group CFO, Kiara Risely, about how the benefits behind international insurance policies for individuals and organisations are changing to align with today’s recruiting trends.

“How we live and work has changed drastically over the last few years,” Kiara explains, “with a lot of working professionals now considering job opportunities all over the globe.”

“If you think you might live or work outside of your country of residence at some point in your career, then having a fully portable, international policy will not only reduce the cost and complexity of having two policies in two different countries, but it will also help protect you against global currency fluctuation and the potential long-term erosion of financial exchange rates.”

When it comes to globally mobile employees living or frequently travelling outside of their country of residence, various types of international employer-sponsored policies exist to give them financial protection. These include Group Life and Disability cover (to help a policyholder’s dependants with future financial security, no matter where in the world they live, should that policyholder no longer be able to support them), and Group Health Insurance (which helps individuals living and working outside of their country of residence to access comprehensive medical cover worldwide).

For multinational companies that have offices and employees all around the world, it’s important for them to be able to offer equitable benefits to all staff across all territories. In developing countries in particular, where certain medical services and specialities might not be available or up to standard, this can be a stumbling block for employers.

“The reality is that many professionals, in Africa and abroad, frequently find themselves working in countries where the medical care that they may need is either not sufficient or not available,” Kiara explains. “Unless you have worldwide cover, when you’re travelling for work and have a medical emergency, you might find yourself in a lot of trouble – unable to either source treatment, or in a worst-case scenario, foot the bill for a medical air evacuation to the nearest point of medical excellence. And that’s where our international policies and in-house international emergency medical assistance team become invaluable to our health insurance members.”

In order to offer members worldwide cover on policies with, to use our clients’ words, ‘incredibly generous benefits’ and no co-payments, laser-sharp, accurate financial and risk management is required – certainly not an easy task in such globally uncertain times.

To derisk ourselves, Unisure trades in USD, pounds or euros. If a policyholder pays their premium in USD, for example, Unisure will honour the currency that the policyholder has paid in and pay out in USD too. In that sense, the company is protected from foreign exchange fluctuations, but when it comes to our medical claim repayments, we settle the amount due to the member in the relevant local currency and absorb the foreign exchange risk.

“I’m privileged to work with an incredibly capable team,” Kiara says. “We have a finance and risk committee (spread across our Johannesburg, London and Kuala Lumpur offices) that closely tracks global affairs and foreign exchange volatility, so we can stay ahead of the curve and be proactive in dealing with the financial ripple effects of tumultuous events. We’re also led by our Chairperson, Dr Graham Woolford, and CEO, Barry Sundelson, who bring their years of experience and wisdom to the table.”

In spite of 2023 being an incredibly tough year for global economics, Unisure’s core management team has recently returned from a strategic planning session with plans for ambitious international expansion and bold growth over the next 3 years.

“From 2020 to 2022, we invested significantly in upgrading our resources and expanding our global teams,” Kiara says. “Even though our costs in those years were high, we were gearing up for the growth that we are starting to see now. We saw a good growth in profits last year and we’re confident that Unisure will continue on that trajectory this year.”

There are many qualities that companies will look for when choosing a group benefit solutions provider. International cover and world-class service are crucial for employers wanting to deal with one service provider to avoid excess costs and administrative hassles. Equally important, however, is finding a provider that is more than sufficiently capitalised.

As an international insurer, Unisure has significant financial reserves and access to international reinsurance structures with some of the world’s largest reinsurers. That means that we are more than able to settle claims in excess of the benefits we offer. Also, by partnering with in-country insurers, we offer local companies the ability to extend additional cover to their client base that would not otherwise have been available to these clients.

For more information about Unisure and the health and life insurance solutions we provide, visit