David Pryor, Senior Executive Director at MediCare, says there is fierce competition for young expat professionals.

The medical industry has been quick to spot potential in the young professional demographic. These expats often purchase the same level of cover as older expats, but claim much less, making them a profitable customer segment.

David Pryor, Senior Executive Director of MediCare International, talks to Expat Marketing about this group’s health insurance needs and how best to reach them.

David, what makes young professionals so attractive as a target group?

Younger people are much less claims-conscious than the older expats, so they’re a very profitable group. If you look at a graph of claims by age, it rises steeply as the ages go up. 24-40 is a very attractive age band for an underwriter.

What are key things this age group looks for in a policy?

They prefer plans that cover outpatient services, for one. They are usually very active in sport, so they like to have cover for that. Routine dental is also very important. About 90% of our young expat customers choose our Executive policy, which covers all of those things.

What percentage of your customers fall into that group?

Around 35% of our customers are young expats.

Are these expats more price sensitive?

It depends. Those who have to pay coverage for themselves are extremely price sensitive. However, those who are being paid for by companies are much less so.

Have you noticed differences in the way young expats prefer to receive information?

Younger people are much more comfortable online. They research policies online, they shop online, they buy online. Older people may look online, but then they’ll email for more information. A lot of times we have to send them more information, and often they even make a few phone calls.

Making a website easy to navigate is key to attracting young expats, particularly those speaking English as a second language.

So making your website easy to navigate is key?

That’s true in terms of age but also nationality. MediCare has been trading since 1962. We originally targeted British expats. Now only about 20% of our customers are British, many speak English as a second language. We keep it “kid simple.” You can see that by visiting our website.

How is customer retention among these customers? Is hooking an expat customer early in his life hooking him for life?

Most of our customers only live as expats for 3-5 years. Hence we lose about 25% of them each year. There are some that keep their policies once they return home, however. This will likely increase given the fiscal situation in Europe, and as wait times continue to rise.

How do you reach young expats?

We’ve found that often we gain traction with this group by competitively pricing our products. In terms of actual campaigns we start with location. We look at the usual suspects: Hong Kong, Singapore, the Middle East—places we know people are being sent on international assignments. We know that age group will also be there.

In terms of actual campaigns, are you primarily online?

We have pretty much given up paper ads. I can’t remember the last time we ran a paper campaign. Virtually everything is online now. We mainly run banner campaigns through Google and affiliates.

Do affiliate ads and Adsense ever create credibility problems, in that you can’t control where they appear?

The system is not fool-proof. It’s definitely hit-and-miss, and we’ve had a few problems in that past. We haven’t developed a complete solution yet.

Could venturing into social media – such as Facebook and Twitter – be an answer?

This isn’t something we’re doing right now, but it’s definitely high on our list of priorities for 2012.

David Pryor is Senior Executive Director at MediCare International, an international private medical insurer active in targeting expatriates of all nationalities. http://www.medicare.co.uk