You may feel healthy and full of strength now, but the future is unknown and if you leave it too late to get health insurance you may find it difficult to get coverage for all medical conditions, Bupa Malta branch manager and LifeStar Health managing director Adriana Zarb Adami advises in a wide-ranging interview with BusinessNow.mt
Bupa, a brand that is recognised worldwide, is this year celebrating its 50th anniversary from when it first opened its office in Malta. Why is this an important anniversary? And what does this mean to you?
I feel very proud and honoured to have been part of the Bupa Malta setup for over 30 years. This year makes it an even more important one because it marks the 50th anniversary of when the Bupa principals opened their operation on the island. I am also very proud to remark that out of all the countries in the world, Bupa Malta was chosen as Bupa Global’s first overseas branch and we remain strong half a century later.
Bupa has been a pioneer in health insurance — and to date, it is the only agency focused solely on health — how do you describe its evolution over the years?
There are quite a few insurers on the island who offer various classes of business, but we are the only ones whose focus is solely on health. Therefore, all our efforts are concentrated on the health and overall wellbeing of our valued clients. With Bupa Malta being the only private medical health insurer on the island back in 1971, it’s a bastion we proudly hold on to.
What have been the marked changes you’ve witnessed in the past years?
A major one was in 2018, our company, passed through a bit of turmoil, resulting in a change in practically all management and a huge staff turnaround. I was asked to step in and being the loyal employee that I am and having so much faith in the Company, I once again became a full-time employee dedicating more and more time at the workplace. I am now happy to confirm that the Group has overcome most hurdles, rebranded and is now LifeStar Holding plc and has positively moved on.
Bupa Malta this year chose to convert a backyard at Dar Santa Tereża in Żurrieq into a playground for the young children at the home. It also organised Christmas in July at the home, which is run by the Daughters of the Sacred Heart of Malta and forms part of Fondazzjoni Sebħ. What inspired this altruistic decision?
We wanted to mark this milestone by giving something back to the community. It felt so rewarding to see the backyard of Dar Santa Tereza in Żurrieq being converted into a playground to provide a safe space for the six young children currently living there. And it gave me such personal satisfaction to see the little children’s faces light up with a smile.
Another step which Bupa Malta linked to its anniversary was the launch of a new dental rider. What does this bring to the market?
As part of its 50th-anniversary celebrations, Bupa Malta has introduced three levels of dental cover for different age groups that can easily be added to members’ existing Bupa plan. This dental add-on cannot be bought as a standalone but is available to existing members, community-rated groups on renewal, or new clients seeking to purchase new health insurance cover.
Why do you believe private medical health insurance is such an important investment?
Health is the most important asset of our lives and my advice is to invest in it early. Once you have a Bupa Malta health insurance plan in place, there is no age limit as our plans come with a lifelong renewability feature without any maximum renewal age. An important point though is to ensure its timely renewals. Plan early, so when you retire, and your income reduces – and with it the probability of medical treatment increases – you will have peace of mind knowing that any treatment you may need will be covered by your health plan.
You have been with the company for so many years that you’ve become fondly known as Ms Bupa. What keeps you passionate about the job over the years?
I love what I do. I love my clients and always follow the principle that the “client is king”. Mind you, the client is not always right, but I believe that with the right attitude, as well as bearing in mind that health is a very sensitive matter and clients at times just want a shoulder to cry and lean on, somehow my meetings with our clients always end on a very good note. Most of my clients are now my very good friends. When they cry, I cry and when they joke or laugh I do the same! I consider Bupa as my second home. I am passionate about it and in fact, I get teased that when I die, I, Ms Bupa, will take it along with me!!
What are the values that drive your work ethic?
Professionalism, integrity, dedication, reliability and productivity are the values that drive my work ethic. These help me face my daily challenges.
Can you describe a rewarding moment?
One rewarding moment I will never forget is when a young boy, aged around six, went to watch a water polo match with his father. The boy got badly hit by a car and had to be hospitalised. I was so upset to see this little boy who had gone out to have fun end up in the state hospital with operations planned for the next day. Later that evening I learnt the boy was a client of ours, so I immediately informed my principals overseas of this unfortunate incident and discussed how we could go about cheering him up.
The next day, Bupa had delivered to my office a box containing an inflatable balloon, colouring books, reading books, video games and a musical box with nursery rhymes. I managed to get this box to the boy about two hours before his first operation. His eyes shone with delight and this initiative certainly took his mind off what he was going to undergo a few hours after. The prompt action was a clear example of how much Bupa cares.
What are your professional accomplishments to date?
I joined Bupa Malta over 30 years ago, working in almost all the departments and slowly, slowly climbing up the ladder until I’m now Bupa Malta branch manager and LifeStar Health managing director, assuming full responsibility for the overall daily running of the branch. This takes up most of my day and evenings but I enjoy every bit of it. Apart from this, I sit on the LifeStar Health board and I am active on various other boards and charity organisations. Apart from constantly keeping abreast of what is happening in my area, it’s also an opportunity to give something back to the community in Malta.
How do you care for your own health?
Now, this is a difficult one! I do not take care of my health as well as I should. I am not a big eater and can easily do without food, but I definitely and certainly cannot stay without my sweets. I have now made a promise to myself to start following a healthier diet. I do hope I will adhere to it. One good thing though, is that I go walking every day to remain active and clear-headed.
Who/what makes you smile?
The closeness of my family gives me the greatest smile and satisfaction. I just love being with them. Also, another thing that makes my day is seeing that my colleagues and clients are content.
How do you unwind after work?
I love to travel, dance and socialise. I’m very focused when at the office, but then when I socialise, the party animal makes an appearance. I am blessed to have so many friends who are always there for me.
LifeStar Health Limited acts as an insurance agent for Bupa Global Designated Activity Company (Bupa Global DAC), which has passported its services through the European Passport Rights for Insurance and Reinsurance Undertakings. LifeStar Health Limited is enrolled as an insurance agent under the Insurance Distribution Act, Cap 487 of the Laws of Malta and is regulated by the Malta Financial Services Authority of Notabile Road, Attard BKR 3000, Malta and subject to limited regulation by the Central Bank of Ireland. Company Registration No. C6393
Registered office: LifeStar Building, Testaferrata Street, Ta’ Xbiex XBX 1403, Malta.
All photos by Inigo Taylor
The family business’ story was showcased in the ‘Industry Greats’ section of Business Now winter 2022/2023 magazine
The Cisk Tap sits at the rooftop of The Brewhouse, home of the former Simonds Farsons Cisk Brewery
The Franks director believes success can only be found by seeing and understanding the other party’s point of view