Travel agents frequently handle travel insurance for their clients, but it’s a whole different ballgame when it comes to medical travel insurance.
The same kinds of policies that cover accidents or health problems that arise during vacation or business travel do not apply to medical travel, explained Tracy Simons, president of Custom Assurance Placements, Ltd., in Columbia, S.C.
Simons, a featured speaker at the Well-Being and Medical Travel Conference, June 20-21, in Scottsdale, Ariz., spoke with Travel Market Report about her company’s product, Global Protective Solutions (GPS). It’s designed specifically to address the needs of medical travelers.
What is Global Protective Solutions?
Simons: GPS is accident insurance including complications coverage. It was developed to cover costs associated with complications of a medical travel procedure or a typical travel-related accident injury while traveling for an approved medical procedure.
How did you develop GPS?
Simons: My partner has been involved in international travel insurance since the 1980s for missionary groups. Many of them have the same questions that medical travel facilitators have: chiefly, what is my liability? So we applied similar risk management principles and came up with a solution that worked.
Companion Global Healthcare, a medical travel facilitator and a partner with Well-Being Travel, was the catalyst in developing this product. They came to us four years ago and asked us to develop it.
They realized the medical travel industry would need it, not just their own clientele. They wanted the whole industry to benefit. We partner with them, but also with their competitors.
What does GPS cover?
Simons: The coverage is very broad, everything from accidental death to complications from the medical procedure.
GPS includes coverage for complications that result in death, disability, additional medical or surgical treatment, physiotherapy or rehabilitation, residence modification, severe disfigurement, loss of reproduction function and dependent care/family coordination. Additional details are listed on our website.
What makes GPS different from other travel insurance plans?
Simons: Regular travel health insurance policies exclude coverage if you are traveling for the purpose of receiving medical care. Typically, other medical travel policies exclude complications. That’s why we felt it was important to have a product that addresses the specific needs of medical travel.
In addition to standard travel accident exposure, GPS coverage has been enhanced to include a covered complication for up to 6 months after the initial procedure.
How do you work with travel agents?
Simons: It’s a referral relationship. Travel agents are typically licensed to sell travel accident insurance. Licensed agents can receive a fee for referring their clients to Global Protective Services.
You’re dealing with people going to and from multiple countries, and the rules and regulations are different in each country. That’s why it’s important that the travel agent understand that it’s a referral process, not a sales process.
Global Protective Solutions was developed in a way that meets the international regulations of various countries. However we suggest that travel agents simply refer people to the product. It is best to distance yourself from the role of insurance agent. We have made the online enrollment process simple to assist partners with this referral process.
How does the client enroll?
Simons: It’s an easy online enrollment process. Travel agents may refer interested clients to our website and customized online enrollment. A small set-up procedure is required for travel agents to have a web-link to send to their clients for enrolling.
What are some ways that it can benefit the traveler?
Simons: There are provisions for 24-hour travel assistance. The traveler has access to assistance in multiple languages anytime, day or night.
In an extreme situation, we had a patient in India accompanied by her brother. There was an unexpected secondary disease that caused her death. The brother was at a loss about what to do. He was able to get assistance, including shipping of the deceased.
The travel agent did not have to get involved. There was a third party specializing in crisis assistance who worked directly with the patient’s brother.
What other types of emergency situations does GPS cover?
Simons: Global Protective Solutions includes coverage for accidental injury, including trip-related accidents. This can include medical expenses, death, disability, emergency evacuation and more.
How are claims handled?
Simons: In the case of an emergency, a member would call the assistance number and indicate their policy number or group number listed on the ID card. In the case of a non-emergency, a claim form can be submitted, with receipts for costs associated with the claim.
ABOUT THE CONFERENCE
Agents can learn more about risk management solutions for medical travelers by attending Simon’s presentation at the Well-Being and Medical Travel Conference, June 20-21 at the Phoenician resort in Scottsdale, Ariz.
Co-sponsored by Travel Market Report and Well-Being Travel, the conference will provide in-depth education for agents about all aspects of selling to and servicing medical travelers, including how to tap the market.
Registration for agents is $199.