Over the last five or so years, travel insurance has become more of a staple in the travel buying experience of many consumers. One travel advisor said that 99% of his clients buy travel insurance, while another said 80% opt in for it, and a representative from a host agency said 100% of the agents they train sell travel insurance on every transaction.
The trend is undeniable. If you’re not offering travel insurance to your clients, here are five good reasons to start, without delay.
1. Clients can recoup their travel investment if a trip is interrupted or canceled.
Forbes reported results from a study that said, on average, Americans spend 10% of their annual income on vacations. That’s a big enough investment to warrant taking preemptive action to protect it.
“Some trips are very expensive, and we all work hard for our money,” said Marco Ruiz, a travel consultant at AAA Travel Monterey. “You might think you’re super healthy and nothing will happen to your vacation, but sometimes it does, or something happens to someone in your family, and you can’t go on your trip. If you spend a good amount of money on your trip and you don’t have insurance, the airlines or tour operators, for example, don’t give you your money back.”
But, with third-party travel insurance, travelers can be reimbursed for eligible prepaid, non-refundable trip costs if they must cancel for a covered reason.
Even less dramatic interruptions to a vacation can wreak havoc with a traveler’s experience. For instance, if a flight gets delayed, and a client misses their cruise departure, without insurance, they’ll be out a lot of money and dealing with a lot of hassle. With the proper insurance plan, they’ll be reimbursed for eligible costs like a hotel for the night, meals, and transportation to catch up with their cruise.
2. Protection is provided against unforeseen events.
Anything can happen these days, as people travel the globe. Sue Doyle, a travel agent at Montecito Village Travel, in Santa Barbara, California, shared a story about a client who bought a ticket to Finland to see the Northern Lights. It was an exciting trip, complete with a dog sled as transportation on one leg of the experience. Here’s what happened: “My client got on the plane to go to Helsinki. But a truck collided with the plane and it couldn’t take off. They had to stay overnight. They had three-nights, non-refundable accommodations booked at their destination. So, we filed a claim.” For the covered delay, the insurance company paid $1,200 - something the client certainly appreciated.
3. Medical benefits help mitigate against big-ticket emergencies.
Every seasoned travel agent has their stories about how travel insurance saved the day in a medical emergency for their clients. Jonathan Phillips, luxury travel specialist/destination specialist at Cassis Travel Services, in Phoenix, Arizona, recounted this one: “I had an incident where my client decided not to take insurance. I then sent him an automatic email saying, ‘Thank you for declining …’ After reading it, he decided to buy insurance. On their trip, they took a shore excursion on a donkey in the Treasury [aka Al Khazneh] in Jordan. Unfortunately, the donkey kicked, and one of the insured was behind it. It was a very bad kick, and the insured was treated at a local hospital and overnighted, and they were flown back to the ship to carry on with their cruise.”
Fortunately, the client had decided to buy the third-party travel insurance that Phillips recommended, and he was covered in the unexpected incident. He would have been out of luck with a private U.S. medical plan or Medicare, which do not typically provide coverage outside of the country.
Even more extreme medical situations sometimes take place on vacations - and travel advisors need to make their clients aware of that possibility, so they can plan accordingly. Geoffrey Cox, VP of sales at KHM Travel (a host agency based in Brunswick, Ohio, with 5,000 independent contractors around the country) said: “Most people can handle a $500 hit to their vacation plans if something goes wrong. But most people can’t handle a $50,000 hit because someone had a heart attack and was taken to a hospital in Jamaica.”
Furthermore, “There are some hospitals that will not let you out without payment,” said Kristin Bodin, owner of Acadiana Travel, in Lafayette, Louisiana. “If you have travel insurance, most offer medical coverage as well – it comes along with trip cancellation. The insurance company can send a letter of intent to the hospital saying that they will pay, so you can be released.”
4. Global assistance service provides peace of mind in emergencies.
Some travel insurance providers “offer a global concierge, so there is always someone to contact if the need arises – if it’s medical, if it’s a safety issue,” said Bodin. “[One provider has] an app that, wherever you are in the world, you can look at the app and get the number of the closest hospital, police, restaurants, or help with changing flights, etc.”
Travel advisors can’t realistically be there for their clients 24/7, but a travel insurance provider can step in to help in most any situation, from a lost passport or stolen wallet, to a medical emergency or a natural disaster.
5. Significant travel issues can be solved with little effort.
“Significant travel issues can be resolved with very little effort, if you just have travel insurance,” said Cox. “If not, you have to beg the hotels, write letters … just because a flight was delayed because of a storm. If the client had travel insurance, they would just have to submit a claim, and get reimbursed. From my perspective, it saves us time and protects the customer.”
Doyle concurs: “Travel insurance is good for everybody. Good for the clients. Good for agents. And if something goes wrong, everybody’s protected. It’s a win-win.”
FROM THE SPONSOR: Allianz Global Assistance is a leader in the travel insurance industry, protecting over 40 million customers annually with innovative products and award-winning service. With 24/7/365 travel assistance and operation centers in over 30 countries, we can help travelers anytime, practically anywhere in the world. And we don’t outsource any part of our customer experience. We handle customer service, travel assistance, and claims in-house with one of the highest customer satisfaction ratings in the industry. When your clients purchase Allianz Travel Insurance, they not only receive benefits that can reimburse them if their trip is canceled or interrupted, they also get more confidence. And you can be confident knowing that if your clients need us, we’ll be there to help - on the phone, online, on social media, and through our popular TravelSmartTM mobile app. We’re more than travel insurance, we’re travel protection. To learn more about the Allianz Advantage and becoming a partner, please visit www.inwithallianz.com.