Given the widespread uncertainty in our world today, most travelers understand the need to have travel insurance. And most will agree to purchase it, if the option is presented in a clear way by their trusted travel advisor.
The best time to start a dialogue with clients about travel insurance is as early in the booking process as possible. For example, you could say something like, “Once we have your itinerary all set, let’s chat about how we can help protect you and your travel investments.” That way, insurance is properly positioned upfront as an important element of their trip, instead of as a surprise add-on item later on.
Here are some conversation starters, to help travel advisors introduce the topic of travel insurance to their clients.
1. “The world is changing and there are so many dangers out there. It’s good to be protected.”
This is a phrase that Marco Ruiz, a travel consultant at AAA Travel Monterey, uses effectively with his clients. He will then say something to effect of, “What might be only $60 now [for travel insurance] could cost thousands if anyone in your travel party has to be brought back home unexpectedly from abroad.” Ruiz said that 99% of his clients purchase travel insurance.
Another idea is to follow up your conversation-starter statement with a story about a travel nightmare that someone you know experienced, and how having travel insurance saved the day. Sue Doyle, a travel agent at Montecito Village Travel, in Santa Barbara, California, gave this example: “Back when the tsunami hit Japan [in 2011], I had three firefighters going to Hawaii, then Korea, and onto Japan. When they got to Korea, the tsunami hit Japan. Friends said, ‘You can’t get here – the roads are flooded.’” Their tickets home were $1,800 each. Fortunately, their insurance company paid the claim.
2. “We always strongly advise protecting your travel investments.”
“It’s our responsibility to ensure that our clients’ funds are always protected. So, we always advise them to get trip insurance,” said Kristin Bodin, owner of Acadiana Travel, in Lafayette, Louisiana. “Typically, we bring it up in the initial conversation, and go over what’s covered – trip cancellation, medical, baggage coverage, trip delay, car rental insurance, lost luggage insurance, and it all comes in one package. Then once the total package price is confirmed, at that point, we talk more about travel insurance.”
Doyle said she “tries to mention travel insurance in the first quote, because when we book packages with cruise lines or tour operators, they’ll include quotes of their own policies. But, I like to compare, for instance, Apple Travel with a third-party provider. A lot of times, it works out better to do a separate, third-party policy.”
Doyle also noted that, “I try to get them to commit to travel insurance when they buy the first non-refundable purchase. But, if we know there will be more non-refundable parts of the trip coming through over the next few days, we hold off until we have all the segments.”
Jonathan Phillips, luxury travel specialist/destination specialist at Cassis Travel Services, in Phoenix, Arizona, also marks the first trip deposit as a good touchpoint for the travel insurance discussion.
3. “I personally never travel without insurance.”
This is where you can share a personal story, or that of a friend or family member or client, that highlights the value of travel insurance. Doyle, for instance, tells the tale of when she, her husband and their two children took a trip to Washington, D.C. The Phoenix-Dulles-Syracuse plan was interrupted, and they were facing a situation at the airport with no flights available for three days. Instead, they rented a car and drove to their destination. Since they would be in the car for quite a while, they chose a larger vehicle, so they incurred a greater expense. The insurance claim was about $800 for changes because of the trip interruption – and they paid it.
4. “Given the climate of the area where you’re traveling, I definitely recommend getting travel insurance for this trip.”
Start with this phrase and then give examples of seasonal weather patterns related to both your client’s outbound locations and their final destination. Note that travel delays due to thunderstorms, hurricanes, or even winter storms from their departure or arrival locations could cause them to lose a portion of their trip and/or incur additional travel costs – and explain how travel insurance would be particularly helpful in that case.
Remind clients that travel insurance is designed to protect against unforeseeable weather. So, once a storm is named, it is not eligible for coverage. Tell them it is always best to buy insurance upfront.
5. “I always recommend insuring your trip, so you can completely relax and enjoy it.”
Any good better-safe-than-sorry story will drive home this point. Explain to your clients how insuring their trip will help them to relax and fully enjoy it, putting their mind at ease, knowing there will be assistance if any issues arise that are out of their control.
Talk about the emotional benefits of worrying less about common travel issues, like non-refundable cancellations, delays, lost bags, and even medical emergencies. For clients traveling abroad, also mention that the U.S. State Department recommends that travelers review their health plan information before traveling abroad – because most personal health insurance plans don’t apply outside of the U.S.
These are just some ideas to help you initiate a travel insurance conversation with your clients. Develop your own script, and practice it, so that offering insurance becomes another smoothly operating cog in your complete wheel of travel services.
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