Travel Insurance Set for Greater Customization and Flexibility

by Richard D’Ambrosio
Travel Insurance Set for Greater Customization and Flexibility

With years of state litigation and negotiation behind them, travel insurance companies and underwriters are looking to customize – and compete more. Photo: Shutterstock

The travel insurance industry is experiencing a resurgence of competitive, customized offerings, as it shakes off the ambiguity resulting from years-long negotiations with state regulators, industry executives and observers said.

A few weeks ago, Berkshire Hathaway Travel Protection (BHTP) launched WaveCare, a travel insurance product specifically designed for cruisers, including higher medical and evacuation coverage limits.

Meanwhile, APRIL Travel Protection just launched an innovative annual plan, offering trip cancellation coverage available in increments of $1,000, up to $5,000, along with all of the other traditional comprehensive insurance offerings. Every time an insured makes a claim, that amount is deducted from the total coverage they purchased for the year. Policies start at around $50 for $1,000 in trip cancellation coverage.

As Travel Market Report reported last year, travel insurers recently negotiated a series of Regulatory Settlement Agreements (RSAs) with a group of states who are a part of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC).

As a result, insurers and underwriters have greater clarity and alignment with state commissioners about the types of products and services that can be offered to consumers.

Additionally, a group of smaller underwriters have gone out of business as a result of their agreements, leaving the remaining competitors with a better assessment of risk tolerance for new policies and strategies, said Jason Schreier, CEO of APRIL Travel Protection.

“We’re definitely seeing more competition and innovation on the product development side,” said Stan Sandberg, co-founder of, “and also in the way people are looking at distribution.”

“I have tried for years to get an underwriter to find a way to offer cancellation insurance on an annual basis,” said Schreier about the new annual APRIL Insurance plan.

“Most have taken three steps back every time I mentioned it,” he said. “They thought we were just asking for an unlimited number of complaints. But we finally found an underwriter willing to test this thing out, and see what kind of data we get back on it.”

“Ultimately, this is good for the industry,” said Schreier. “It suggests that if state licensing becomes more simplified, that will allow for more innovation by insurers and underwriters. It’s no surprise you are seeing new products like cruise-specific packages. I think we will see more of that.”

“While we felt that our business practices already met the spirit of the agreement signed with the lead states of the NAIC’s working group on travel insurance,” said Daniel Durazo, director of communications and marketing at Allianz Global Assistance USA, “we feel now that the agreement brings clarity to issues which had previously led to confusion and uncertainty in our industry.”

Travel insurance companies are still required to file their products for approval in 51 jurisdictions (50 states and the District of Columbia), a time- and labor-consuming practice, often taking a year or more from the time a product is designed until it is ready for consumer purchase.

Industry executives are hopeful that that will grow easier over the next few years, because on Dec. 19, 2018, NAIC voted to adopt a Travel Insurance Model Law that could establish greater standardization and consistency across the industry and the country.

The Model Law would provide “additional clarity,” Durazo said. The new law still needs to be adopted in each state, and Durazo encouraged travel agents to learn more about the law and their state’s legislative process to have their voice heard. 

“Shortly after the agreement was completed, we rolled out new, proactive travel insurance benefits which makes travel insurance even more useful to consumers and to our travel agent partners. While these innovations were already in the works, the completion of the agreement has allowed us to focus more resources on developing new products and services and making our claims process simpler and faster, for the benefit of all travelers,” Durazo said.

Ultimately, Sandberg believes that more innovation, as well as enhanced transparency in terms and conditions, could help increase insurance penetration with travelers younger than the average (45-year-olds).

Finally, Sandberg believes that all indications are green for travel in 2019. The stock market gyrations in December don’t seem to have dampened enthusiasm for traveling, he said, given current travel insurance purchase trends for trips scheduled in the coming year.

“Outside of the 24-hour news cycle, we see a number of factors contributing to a solid year, including positive consumer confidence and spending. In the travel industry, I think we have more reason to be optimistic.”

Tip of the Day

“Tack on days to other trips and conferences for exploring other properties. Get the most bang for your buck on every airfare you purchase, and use any free or discounted nights you have earned to make it an affordable and personalized fam." - Suzanne Haire, Travel Advisor

Daily Top List

Five Ways to Improve Your Work Performance

1. Organize and prioritize

2. Stop multitasking

3. Avoid distractions

4. Manage Interruptions

5. Be a great finisher


TMR Recommendations
Top Stories
Personality Is Key to Crafting a Compelling Personal Brand
Personality Is Key to Crafting a Compelling Personal Brand

If you were a car, what type of car would you be? It’s not a crazy question. The car you drive usually reflects your personality, and understanding your personality is essential to creating your personal brand.

Why You Need an NDA When Selling Your Business
Why You Need an NDA When Selling Your Business

If there is no non-disclosure agreement in place, the information you share with prospective buyers can be provided to others without limit, putting your business and privacy at risk.

Can Advisors Sell Travel Through Instagram?
Can Advisors Sell Travel Through Instagram?

A favorite social media network for travel bloggers, influencers and professional advisors, Instagram is trying to become an ecommerce platform.

Big Changes Coming to Out-of-Country Travel Health Insurance Coverage for Canadians
Big Changes Coming to Out-of-Country Travel Health Insurance Coverage for Canadians

Ontario will no longer cover out-of-country travel health insurance. Here are answers to three important questions that impact travel advisors in Ontario – and across Canada.

Apple Leisure Group Addresses Travel Advisor Concerns
Apple Leisure Group Addresses Travel Advisor Concerns

Apple has named a chief human resources officer, to help blend the corporate cultures to better unite all of the brands under the OneALG.

Six Ways to Get the Best ROI at Your Next Industry Conference
Six Ways to Get the Best ROI at Your Next Industry Conference

Whether the next travel conference is in your hometown, across the country, or across the globe, here are some ideas about how to make the most of your time there.

News Briefs
TMR Report Cards & Outlooks