One of the most important decisions a traveler can make is the decision to take travel insurance. And one of the most important decisions a travel professional can make is what travel insurance to offer that traveler.
So what should be your criteria for evaluating a potential travel-insurance partner? Every travel business is going to have slightly different yardsticks, but there are some helpful questions you can ask yourself regardless of your circumstance.
The first question to ask is: What’s going to do the best job of covering my customers when they’re traveling? This seems obvious, but this is the starting point for evaluating a travel-insurance carrier. Do they have what my customers need?
There are several ways of answering this question.
One approach is to look at how old your travelers are. How are they communicating with you? What’s important to them besides travel?
If your customers are younger – Millennials, perhaps – then they probably prefer to communicate via text, Facebook, Twitter, even Snapchat. They’ll be best-served by a travel insurer that can reach them through their mobile device, ideally over multiple platforms. Remember: While the majority of trips covered by travel insurance go off without a hitch, if there are problems you want your customers to have an insurance company that talks to them over a channel they use.
The next approach is to look at your customer base. Where are they going? How are they getting there? What are they doing once they get there?
As a travel professional, part of your value comes from the fact that you can answer these questions better than anyone. And once you have these answers, you can match them against the strong points of various carriers.
For instance, your clients may prefer cruises, destination vacations, or all-inclusives. For them, the product itself is going to be most important, and the most desirable features may be robust trip-cancellation/interruption protection and medical coverage. In a case like this, a site that compares multiple travel insurers may be a good resource for comparing many different products at a glance. Visit the site and shop around. Is there one carrier that consistently delivers those product attributes at a good price? They might be worth investigating.
Now, if your customer base includes a lot of travelers whose trips fall outside the bounds of traditional travel insurance, you might need to look a little further afield. For instance, if you have a significant number of travelers who are taking flights to their destinations but don’t want or need coverage beyond that, you might want to consider a product like AirCare, from Berkshire Hathaway Travel Protection. AirCare provides coverage for a wide range of flight mishaps at a reasonable price.
Speaking of price, remember: Product over price. The price differences among comparable products are negligible. What matters is coverage — and by coverage we mean the insurance coverage as well as the service behind it. The best travel-insurance policy in the world is worthless if it doesn’t have people who can process claims quickly, pay claims quickly, and take care of travelers who really need help.
At the end of your decision tree, you want to cover as many trips as possible. It’s not only good business, but it’s good for your travelers. The key is to have the right product mix – just enough products to cover almost all the trips your travelers take, but not too many products that you and your customers feel overwhelmed by the choices presented to them.
After all, the only things that should overwhelm travelers are the sights they see when they’re traveling.