By Molly Jensen
What exactly is travel assistance? You know you have it, there’s a little blurb about it being included in your travel-insurance policy, but what would you even use it for?
I’ll tell you: a lot of stuff.
Travel assistance can help with basically anything related to traveling – travel alerts, weather alerts, lost luggage, roadside assistance, help with lost or stolen documents, reservations, concierge services, and more. Honestly, if you’re traveling and you call with any sort of travel-related issue or question, travel assistance can help in some capacity.
Car break down while driving cross-country and need to get in contact with the nearest towing company? Travel assistance can help.
Can’t seem to find a hotel room for tonight? Tell travel assistance the city where you want to stay and they can find a place for you.
You need the newest pair of Nike shoes and want to know the closest store that has them? A travel assistant can help.
To really get a feel for travel assistance, I went to our own call center, MyAssist, which takes calls 24/7/365, not only for BHTP customers but for a variety of other companies. I shadowed the ever helpful Britney, who’s been with the company for a couple of years, and she gave me the low-down on not only travel assistance, but also what happens if you call to make a claim with BHTP. While the two situations are different, they’re similar in the sense that you have to provide a lot of the same information.
When you call travel assistance, the person providing assistance is going to want to know the name on the account, your location, and what exactly you need help with – which leads to knowing what you want to do, where you want to go, and how many people would be involved. If you’re filing a claim, they’ll want to know the policy number, who’s involved, their location at the time and their current location, and what exactly happened.
Provide all relevant information, but don’t feel like you have to give every tiny detail. Travel assistants don’t need to know that you left your hotel with a quarter-tank of gas and you would’ve been able to make it to Bismarck, N.D., had it not been for the fact that you got off the interstate to check out the Enchanted Highway and now you’re back on the interstate and your gas light went on so you called them. Just tell them you’re on I-94 heading east and you need to know where the next gas station is.
On the flip side, don’t get offended if they ask a lot of semi-private questions. The assistants can’t do their job unless they have the details they need. If you’re looking to file a claim for trip interruption, they have to make sure that your situation is covered under trip interruption. Maybe it’s actually a trip-delay situation; they don’t know unless they ask.
The thing to remember about travel assistance is you’re talking to people like you. While you’re on the phone, don’t be rude, keep your temper in check, and don’t blame them for situations they can’t control. Yeah, it’d be great to see the Adele concert tonight, but it’s not the travel assistant’s fault they can’t get you a ticket because it’s been sold out for five months.
And because travel assistants are people, they can get to know you. Britney told me about customers that she knows by name because those customers have called enough that she’s gotten to know them on a more personal level. Imagine how nice that would be if you were frantically calling travel assistance because you lost your passport somewhere on Svalbard, and you found yourself talking to your old travel-assistance pal Britney.
One last note: Remember that travel assistance is a service, so you have to pay for it. Whether it’s included in your travel-insurance policy or you have a subscription, it’s a service just like calling up the cable guy or seeing your personal trainer. And if you think travel assistants won’t notice, they do. Britney told me a story about a customer who was always just getting around paying for his assistance. He was cut off.
And if you do have it, might as well take advantage.
Molly Jensen is a member of the marketing team at Berkshire Hathaway Travel Protection.