Tip of the Month: It’s Crunch Time!

March 16, 2009

Isaac Cymrot

Isaac Cymrot

As we approach the heart of wave season in March 2009 we look at uneven reports showing the current strength and struggles of the travel industry. ARC reports show a 25% decrease in airline ticket sales. Yet cruise lines are reporting record sales. Do these disjointed results mean the industry is doing well or being hit hard by the recession? Based on my conversations with many of you, I believe there is a mixed answer.

Whether you find your bookings are busy or slow, there is one constant I hear from everyone: “I have to sell the tour supplier insurance this year. It is the right thing to do for my client.”

This attitude has me scratching my head for several reasons. Please answer this question: Have things really changed that much this year? I am well aware of two reasons for your current belief in supplier insurance:

  • Cancel for Any Reason
  • Price

Let us look first at Cancel for Any Reason coverage.  The point has been made many times why tour suppliers’ policies are not the best coverage for your client.  Most of you agree with the reasons our sales team have presented to you. With supplier policies now regaining popularity, I must repeat the question: What has dramatically changed in the past three months to make these policies a better option for your client?  When you step back and examine them, the honest answer must be: “Nothing!”

Some of them have added job loss coverage, but we have also made those changes.  In case you missed the announcement, our Cancel for Work Reasons option now covers for job loss after the insured has served one year of continuous employment with the same company where the job is lost. Our regular job loss coverage without the Cancel for Work Reasons option has always been, and remains, three years of continuous employment.
Price is the reason given for selecting supplier insurance that most alarms me. It should also alarm you. These supplier policy prices have not changed.  Many of the tour supplier policy premiums, in fact, have increased!  Customers are now forced to pay extra premium to receive cash back and other “premium” packages.

When you are booking trips for your clients at a lower travel price per person due to the deep market discounts being offered, then insurance pricing should never be an issue.  For example, when you book a trip costing $1,001 to $1,500 per person, our Worldwide Trip Protector insurance premium ranges from $53 to $117 for your clients depending on their age between 0 and 75.  When you sell a discounted cruise at $799 the premium is $41 to $89.
I would understand a priority for insurance price savings if there was a difference of $250 or more for supplier insurance when covering more expensive trips. Based on my conversations with many agents, however, expensive trips are not the norm right now. This is primarily a discounted, thrift-minded travel market in 2009.

For many of you sales are at a premium this year. This is because either your overall volume is down, or because you are selling much lower-cost trips that earn you less travel commission per sale.  Either way you need to maximize your return on sales and bring cash in your door sooner, not later.  Third-party travel insurance is the only product you can sell that pays you cash immediately, and in the process protects your travel commissions over $100.

Ask yourself these key questions: When your booked client does not travel until 2010, when do you earn that travel commission?  When you sell your client the tour supplier’s insurance, and they do not pay in full at the time of booking, when will you get paid the insurance commission?

Sales are at a premium this year, whether your volume is down or you are selling trips at much lower price points earning less commission per sale.  Either way you need to maximize your return and get cash in the door now.  Third-party travel insurance is the only product you sell that pays you cash immediately and protects your commission over $100.

Now more then ever you need to be a consultant to your clients.  Do not fall into the trap that you cannot offer the third party insurance if it is more expensive.  If you do not ask you are guaranteed not to get the sale.  You may be surprised at the response you will get even if the premium is $250 more than the tour supplier’s plan.


Travel Insured has Coverage Response to T&L’s 10 “Worst Disasters”

March 13, 2009

Emergency Preparedness

Travel & Leisure Magazine in January published a slide show on its 10 “Worst-Case” Travel Disasters, and cited U.S. Travel Insurance Association statistics showing more than 67 million Americans in 2006 spent $1.3 billion trying to protect against them.

Here is a rundown of Travel & Leisure’s 10 worst situations (in quotes below) and the corresponding Travel Insured WTP coverage or service that addresses them.

1. “hurricanes and natural disasters”: Trip Cancellation in all Worldwide Trip Protector plans includes coverage for these events.

2. “pirates”: all Travel Insured WTP plans include Trip Interruption coverage due to either a hijacking or an act declared to be terrorism by the U.S. State Department.

3. “scam artists, especially credit card frauds”: ID Theft Recovery Assistance, included with our WTP signature comprehensive and WTP Gold  plans, helps your client with recovery of credit after being a victim of fraud .

4. “getting frighteningly lost”: Travel Insured’s Worldwide Emergency Assistance, included in every WTP plan, helps lost clients with directions or hotel bookings.

5. “airline bankruptcy:”  All WTP plans, except for WTP Lite, include Trip Cancellation / Interruption coverage for travel supplier defaults or bankruptcies.

6. “Emergency medical evacuation to substandard facilities:” Emergency Medical Evacuation, and Emergency Medical Assistance, included in all WTP plans, covers MedEvac from a destination to appropriate medical treatment by U.S. standards.

7. “Lost passport:” Our Worldwide Emergency Assistance, available 24/7 from anywhere, provides access to passport replacement assistance with every WTP plan.

8. “Being stranded without cash:” Our Worldwide Emergency Travel Assistance can also arrange for an emergency cash advance.

9. “Medical Emergency in an aircraft, especially on an overwater flight:” Emergency Medical Evacuation, and Emergency Medical Assistance, included in all WTP plans, provides for the MedEvac to appropriate medical treatment by U.S. standards.

10. “Being arrested for unwittingly breaking the law.” Travel Insured’s Worldwide Emergency Assistance, included in every WTP plan, can arrange bail bonds and needed legal referrals.

Arrest of Airport Baggage Handlers Spotlights Need for Coverage

March 13, 2009

Risk Alert

The arrest of 10 baggage handlers for grand larceny at Connecticut’s Bradley International Airport on March 2nd was reported in the Hartford Courant newspaper. The report gave official statistics on the problem of baggage or their contents that disappear while passing through the U.S. aviation security system administered by the TSA (Transportation Security Administration). For the fiscal year ended Sept. 30, 2009, the TSA received 17,500 claims for lost, damaged or stolen items. The Hartford newspaper reviewed TSA records showing 49,132 claims for loss or theft between 2002 and 2008. According to David Stepler, president of the Air Travelers Association, several factors actually keep the number of baggage claims down. One is that goods are often not discovered lost until the travelers get home. Another is that people doubt their ability to prove a theft on which a possible recovery of lost items could be achieved. A third factor is that baggage handlers at smaller airports are often third-party contractors who are not constantly supervised as they handle baggage. Additionally, according to the report, TSA fired 465 security officers between May 2003 and October 2008.

Travel Insured’s Baggage & Personal Effects Coverage ranges from $1,000 on a Worldwide Trip Protector Lite Plan to $1,500 on a Worldwide Trip Protector Comprehensive or Lite Expanded Plan to $2,500 on a WTP Gold Plan. Our Baggage Delay Coverage, which provides reimbursement for replacing necessities when your baggage is delayed or misdirected for a minimum of 12 or 24 hours, depending upon the WTP plan in effect, after your arrival at your destination. Reimbursement ranges from $300 to $500, again depending on the selected WTP plan.

MSNBC Lists 6 Questions to Ask Before Buying Trip Insurance

March 13, 2009

Buyer Beware

MSNBC travel columnist Christopher Elliott, who also writes travel for CNN, reported on March 9 that “there’s been a dramatic uptick in the number of insurance-relative complaints I’ve received.” The spike occurred, said Elliott, after three related Colorado-based travel protection companies stopped doing business after becoming targets of Colorado and Florida state investigations over whether they complied with insurance licensing requirements. Elliott recommended that consumers ask six (6) key questions before buying travel insurance to make sure the company they select is a legally-compliant provider of coverage:

1.  What do they call it? The name of the plan can be a giveaway.  Is it a “protection” plan or a “travel insurance” plan? There’s an important difference. Insurance is regulated by your state, according to Steve Dasseos, president of TripInsuranceStore.com. Trip protection isn’t. A clever travel agent may refer to a protection policy as “insurance” but the contract will tell you otherwise. “The phrase ‘travel insurance’ is tossed around, making it sound like every type of protection plan is a real insurance plan,” he says. It isn’t.

2. Is it backed by a legitimate underwriter?

3. Have you shopped around? “Review your options…it is always best to work with a travel professional,” said Elliott.

4. Is it being sold by a licensed agent?

5. Did you read the policy? He notes that only the printed insurance policy, not verbal promises, count when making a claim.

6. Are you aware of any tricky clauses? Elliott recommends checking on each policy’s Pre-Existing Medical Condition coverage and report any unresolved problem to the state department of insurance.

Trip Insurance is “More Important”: Wall St. Journal Tells Why

March 13, 2009

Consumer Media

An article titled “Road Hazards,” written by Anne Tergesen and published on Feb. 14 in the Wall Street Journal, offered strong endorsement for purchasing comprehensive insurance, including Trip Cancellation, from a third-party insurer and not from a travel supplier. “There are good reasons to opt for the more comprehensive policies,” the article said. “…These policies reimburse you for the nonrefundable expenses you’ve paid if your trip falls through for reasons covered in the fine print and in some cases, for any reason at all.”

The WSJ article also offered a reason cited by Ed Walker of the U.S. Travel Insurance Association for travelers to avoid buying travel suppliers’ own policies: “Tour or cruise operators often sell policies of their own,” the article noted. “While the [suppliers] sometimes negotiate better rates from carriers, these policies generally wouldn’t provide reimbursement if the tour or cruise company were to shut down.”

New Travel Insured Web Pages Put Sales Tools on Your Desktop

March 13, 2009

Technology Update

At Travel Insured our IT department never stops working to improve our online sales tools designed to help agents add more insurance plans to client bookings. Our team wants to help clients quickly find the insurance information they need to reach a buy decision. Here are some of the newest pages recently posted.

 Travel Insured’s home page now has more information for those first learning about insurance. Find new links to coverage needs and cost pages

 This new page provides coverage answers to the question: “What do I need for Trip Insurance?”

This new page describes the different types of Worldwide Trip Protector plans available.

This page describes how competing plans have similar costs and suggests more important deciding factors.

This page reviews Emergency Medevac, Concierge Services and ID Theft Recovery Assistance.

This “about us” backgrounder page includes links to consumer and agent testimonials about their experiences with Travel Insured..

Read consumers testimonials about the service they received from Travel Insured.

Read travel agent partners’ testimonials  about how Travel Insured helped their clients in time of need.

Answering “why travel insurance?” this page focuses on medical coverage.

This page tells why “cheap travel insurance” leaves potentially costly gaps in needed coverage.

 Agent Home Page: After login, see how to increase sales with insurance web pages:

 Special Agent Page – check desktop travel templates available as insurance links.

Travel Insured Launches New Airline Ticket Protector

March 13, 2009

airline-ticketProduct News

Travel Insured International, responding to growing service and change fees connected with airline tickets, and increased focus on budgeting ticket costs for both family and business travel, has launched the new Airline Ticket Protector plan. Agents now have a plan that delivers cost-effective and comprehensive coverage to their clients for airline tickets. The product, available only by online purchase , features a generous schedule of included and optional benefits. It has a mix of coverage upgraded from Travel Insured’s former Airline Ticket Protector with coverage newly available and not previously offered in this product.

The new plan puts the top level of available Trip Cost for Trip Cancellation at $3,500, much higher than the previous plan’s maximum $1,000 ticket cost coverage. Additionally, the new plan has a $500 Missed Connection, not included in the old plan, and a $500 Trip Delay benefit (with no daily limit), up from $100 Trip Delay limit in the old plan. A $1,000 benefit for Baggage & Personal Effects is a new Airline Ticket Protector inclusive feature, while Baggage Delay of $200 doubles the coverage limit found in our previous airline plan.

Air travelers can opt to purchase Flight Accident Insurance (up to $1 million), as well as combined Medical Protection ($50,000) and Emergency MedEvac ($250,000) with the Airline Ticket Protector. Cancel for Any Reason is a new option offered for an additional 50% premium. An optional new Collision Damage Waiver ($50,000) is available for $7 per day. Those who purchase Airline Ticket Protector within 14 days of their initial trip deposit, expanded from the 5-day purchase deadline in the earlier airline plan, can qualify for a waiver allowing coverage based on a Pre-Existing medical condition. All options in the plan must be selected and additional premium for options paid, on the Airline Ticket Protector application.