Challenge & Opportunity – Flu Outbreak Puts Consumer Focus on Travel Insurance

May 15, 2009

One visible effect of the recent H1N1 flu outbreak was the raised awareness of the traveling public about the importance of travel insurance. In addition to seeing daily news coverage of the outbreak itself, travelers with either existing bookings or plans to make them saw daily news stories about travel insurance. Our Travel Insured International customer care department did an outstanding job of answering questions from thousands of customers calling about their Worldwide Trip Protector plans and how their coverage would apply in the face of the H1N1 flu risk.

Everyone at Travel Insured is indebted to our travel industry partners who demonstrate their true professionalism when a sales challenge like the flu outbreak occurs. You were able to answer many clients’ travel insurance questions or, if not, were involved in getting the answers from your TII Regional Sales Manager or one of our Customer Care Representatives. Without your level of commitment, we truly would not be able to do our jobs helping your clients.

Your clients should be more aware than ever, and you should now be more willing to remind them, that travel insurance is a necessary part of any travel booking they make in the future! Here are some key points about the flu outbreak, and its coverage in our Worldwide Trip Protector family of insurance plans:

  •  If covered travelers contract H1N1 flu before or during travel, including in Mexico, coverage will be provided them for sickness medical expense as specified in the terms of their plan.
  • If covered travelers have purchased optional Cancel for Any Reason coverage, they may cancel their trip anytime up to two days before departure and receive up to 75% reimbursement of their prepaid trip cost.
  • Fear of contracting flu while traveling is unfortunately not a specific covered reason under Trip Cancellation for canceling a trip. However, customers who wish to have Trip Cancellation protection against a flu outbreak in future should purchase the Cancel for Any Reason option as the way to obtain that coverage.
  • If covered travelers are quarantined before or during travel due to an illness, coverage may be included under Trip Cancellation, Trip Interruption or Trip Delay provided the person is restricted to their home or a medical facility, not restricted from one country or destination.
  • Many travel suppliers, including cruise lines, have changed itineraries to avoid a flu outbreak. Insured travelers may be covered for Missed Port of Call coverage if their original itinerary is changed and, as a result, they forfeit their prepayment of non-refundable activities. Additionally, travel dates can be adjusted on a customer’s Worldwide Trip Protector plan if they have not filed a claim and have not yet departed on the trip.
  • Travel Insured’s Worldwide Emergency Travel Assistance is a service included with every plan we sell. Your clients can contact this service, with a free call from anywhere, whenever they need emergency medical assistance during their trip!

Agent Advisory – Do Your Clients Have Passports for June 1 Cruise, Border Deadline?

May 12, 2009

The U.S. State Department web site now has a “countdown clock”counting down the days, hours, minutes and seconds to June 1, when new passport or passport card requirements go into effect. After several postponements to give citizens more time to obtain passport documents, the government will put the land and sea requirements of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) into force.

U.S. citizens entering the United States at sea or land ports of entry from Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean or Bermuda must have a passport or passport card. U.S. citizen children under the age of 16 will be able to present the original or copy of their birth certificate, or other proof of U.S. citizenship such as a naturalization certificate or citizenship card. The Passport Card, available through the State Department, costs $45 and is valid for 10 years for adults or 5 years for children under age 16. It is important to note that the cards, while good for a cruise or land re-entry to the U.S. are not good for international travel, which requires a full passport. This means that if there is an emergency requiring a flight home from outside the U.S., lack of a regular passport for entry could create a hassle and a delay.

Find out more information about the passport card. Regular passports, valid for all international travel and border crossings are priced at $100 per adult and $85 per child under age 16. Passport renewals by mail are $75. Go to http: travel.state.gov and click “Passports” for more information.

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Department issued a statement in late May saying U.S. and Canadian citizens who lacked proper documents, but are otherwise admissible to the U.S., will NOT be denied entry, such as those returning to the same U.S. port they departed from on a cruise. Those travelers are encouraged to continue their travel plans. However, the government officials are still urging travelers to become compliant to the law requiring passports, passport cards of the new U.S. Customs enhanced drivers’ licenses as soon as possible to avoid unnecessary cross border hassles.


Group Insurance – Insure Family Reunions for 10 or More & Recommend Options

May 12, 2009

Summer vacation time is also family reunion time and Travel Insured has updated our group protection plans just in time for your clients’ mid-year rendezvous. It is now possible for family groups of 10 or more to travel on the same Group Lite or Group Deluxe plan. Group coverage provides affordable yet strong protection with the requirement that all the group members travel on the same dates and itinerary. They need not, however, be originating from the same airport if headed to the same destination on the same day. The plans can be sold as either inclusive, requiring all members to buy the coverage, or voluntary with each member deciding to accept or decline.

It is important for family groups to consider a Cancel for Any Reason option, which must be purchased within 14 days of the initial trip deposit. It is especially valuable if the family reunion is going to be a destination wedding. Here’s why: a disagreement among members that results in someone deciding not to take the trip is not a covered reason for Trip Cancellation. The Cancel for Any Reason option allows a member to cancel up to two days before the scheduled departure date and obtain up to 75% of the prepaid non-refundable trip cost in reimbursement.


Sales Tip – Keep TII Coverage if a Supplier Changes Dates or Destination

May 12, 2009

Many travel suppliers, such as airlines, cruise lines and tour operators, have been working with customers to reroute or reschedule travel arrangements due to the flu outbreak in Mexico with no penalties or fees. We are able to adjust the travel dates on your client’s policy provided they have not filed a claim, their new travel dates are within 18 months of their original insurance application date, and they have not yet departed on their trip.   If the supplier is charging your client a change fee, we will not be able to cover that unless your client files a claim on their existing policy. If they choose to file a claim, they will need to purchase a new policy for the new trip.

You can find answers to more of your clients’ questions about insurance coverage related to the H1N1 Flu outbreak by visiting the news section of www.travelinsured.com and clicking on the flu update, or by linking here .


Industry News – Interactive Travel Assoc. Says Flu Not Proving Fatal to Travel

May 12, 2009

The Washington D.C.-based Interactive Travel Services Association (ITSA) said that the American traveling public is following President Obama’s advice to “use prudence, not panic” in planning travel in the wake of the H1N1 flu outbreak in Mexico. ITSA’s Executive Director Art Sackler issued reassuring news on May 5, following an informal poll of his online agent membership, which includes companies like Expedia, Travelocity and Orbitz. Sackler reported that “according to Global Distribution System and Online Travel Company members of the Interactive Travel Services Association, business and leisure travel continues, despite a decline to Mexico as travelers proceed with caution. Our members are seeing very few cancellations outside of Mexico.”

Sackler said many ITSA members were waiving change and cancellation fees in order to rebook clients to new travel destinations. “There are no advisories concerning travel to or throughout the US, to Europe, the Caribbean and a host of other destinations,” Sackler’s ITSA announcement added. “Travelers can take advantage of extraordinary savings and value now for business and leisure trips in many locations outside of Mexico. By exercising caution and some common sense, and guided by the advice of WHO [World Health Organization] and CDC [Center for Disease Control], travelers can still go ahead with their plans without undue concern throughout much of the world.”


Industry Events – TII National Accounts Mgr. Herlihy to Join Home-Based Expo Panel

May 12, 2009

Travel Insured International’s Manager of National Accounts Kevin Herlihy has been invited by James Shillinglaw, Editor-in-Chief at Performance Media Group and its Travel Pulse online news service, to appear on a supplier panel at Performance Media’s upcoming “Virtual Home-Based Agent Expo,” slated to stream online on Tuesday and Wednesday, June 2 and 3rd. Agents can register for free at the site to view the panel from their own computer on those days, and will also be able to view a video of the session on demand through September 2, 2009.

The panel, according to Shillinglaw, will be on the topic of new “Revenue Opportunities for Home-Based Agents from Ancillary Sales.” Herlihy will discuss sales and earnings opportunities for home-based agents in selling travel insurance. Other panelists discussing opportunities with moderator Shillinglaw will be Rail Europe’s Vice President of Sales Peter Rahaman and Auto Europe’s New York Regional Sales Director Joseph Maniscalco..

Herlihy, who has been with Travel Insured since 2000, is familiar to many industry agents and suppliers through his frequent appearances representing Travel Insured at industry trade events. Home-Based and other agents can learn more details about the upcoming show by visiting its dedicated web site at www.virtualhomebasedexpo.com.


Technology Update: Help Shrink our Carbon Footprint – Get Your TII Commission Statement Online

May 12, 2009

Environmental issues are increasingly part of our day-to-day operations at Travel Insured. Starting on June 15th, and on the 15th of each month thereafter, your monthly commission statement is available to you by visiting the agency side of our web site at www.travelinsured.com. If you are not yet ready to give up your mailed statement, you can still opt to receive it. Here is how to obtain either your online or mailed commission statement.

1. Log in as usual to the agent side of the web site (www.travelinsured.com) and land on the “Agent Administration” Page.

2. Go to “Agency Setup.”

3. If you want to continue receiving the monthly printed commission statement by mail check the box under Agency Setup that says: “I want to receive a paper commission statement.”

4. If you want to save time and eliminate mail, go to “Commission Statements” below the Agency Setup. You will see your agency name and number. Use the pull down screen to find the month for the statement you request.

5. Click on “click here” to download a pdf file of your commission statement.

We hope you will help us reduce paper mail.