USA Today Travel Report Spotlights TII’s Job Loss Protection

June 16, 2009

Media Update:

USA Today travel columnist Bill McGee turned his attention to job loss protection in travel insurance in his monthly “On the Road” column posted May 24, 2009. McGee reviewed the newest developments in coverage allowing Trip Cancellation for booked travelers when they lose their job between initial deposit and their trip. He described Travel Insured International’s Cancel for Work Reasons option, introduced in March of this year partly in response to consumer demand. The option, McGee noted, upgrades job loss coverage from the standard protection for loss of a job held three continuous years to protection for a job held only one year prior to its being lost.

McGee also noted that the Cancel for Work Reasons option, priced at $24, allows trip cancellations for a broad range of work-related issues, including a documented work conflict; a company made unsuitable to do business due to a natural disaster, vandalism, or burglary; a company involved in an acquisition or merger in which the insured is directly involved; or the relocation of the insured’s job and primary residence 250 miles or more.

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National Weather Service Predicts Between 4 and 7 2009 Hurricanes

June 16, 2009

Risk Advisory:

The National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center has issued its forecast for the 2009 hurricane season, which runs from June 1 until Nov. 30. The prediction is for a 50% chance of a “near normal” season of moderate storm activity in the Atlantic. NWS forecasters look for between 9 and 14 named storms, of which between 4 and 7 storms may become hurricanes. There is an expectation that one of the hurricanes could be a Category 3 or greater, meaning a storm with minimum 111 m.p.h. sustained winds.

Hurricane seasons have been marked by surprises in recent years, and travel agents should always recommend that their clients add travel insurance in preparation for the unexpected. Last year was the first year ever for two hurricane statistics. There were six consecutive named storms, including four hurricanes, that struck the mainland U.S. during the season. There was also a category 3 hurricane in the Atlantic during each of five consecutive months, including Bertha in July, Gustav in August, Ike in September, Omar in October and Paloma in November. Agents should also remind their clients that in 2005, after 15 named storms and 9 hurricanes were predicted for the season, there were subsequently 28 named storms and 15 hurricanes, including the majors Katrina, which struck New Orleans, and Wilma, which struck Cancun.

Travel Insured’s Worldwide Trip Protector line of plans include Trip Cancellation, Trip Interruption, Trip Delay, Missed  Port of Call and Missed Connection, which can be triggered by a hurricane or other disruptive weather activity. Not all plans include all coverage and clients should consult the terms and conditions of each plan for the specific coverage and plan costs that work for them. Clients concerned about traveling when a storm is potentially heading toward their destination might consider a Cancel for Any Reason upgrade as their best option. By buying the Cancel for Any Reason upgrade within 14 days of their initial trip deposit, clients may cancel up to two or more days prior to their scheduled departure date for up to a 75% reimbursement of their non-refundable prepaid vacation costs. Remember that the Cancel for Any Reason option must be purchased before the storm is named for coverage to apply!


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.


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.”


School Make-Up Days Can Ruin a Trip; Travel Insured Can Save It!

February 17, 2009

Consumer Alert

Schools from Arkansas to Alaska to Connecticut have been rescheduling and extending their class calendars this spring semester to make up for days canceled earlier this school year due to snow and ice storms in one of the worst winters in years. Make-up days, whether taking place during spring breaks or at the end of the school year in June, can disrupt prepaid, scheduled travel departures. Rebooking airline and hotel reservations can be difficult to impossible given recent cutbacks in flight schedules and hefty fees attached by carriers to any flight changes by passengers.

Most Travel Insured Worldwide Trip Protector plans allow for Trip Cancellation or Trip Interruption coverage when “the primary or secondary school where you or your dependant children attend must extend their operating session beyond the school year due to unforeseen events commencing during your plan effective period, and the travel dates for your trip fall within the period of the school year extension.”

The coverage means that when your clients already have their Trip Protector plan in effect when the snow days and school cancellations occur that lead to the school calendar being extended for make-up days, and your trip is disrupted due to trip dates conflicting with the school make-up dates, your Trip Cancellation or Trip Interruption coverage can fully protect your insured trip costs.