Travelers Booking Shorter, Affordable Trips on Shorter Notice

July 13, 2009

InsureMyTrip Sales Data:

The online travel insurance aggregator InsureMyTrip.com announced results of its sales data analysis of consumer travelers showing a more cautious, cost-conscious market for 2009 vacations.  InsureMyTrip found the following results in examining its 1st Quarter 2009 sales data versus the same 1st Quarter of 2008.

  • Extended vacations of two to four weeks saw the largest decline at nearly 15%.
  • Trips costing more than $2,000 fell by 25%. Overall, average trip costs decreased 12%.
  • Travel insurance customers are now buying closer to scheduled departure. Insurance is now purchased 62 days before departure, a decrease of 11%.
  • Surveyed consumers said they were insuring 68% of trips lasting eight days or more, but only 30% of week-long trips and 18% of weekend trips. Insurance take-up rises dramatically with the length of the trip.

Jim Grace, the President and CEO of InsureMyTrip.com gave his analysis of the survey.  “Money is tight for a lot of people right now and job security is a concern for some,” said Grace.  “Taking less costly, shorter vacations, holding out for super-saver deals, and making sure that any travels are protected with travel insurance, are practical strategies for dealing with the new ‘normal’ of travel today. We are encouraged to see that people are in fact getting back to traveling and that travel insurance is now a ‘must have’.”

Advertisements

The Question of the Month: From Tim H.

July 13, 2009

Mailbag-Icon

 How Does Travel Insurance Handle US travel for a Ski Trip And in Particular the Medical Coverage?

A: There are two parts to this answer.  First, the policy itself would function no differently then if the client was traveling internationally.  The coverage is secondary, which means we are still going to cover whatever portion is not covered through their primary insurance provider.  There is a greater possibility that their personal insurance will cover most, if not all, of the medical expense domestically compared to internationally.

Secondly, with specific respect to ski trips there are exclusions in the policy for certain types of extreme and off trail skiing.  These exclusions are detailed in the Description of Coverage.  If your client plans to do one of these types of activities they can purchase the Sports Coverage option for $25 per person and the exclusions will be waived.  The Sports Coverage option also covers pre paid, non-refundable ski passes, ski or equipment rentals, or greens fees.  In addition this option will reimburse for equipment rentals if the client’s own equipment is delayed or misdirected by the Common Carrier.

Do you have a question about policy coverage or how to handle a specific situation?  This is your opportunity to ask the travel insurance experts at Travel Insured.  Email your question to icymrot@travelinsured.com with “Question of the Month” in the subject line.


Air Passengers Can Protect Against Unforeseen Quarantines

July 13, 2009

Trip Interruption:

The U.S. State Department on June 19th published an alert to travelers about possible medical quarantine procedures now being imposed by the Chinese government on some arriving airline passengers to prevent the spread of flu virus. Among those, for example, unexpectedly quarantined in a Beijing hotel for three days in mid-June were New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin and his wife, both of whom missed a scheduled meeting. According to the Washington Post, all arriving passengers are being screened in China to see if they exhibit flu-like symptoms. If they do, sick passengers as well as fellow passengers on the same flight can be detained for up to 7 days to make sure the flu virus is not spreading.

Quarantine in China due to the H1N1 virus is no longer ‘unforeseen’ based on the U.S. State Department public announcement of June 19 and, therefore, no longer a covered reason for Trip Interruption coverage in China.

However, Travel Insured customers can be covered up to the Trip Interruption limits specified on their policy when traveling to other destinations, wherever an unforeseen quarantine disrupts their trip.


Uninsured Spa Resort Guest Learns Hard Lesson

July 13, 2009

Getaway Vacation Coverage:

The Baltimore Examiner web site on June 24 recounted the experience of a Houston traveler who booked a weekend resort getaway for two days at The Crossings, a spa resort in nearby Austin billed as “Texas’ Premier Green Spa & Wellness Resort,” with three-day packages costing about $1,000 per person. The traveler, because she was driving on a short-distance weekend trip, chose to travel uninsured.

Unfortunately, the traveler suffered a severe ankle injury on the day before departure, but drove anyway to the resort where her ankle turned “stiff, swollen and blue.” The pain forced her to head home for a doctor after one hour. Her booking was non-refundable.

The Baltimore Examiner’s travel expert Richard Earls, publisher of Travel Research Online, was able to negotiate a refund for the spa resort traveler that would not normally be available to a guest in her situation. Earls wrote her the following advice: “…Travel insurance is an important protection against exactly the type of mishap you experienced. Had you used a good travel agent, I am confident that travel insurance would have been recommended. However, you booked directly with the property online, and I understand that travel agents and travel insurance are seldom top-of-mind considerations when traveling to a destination within driving distance… In the future, give real consideration to a travel agent and an insurance policy, no matter how short a trip to protect your investment.”


Last-Minute Bookings Still Need Travel Insurance!

July 13, 2009

Monthly Sales Tip:
by Isaac Cymrot

Pop quiz!  Your client comes in and books a trip departing in two weeks but declines insurance because the departure date is so close. Do you:

A.  Offer the Worldwide Trip Protector (WTP) as you normally would.

B.  Let them walk out the door with nothing.

C.  Explain that while trip cancellation coverage may no longer be a priority they should still cover themselves for medical emergencies, trip delay, etc while traveling.

If you answered C then you would be correct!  If you chose option A that’s not a bad choice either, but if you encounter resistance you do have an alternative.  Since there has been a dramatic increase in last-minute bookings this year many travel consultants are searching out alternatives for insurance.  One frequently overlooked but appropriate choice is to book the policy at $0 trip cost.

Travel consultants who have been selling our products since before April of 2008 will remember this as our Post Departure program.  The distinguishing feature of the $0 trip cost purchase is that the policy effective date, instead of being one day after the policy is purchased, is not effective until the day of departure. There is no trip cancellation coverage, and trip interruption is limited to $1,000 return air only. Your clients, however, do receive the full emergency medical, medical evacuation, trip delay, baggage benefits and everything else included in the “normal” policy. All of this is included in the $0 trip cost policy at a ridiculously affordable cost.  In addition to the client still receiving excellent coverage, you still earn your commission.

Let us do the math for a moment. Say that you book 20 last-minute packages this summer.  Imagine that all of them, for the sake of this calculation, are in the 36-60 age bracket with each package consisting of 2 people.  The premium rate for the $0 trip plan is $30 per person to cover a $1,000 per person trip, as opposed to $51 for the Worldwide Trip Protector plan. The $30 premium yields $1,200 in total premium for those 20 packages.  The 20 package sales would result in your commission at 25% totaling $300.

Demonstrating your ability to sell this alternative solution for insurance is just one more way to differentiate yourself and prove the value in booking through your agency.  While many clients do not think there is a need for insurance if they are leaving in two weeks, you can draw on your own experiences. Continue to tell the stories about the clients who have had some unforeseen disruption happen to them while traveling.

When your clients tell you they have no need of insurance, tell them a “why” story and sell them the $0 trip cost policy as their affordable, alternative solution.

The time you find yourself in this position, just think about your last client who did not have insurance and needed medical treatment. Think of the one who had a flight delay and had to book an unexpected hotel, or another client who lost his or her bags. Think of all the different disruptions that have occurred to your clients or even to other friends you know while traveling.  The extra time you take to explain why insurance is still important for the last-minute trip could earn you a client for life. It could also win you a bunch of referrals should something go wrong!  Don’t forget that if they purchase their policy within 14 days of initial deposit, or if they pay in full, they still receive the pre-existing conditions waiver!


From the “No Question is Dumb” Mailbag – The Question of the Month:

June 16, 2009

Mailbag-IconThe Question of the Month is a new feature that I am introducing.  My Tip of the Month usually relates to the sales side of travel insurance. It includes handling objections and discussing current events that affect the industry.  But it often overlooks actual policy language and coverage for specific situations that do not merit a lengthy conversation. These topics are important nonetheless. 

Do you have a question about policy coverage or how to handle a specific situation?  This is your opportunity to ask the travel insurance experts at Travel Insured.  Email your question to icymrot@travelinsured.com with “Question of the Month” in the subject line.

Q: My client is booking their cruise now but their airfare is not yet available. How can I cover them for pre-existing conditions?

A: This is by far one of the most frequently-asked questions we receive because it is such a common situation.  The answer is very simple.  First, insure the pieces of the trip that you know when the client makes their initial deposit. Follow the pre-existing condition waiver guidelines:

  • The policy must be purchased within 14 days of initial trip deposit.
  • The client must insure the full non-refundable trip cost.
  • The clients must be medically able to travel at the time of booking.

If these qualifications have been met then your client will be eligible to keep the pre-existing condition waiver should they add costs to their trip.  When they are ready to book the remaining portion or their trip, such as airfare, shore excursions, non-refundable hotel stays or any other prepaid travel costs, you need to contact our Customer Service department. You must update the policy within 14 days of adding costs to the trip or, if not, your clients will lose their coverage for pre-existing medical conditions.


Online Commission Statements Begin June 15th

June 16, 2009

Technology Reminder:

Starting this June 15th, and on the 15th of each month thereafter, your monthly commission statement is available to you on demand by visiting the agency side of our web site at www.travelinsured.com. We hope you can join us in helping reduce our carbon footprint. If, however, 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.