The Real Value of Travel Insurance: Staying in Touch

It’s just a little over three years since Paris was stunned by a terrorist attack in the heart of the city, with 130 people shot dead—mostly young people having fun at a concert. It made those of us who have come to know Paris stop in our tracks.

And now we have again witnessed scenes of protesters in yellow vests disrupting this city of lights with anti-government demonstrations: cars being burned, fires set, graffiti marring the Arc de Triomphe, tourists and visitors running from those sites they have come so far to see.

And this is Paris, one of the world’s most visited cities. Is any place safe anymore? Is London safe, or Barcelona, or Brussels, or Nice, or Las Vegas?

For travel insurers, whose predominant mission is to safeguard their customers when they leave home, there is increasing need, and opportunity, to bring value to their clients beyond helping them find the most appropriate coverage, collecting the premium, and wishing them a happy trip.

 

New explorers, new needs

New generations of travellers are expanding their horizons, demanding new adventures, booking trips to countries and regions previously explored only by reporters from National Geographic. They are becoming more vulnerable. At the same time, coverage benefits are subject to government travel warnings and advisories; whole regions or even countries are being declared “No Travel” zones, which in some cases can invalidate travel insurance coverage to those areas. And when heading abroad, travellers are routinely urged to maintain vigilance about their surroundings in crowds, to be aware of emergency exits in stadiums and theatres, to keep up to date on changing border regulations, and to monitor disease outbreaks and virus epidemics.

For insurers and their assistance partners, the ability to advise on potential trouble zones, changing border requirements, limitations of coverage, and to stay in touch with clients during their travels—through apps, social media, or more conventional means—is becoming routine. Travellers should be able to expect immediate translation services in countries far different from their own; message relays to family at home if electronic devices fail or services are impeded; assistance for unplanned payments for health services or accommodations; verification or backup confirmations of documents lost in fires or by theft; evacuation advice or advisories in case of natural or man-made disasters; urgent medical advice in remote areas devoid of health care resources—in short, help when it is most needed, no matter where.

Quick and easy purchase methods may account for some of the steady increase of travel insurance coverage among all age groups—even the youngest. But establishing value may take more effort.

It may require staying in touch. Bring immediate medical intervention and evacuation to a hiker severely injured in a mountain fall in Peru, and you have a customer for life.


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