Canadians are expected to take close to 30 million out-of-country leisure trips* over the next 12 months. Most will buy travel insurance to cover the costs of unforeseen medical emergencies and they will expect insurers and agents to provide the right plan, at the best possible price, with the minimum effort for them, but with the absolute assurance that they will be covered “for everything.” They want “peace of mind.” Can you give it to them?
Not without their help. Except for policies that don’t cover pre-existing conditions (suitable only for your young and super-healthy clients), most will require applicants to answer some health questions. Medically underwritten plans, which are offered and priced according the applicant’s health status, ask a lot of questions, often in language laymen may not understand. You may have to help. And if you don’t understand the question or the terminology, ask for help from the insurer or the applicant’s doctor.
Many applications are now done by phone. Asking the questions as they appear on an application and entering them in an online form without properly documenting the process can leave you at risk. Did the customer answer correctly? Did you interpret it correctly? If at all possible, send the completed medical questionnaire back to the client for verification and signature. That is not always done. But if the case ends up with a claim, you must prove that you practiced due diligence.
Many applicants for insurance apply just before they leave on their trip. They think of insurance as a formality, something they have to buy, but would rather not. By consistently reinforcing the notion that buying travel insurance is simple, takes only a few minutes, and can be done by phone while the buyer is driving to work, insurers are sending the wrong message to their customers. Travel insurance is a serious purchase. It relies on accurate information and comprehension by the customer. Beseeching the customer to read the policy is no guarantee it will be done. But you can help by pointing out those sections that your customer must know and understand. That won’t be possible if your client is leaving tomorrow and you must process the paperwork this afternoon.
Be straight-up with your customers. Tell them to apply early so there is time for them to ask you or their doctor any questions that arise. Give them time to read the policy and highlight those sections they need to know. But also make it clear that if their health changes in any way between the time they buy and the time they leave, they need to call you immediately, or their coverage may be compromised.
Sometimes it may not be possible to be covered “for everything.” Your customers need to understand: This is a serious purchase that cannot be taken lightly.
View the rest of the articles on Ingle International for more travel guides and tips.
* Source: Statistics Canada & Conference Board of Canada.