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Selling Travel Insurance

November 1, 2006 By: Eric Butterman Home-Based Travel Agent
 

Consumers who work with travel professionals are twice as likely to purchase travel insurance: are you getting your share?


When Luggage is lost or a traveler requires medical attention overseas, for some, it can take the expense of a vacation and turn it into a major financial hole. Travel insurance is an important product to offer your clients—and it also offers agents a strong commission.

"I have two travel agents that travel together, and one broke her arm in Tahiti and had to be airlifted out," says Susan Coty, a Chicago-based agent. "If not for travel insurance, it would have been disastrous for her financially."

Mona Sims, an agent for TravelMax in Phoenix, primarily sells comprehensive travel insurance and finds it to be a high-level commission.

"I see many of my clients are motivated by the medical portion or cancellation for them or others in the family," she says. "I usually don't use the insurance of the supplier, but instead go with Travel Insured—their commission structure is paying 20 percent."

"One selling technique I've found helpful," says Sims, "is recommending insurance to all of my clients in the initial cost of their travel, rather than just mentioning it before their trip—when they've already spent most of their money preparing for it. This way, they know what they're in for."

Doris White of Travel Dynamics in La Jolla, CA likes using insurance company CSA because she can sell it last minute—and, for a slight premium, they'll cover pre-existing conditions. "My experience is that other insurance outfits want you to buy within 15 days of the trip, or they won't cover pre-existing." John Ansell of the U.S. Travel Insurance Association

For medical evacuation, White believes MedJet gives new meaning to the term "homeland security." "It's a medical evacuation that gets you back to your home hospital," she says. "If you're all the way in Russia and have something horrible happen, they will send a nursing staff over and fly you directly home to your preferred hospital. I sell it in a yearly rate that covers the family for around $300 a year."

John Ansell, President of the United States Travel Insurance Association (USTIA), was quoted recently as saying, "We are concerned about how few people realize their healthcare policies provide very little, if any, out-of-country medical coverage, and some don't cover you if you are traveling more than 100 miles from home." One company, MedEx, even offers emergency evacuation for as low as $3.50 a day—not a very expensive product, when the full risk is considered.

Linda Kundell, a spokesperson for the USTIA, says one of the keys to selling travel insurance is to fully explain the convenience of insurance, not just the coverage.

"The traveler doesn't always have the understanding about how quickly insurance can replace your lost luggage or fix a medical problem," she says. "People don't want to just know insurance will cover them, but that the company will step in right away."

In fact, a recent student by the USTIA showed that 30 percent of leisure travelers are purchasing insurance up from 10 percent just five years ago. This can be attributed to both the expansion of insurance offerings and also the attacks of September 11, 2001, which have made anti-terrorist insurance one of the most popular buys. The study found that 16 percent of travelers who bought insurance filed a claim, demonstrating the coverage's usefulness to many.

Still Not Convinced?

If you think your customers won't bite, Coty estimates that 75 percent of her clients who buy packages also purchase travel insurance. This would seem consistent with USTIA findings, which state that 77 percent of those who book vacations with a travel agent go the insurance route as well. A customer can even separate your leisure insurance from your business insurance. Mytrip.com, which can compare quotes from 16 major travel insurance companies, says that on the site you can purchase business insurance packages for one business trip or in groupings of 30, 60, 90, or even 90-plus business days. You can also cover clients who stay abroad for more than six months with more permanent coverage for medical emergencies or prescriptions. Travel Insurance Basics

"Clients have to decide to buy insurance for themselves," says Coty. "But if they end up losing a lot of money on the trip by not being insured, they may blame you for not bringing it up."

In other words, insure yourself from losing a customer—and pick up an extra commission.

Resources

Popular travel insurance-related sites:

  • 1.
    www.ustravelinsurance.org|~www.ustravelinsurance.org/
    (web site of the U.S. Travel Insurance Association)
  • 2.
    www.csatravelprotection.com|~www.csatravelprotection.com/
  • 3.
    www.travelinsured.com|~www.travelinsured.com/
  • 4.
    www.traveguard.com|~www.traveguard.com/
  • 5.
    www.insuremytrip.com|~www.insuremytrip.com/

    (can compare quotes from 16 travel insurance companies)

  • 6.
    www.medex.com|~www.medex.com/
  • 7.
    www.medjet.com|~www.medjet.com/
    (these last two specialize in medical evacuation insurance)

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