|Daniel Durazo, director of communications, USA, for Allianz Global Assistance|
Travel Agent recently had the opportunity to chat with Daniel Durazo, director of communications, USA, for Allianz Global Assistance and had him answer some frequently asked questions regarding travel insurance.
In the following Q&A, Durazo tackles everything from when to buy insurance to what destinations are gaining steam for the upcoming holiday travel season.
What is the main benefit of travel insurance?
“The benefit of travel insurance is that it creates peace of mind for both the agent and the consumer. The agent has peace of mind knowing that before, during and after the vacation, their clients are protected. If they get sick or injured then the customer will call us and we will assist them.”
Is the first time traveler more likely to get insurance or the seasoned traveler?
“From my perspective, the best travel insurance customer is the savvy traveler. They made a significant investment on their trip and they know there are things that can ruin their plans. The savvy traveler will know, 'Well I have kids, I have older relatives and we're going out of the country, what if someone ends in the hospital in Mexico they will want me to pay up front?' Travel insurance will cover those payments.”
How early should a client protect a trip for the upcoming holiday travel season?
“The holidays are coming up fast and we are already seeing a lot of interest in Hawaii, the Caribbean and Mexico. We highly suggest buying insurance at the same time a client books the trip. It is a really smart thing to do because you are insured for that window of time. You have a trip booked two months from now and you already bought travel insurance? Well, now you’re covered for that two-month window. If anything goes wrong that will keep you from going on that trip, you will get a full refund. For example, Johnny breaks his arm and won’t be able to do any paddling around in Hawaii, you can cancel the trip and get all of your money back.”
What is the most popular policy you offer?
"The Classic Policy is our top-level policy and what we see clients purchasing the most of. It includes great benefits, such as kids are covered for free. You don’t have to pay any extra on kids up to 17 years old. Families love that. They buy that through their agent and they can also get a waiver for existing medical conditions. That’s very valuable because a lot of insurance companies won’t cover that. If a family member has a pre-existing injury, they will purchase that package.”
Where are travel insurance customers going in the Caribbean and Mexico?
“The Caribbean is interesting because a lot of people feel it so close, but whenever you leave country, you should have travel insurance no matter how close it is to our country. We will get you to the nearest medical facility. And also out of the country, especially in Mexico, they ask you to pay the hospital bill up front. It's a pain. Travel insurance will guarantee your payments.
“We are hearing from a lot of customers that Mexico and the Caribbean are great travel values lately. They are easy to get to, there is great value and the culture is very familiar with the travel.
“We see a lot of customers going to the Rivera Maya, Cabo and Cancun. That portion of Mexico is very close to America and the Caribbean is very similar. There are a lot of great spots people are going to in The Bahamas and Bermuda.”
Is it popular for clients to purchase travel insurance to Hawaii?
“Getting to Hawaii is a long trip and it's a great family destination. It is a popular destination and it is very popular to buy travel insurance to Hawaii with the Classic Policy because, as I said, kids are free.
“There are many things about Hawaii that make it convenient for the traveler. You are still in the U.S. first off. And they don't have to worry about the time difference as we also provide 24/7 travel assistance so when an agent or client needs to calls us from Hawaii in the middle of the night to get a prescription filled, we can help them find that store they need to get to.
“The number one question an agent should ask their client is, ‘how much can you afford to lose on this trip?’ It can be a Caribbean all-inclusive or a it can be Hawaii, but you should always ask how much can they can stand to lose? If you’re leaving the country, it is an absolute must. Even your passport has a recommendation from the State Department on it to get insured just because of the medical benefits.”
Was it a busy hurricane season for travel insurance companies?
“We don't have a specific hurricane policy but all three insurance policies cover everything about your destination and hurricanes are a part of that.
“The forecast in the beginning of the year was that it was going to be a very active season and we did see a lot of customers inquiring about hurricane season. But it wasn’t a real active hurricane season, so we didn’t see a lot of people canceling their trips. (Hurricane) Joaquin was the exception and caused people to cancel trips, people who bought travel insurance before that trip to The Bahamas.
“The great thing about travel insurance is that it is not credit. If you bought a cruise and the cruise canceled, they would give you credit that you can use within the next year. If you purchase travel insurance, you are not getting credit back, you are getting all of your money. Maybe you want to go somewhere else now. You can move forward however you like.”
Does one generation buy travel insurance more than the other?
“We see that the (Baby) Boomers are a big audience for travel insurance because, again, they are the savvy traveler, but Millennials are very interesting. We did survey this summer where we asked Millennials what their travel patterns were and they are really comfortable with the sharing economy, they love Airbnb and they love Uber. And travel insurance will actually cover those pre-paid expenses. The challenge is for the agent to find that value trip to provide the experience that Millennials are looking for. They want value and they want a great experience.”