Millennial Minute: How Berkshire Hathaway Travel Protection Is Targeting Millennials

Dean Sivley, president of Berkshire Hathaway Specialty Insurance, tells Travel Agent what his company is doing to attract Millennial business.

Travel Agent recently sat down with Dean Sivley, president of Berkshire Hathaway Specialty Insurance, to find out how his company is targeting Millennial clients.

From claims sent via smartphone to claim payments that can be made directly into the consumer’s bank or PayPal accounts, the company's technology-focused innovations are being used to attract a younger customer, says Sivley.

“In 2013, when we were looking at the market and what we wanted to do, it was all geared around the fact that we wanted to do something totally different and it was actually aimed at or targeted at the Millennials,” Sivley tells Travel Agent. “It was simple things like it has to be cellphone based. In other words, it has to be designed to work easily and that means the principal channel is a smartphone for how people are going to book or use it. And Millennials tend to be bit more comfortable with smartphones.”

Here’s the skinny on just some of Berkshire’s offerings that we think would appeal to both the Millennial agent and consumer alike. 

New ExactCare Product

Earlier this year, Berkshire Hathaway Travel Protection introduced ExactCare, a new travel insurance product that leverages the latest technology to bring efficiency and simplicity to travelers. 

ExactCare launched with travel agents and partners last fall, and is now available to purchase directly from the company’s website.

Last May, the company launched AirCare, the industry’s first low-cost, fixed-benefit flight-protection coverage. ExactCare is built on the same technology that supports AirCare and uses this technology to simplify the claims process and provide customer service.

“Right now, Aircare is our most popular policy by total number of policies purchased, in terms of dollars, but I think we'll quickly see that overrun by ExactCare, which is a more traditional standard leisure product,” says Sivley. “While we still review claims like other insurance companies and things like that, the fact that we do it with images and mobile phones make us far faster and then we pay far faster."

Unlike AirCare, which features fixed pricing and benefits, ExactCare compensates travelers’ claims based on reimbursable expenses, and bases its price on the trip cost. Policies can be purchased up to one day before the departure date.

BHTP uses advanced technology to power rapid claims processing and payment. BHTP built its proprietary technology platform from the ground up to deliver the very best claims experience for travelers. With ExactCare, consumers can speed up the claims process by taking a photo of receipts on their smartphone and submitting the documents electronically through their mobile app or the company’s website. All travelers receive BHTP’s signature 24/7 travel and emergency assistance. 

Claim payments can be made directly into the consumer’s bank or PayPal accounts. There are no long waiting periods for a check to be mailed.

“What Millennials are used to getting things fast,” says Sivley, “so we said, ‘Look, how can we pay claims faster?’ Of course, one of the things would be, the logical stuff would be say, let people use their iPhones and smartphone cameras and stuff to submit claims. You don't have to submit form. You take a picture of the boarding pass or something damaged or something like that.”

AirCare Abroad Expands Coverage to U.S. Residents Travelling

Berkshire Hathaway Travel Protection also recently announced that AirCare, the low-cost, fixed-benefit flight protection coverage introduced last year for U.S. domestic flights, is now also available for U.S. residents flying internationally. 

AirCare Abroad will be made available directly to consumers through the company’s website, call center and award-winning mobile app, as well as through travel suppliers and agents, up to 24 hours prior to a flight’s departure.
According to the Department of Transportation, 2014 was one of the worst years for flight cancellations since 2007. Nearly 4 percent (69,257 flights) of U.S. flights were cancelled, compared to 1.8 percent in 2013. This year there have been nearly 50,000 flight cancellations, or 2.54 percent of all U.S. flights. 

According to FlightStats, in just the last 30 days there have been more than 35,700 flight cancellations around the world – including nearly 9,000 in the United States this July alone.

In response, Berkshire Hathaway Travel Insurance has enhanced both its domestic AirCare product and the just-launched AirCare Abroad with flight cancellation coverage to compensate customers when a carrier cancels their flights.

AirCare Abroad is priced starting at $46 per round trip, per person. The policy pays $250 for flight cancellation, $50 for a delay of two or more hours and $1,000 for a tarmac delay of two or more hours. A baggage delay of more than 12 hours pays $500, and a baggage loss pays $1,000.

Domestic AirCare is offered starting at $34 per round trip, per person. The domestic policy pays $150 for a flight cancellation, $50 for a flight delay of two or more hours and $1,000 for a tarmac delay of two or more hours. If travelers miss their connection (only available on domestic routes) they will receive a payment of $100. If a traveler’s baggage is lost or delayed for more than 12 hours, they will receive $500.

MasterCard Partnership

In October, Berkshire Hathaway Travel Protection and MasterCard announced they have teamed up to drastically cut the time it takes to pay travel-insurance claims.

“It's a technology that enables people to make payments person-to-person or business-to-person through the debit card network,” Sivley tells Travel Agent. “The debit card network in the United States is about 200 million debit cards out there. Obviously, not all of those are MasterCard debit cards. Visa's got a big portion. There's a number of other debit card networks. What MasterCard Send enables is, we get the payment into the MasterCard Send network and they, in turn, get our payment out to people's debit cards, literally within seconds.”

Traditionally, travel insurance claim payments have been made through online payment systems, EFT transaction or paper check – all of which meant travelers might not receive claim payments for days or weeks. Berkshire Hathaway Travel Protection uses MasterCard Send to facilitate the payment of claims, typically within seconds, enabling travelers to have funds sent directly to almost any personal account through a U.S. debit card wherever they may travel.

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