Home-based, independent travel agents have a chance to increase income by selling travel insurance, Judy Sutton, director of product development for Travel Insured International believes. “Travel insurance is especially important to the home-based agent close to their client,” she says. “Recommending insurance is indispensable to sustaining client confidence and service levels.”
Commissions on sales vary widely, Sutton notes, and can be as high as 20 to 30 percent. Also critical to the travel insurance equation are host agencies. Nexion, for example, works with four preferred insurance providers—CSA, Travel Insured International, Travel Safe and Access America. Each company offers several different programs with varying commissions, according to Jackie Friedman, Nexion’s general manager. “We actively educate our agents on the benefits of selling travel insurance, with a 90-minute panel discussion at each boot camp featuring all four providers. We are also offering virtual training later this summer.
“We have seen increased interest in insurance, to cover for the economy, job loss, etc. We have also seen insurance providers come out with last minute coverage at a lower price for those agencies selling closer in travel,” Friedman says.
Nexion agents also benefit from high commissions: the current range starts at 15 percent for annual coverage products and up to 45 percent for a mix of insurance products.
Mike Ambrose, president of the U.S. Travel Insurance Association (UStiA), notes that travel insurance in the U.S. is in its infancy despite an impressive $1.6 billion in annual sales, of which agents account for at least 27 percent. That represents a growth of more than 13 percent over the last two years. In 2008, nearly 120 million travelers sought coverage, a growth rate of more than 35 percent, UStiA says.
The new UStiA study, Travel Insurance Market Survey for 2006-2008, shows that travel agents and suppliers were responsible for three quarters of the market in travel insurance sales.
Ambrose notes that travel agencies and suppliers continue to lead in travel insurance sales as demand grows, with trip cancellation or interruption representing 90 percent of sales. He also reports strong growth in medical and medical evacuation policy markets.
“Even with the travel industry experiencing downturns, the figures indicate that Americans remain strongly interested in the protection and coverage offered by travel insurance,” Ambrose says.
This means good news for travel agents and home-based agents who have tremendous opportunities to promote and sell travel insurance. One good place to start to expand travel insurance sales is with the UStiA website, www.ustia.org. Other resources are OSSN or NACTA, along with host agencies that may have a preferred travel insurance provider. Last but not least are the travel insurance companies, which are eager to work with home-based agents. They can help productive agents promote and sell high-integrity products consumers want to buy.