Now more than ever, it's no secret that securing travel insurance before embarking an unforgettable trip is a good and highly practical idea. However, since the pandemic hit, plenty has changed as it relates to travel insurance and the information groups want to—and should—know.
Raymond "Bud" Geissler, National Sales Manager, Travel Insured International, says partners in the past might have had one or two travelers within a group who had questions about travel protections. Today, it's a different story.
Almost every traveler is inquiring.
"We've been working with our partners over the summer to make certain they have the products necessary to move forward, the marketing to support those products and a system in place to support the additional level of interest in travel protection," said Geissler, noting travel professionals and tour operators should offer travel protection to their groups and utilize a waiver if it's declined. "Third party travel protection provides a level of protection for trip cancellation and for post-departure benefits."
If a traveler tests positive for COVID-19, it's treated the same as any other sickness in terms of coverage and loss reimbursement. Fear of COVID-19, Geissler says, is not a covered reason.
"For travelers with those concerns, we suggest offering an optional 'Cancel For Any Reason' (CFAR) plan," Geissler explained, adding that Travel Insured International hasn't changed or lessened benefits due to COVID-19. "CFAR is a time sensitive benefit, meaning it must be purchased within a certain amount of days from the initial trip deposit. We continue to offer a 75% CFAR benefit which has proven to be instrumental in many future travel bookings."
Susan Barbanel, National Sales Manager, Travel Insured International, says tour operators should rely on travel insurance and protection providers to assist in creating materials to help offer and disseminate information about options currently available.
"It's essential to present options to travelers prior to or at the time of registration for a trip," Barbanel said, explaining these materials—which highlight why travel protection is a critical component of any trip—should be offered while tour operators discuss their terms and conditions with travelers. "As a tour operator, you're always managing expectations for your group."
Because every plan is different, it's critical groups know their options regarding trip cancellation, rescheduling and details about what their protection plan specifically covers.
"Travelers trust you—it's why they're doing business with you," Barbanel said.
As the travel industry emerges from the pandemic and situations remain fluid, Geissler says now is the time for travel protection providers and tour operators to coordinate as partners.
"We're working together to best serve a mutual client—the traveler! When travelers have questions, direct them to your travel protection partner to answer them," said Geissler. "Right now, we know we're a key player in getting your businesses back on the road and in the air. We take that role seriously and are grateful to be a part of the conversation."
Written by Sarah Suydam, Managing Editor for Groups Today.
This article originally appeared in the Jan/Feb 2021 issue of Groups Today.