Jamie Biesiada
Jamie Biesiada

To James Page, AIG Travel's senior vice president and chief administration officer, education is key when it comes to selling travel insurance.

Agents need to be educated on the different products insurers offer, Page said, and they need to educate their clients about the benefits of insurance.

"Awareness is probably our biggest problem on the travel insurance side, getting the agents as well as, of course, the traveler aware of the need and the benefits that a travel insurance product can offer," Page said. "And there are a number of different products that meet different needs of a customer that are out there today."

He recommended agents take advantage of the educational offerings AIG has (many of its competitors also offer similar support). "We run a number of different agent training programs," he said, like webinars on topics surrounding topics like policy benefits and sales strategies." Educational programs are offered throughout the year.

"Our belief is that education about those risks, the things that can and can't be done for someone if one of those events occurs, is a big part of helping people make intelligent decisions about when they travel," he said.

One of the most common fears agents face is whether bringing up the possibility that a problem could occur during their vacation would act as a deterrent. One of an agent's core functions, after all, is "to encourage people to travel and do things," Page said.

But he put it this way in a hypothetical conversation with a client: "You want this trip to go really well, so there's a few basic steps that you can take that would help you be better prepared for when you're traveling and make this trip the trip of a lifetime.'"

He added: "I think there's a way to communicate that in a positive way with a customer so that they at least start to think about it."

Offering insurance comes with another big benefit for agents: Revenue.

According to Page, agents will have ample opportunity to hone their selling techniques this year.

"We're very excited about 2017," he said. "The interesting thing is, we're seeing a lot more adventure travel; we're seeing a lot of boomers doing bucket-list trips. So there are a lot of reasons why people might need or want travel insurance to protect them while they're traveling."

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