Travel insurance providers are increasingly adding products
or services to their offerings so that consumers will benefit from a policy
even if they never file a claim.
Such a benefit might come in the form of a smartphone
application that can identify the local equivalent of an over-the-counter drug
or push notifications of potential travel disruptions in the area. It might
come in the form of destination guidance before traveling. It might be access
to destination information at any time for research purposes.
Consumers are "notoriously" brand agnostic when it
comes to travel insurance, according to Beth Godlin, president of Aon Affinity
Travel Practice. Giving consumers value-adds or services, she said, is an
attempt to build a relationship with the consumer so that they keep that
insurer top of mind when they book trips.
"I do think that's a sign of the maturing of the
marketplace," she said.
Allianz has made a concerted effort to put added-value
components of an insurance policy in travelers' hands. The insurer offers an
app, TravelSmart, with security information about countries and medical
translations as well as the ability to see the location of places like
hospitals, pharmacies and police departments.
Allianz also recently forged a partnership with Frommer's to
provide travelers with access to co-branded websites that include destination
Caroline Horwitz, who was the company's director of consumer
experience before recently retiring, said Allianz has nearly 50 destination
sites available to clients, based on where Allianz's clients go most often.
When a customer purchases a policy, a link to the relevant
destination guide is sent with their confirmation email. The destination guides
include Frommer's best-of lists, with topics such as dining, experiences and
sample itineraries. It also includes a link to purchase a full guide from
Daniel Durazo, Allianz's director of communications, said, "We
think it's a win-win with us and Frommer's and our customers, where they can
get a snapshot of great destination content, and then if they want a deeper
dive into their destination, they can go ahead and buy the book."
Earlier this year, Allianz also introduced predeparture
emails, Horwitz said. They are meant to remind clients about their benefits and
coverage levels, provide contact information for 24/7 assistance, prompt them
to download the TravelSmart app and provide information about how to file a
"We really want them to benefit from buying the policy,"
Horwitz said. "Even if they don't file a claim, we want them to remember
us for the next time."
Arch Insurance Group is also adding components to its
products outside of traditional travel insurance. RoamRight is Arch's travel
"As a company, we've taken an approach that we want to
be more valuable to you even if you don't use a benefit or file a claim,"
said Brice King, vice president of travel at Arch. "You still get some
kind of value out of your relationship with RoamRight."
RoamRight offers consumers travel guides to countries around
the world on its website, cross-linked with its travel blog.
Its app also offers added value for consumers, King said.
For example, it can track a user's geolocation and send alerts to their phone
if there are any issues, a service derived from a partnership with the
risk-management firm iJet.
The app includes medical translations from English to seven
languages and vice versa, offering both written and recorded translations of
several hundred commonly used medical phrases. It can also give travelers the
local equivalent of medications, which is especially useful for
over-the-counter drugs, King said.
AIG Travel is considering making some of its wider offerings
for corporate travelers available to leisure travelers, according to Robert
Gallagher, senior vice president and COO.
AIG has an app for business travelers that includes a
one-touch help button, a directory of healthcare providers by GPS, medical
translation tools and more.
"We're certainly contemplating what that could
potentially mean to the leisure traveler since we have the assets and we have
the capabilities to roll that out," Gallagher said. "It's just a
matter of what the overall construct looks like and how those assets are then
delivered to the leisure traveler versus the business traveler."
In addition to providing added value to consumers, insurers
view things like apps and destination guides as ways to differentiate from
Cory Sobczyk, vice president of business development of
travel at Arch Insurance Group, said, "When it comes to travel insurance ...
literally, your policy is only as good as the claim that's paid and also the
service that you provide. We try to differentiate ourselves with creating these
value-added services to definitely move us above and beyond what our
competitors currently offer."