The world of travel insurance can be confusing and complicated. If you're an individual traveling on your own and you have good health insurance, you may wonder if you should bother paying for it. But what if you need to cancel your trip, or your luggage gets stolen? And what if you're a retail shop just starting to offer trips for your customers?
It's hard to track how many uninsured travelers would have benefited from coverage, but Travel insurer World Nomads says about 14 percent of their customers since 2016 have filed a claim from a trip. We asked Christina Tunnah, regional manager of the Americas for World Nomads, what you need to know about travel insurance. And, as they've mastered the content marketing game, we asked how you can get in on that, too.
1. More and more retail stores are starting to offer trips to get their customers outside and adventuring around the world. What should they think about, in terms of liability and insurance, before they lead that first trip?
Initially, they may want to consider a partnership with a travel company that has years of experience and the credibility to handle the full spectrum of organizing and fulfilling group travel. As they get further along the experiential curve, work out the kinks, identify customer preferences, and learn from mistakes, they are better placed to start forging direct relationships with the operators and DMOs [destination marketing organizations] they would want to work with.
From an insurance perspective, there are two sides to this equation: the business liability insurance and the customer’s travel insurance. The liability insurance they would seek is specialized, and their existing business property and casualty and E&O commercial broker will shepherd them on this specialization. For the customer’s insurance, the licensing regulation is such that they can opt to include it in the cost of the trip, but it will trigger a series of regulatory steps and requirements.
Different states have different requirements, including whether they need to be licensed in insurance as a business, and if so, who in their business will be the licensee taking the required exams and being held responsible for those insurance sales. It can be costly. Other states allow the insurance partners to “appoint” the retailer as a travel retailer and hence won’t require the retailer to get the licensing, but it then precludes the retailers from being able to “solicit, negotiate, or sell” the insurance or answer any insurance-specific questions a prospective customer may have. Those enquiries need to be passed onto the insurer.
The easiest way is to offer travel experiences but require the customer to be responsible for their own travel insurance. The retailer can then suggest a few providers (and potentially earn a referral fee). This way, the retailer sticks to the core of the travel business they are building, and keeps an arms distance from the insurance regulatory head spin.
2. Tell us a little bit about your partner program. What opportunities do you offer for retailers to get involved, and how would they benefit?
We have an affiliate program that offers travel businesses, publishers, bloggers, retailers, or anyone in travel, actually, the opportunity to earn referral fees from travel insurance policies sold through referral from their sites and trip booking confirmation emails. Apart from the revenue, we also offer assurance that the retailer is putting their customers’ safety and assistance in good hands, as our policies are underwritten by a suite of globally recognized premier tier insurers, providing peace of mind for your business and your travellers. Some of the largest travel companies, including Lonely Planet, Rough Guides, Hostelworld.com, Footprint Guides, National Geographic, BootsnAll, VSO, Hostelling International, i-to-i, Global Gossip and nearly 2,000 other partners trust us with their customers.
3. What are the biggest destinations this year? Are there any destinations you think are underserved, in terms of tour availability, that adventure companies should be looking at for future opportunities?
For our global travelers this year, the United States, Thailand, Japan, Australia, and Nepal were regularly in the top five. Spain and Portugal are gaining in popularity, and Iceland is drawing big numbers too. For Americans, the top destinations this year are Thailand, Italy, France, Vietnam, and the UK. Overtourism is becoming a problem for some popular destinations, so adventure companies might be wise to consider less-crowded alternatives. Nepal has recovered more quickly from the 2015 earthquake than many travelers realize – local operators are eager for business.
4. You offer tons of information to your customers about traveling safely through many countries. How does content marketing work for you, and what advice can you offer for retailers or small brands who are just starting to explore creating their own content?
Because we are an insurance company, safety content was a natural fit for us. It helps reinforce that we’re looking out for our customers, and also positions us as experts – we are prepared to step in to help because we know what kind of dangers exist in various places around the world. For a retailer starting out, resources may be limited to start writing their own, so we suggest you work with an insurance partner to determine what they have available for the retailer to share with their readers and customers. There are also resources such as the State Department and CDC to help with some official alerts and advice.
But we don’t want to paint the world as a scary place. Our Explore content, which offers tips on where to go and how to get the most from your journey, helps inspire readers to get out there and travel. They may come across this content when dreaming about or planning their trip, and while the content doesn’t talk about insurance or risk specifically, it does help keep us top of mind when the customer goes to purchase travel insurance. Whatever content we produce, we ensure it’s true to our brand voice. That’s a key piece of advice for retailers – make sure it sounds like you and is targeted toward your audience. There’s a ton of content out there, so it’s important that you stand out and offer something different from everyone else. Make use of your core areas of knowledge and the experts within your company or network.