Like everything else, the world of travel has been upended in recent years by the Covid pandemic, increasing bouts of extreme weather, political upheavals and other dire circumstances. At the same time, an increasing number of tourists are upping their risks by opting for adventurous activities such as cycling, rafting, trekking and more, in exotic locales. Indeed, the global adventure-tourism market is booming and expected to reach more than $1 trillion by 2030, according to a 2022 report by Grand View Research.
Thanks to all of these factors, a fresh emphasis has fallen on insurance to protect travelers when any or all of the above threaten to shorten or outright cancel the best laid plans. Travel insurance is especially critical for corporations whose employees routinely skirt the globe for business purposes. “Clearly, companies need to make sure their workers are covered,” says Joanne Hunt, owner of Pompton Plains Travel, a New Jersey-based full-service travel supplier. “When things go wrong, the bottom line can take a big hit, along with the fulfillment of corporate goals.”
But what kind of insurance is best? And considering the myriad things that can go wrong on a trip, can one policy possibly cover every potential pitfall? Indeed, today’s complex web of leisure- and work-related travel has put a spotlight on travel insurance providers, who tailor their coverage offerings to craft a blend of policies that uniquely address a client’s needs.
“It is important to work with insurance brokers that are knowledgeable and transparent” says Jodi Bear, founder and co-president of Bear & Bear Travel, Inc. “Policies and terms can be dramatically different depending on the insurance company, and brokers are charged with finding the right plan for the client and their guests.”
Custom Travel Insurance Protection
“Anything can go wrong on a trip,” notes Chris Christensen, an award-winning travel journalist, podcaster and proprietor of the Amateur Traveler blog (amateurtraveler.com). “I have a friend who broke his back in the Amazon and had to be airlifted out. It would have cost a fortune had some part of his policy not covered this specific kind of medical emergency.”
Christensen cites protections covering situations such as the following:
• Trip cancellation, delay or interruption
• Emergency medical that can include related transportation
• Baggage loss or delay
• Rental car problems
• Changing fees, and more
Dealing with such complications is par for the course for Aon Affinity Travel Practice, which administers to the insurance needs of more than 50 of the most prestigious travel brands based in North America. Aon Affinity Travel helps curate such protections and more for tour operators, cruise lines, online travel agencies, air transportation and other suppliers in the travel sphere. As a leading travel protection program, they work with numerous insurance companies to design custom travel protection programs that fit seamlessly with a travel customer supplier’s experience, while providing transparent financials and analytics so that their travel supplier client partners can make the best decisions on what works best for them and their customers.
“Specialization is driving every facet of our lives,” says Aon Affinity Travel Practice President Beth Godlin. “In fact, 63 percent of customers say they’ll stop buying from brands that use poor personalization tactics, according to a study by Smart Insights. And this desire for customization extends to the coverage we choose to help protect our most treasured travel investments — from a romantic honeymoon in the Maldives to a once-in-a-lifetime safari in Tanzania.”
Working with an insurance provider “allows us to dramatically extend the services we offer our guests,” notes Nickie Capasso, associate director, guest relations, for Tauck, a major provider for upscale guided travel, with more than 150 land tours, safaris, river cruises and small-ship ocean cruises to 70+ countries around the world. “When our guests purchase our Guest Protection and Cruise Protection plans, they’re covered when the unexpected occurs. Our guests enjoy coverage pre-tour, on-tour and post-tour, from help with minor inconveniences — lost luggage, broken eyeglasses — to far more serious events, like on-tour injuries and emergency evacuations.”
Capasso has worked with Aon Affinity Travel for more than 20 years. “A real key to that relationship is how intimately they know our business,” she says. “They understand our commitment to servicing our guests, and they know that our expectations in that regard are high. But we don’t consider ourselves insurance experts. Working closely with an insurance broker as a partner ensures that we’re providing the most comprehensive, most cost-effective coverage possible to our guests.”
“Travel insurance was always important, but in the era of Covid it is now indispensable and a necessary tool for both the traveler and travel supplier,” says Bear. “A good travel insurance broker can handle all the details and smooth the way for all — the travel supplier and their guests.”