Why Travel Insurance Included with Your Clients’ Credit Cards May Not be Their Best Option

When Amazon introduced its Amazon Prime credit card in January, the online retailer included travel insurance, 24/7 concierge service and roadside assistance among the card’s benefits—features found in many of today’s leading credit cards. While credit card-provided travel insurance can seem like a prudent approach to avoiding additional travel expenses at checkout, it can be important for your clients to note the differences between these complimentary credit card features and more robust travel insurance plans offered by providers specializing in the space.

Here are some good questions for your clients if the topic of credit cards versus travel protection comes up:

  1. Does your credit card include trip cancellation protection?

If your client, a family member or a traveling companion has to cancel due to a sickness or an injury, their credit card probably won’t be able to help if it doesn’t include trip cancellation. Trip cancellation provides coverage for certain unexpected events that force your client to cancel their arrangements and trip cancellation coverage offered by third-party travel insurance providers typically covers for flight delays and cancellations due to adverse weather among a number of other potential mishaps such as a documented theft of their passport or visa. Only about 15% of credit cards include trip cancellation coverage and even those that do typically include a limited number of covered events compared to third-party travel insurance and won’t cover pre-existing medical conditions.

  1. Do you need out-of-network medical coverage or emergency assistance and transportation?

Depending upon their primary health insurance plan and where they’re traveling to, your client may want (or even need) to secure additional medical coverage before they depart. While they likely aren’t planning to use it, it’s wise to consider the risks of leaving home without coverage. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, medical evacuations by air ambulance can cost $50,000-$100,000. Some countries and travel operators even require a minimum amount of medical coverage in order to issue their visa or allow your client to board. While many credit cards provide travel accident coverage at no additional cost most do not include coverage for medical expenses and evacuations.

  1. Who do you need coverage for?

Most credit cards limit benefits to the cardholder’s spouse and children whereas purchasing a separate travel insurance plan allows your client to choose who they’re buying coverage for. CSA Travel Protection, your trusted partner and a reputable insurance provider, offers travel insurance plans that can insure up to 10 people and your client has the opportunity to add each traveler to the plan at purchase. If your client is traveling with extended family or friends they may want to ensure everyone in their party has adequate trip delay, baggage or medical coverage, which credit card coverage can fall short on providing if their traveling companions are unable to meet the card’s limited definition of family member.

Key coverages and plan flexibility are significant reasons for your clients to explore travel insurance options in addition to their credit card’s benefits. Travel insurance sales grew nearly 13% last year and that growth is predicted to continue through 2017, illustrating travelers’ increasing demand for these third-party products and credit cards’ inability to close important coverage gaps. Before you finalize your next booking, encourage your client to do their research, weigh their options and make an informed choice for themselves and their traveling companions.

Travel insurance plans are administered by Customized Services Administrators, Inc., CA Lic. No. 821931, located in San Diego, CA and doing business as CSA Travel Protection and Insurance Services.  Plans are available to residents of the U.S. but may not be available in all jurisdictions. Benefits and services are described on a general basis; certain conditions and exclusions apply. Travel Retailers may not be licensed to sell insurance, in all states, and are not authorized to answer technical questions about the benefits, exclusions, and conditions of this insurance and cannot evaluate the adequacy of your existing insurance.  This plan provides insurance coverage for your trip that applies only during the covered trip. You may have coverage from other sources that provides you with similar benefits but may be subject to different restrictions depending upon your other coverages. You may wish to compare the terms of this policy with your existing life, health, home and automobile policies. The purchase of this plan is not required in order to purchase any other travel product or service offered to you by your travel retailers. If you have any questions about your current coverage, call your insurer, insurance agent or broker.  This notice provides general information on CSA’s products and services only. The information contained herein is not part of an insurance policy and may not be used to modify any insurance policy that might be issued. In the event the actual policy forms are inconsistent with any information provided herein, the language of the policy forms shall govern. 

Travel insurance plans are underwritten by: Generali U.S. Branch, New York, NY; NAIC # 11231. Generali US Branch operates under the following names: Generali Assicurazioni Generali S.P.A. (U.S. Branch) in California, Assicurazioni Generali – U.S. Branch in Colorado, Generali U.S. Branch DBA The General Insurance Company of Trieste & Venice in Oregon, and The General Insurance Company of Trieste and Venice – U.S. Branch in Virginia. Generali US Branch is admitted or licensed to do business in all states and the District of Columbia.

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Timing Matters: When to Offer Your Customers Travel Insurance

Though some Americans may still be clearing remnants of New Year confetti out of furniture and carpets, many are already starting to make their summer vacation plans. In doing so, they are faced with a decision that CSA partners can help them with—when to buy travel insurance.

When your customers are planning a trip it’s a good idea to inform them about the ideal time to protect their trip with travel insurance. When they buy a plan could affect the value of that plan. Some travel protection coverages and features might or might not be included, depending on whether the plan is purchased when a trip is first booked, at final payment or later.

We recommend that travelers don’t wait to buy travel insurance. Help them travel smarter and offer them travel protection to show you care about their overall trip experience. If they decide to wait, they may find that something could force them to cancel their trip and, since they didn’t protect their trip before the event that caused the cancellation, they could lose their prepaid, nonrefundable trip costs.

Here’s some language you can use when discussing this with your customers:

  • “The financially prudent thing to do is to buy insurance when you have money at risk.”
  • “If you buy nonrefundable airfare, your money is at risk right away.”
  • “For cruises and tours, it may not be an issue until cancellation penalties start to kick in. That could be at six months prior to departure.”

Here are some details about specific time-sensitive coverages and features related to CSA’s travel insurance plans:

Trip Cancellation

When travelers can’t go on their trip due to a covered reason, Trip Cancellation pays for forfeited, pre-paid, non-refundable travel arrangements. It is too late to be covered for Trip Cancellation if they purchase the policy the day before departure because the coverage doesn’t go into effect until 12:01am the next day. We suggest travelers buy a plan when they make the first trip payment, like airfare or a cruise. That way the insured has a long coverage period in case they need to cancel the trip. Then, they can add coverage to the same plan for additional trip arrangements, such as hotel stays, tours, cruises, and other forms of transportation.

Free Look Back Period

For travelers who have bought a plan but wish to cancel and receive a full refund, they may do so within a designated number of days from the date of purchase as long as they haven’t left for their trip or filed a claim. This is referred to as a “free look back” period and is available with all CSA Travel Protection plans. While the timeframe for the free look back varies from state to state, it is generally 10 days from purchase. Travelers should always refer to their Description of Coverage/Insurance Policy documents to determine the number of free look back days available in their state of residence.

Pre-existing Conditions

Some travelers may need to look for plans that offer coverage for pre-existing medical conditions when they buy travel insurance. It’s important to know the purchase window for covering pre-existing conditions in case that’s an important travel insurance feature for a client. Coverage must be bought prior to or within 24 hours of the final trip payment, travelers must be medically able to travel at the time the plan is purchased and all prepaid trip costs that are subject to cancellation penalties or restrictions must be insured. Also, remember that only some of our plans offer coverage for pre-existing medical condition.

If your customers have further questions about the timing of their travel protection purchase and how that might affect what’s included with the plan, please call our Customer Service representatives at 1-800-348-9505.

Travel insurance plans are administered by Customized Services Administrators, Inc., CA Lic. No. 821931, located in San Diego, CA and doing business as CSA Travel Protection and Insurance Services.  Plans are available to residents of the U.S. but may not be available in all jurisdictions. Benefits and services are described on a general basis; certain conditions and exclusions apply. Travel Retailers may not be licensed to sell insurance, in all states, and are not authorized to answer technical questions about the benefits, exclusions, and conditions of this insurance and cannot evaluate the adequacy of your existing insurance.  This plan provides insurance coverage for your trip that applies only during the covered trip. You may have coverage from other sources that provides you with similar benefits but may be subject to different restrictions depending upon your other coverages. You may wish to compare the terms of this policy with your existing life, health, home and automobile policies. The purchase of this plan is not required in order to purchase any other travel product or service offered to you by your travel retailers. If you have any questions about your current coverage, call your insurer, insurance agent or broker.  This notice provides general information on CSA’s products and services only. The information contained herein is not part of an insurance policy and may not be used to modify any insurance policy that might be issued. In the event the actual policy forms are inconsistent with any information provided herein, the language of the policy forms shall govern. 

Travel insurance plans are underwritten by: Generali U.S. Branch, New York, NY; NAIC # 11231. Generali US Branch operates under the following names: Generali Assicurazioni Generali S.P.A. (U.S. Branch) in California, Assicurazioni Generali – U.S. Branch in Colorado, Generali U.S. Branch DBA The General Insurance Company of Trieste & Venice in Oregon, and The General Insurance Company of Trieste and Venice – U.S. Branch in Virginia. Generali US Branch is admitted or licensed to do business in all states and the District of Columbia.

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Travel Trends: What’s Expected for 2017

With 2016 nearly behind us, we take a look at how travel trends have shifted in the last year and what to expect from your customers and the industry next year.

Travelers in the U.S. are expected to continue to spend and take more trips than ever before. A 2.8 percent rise in U.S. travel expenditures is forecast for 2017, along with 29 million more domestic person-trips, according to the U.S. Travel Association. If travelers are spending more, they’ll likely be more interested in protecting their trip costs by purchasing travel insurance.

The U.S. Commerce Department predicts that 2016 will end with about 700,000 fewer international visitors than the year before, but 2017 is looking up, with an expected 2.4% increase year over year. For a longer look at expectations for where international visitors will be originating from, five countries—Mexico, China, Canada, India and South Korea—are projected to account for 64% of visitor growth between now and 2021.

An AARP survey shows that 99% of Baby Boomers plan to travel for leisure in 2017 and about half plan to travel internationally, with an average of five or more trips expected throughout the year. The same report indicates that Millennials plan to take more trips than Generation X or the Baby Boomers.

The importance of travel to Millenials is clear, and though online travel purchasing is on the rise, they aren’t shying away from travel professionals. According to the 2016 Portrait of American Travelers by MMGY Global, 34% of that generation used a travel agent in the last year and 39% expect to use one over the next two years. That’s a good sign for the future of travel professionals, considering the overall use of a travel agent was pegged at 19%.

Travel Insurance

Over the last year, current events have shaped the travel insurance landscape. Here is a brief summary.

  • Illness: The U.S. Travel Insurance Association (UStiA) issued a press release explaining the relationship between the Zika outbreak and travel insurance. As the press release indicates, travelers must do their homework to determine if their travel insurance would provide coverage for a trip cancelled due to the Zika outbreak. We suggest that travelers call CSA with coverage questions of this type.
  • Extreme Weather: Although weather events can range from a winter storm to flooding, Hurricane Matthew was an extreme weather phenomenon that affected travelers in 2016. Weather.com recapped Hurricane Matthew’s destruction toll. Travelers who bought travel insurance well in advance of Hurricane Matthew could have been covered, but those who purchased policies after the storm had been named probably were not.
  • Current Events and Acts of Terrorism: From Brexit to the New York City bombing, there were numerous world events, bombings, shootings, attacks, and acts of terrorism both domestic and abroad in 2016. Frommers.com reported that Brexit meant temporary lower costs for American travelers, which may have encouraged travel to Britain. Travel insurance policies vary in coverages for these types of events. If deemed an “Act of Terrorism,” then an event could be covered. Fear of traveling to an area affected by an event may not ensure travel insurance coverage.

“The outcome is that travelers want to know more about travel insurance and what it covers in situations like these. Travel professionals and travel insurance companies are doing more to educate consumers to help them not only feel better protected while they travel, but better understand the protection they have in place,” said Bob Chambers, vice president of operations at CSA Travel Protection. “This growing awareness may be one reason why travel insurance companies are seeing an uptick in policies sold.”

In 2016, CSA Travel Protection reported an increase in travel insurance bookings up nine percent year over year.

Air

Flight fares are projected to increase 3.7% in North America next year, but only 2.5% worldwide, according to the Global Business Travel Association.

The Advito 2017 Industry Forecast highlights the fact that the number of flights from Canada to the U.S. jumped 10% in the last year and the number of available seats rose 20%. This follows a global trend of “more routes, more frequencies and bigger aircraft.”

Concerning what your customers might experience in 2017, the Advito report says “airlines are expected to test the market with fare hikes to see what customers will accept, and they’ll become less generous with ‘waivers and favors.’”

Consumer complaints to the U.S. Department of Transportation about airlines rose 38% percent year over year, according to the Airline Quality Rating 2016 report. Of the 15,260 complaints, 73% were for flight problems, baggage problems, reservation, ticketing and boarding issues, or customer service problems.

“These results clearly show that the air traveling public is not happy,” report co-researcher Brent Bowen said. “Passengers are reaching out and letting us know exactly that, based on the number of complaints filed with the Department of Transportation. The human element of air travel is obviously deteriorating, and passengers are fed up.”

While that doesn’t sound great, the report goes on to say that the rate of complaints is most likely rising because more people are flying—a good sign for most travel businesses.

In fact, other key airline statistics in the report indicate a better traveler experience. The rate of mishandled baggage saw a 17% drop and on-time performance for flights was about 80 percent, compared to 76 percent the year before.

Cruise

The Cruise Lines International Association’s (CLIA) Travel Agent Cruise Industry Outlook report highlights trends that agents have noticed and expect to see in the near future.

A continuing trend—river cruising is expected to show the most growth among cruise types, with 64% of travel agents saying they expect to sell more river cruise packages.

“In an uncertain world, cruisers seem to be looking for destinations that are closer to home,” the report stated, backed up by statistics that show Alaska as the top growth destination, with 62% of agents anticipating growth there, and California and the Pacific Coast making the top five destinations.

“The trend is also for them to come already informed with what they want, and securing the space more than nine months out,” as an agent that responded to the CLIA survey was quoted.

Tours

The popularity of “in-destination” travel experiences is growing and travelers want more than ever to get a taste of local life at their destination. With the majority of tour and activity operators being small and local businesses, they are perfectly positioned to gain from this trend.

The National Park Service Centennial celebration this year led to more park visits, and TravelAgeWest suggests that factor combined with concern over international terrorism will lead to more domestic tour bookings and road trips in 2017.

Stephen Joyce, a travel and tourism technology consultant, points out that the tourism industry is poised to jump from the manual inefficiencies of paper and pencils that predominate the market to better integrate technology in their reservation, marketing and management systems and flourish as a result.

“Fortunately, times are changing. With new tools and technologies, these predominantly small businesses are increasingly able to take advantage of global distribution through larger firms…” Joyce wrote.

While it’s difficult to foresee the complete travel insurance landscape for the next few years, CSA Travel Protection expects continued interest from consumers and travel industry professionals, and predicts that travel insurance will remain in high demand.

One thing is certain: as long as people travel by air, land or sea and seek the ultimate vacation destinations, they are making a trip investment. Travelers are becoming increasingly aware of unexpected circumstances that can arise during their trip. As a result, you might see more of your customers asking about travel insurance and we encourage you to educate about how a CSA plan could help them on their trip.

Travel insurance plans are administered by Customized Services Administrators, Inc., CA Lic. No. 0821931, located in San Diego, CA and doing business as CSA Travel Protection and Insurance Services.  Plans are available to residents of the U.S. but may not be available in all jurisdictions.  Benefits and services are described on a general basis; certain conditions and exclusions apply.

Travel insurance plans are underwritten by: Generali U.S. Branch, New York, NY; NAIC # 11231. Generali US Branch operates under the following names: Generali Assicurazioni Generali S.P.A. (U.S. Branch) in California, Assicurazioni Generali – U.S. Branch in Colorado, Generali U.S. Branch DBA The General Insurance Company of Trieste & Venice in Oregon, and The General Insurance Company of Trieste and Venice – U.S. Branch in Virginia. Generali US Branch is admitted or licensed to do business in all states and the District of Columbia.

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Majority of Travelers Have Experienced Winter Delays

Learn more about partnering with CSA

A majority of travelers have direct experience of winter weather throwing a wrench in their travel plans, which sets them up as ideal candidates for purchasing travel insurance. 56 percent of travelers reported experiencing a trip delay or cancellation due to inclement winter weather, according to “Winter Travel Fast Facts” released by TripAdvisor.

When offering travel insurance to clients we suggest using anecdotes to express what could happen to disrupt a trip and how a CSA Travel Protection plan can help in those situations. But, with a majority of winter travelers having experienced a delay or cancellation of their trip first-hand, they’re probably already well aware of the potential impact of unexpected winter weather on their vacation.

What could happen?

Winter is flu and cold season: Guests or their family members could become sick or injured and they could be unable to make the trip or must return home early.

Adverse Weather: A guest’s flight is canceled or roads are closed due to adverse weather such as a snowstorm.
See more real-life scenarios

How can a Guest Protect plan help?

Trip Cancellation coverage can provide reimbursement for unused, non-refundable, pre-paid trip costs if guests are prevented from taking their trip due to a covered reason.

Trip Interruption coverage can provide reimbursement for unused, non-refundable, pre-paid trip costs if a trip is interrupted due to a covered event. Also provides reimbursement for the additional transportation cost to return home or rejoin a group.

Travel Delay coverage can provide reimbursement for reasonable expenses incurred such as accommodations, meals and local transportation if travelers are delayed 12 hours or more during their trip due to a covered reason.
See more plan coverages

 

Travel insurance plans are administered by Customized Services Administrators, Inc., CA Lic. No. 821931, located in San Diego, CA and doing business as CSA Travel Protection and Insurance Services.  Plans are available to residents of the U.S. but may not be available in all jurisdictions. Benefits and services are described on a general basis; certain conditions and exclusions apply. Travel Retailers may not be licensed to sell insurance, in all states, and are not authorized to answer technical questions about the benefits, exclusions, and conditions of this insurance and cannot evaluate the adequacy of your existing insurance.  This plan provides insurance coverage for your trip that applies only during the covered trip. You may have coverage from other sources that provides you with similar benefits but may be subject to different restrictions depending upon your other coverages. You may wish to compare the terms of this policy with your existing life, health, home and automobile policies. The purchase of this plan is not required in order to purchase any other travel product or service offered to you by your travel retailers. If you have any questions about your current coverage, call your insurer, insurance agent or broker.  This notice provides general information on CSA’s products and services only. The information contained herein is not part of an insurance policy and may not be used to modify any insurance policy that might be issued. In the event the actual policy forms are inconsistent with any information provided herein, the language of the policy forms shall govern. 

Travel insurance plans are underwritten by: Generali U.S. Branch, New York, NY; NAIC # 11231. Generali US Branch operates under the following names: Generali Assicurazioni Generali S.P.A. (U.S. Branch) in California, Assicurazioni Generali – U.S. Branch in Colorado, Generali U.S. Branch DBA The General Insurance Company of Trieste & Venice in Oregon, and The General Insurance Company of Trieste and Venice – U.S. Branch in Virginia. Generali US Branch is admitted or licensed to do business in all states and the District of Columbia.

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