An article in the late summer edition of The Insurance & Investment Journal discusses a side of travel which tends not to be at the top of mind in planning priorities, but which, if not set-up, could have serious financial consequences. The issue: travel insurance.
A recent survey of Canadians found that 89% felt they had at least a reasonable understanding of what they were getting in their policies. However, it appears the greatest concern is the time it takes to process claims.
On the insurer side, the major factors in slow response are deemed to be the complexity with out-of-country claims, i.e. different medical systems, languages, and time zones, communications with the claimant’s doctor in Canada, and evaluating medical files. This problem can be enhanced if the underlying expense of the claim is sizable.
I can personally attest to the advantage of having a small, well-documented claim. On the last day of a recent cruise I went twice to the medical office on board, concerning elevated blood pressure due to stress from dehydration. The two meetings with the doctor resulted in an unexpected bill I had to pay for on our ship expenses account. Before departing the next morning, I received a multi-page report plus a detailed invoice from the medical office. This made it easy to provide necessary detail to the insurance company back home, in my case happily resulting in full reimbursement, somewhat sooner than originally suggested.
Clearly my tale of claim has had a faster positive resolution than experienced by many.
As with so much of modern life, technology plays an increasingly integral part. However, those comfortable with obtaining quotes and purchasing policies via online platforms or mobile apps have increasingly higher expectations of the process. Perhaps it’s good for insurers that, based on the Canadian survey, currently this approach still only applies to about one-third of those seeking coverage. While the trend for online purchase of trips continue to increase, and so too will purchasing insurance, those with more complex medical issues continue to prefer purchasing by phone or in person. From what I’ve witnessed in the on-line process, there indeed can be more flexibility not doing it this way.
Considering the importance of having travel insurance, especially when going to another country, perhaps there should be more options for its customers, such as:
- Policy holders able to submit pictures of themselves with $ signs on body parts; the larger the font, the more dollars to insure those parts
- Policies worded in Esperanto, helping to encourage a static, but still laudable, international movement
- A rider for hardship caused by misinterpreting a foreign language communication
- Special coverage applicable for side effects from walking through old buildings with narrow, hot and stuffy alleyways
- Food and beverage swallowed protection against negative physical reactions to unfamiliar dishes or drink concoctions
- A special provision in coverage for loss of baggage to reimburse for lost souvenirs, taking into account both face and emotional costs
- To reduce the stress of the ‘rip-off prices’ factor, for retail vendors with locations at airports or train stations, assured discounts issued for their exterior locations
- A rider providing compensation for a disappointing mix of pictures and videos taken
- An addendum to compensate for distress caused by major travel providers such as airlines, for supplying comfort or timeliness in a highly non-peace of mind manner
- Partial rebates for cruise booked shore excursions, to the extent that the whims of a tour guide or travel logistics cause a crater in the enjoyability of an experience
When it comes to making leisure travel enjoyable, paying a little extra to ensure a better experience is the insure thing to do.