You’ve been with Cover Genius for a number of years, but you have been in the industry for much longer. What do you think have been the main changes in the industry in that time?
I just celebrated four years at Cover Genius, which has been an extremely rewarding and challenging experience. I have been working in the travel industry for almost my entire career but in a few different capacities. Transitioning over to insurtech from the traditional travel and insurance space was a change that allowed me to look behind the scenes at how technology, innovation and true customer centricity can improve the customer experience when their travel plans don’t go as planned. Our partners don’t ever want things to go awry but it is a reality for factors often outside their control.
Transparency and accessibility are key for our policies, which keep the end customer in mind
The industry has undergone a massive overhaul since Covid-19 and I’m excited to see the change towards a customer-first approach. Travel is nearly at the levels we saw before the pandemic and is set to see a banner year in 2024, according to many airlines. With this change towards being customer-centric, airlines are increasingly looking at ways they can provide more tech-forward solutions that make both the online and offline experience better. This is especially true when it comes to protection solutions. Our partners have turned to us because we are able to provide solutions through technology that are catered to the pain points their customers have experienced in the past through less flexible solutions.
Companies are also looking at how technology can drive personalisation when it comes to protection, as well as ensuring that policies are easy to understand and purchase. Transparency and accessibility are key for our policies, which keep the end customer in mind. This is yet another way the industry has changed. They are ensuring that how they communicate to their customers is clear and at the core of what they do.
You’ve recently partnered with Mix & Match, an online travel agent in Australia. Why are partnerships like this so important to the business, and how do you choose who to work with?
We choose to work with partners that are looking to be customer-centric, technology-first and global – this can be an OTA, airline, accommodation provider or live events company. They all have similar needs but each require their own customised approach to providing the right protection and solutions which make sense for them.
We’ve seen a number of new travel partner announcements of late – Mix & Match, Via.com, SAS (Scandinavian Airlines), Spirit Airlines – and we have been able to work together to find solutions that are bespoke to their specific customers. These companies have global ambitions, looking to grow to new markets, but are also focused on finding tech-enabled solutions that go beyond the traditional ‘off-the-shelf’ static approach, to one which offers the right products, at the right time and at the right price, enabling customers to choose the protection that best suits them, from either a bundled or unbundled selection.
Tell us about your distribution platform, XCover.
XCover is our award-winning global distribution platform for warranty, insurance and other protection solutions. The platform makes it simple for our partners to embed and offer any line of insurance or other types of protection solutions directly to their global customers with a single application programming interface (API) call. This API is embedded directly into our partners’ websites for policy purchases.
With our global team, we are able to work with different insurers in every region to find and create the bespoke solutions needed for partners
XCover.com is the consumer-facing brand that offers customers an end-to-end experience, from post-purchase to policy administration, claims, policy wordings and instant payments. Upon purchasing protection, customers can manage their policies, access support, file claims, make changes and obtain refunds, all through their XCover.com account. Policyholders can access their policies and claims through XCover.com, the website to access XCover, even if they’ve purchased policies from different brands – it’s all located on the same platform.
The XCover.com customer journey reduces the customer support burden on partners and results in a higher post-claims NPS [net promoter score] and customer return rates. For partners, this focus on the customer experience can be a key differentiator, which also helps to drive greater customer lifetime value.
You have customers in over 60 countries, and across 50 US states. How difficult is it to operate so successfully globally?
Operating globally is difficult for all companies! At Cover Genius, however, compliance is at the core of what we do and we’ve done the heavy lifting in this area so our partners don’t have to navigate this difficult terrain
when it comes to protection. Instead, we are licensed or authorised in more than 60 countries and all 50 US states to help make sure our partners are met with their local needs when operating globally.
We announced earlier this year that we have sold more than 25 million policies to more than 14 million customers around the world – and both numbers continue to grow. We’ve had a great year and are continuing to grow our products, services and teams around the world. With our global team, we are able to work with different insurers in every region to find and create the bespoke solutions needed for partners. And, the global touch helps us operate across time zones, cultures and languages.
Not only have we been able to find success in this space with a global team, but we have also remained agile when it comes to adapting to the needs of our partners. Our team is able to work internally to create products for partners and have a global network we can rely on for additional support to provide the right solutions that make sense for them.
How have the geopolitical challenges of recent years, such as the Covid-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine, affected how you operate – if at all?
Geopolitical circumstances affect many companies in different ways – ours is no exception. The Covid-19 pandemic allowed the travel industry to take stock of its strengths and weaknesses, which allowed it to improve on many of its services, such as protection. Not only did companies look at ways to improve their own core business functions and how they catered to customers, but consumers themselves changed their views on what they could expect from companies. When the travel industry started opening up again after the pandemic, there were many concerns about illness, flight cancellations, and even additional airport closures. Customers saw protection as a must-have requirement rather than an option.
The more recent geopolitical events have reminded travellers that travel doesn’t always go as planned for reasons outside their control. Conflicts, staff shortages, severe weather and strikes lead to flight delays and cancellations in the industry and drive travellers to seek out ways to want to secure their purchases. For partners, it’s an opportunity for them to provide the right solutions, at the right time and at the right price; for travellers, it’s an opportunity to look at protecting themselves and their travel investments.
XClaim, your API for instant payments, launched in 2018. Can you tell us why it has been so successful?
Our partners benefit from XClaim, the API for instant payments that supports any XCover claim, because we are able to instantly process payments for approved customer claims in real time, via bank transfer, loyalty points, store credit, virtual prepaid card, credit card top-up or any of the popular e-wallets, in more than 90 different currencies around the world. The flexibility and tech-forward approach allows partners to choose their preferred payment methods for instant payments.
When instant payments are needed and depending on customer preferences, XClaim can also pay into multiple digital wallets including Revolut, PayPal, Venmo, Alipay, Grab, WeChat, LINE or, even, to cash pickup networks throughout Asia. Payments can also be made via credit/debit card OCT [original credit transaction], or to virtual prepaid cards. There are a number of possibilities that can be reviewed and customised for each individual partner, which can help lead travellers and partners to higher customer satisfaction rates.
What new tech innovations are next for Cover Genius?
Artificial intelligence (AI) and natural language processing (NLP) are driving the insurtech industry right now. They can help analyse data in real time to show relevant products and solutions at the right price. We are able to provide various unique and unbundled options for travellers based on their needs. For example, we are able to provide Delay Valet, which uses real-time flight data to provide travellers with instant resolution of their claims and automatic compensation in the form of cash, lounge passes, or flight credit, in the event their flight is delayed. It’s an innovative solution for airlines and agents that protects travellers if their trip is sidetracked by unexpected delays, but not cancelled. These types of customisable solutions are our focus for the future and will rely on NLP capabilities to identify relevant needs, match them to product categories and return an optimised policy to the customer via API.