AIG has served the global travel industry for over 75 years. The company first entered the market by providing baggage insurance to international travellers pre-World War II and further expanded its travel business in the following years. AIG Travel, Inc. (AIG Travel), a member of American International Group, Inc., is a worldwide leader in travel insurance solutions and assistance. Travel Guard®, founded in 1982 and acquired in 2006 by American International Group, Inc. (AIG), is the marketing name for its portfolio of travel insurance solutions and travel-related services, sold to millions of leisure and business travelers around the globe.
ITIJ 197, July 2017
AIG Travel has a complete portfolio of travel insurance solutions and global assistance services to meet the diverse needs of leisure and business travellers alike. Our insurance plans are trusted every year by millions of travellers and thousands of companies worldwide.
AIG Travel’s eight global service centers are located in Houston, Texas, US (worldwide headquarters); Stevens Point, Wisconsin, US; Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; Bogotá, Colombia; Sofia, Bulgaria; Okinawa, Japan; Shoreham, England; and Guangzhou, China. Customers have access to 24/7 emergency travel assistance, medical and security services.
Customers benefit from our flexible technology platforms and connections to all major travel distribution systems. With over 45,000 distribution outlets worldwide, AIG Travel manages more connections to travel industry distribution systems in more countries than any other travel insurance provider. We make travel insurance distribution easy with minimal demand on client resources. And with our patented C3 technology, we provide clients with the ability to drive ancillary revenue performance and deliver value-added service to their customers.
AIG Travel frequently receives recognition for its innovative plans, services and people; in fact, the Travel Guard portfolio has been honored numerous times over the years, including in 2015, as best travel insurance.
• Flight re-bookings
• Hotel re-bookings
• Lost baggage search and stolen luggage replacement assistance
• And more…
Travel Medical Assistance
• Emergency medical evacuation transportation assistance
• Physician/hospital/dental/vision referrals
• Return travel arrangements
• And more…
Travel Security Assistance
• Evacuation assistance
• Crisis management support
• Alerts/incident monitoring/advisories
• And more…
What are your main distribution channels for travel insurance? How is your distribution split between these channels?
Travel Guard plans are distributed through virtually every distribution channel in the industry, including directly and by 12,000 travel affiliates (i.e., travel agents, airline partners, etc.).
Do you have any affinity deals/white-labelling agreements in place?
AIG Travel markets its customised travel insurance and assistance programmes on a co-branded or private-label basis for hundreds of business partners throughout the world.
Who are your assistance partners?
AIG Travel owns and manages key service operations via its wholly owned service centers around the world. By owning and managing these key service operations – rather than outsourcing them – we provide consistent quality service standards that are among the highest in the industry in order to service leisure and business customers. Our in-house global service centers are staffed by personnel with a broad spectrum of industry backgrounds, multi-lingual skills, geographical and cultural expertise.
What are your latest travel insurance products?
In July 2015, AIG Travel launched Travel Guard® Travel Tracer Powered by NC4™. The globally available online tool provides a comprehensive, configurable risk-management solution that gives employers and organisations the opportunity to track and manage the safety of business travellers, employees and fixed assets worldwide. The technology is designed to generate real-time, targeted incident alerts pertinent to an organisation’s traveller or business locations and geo-coded to the street level. Features include: a situation map, real-time incident tracking, daily global flashpoints, on-demand reports, pre-trip advisories, and alerts.
In which countries/regions do you sell the most travel insurance policies?
AIG Travel sells the most travel insurance policies in Japan, the UK and the US.
Do you have any forthcoming new products/deals on the horizon?
AIG Travel is always looking to enhance its offerings for consumers and distribution partners, where it makes sense. In 2015, we focused on improving the business traveller experience, offering tailored information – not typically available via traditional means – for organisations and their employees.
AIG Travel launched its First Notice of Claims Loss (FNOL) tool for leisure customers in the US Now, a customer or his or her travel agent can submit claims online – at a website optimised for mobile, tablet and PC/laptop – at the time most convenient for them. Via the tool, customers can:
• Obtain a claim number instantly
• Upload documents and photos via smart phones or other devices
• E-sign important claim documents
• Check the status of a claim online anytime
• Communicate directly with a claims adjuster via the message center
• Receive timely text or email updates about claim status
Do you underwrite your own travel policies?
AIG Travel underwrites travel policies in-house.
Do you manage your own claims, or do you work with a claims management company?
AIG Travel primarily manages its own claims, but may utilise claims management companies for specific products.
What is your experience in the travel insurance industry, and what do you enjoy most about your current role?
I’ve worked in the travel insurance industry since 1999, when I joined AIG to help establish its global travel e-commerce operations. Over the past 16 years, I’ve served as regional vice-president for our Asia-Pacific travel operations, president of the global travel division, and since 2009, CEO of AIG Travel. However, my roots in the travel industry were planted in 1987, when I began my career with AMR Corporation, where I held management positions at American Airlines and Sabre. Before joining AIG, I served as a senior marketing executive at Certified Vacations, managing the Delta Vacations brand.
The best part of my current role is having the opportunity to lead within a truly global organisation. In our industry, in which reach is everything, it’s immensely empowering to have access to the operational reach of a Global 50 organisation like AIG. A result of this, which I personally appreciate, is the organisation’s ability to attract top talent. The breadth and depth of experience at AIG Travel is incredible. Collaborating with the best people in the industry makes me better at my job every day, but I’m particularly aware of this privilege when a crisis strikes. In situations like the one we experienced in April 2015, when we facilitated the evacuation of 100 clients from earthquake-stricken Nepal, I realise this expertise is not just a differentiator, it’s a lifesaver. Working with a global team to serve clients at that level is humbling.
What are your current key objectives?
A few items are top of my mind, but we’re particularly focused on improving the traveller experience.
We’re already one of the world’s largest insurers, but continuing to expand our reach globally is vital to being able to serve customers anywhere, anytime. In 2015, we opened our eighth global service center in Guangzhou, China. We continue to consider additional opportunities to better serve customers from major hubs around the world.
Travel tools: We’re also developing new opportunities to empower our clients with the information they need to make smart travel decisions. In 2015, we launched the Travel Guard® Travel Tracer tool for our corporate clients, and in 2016, we’ll seek similar opportunities to provide customized information to leisure travelers on the go.
Sustainability is also a key objective: consumer interest in sustainability isn’t unique to the travel industry, but I’d argue that the global nature of our business makes it particularly vital. AIG Travel has made a commitment to sustainability in its own office by going paperless and insuring renewable energy programs, but we’re also looking outward to how we may be able to help move the industry as a whole. In 2015, I became a Vice Chairman of the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) – for which sustainable travel is a key pillar – and in 2016; AIG Travel is the headline sponsor of the WTTC’s Tourism for Tomorrow Awards, which celebrate sustainability best practices by tourism businesses, organizations and destinations.
What are some of the biggest challenges currently facing global travel insurers, and how are these being met?
I believe that the biggest challenge facing our industry today isn’t new; it’s the complex nature of travel insurance combined with a lack of awareness, especially in the US. Despite the fact that trips can cost thousands of dollars, and many factors are outside of traveller control, purchasing insurance for travel isn’t a ‘no brainer’ like purchasing insurance for houses, cars and even mobile phones. In reality, if you lose your passport, in most cases, travel insurance pays for itself. That doesn’t even account for the services most plans provide, like concierge services, or the intangible benefits that come with peace of mind. The key is educating consumers on these core benefits, while continuing to improve products and services for existing clients.
Overall, though, we’re slowly seeing awareness increase, especially with millennials. Increasingly, many in this group are looking for ‘authentic experiences’, which often involve exotic destinations that lack the infrastructure more traditional destinations have. Travel insurance may be even more vital for trips like these, and we offer custom plans that acknowledge vacations aren’t ‘one size fits all’. They’re designed to allow travellers to choose the coverage most appropriate for them. We also offer specialty packages, like adventure travel insurance, which include emergency travel medical expense coverage and more.
How do you see travel insurance products and services developing in the coming years?
In my opinion, travel insurance products across the industry will need to become increasingly consumer-centric to compete and to appeal to a more educated consumer. We’ve seen this theme of ‘choice’ abound in the travel industry lately (for example, in the number of distribution channels and customised plans available), and I believe that’s only going to accelerate as everyone runs toward the goal of offering personalised experiences. The challenge, of course, is ensuring this proliferation of choice doesn’t further confuse travellers. At AIG Travel, we’re taking the time to ensure new offerings are strategic and truly benefit our clients and customers.