Global insurance and reinsurance company Mapfre Asistencia interview

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Interview: Mapfre Asistencia

Mapfre Asistencia considers itself a global insurance, reinsurance and service-providing company within the Mapfre family, a multinational company with a worldwide presence in 49 countries on five continents, doing business in more than one hundred countries

The company was established in Madrid in 1986. Between 1987 and 1995, it began its international expansion into America, Europe and Africa, starting with Portugal and Venezuela.

The travel insurance line was launched in 1990, and in 1997, new products and services were introduced, including: travel insurance, tele-assistance, tele-marketing, lost and found, cost containment and card protection. The specialty risks operations commenced in 2003 with the launch of the Mapfre warranty line. 

2007 marked the launch of Futura, a smart platform designed to completely automate the assistance process. In 2009, iWarranty came onto the market as an exclusive mechanical warranty product, along with Phoenix Internacional and E-Traveller, key tools for the distribution of travel insurance and speciality risks. 

UK company InsureandGo became part of Mapfre Assistencia in 2010, introducing online retail sales. MA assist, Mapfre’s roadside assistance service app automated by GPS, was launched in 2011. 

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Mapfre Asistencia has received numerous prestigious prizes in its sector: the 2005 ITIJ Award (the most renowned in the international assistance industry) and the 2011 and 2013 ITIJ Award for Best Travel Insurance Company. In 2013, it joined the UNWTO through Ampere, and published the first edition of the Travel Insurance Observatory, a study on the main health risks occurring in destination countries, both for tourists and business travellers. 

With 6,314 employees and a presence on five continents, Mapfre Asistencia has 111.9 million beneficiaries, and provided more than 10 million assistance services in 2014.

Mapfre offers assistance, service and specialty risk solutions to companies, individuals and brokers. These products and services are aimed at the travel, automotive, finance and insurance sectors. Mapfre Asistencia has two main brands: assistance, for assistance services, and warranty, for specialty risks and lifestyle protection products. 

Industry insights 

Social media and unprecedented access to information, such as peer-to-peer product and service reviews, are giving greater power to consumers, creating more informed and demanding customers

What are your main distribution channels for travel insurance? 
Our sales strategy is based on multi-channel distribution geared around both the offline and online world, and the main ones are travel agencies (our own and aggregators), our own sales agent network, online sales platforms, contact centres, online chats and social networks. Travel assistance is run through our Mapfre Assistencia brands; Segurviaje, TravelProtect, and InsureandGo, considered to be the largest distributor of online travel insurance.

Do you have any affinity deals/white-labelling agreements in place? 
We have numerous agreements with affiliates, partners who market our products, whether through co-branding, under our own InsureandGo brand, or under a white label. Examples of our white-labelling agreements include those with Gatwick Airport, Virgin Money and Argos online. 

Who are your assistance partners? 
We have the world’s largest in-house assistance network, with 31,500 international service centres. However, in some of the markets where we don’t have a physical presence, we team up with trusted partners who act as providers of the quality services required for the various cases.

What are your latest travel insurance products?
Cruise Insurance in Australia and the US, and Expatriate Insurance. We have just launched our Global Expat insurance, which offers the best medical protection tailored to every type of expatriate and their family, in the destination country, in the country of origin, and for trips elsewhere around the world. 

In which countries do you sell the most travel insurance policies?
The greatest concentration can be found in the following five markets: UK, France, China, Brazil and Australia. In general, all LATAM countries are a major sales source. 

Do you have any forthcoming new products or deals? 
Thanks to our agreement with the European organisation Erasmus (ESN), Mapfre Asistencia will be providing coverage to Erasmus students through our InsureandGo online travel insurance platform. 
Starting from the next school year, more than 250,000 students will be able to enjoy various policies, such as medical assistance, repatriation in the event of an accident, or luggage recovery, in 18 European countries – a number which is expected to increase. In addition, our quest for permanent innovation means we will soon also be launching a new line of travel insurance based on new technology.

ITIJ spoke to Alejandro Boutin Sánchez, Mapfre’s deputy general manager for business and clients 

With 6,314 employees and a presence on five continents, Mapfre Asistencia has 111.9 million beneficiaries, and provided more than 10 million assistance services in 2014.

What is your experience in the travel insurance industry, and what do you enjoy most about your current role?
I work at the assistance competence centre at the main HQ, where we are constantly looking at the market trends, emerging technologies and their impact on travel to develop customer-centric models.
The travel industry is a very dynamic market and, as an insurer, we need to keep constant pace with consumer needs and expectations. There are new players in the industry that force us to redefine our strategic vision and focus on new customer relationships. This is what I enjoy the most about my current role: having vision and participating within the organisation to transform business models to embrace digital and introduce innovative culture.

What are your current key objectives?
Travel is a fast-changing environment, and some of my key objectives relate to the development of a product range based on client needs. Another goal is to support and advise our business units across the continents to share the same vision and build a competitive edge.

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What are some of the biggest challenges currently facing global travel insurers, and how are these being met?
Global travel insurers face different challenges. To start with, they have to improve the effectiveness of their communications. Insurers have to apply segmentation and data analytics to design an effective customer experience, taking advantage of the power of digital in an integrated channel strategy. Lastly, global travel insurers need to continually evolve customer propositions to meet changing market needs.

How do you see travel insurance products and services developing in the coming years?
It is said that by 2020, 80 per cent of the global population will have access to mobile phones, more than 60 per cent to smartphones or low-cost tablet computers, and more than 50 billion connected devices globally. Online interaction with clients and service delivery will have to be enhanced through a variety of channels, based on customer needs. Social media and unprecedented access to information, such as peer-to-peer product and service reviews, are giving greater power to consumers, creating more informed and demanding customers. The impact of all this is creating demand for faster, smarter and better travel insurance solutions.