You’ve got more than 20 years of experience in the travel insurance sector; what are the most significant changes you’ve witness during that time?
Direct to consumer and aggregators online would be the main driver of change over the last 20 years, however quite surprisingly little has changed in regard to product construct. Commission pressures for intermediaries or cost of online acquisition almost represent a similar portion of premiums, leaving underlying travel insurance products much the same as they have ever been both on and offline.
In recent years, there have been plays by large insurers to entertain an intermediary whilst building up their own brands to ultimately compete in the same space with lower acquisition costs. Regulatory bodies have also transformed the industry, demanding more transparency in selling techniques and claims practices, which is a welcomed oversight for consumers.
You’ve worked in different regions of the world, have there been any major culture shocks you’ve experienced and had to adjust to, whether for work or home?
Surprisingly, there were no large culture shocks with most markets operating with similar competitive tensions, consumer behaviours, online adoption and portfolio experience.
Personally, returning back to Australia reminds me how fortunate we are with our weather and air quality in contrast to London and New York, which both suffer from car pollutants and bad traffic. Noticeably during lockdown in London, air quality improved showing that a reduction of traffic can make a meaningful difference.
Do you think that sometimes travel insurers and assistance providers can lag behind other sectors of insurance in terms of adoption of new underwriting techniques or technology?
Although there has been a lot of buzz with insurtech activity and tech trends to unlock a variety of opportunities, little appears to translate for travel, as most big insurers do not necessarily have innovation in their DNA.
Many approaches are mired in legacy issues and with recent industry headwinds, many will be looking to rebuild after Covid-19 rather than innovate with untested products or new coverages. Margins will always be a major determinate in appetite for change, however, limited competition also reduces the need to do so.
Why did you build Crisis Cover – did you identify a gap in the market?
After many years in industry, I could see gaps in the market where travel insurance consumers were often left with uncertainty over what they were practically covered for. Insurance is generally sold on the hope a claim will not be made, and complex wordings are generally attached to policies. Events such as pandemics, civil unrest, war and terrorism are generally excluded and claim outcomes are determined long after these events.
Crisis Cover is proactive 24/7 worldwide service delivering geolocation security and evacuation membership in the most dangerous and remote parts of the world. We cover events like pandemics, civil unrest, war and terrorism. In the event of a crisis, members simply tap an alert button on their device that immediately connects them to our team.
Or using the latest tracking technology, we can reach out to them before they even know they are in danger. In times of need, we have security, evacuation and crisis personnel on the ground to contact, locate and bring our members to safety.
There is no claims process after and event or incident, we simply do what we need to do to bring our members to safety.
What are the keys to successful partnerships between insurers and assistance companies?
Transparency in costs within the partnership along with highly skilled clinical staff, with good, early decision making are most effective in managing claims.
Medical assistance companies often work closely with hospitals as well as insurers; how difficult is it sometimes to be the go-between in the middle of the two organisations? What does it take to work effectively with both parties?
Some level of friction is required to ensure healthy debate along with consistency in management of claims. Equally respecting each other’s skill sets aids in clear responsibilities and improved patient outcomes.
What has your experience in the travel assistance sector taught you about the business that you would like to pass on to the next generation of professionals coming through the ranks?
A lot of insurance organisations emblazon their values of what they represent to their boards, staff, providers and customers. In this value chain, truly understanding the customer is a key driver for future success and all parts of the organisation need to work towards that with a level of common purpose.
Working for an organisation that is transparent with its offer and has a genuine desire to deliver on its promise is highly rewarding. My advice is to find organisations that do this well.
Covid has wrought its havoc, and it seems like the world is starting to emerge from it. Where are you most looking forward to travelling to, and why?
From my office I can easily see international flights slowly starting to return to Australia. Each conjures up thoughts of places to visit. Given I’ve taken every possible opportunity to travel to many places in the northern hemisphere in the last five years, I feel I have not given enough time to outback Australia. So, for the medium term I’m going to take advantage exploring up the Cape of Queensland and possibly a cruise along the Kimberly Coast of Western Australia.