What made you want to start TravelInsurance.com, and how has your previous experience in the industry helped with your decision?
One of the main reasons I started TravelInsurance.com was to simplify the way people shopped for and purchased travel insurance in the US. My Co-Founder, Drew Sharma, and I recognised that there were real problems with the way travel insurance was sold in the US. Most US travellers only came across travel insurance in one of two ways – first, as a 'take-it-or-leave-it' checkbox at end of a purchase on an OTA or airline website; or when their travel agent offered it at the end of a booking. In both cases, consumers were left with a last-second decision to make with little to no chance of understanding the value of a travel insurance purchase. We launched TravelInsurance.com to give consumers the ability to compare and purchase travel insurance in a fair and crystal-clear way, with detailed information only a couple of clicks away.
My prior experience working for the travel company that became Travelport helped me understand the dynamics of a travel insurance sale and was a key element in designing an experience that helped instill confidence in consumers buying travel insurance in a self-service way.
What sets your site apart from other travel insurance comparison sites?
We believe that TravelInsurance.com offers the easiest and most transparent shopping experience for consumers looking for travel insurance. We designed the site to give travellers detailed information in a clear and transparent way. TravelInsurance.com also offers only top-rated products from the most recognized global brands. Today, TravelInsurance.com is also the largest independent travel insurance marketplace. Our main competitors are either owned by an insurance company or favour their in-house brands. TravelInsurance.com presents a curated list of options in a completely unbiased way, which benefits the consumer first.
What is your mission at TravelInsurance.com?
Our mission is simply to make shopping for and buying travel insurance easy. We want to help educate consumers on the value of travel insurance – from protecting one’s hard-earned investment in a vacation to providing travel medical and evacuation coverage when overseas. One way we’ve accomplished this is by offering quick and easy summary of quotes and a true comparison table that allows consumers to compare benefits and coverage on an ‘apples-to-apples’ basis. The single biggest complaint from consumers coming into the travel insurance market for the first time is the complexity and the confusion over what benefits are included and excluded. They are confused by the array of choices and the differences between insurance companies, and the differences between them. TravelInsurance.com was designed to eliminate as much as possible the complexities in researching and comparing travel insurance. We try to provide information in a more accessible and digestible way for the average consumer.
How has your job changed during the pandemic and after? What challenges did you face?
It’s hard to understate the impact the pandemic had on the entire travel industry, including the travel insurance industry. In March of 2020, the travel world shut down. And with the shutdown, travel insurance sales dropped dramatically. We immediately pivoted the business to focus our attention on helping customers who had already purchased insurance. For many travellers, trips were cancelled and they were refunded all of their money by the airlines or hotels. In those instances, travel insurance providers offered vouchers to customers to use on a future trip. We helped facilitate customer resolution with the travel insurance providers.
Is there anything that changed during the pandemic that you hope will stick around in the travel insurance industry?
The biggest change we saw in the travel insurance industry was the inclusion of coverage for Covid-19. Prior to the pandemic, most travel insurance plans had a general exclusion for pandemics or epidemics. We expect Covid-19 coverage to continue in the foreseeable future. The travel insurance industry has always been responsive to new types of travel disruptions. For example, the industry introduced cancellation coverage for terrorist events after September 11, 2001, and cancellation coverage for natural disasters after the Iceland volcanic eruption in 2010 that shut down air travel in Europe for a week.
What is your ideal travel destination?
My ideal travel destination is one that offers a combination of natural beauty, outdoor activities, and delicious foods. One of my favourite destinations is Nosara on the Nicoya Peninsula in Costa Rica. It’s a small town about two hours from Liberia, which makes it relatively off the beaten path. Nosara offers trekking through unblemished rainforests and some of the best surfing in Central America. And since development on the beaches has been restricted in Nosara, the beaches are pristine. And the food and sunsets are unforgettable.