Trawick International was founded in 1998. For many years, the company provided student insurance to universities, independent students and scholars as well as international student and study abroad insurance plans to students traveling outside of their home country. After more than a decade of providing these insurance products, Trawick International® moved into the travel sector and began offering travel insurance plans to clients from around the world. Tuman Global Solutions (TGS), a division of Trawick International, was launched in April 2021.
Dan Tuman, CEO of Tuman Global Solutions, spoke about challenges and opportunities the company has identified since its inception
It's fair to say that the following 12 months were some of the most difficult the travel industry has ever seen. How did a brand-new division cope with the challenges it faced?
Tuman Global Solutions’ specialty is providing insurance products to organisations and expats operating and living in geopolitically unstable regions of the world. The past 12 months have been extremely difficult to navigate, but also have provided ample opportunities for our organisation. NGOs and international corporations are still very committed to investing in areas like Africa and the Middle East. We are well positioned to offer them innovative insurance products to meet their needs.
In what products does Tuman Global Solutions specialise?
TGS offers a variety of products based on the needs of the customer. For NGOs and corporations, we provide the following products: Defense Base Act Insurance, Foreign Group Health, Group Life Insurance, Group Disability Insurance, Personal Accident Insurance, Commercial Auto/Fleet Insurance Property Insurance, Commercial Liability Insurance, Political Violence Insurance Including War & Terrorism, Kidnap & Ransom Insurance, Professional Liability Insurance, Directors & Officers Liability Insurance and Transit and Cargo Insurance.
For expats, we offer: Disability Insurance, Health Insurance, and Critical Illness, and are looking to add more products in the near future.
For travellers, we offer a full suite of Trawick International insurance products for inbound travellers to the US. Also, we offer Hot Spot Cover travel insurance, which is designed to cover travellers going to unstable areas of the world.
How difficult was it to find underwriters that were willing to take on the risks that you wanted to insure with your high-risk policies?
This is certainly a specialised market in which knowledge and experience are prerequisites. Some markets serve these volatile areas, but it often comes down to the quality of the submission. Quality underwriting information usually takes the mystery out of these risks. Due to capacity constraints, you will receive preferential treatment if the proposal provides a clear overview of the risk with the proper controls in place. Due to the many years of experience in this sector of insurance, Tuman Global Solutions has relationships with insurers across the globe that can address almost any risk in challenging parts of the world.
Are you seeing recovery in the global expat and business travel market now? How are different regions reacting to travel opening up?
We essentially see companies ‘placing their toes in the water’. There is a noticeable lack of commitment to conducting business in the same manner before the COVID-19 pandemic.
The main reason is the uncertainty of travel restrictions. Governments can reinstitute these restrictions with very little notice. Companies are hesitant to risk the business expense of relocating expatriates if there is a likelihood of travel rules changes. There are generally more restrictions in place traveling to western countries than to developing countries. This is because the infection rates in Africa are significantly lower compared to Europe or North America.
You've been in the international insurance market for some time now; what are the most important lessons you've learned throughout your career?
When placing a risk, the number one lesson is never to accept ‘no’ as the ultimate answer. Many brokers think there is only one international market: that being Lloyd’s of London. The global insurance market is diverse and broader than one may realise. Being professionally persistent does pay in the end.
Another lesson I would like to mention, especially for those starting out in this industry, international insurance was and will most likely always be a relationship business. It is critical to create and solidify personal relationships with key clients, underwriters and brokers.
People want to do business with others that they know, trust and can deliver results. Please get to know your clients on a personal level, including their families and hobbies. Relationships can help you sail through trouble waters.
If you could give your younger self some professional advice about the insurance sector, what would it be?
To be successful in this business, I believe it comes down to two main qualities: being a positive person and simply working hard. People want to be around positive people. They feed off that energy that ‘we can climb Mount Kilimanjaro together’! Who would you rather spend time with? A person whose initial instincts are because so and so reasons ‘it can’t be done’, or someone that says ‘I will find the answer for you’? Positive energy can be infectious or, at the very least, instils confidence and may even brighten the other person’s day. Regarding effort, there is no substitute for plain old hard work. Clients can instantly sense from your initial communication, whether you are going to put forth the necessary effort to accomplish their request. This will ultimately separate you from your competitors.
Bailey Foster, VP of Trip Cancellation, Trawick International, gave details about how the company has responded to changing risks in the market, and meeting customer demands during the pandemic
Trip cancellation products are becoming more customised to travellers’ unique needs. What are you doing differently to other providers?
Since the pandemic began in March of 2020, our team worked with our underwriter to ensure that our trip cancellation products didn't exclude losses for Covid-19. We differ from most insurance providers because we offer the Cancel for Any Reason (CFAR) benefit on certain trip cancellation products. The CFAR benefit provides travellers with additional protection, allowing them to cancel their trip for any reason up to two days before their trip is scheduled to begin. We also offer one of the highest reimbursement rates for the CFAR benefit at 75 per cent for prepaid travellers’ trip expenses. Very few travel insurance providers offer this benefit at the rate we do. Our competitors only allow up to 50 per cent reimbursement for prepaid expenses and require their customers to purchase the CFAR benefit 14 days after buying their initial travel cancellation plan. We enable our customers an additional seven days to buy the CFAR benefit.
The last thing we did was amend one of our trip cancellation products to provide more protection for customers. We were able to add a quarantine benefit to certain trip cancellations plans that covered expenses if a traveller had to quarantine in place. Could you imagine having to quarantine in NYC for 14 days? It would be quite expensive.
How do you think the travel insurance industry as a whole has responded to the needs of travellers following the pandemic?
I think the pandemic made the travel insurance industry reevaluate the services they provided to their customers. We decided to double down and implement plans that met the needs of our customers. We successfully offered the CFAR benefit and were one of the first insurance providers to offer travel insurance policies that complied with Costa Rica's travel regulations.
How important are partnerships with aggregators and intermediaries in the North American travel insurance sector?
Working with travel aggregators, travel agents, brokers and tour operators is very important. They allow an organization like Trawick International to offers its products to a wider audience. For the past year, we have been the number one seller on
Squaremouth’s site. Not everyone is familiar with us and may not know how to find us. Working with these organisations allowed us to grow immensely and provide our plans to a much greater audience than we could have done alone.
Who are your travel assistance partners, and how do you select your assistance and air ambulance partners? Does membership of an accreditation body matter to you?
Our travel assistance partner is On Call International. They have been providing assistance services such as medical crisis, political threat and even missed flight assistance for over 25 years. We choose to partner with them for their in-depth ability to provide outstanding assistance services to our customers worldwide. What matters to us is that our partner can meet customers’ needs anywhere in the world. ■