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Fri 4 Jun 2010 04:00 AM

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Ask the expert: Hemant Gupta

How can I sell the right travel insurance to my clients?

Ask the expert: Hemant Gupta

Travelling without insurance is like skydiving without a parachute. In most countries medical costs can be prohibitive and falling sick or having an accident whilst on holiday can turn into a financial disaster and the holiday into a complete nightmare.

Selling travel insurance gained increasing importance last year when new requirements to obtain a Schengen Visa (which allows travel to mainland Europe) were introduced. A significant change was the requirement to have travel medical insurance in place before the visa is granted.

Travel insurance was once seen as an unnecessary expense, but now it guarantees your protection wherever you go. Whether your customers are travelling on business or leisure - having insurance is a security they can't be without.

Making sure your clients are covered

Travel insurance is one of a number of potential profitable extras many agents fail to sell to customers, and in many cases they are neglecting their obligations as travel consultants. Travel insurance is a prerequisite for clients travelling to Europe who require a Schengen visa, so agents are obliged to make sure that customers have a policy providing the required level of cover when they issue tickets.

Unfortunately this does not always happen, and sometimes it is never advised by the agent unless the traveller asks for it.

What is most important is awareness and motivation from travel agents to train their staff and educate their clients to take travel insurance before they travel.

Travel agents should look for the following points in choosing a travel insurance supplier:

- Check the travel insurance product, its inclusion and coverage limits.

- Ensure it is from a multi-national insurance company with a strong global presence. These insurance companies sell insurance to the worldwide sector so should be well known in any country to which the client is travelling.

- Ensure there is a 24-hour quick and easy claims handling service with a clear terms and condition booklet for your clients.

- Go with a supplier that has an easy issuance procedure to save time, with good customer service.

Why should agents sell travel insurance?

Travel agencies should reflect their image as a complete ‘travel solutions' provider and not just be a ticket selling company. Travel insurance plays a very important part of travel and should form a vital part of an agent's services.

Travel agents put a lot of effort into making wonderful packages for their valued clients. So it's very important that they should make these holidays secure from any unfortunate incident.

These days, in a zero commission environment from airlines, travel insurance is an easy source of earning potential.

A good idea is for travel agents to include mandatory insurance in their packages and outbound holiday brochures as a ‘value-add' for their clients.

Travel agents pay a very important role in developing awareness among corporate and leisure clients and they should work closely with insurance companies while developing holidays brochures and packages  in order to provide safer holidays to their valued clients.

Hemant Gupta is the regional manager of Travel, AXA Insurance (Gulf).

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