Travel Agent Appreciation
Canadian Travel Press
Issue Date: Aug 24, 2020
View the full digital edition

Allianz Global Assistance

Insuring agents understand how to protect their clients

Allianz Global Assistance Canada’s Vice President, Market Management, Dan Keon talks insurance in this week’s issue of Canadian Travel Press, at one point observing: “As travel returns, safety considerations will be front and centre in the new landscape of international tourism. Travel agents will not only be relied on to make their clients’ dream vacations a reality, they will also be looked to for guidance on what to expect in terms of health precautions at their destination, such as screening and social distancing protocols.”

Can you explain Allianz Global Assistance Canada’s position on COVID-19 coverage?

Is it covered? Isn’t it covered? And why or why not?

Allianz Global Assistance declared COVID-19 to be a known event for Trip Cancellation and Trip Interruption benefits on March 11, 2020. This known event declaration applies specifically to claims resulting from Global Affairs Canada travel advisories against non-essential travel (Level 3) or all travel (Level 4) due to COVID-19.

In other words, for policies purchased on or after March 11, if Global Affairs Canada lifts the current international travel advisory for certain countries, there will
be no coverage for Trip Cancellation if an advisory is then reinstated for a client’s destination prior to their departure.

Similarly, there would be no coverage for Trip Interruption if a travel advisory was reinstated for the destination during the trip.

An exception to this known event declaration relates to claims if a client becomes ill due COVID-19 in their home province before departure, or at their
destination during their trip. In these scenarios, a client can still claim for their non-refundable trip costs under Trip Cancellation (before departure) or
Trip Interruption (after departure) benefits.

Lastly, Trip Cancellation claims related to COVID-19 will remain eligible under plans with a Cancel for Any Reason benefit.

In terms of Emergency Medical benefits, our policies remain unchanged.

Dan Keon

Clients with Emergency Medical benefits who contract COVID-19 at their destination will not be eligible for emergency medical treatment if a Global Affairs Canada travel advisory (Level 3 or 4) due to COVID-19 is in place for their destination on their departure date.

However, if a Global Affairs Canada travel advisory is no longer in place for their specific destination on their date of departure, the client will be eligible for medical treatment related to COVID-19 while on their trip.

Do you see this changing? And, if you do, what would need to happen in order for Allianz Global Assistance Canada to change its policies on COVID-19?

We aren’t anticipating any changes to these coverage details in the near future. We’ve been in frequent communications with our travel agency partners since March, ensuring they are clear on how coverage will work so they can be confident in helping their clients stay protected once travel begins to open back up. We will continue to monitor the situation here in Canada, while working with our global offices to keep a pulse on what is happening worldwide

That said, what advice can you give travel agents when talking to their clients about their travel plans and their insurance requirements for those travel plans?

Travel agents have been extraordinarily resilient throughout the COVID-19 crisis, helping countless clients navigate their options following the international travel advisory being issued back in March. Once these advisories begin to lift, travel insurance will be top of mind for clients booking travel in the “new normal,” so it’s more important than ever for travel agents to be clear and transparent on what is and isn’t covered under each of the key benefits, especially as they relate to COVID-19.

This higher level of comfort with the nuances of coverage will allow travel agents to break down the details of benefits and exclusions in simple terms for their clients, giving them more confidence in their coverage as a result.

To gain this comfort, we recommend that travel agents take the time now to review COVID-19 communications and resources from their travel insurance partners in detail, anticipate the types of concerns and scenarios that may be raised by clients in future, and work with their travel insurance provider where necessary to address any gaps in understanding.

From our end, Allianz Global Assistance has provided our partners with detailed COVID-19 FAQs and straightforward coverage summaries for easy reference when assisting their clients. Our partners also have access to our national team of Business Development Managers and our dedicated Agency Services contact centre team for guidance and support. This proactive approach to leveraging all available resources will prepare agents to navigate conversations with their clients with confidence.

Right now, the travel industry is struggling to try to rebuild; encourage people to travel; and find whatever opportunities are available to it to generate some business. The fact that it is difficult for people who are considering booking to insure themselves against COVID-19 can be seen as a drag on that rebuilding. I’m just wondering how you respond to this?

As travel returns, safety considerations will be front and centre in the new landscape of international tourism. Travel agents will not only be relied on to make their clients’ dream vacations a reality, they will also be looked to for guidance on what to expect in terms of health precautions at their destination, such as screening and social distancing protocols.

Travel insurance will remain a critical component of this circle of care travel agents provide. As shared earlier, coverage from Allianz Global Assistance will continue to offer protection for Trip Cancellation if a client contracts COVID-19 before their departure.

Cancel For Any Reason coverage is also available for clients looking for cancellation protection against a broader range of COVID-19 related scenarios that may disrupt their travel.

Once Global Affairs Canada deems it safe to travel and begins to lift the international travel advisory, clients can also obtain protection for medical treatment related to COVID-19 at their destination through Emergency Medical coverage.

In other words, there is likely far more coverage available than clients may expect, which presents travel agents with a great opportunity to educate and protect their clients for their next adventure.

I know that Allianz Global Assistance Canada has done regular consumer travel intention surveying. I’m wondering if you have conducted any research on Canadian consumer travel intentions in the current COVID-19 environment? Have you conducted any such research recently and, if you have, can you share some of the highlights of that research?

We haven’t conducted recent surveys on travel intentions, but are closely monitoring studies and forecasts being developed in Canada. We’re also taking full advantage of insights gained from our fellow Allianz business units around the world on how travellers and the broader industry are expected to rebound.

While COVID-19 coverage seems to be the headline issue for travel insurance providers right now, I’m wondering if there are other issues that are of concern to Allianz Global Assistance right now? What are they? Why are they of concern?

With COVID-19 being such a major focus, we can’t lose sight of the many risks to travellers that existed long before COVID-19, and which will continue to be present looking ahead. While clients will be most concerned with COVID-19, agents will ideally continue to profile the full range of value travel insurance and 24/7 assistance provides for clients. In doing so, agents will hopefully be able to prevent clients from forgoing travel insurance altogether if they have concerns with coverage specific to COVID-19.

Last question. What’s your message to the travel industry? What is it that you want to, or need to, say to agents?

To say travel agents have gone above and beyond to help their clients during the COVID-19 crisis would be a major understatement.

As trusted experts, their advocacy for clients and adaptability in a fast-changing environment has been inspiring to see.

From our perspective, this crisis has highlighted the power of teamwork and collaboration, as we’ve worked side by side with our travel agent partners to understand and address their challenges as well as the needs of their clients.

While the road ahead will no doubt have some bumps along the way, we’re optimistic that travel will recover and look forward to working closely with our travel agent partners to help our mutual clients explore the world with confidence once again.