I have been fortunate enough in my life to travel to many different parts of the world, and on most trips I felt safe and secure. However, with recent worldwide events, my thoughts about travel have shifted to feelings of uncertainty and insecurity. This is likely influenced by 12 years of recent experience in the international travel insurance market where I have seen a variety of unfortunate events that occur when traveling.
As an agent advising your clients about protection from hazards, you should consider asking yourself if your clients are traveling secured. Do they understand the risks and will they know how to cope if an adverse event occurs? Additionally, are they aware they can buy travel protection with 24/7 travel assistance services for an affordable price?
Kidnap and Ransom Protection
To expand on the need for travel benefits and services, I’d like to review a few recent headlines. The first is one from Breitbart, “American Family Kidnapped by Cartel while driving through Mexico.”1 Unbelievably, a family was kidnapped on their way to a funeral and held for 19 days until rescued by authorities. Insightcrime.org shared a story entitled, “Express kidnappings on the Rise in Buenos Aires,” which highlights a surge in express kidnappings in Buenos Aries; there were 16 occurrences there from March 20 to March 31.2
We rarely hear about high profile multimillion dollar kidnappings. Instead, we hear much more about the latest trend in kidnapping, called “express kidnapping,” which is all about quantity, not quality. These types of kidnap scenarios occur when everyday people are kidnapped and typically held in a car for lesser sums of ransom, sometimes up to $150,000 but more often even smaller amounts, according to Breitbart.1 And unfortunately, some of the kidnappers are former or current police officers. So who can you trust?
Can your clients and their families afford to hand over $150,000 to kidnappers? More important, who will they turn to for assistance in negotiating the victim’s release? For these very reasons, it is important that you offer your clients some form of kidnap and ransom protection that includes reimbursement for ransom paid and the services of international professionals who are skilled at handling these types of events.
Crisis Management Protection
Another frightening topic for travelers today is terrorism. Many years ago, I visited Paris and Nice. I felt as safe as I did when traveling in the United States. However, in the past year that has changed. Hundreds of people were wounded, and 130 people died in the terrorist event in Paris in November 2015.3 Likewise, in July of 2016, 84 people were killed and more than 208 were injured in Nice.3 What if your clients were traveling to these locations when these horrific events occurred?
In addition to terrorism, political unrest continues around the world. In June 2016, there was an attempted coup against the sitting government in Turkey.4 In March 2016, police estimated that over 3.5 million Brazilians protested against their government.5 And in Argentina the president resigned due to riots that killed 22.6
Various types of natural incidents have affected travelers drastically in just the past year. In April 2016, Japan had earthquakes which left dozens dead and rescue workers struggling to find survivors quickly.7 In that same month, Ecuador had an earthquake which caused 272 deaths and injuries for more than 2,500 people.8 October of 2015 saw this scary headline: “Hurricane Patricia: Strongest Storm ever measured to hit Mexico.”9
So whether your clients are traveling for leisure, business, relief work, as a student or as a missionary, ask them what they will do if political unrest develops or a natural disaster such as an earthquake occurs. Where will they go to be safe? How will they get there? Where will they stay until they can travel home, and most important, who can they contact for help in this time of need?
For these types of specialized services, I recommend a crisis management policy. This type of plan should have a response team available 24/7 to help navigate dangerous and catastrophic events. The company behind the coverage should provide multilingual consultants on the ground and/or over the phone to assist with crisis events.
People Still Want to Travel
Even with these events occurring around the world, outbound travel from the United States is still on the rise. By the end of 2015, there were over 73 million outbound travelers. This is an increase of 7 percent from 2014.10
Please do not read into this article that all travel is doom and gloom. Many travelers have wonderful experiences, but it is important to remember that it only takes one event to change the trip of a lifetime into the nightmare of a lifetime.
Many agents tell me they don’t have clients who travel. How do you know for sure if you don’t ask? Your clients could be one of the 73 million outbound travelers! They could be a member of a mission group traveling to Mexico, an employee of a local business traveling to China for training, a student visiting Panama, grandparents on a cruise, or a family vacationing in Europe. No matter who they are or where they are going, they could be exposed to unforeseen risks related to travel.
You work every day to provide your clients with protection from a home fire, automobile accident, death, disability, illness or loss of financial income. Why not provide them with the same security and protection when they travel abroad?
So the next time one of your clients tells you they are traveling abroad, ask yourself: “Are my clients traveling secured?”
1. Breitbart May 4, 2016 – “American Family Kidnapped by Cartel while driving through Mexico”
2. Insight Crime April 6, 2016 – “Express Kidnappings on the Rise Again in Buenos Aires”
4. New York Times July 28, 2016 "Army in Disarray, a Pillar of Modern Turkey Lies Broken”
5. The Guardian March 13, 2016 – "More than a million Brazilians protest against ‘horror’ government”
6. Daily Mail undated – "President resigns after riots leave 22 dead”
7. CNN Saturday April 16, 2016. http://www.cnn.com/2016/04/16/asia/japan-earthquake/
8. CNN Monday April 18, 2016. http://www.cnn.com/2016/04/17/americas/ecuador-deadly-earthquake/
9. NBC News October 23, 2015. http://www.nbcnews.com/news/weather/hurricane-patricia-strongest-storm-ever-measured-hit-mexico-n449731
10. U.S. outbound travel: http://travel.trade.gov/view/m-2015-O-001/index.html
sales manager, Seven Corners Inc., is a graduate of Purdue University and fourth generation insurance professional with more than 27 years of industry experience. He began his career as a captive agent with Mutual of Omaha before becoming an independent agent and later transitioning into the corporate environment as an account executive. David went on to work as sales training manager, sales manager, and regional sales manager for Golden Rule Insurance, American Medical Security, American Community, and Life Markets Inc. Boggs’ international insurance background includes 11 years with International Medical Group Inc., and in February, 2016, he joined Seven Corners, a company with over 23 years of experience in the travel insurance market. As sales manager with Seven Corners, Boggs is responsible for recruiting and developing agents for revenue generation and sales growth. His product experience includes individual and group health plans, partially self-funded group plans, dental, disability, trip cancellation programs, travel medical, international major medical, life, annuities, and mutual funds. Boggs is a published author with an article appearing in the June 2012 issue of Broker World entitled, “The Risks and Rewards of International Travel,” and is a certified Continuing Education Instructor in Indiana. Boggs can be reached at Seven Corners by phone: 317-582-2614. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Website: www.sevencorners.com.