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TORONTO — Cover-More Group Limited, a travel insurance assistance provider, is on track to break out in a big way now that it’s been approached By Zurich Insurance Co. to acquire the assets of Cover-More Inc. This offer raises the ability for Cover-More to obtain underwriting opportunities for insurance product on a global basis. The acquisition is in progress with an anticipated closing sometime in spring 2017.
Now poised to enter Canada, Cover-More, which was founded in Australia more than 30 years ago, is hopeful that its products will be available to Canadian travellers by end of 2017.
“Cover-More is focused on partnering with carefully selected and targeted distributors/ technology licensing partners focused on delivering customer value and service. We are currently speaking to potential partners with a like-to-like strategy of bringing to light the true value of travel insurance and emergency assistance to the Canadian marketplace,” says Carole Tokody, CEO, US & Canada, Global Direct for Cover-More Inc.
Tokody also noted that the company experienced a huge boom in recent years, during which it went through major management changes and was listed on the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX). It made a big push in the China market, and officially entered the U.S. market in 2016 by providing travel insurance across nine Flight Centre brands in the country. In addition to China and the U.S., it now operates in the United Kingdom, India, Malaysia, Singapore, New Zealand and Australia.
The entry into Canada this year is just the latest venture that cements Cover-More’s position as a global brand. And Canada, adds Tokody, is viewed as one of the world’s top markets, sharing a similar health regime as Australia.
In light of Cover-More’s expansion, Travelweek sat down with Tokody to talk about the importance of travel insurance for Canadians, and how the company intends to set itself apart from its competition.
Once Cover-More is up and running in Canada, will Canadians have any challenges purchasing travel insurance with an Australian company?
Cover-More’s approach when we enter new markets is to find like-minded distribution and underwriting partners so all the logistics are in place for us to provide our travel insurance products. Once we establish in Canada, Canadians can have complete confidence that there will be no challenges, surprises or logistical hurdles to overcome when they purchase and travel with our travel insurance.
There are many travel insurance providers out there. How much differentiates one from the other, and how does Cover-More set itself from the pack?
Travel insurance is all Cover-More does, that is why we are good at it. The strength and value of our offer lies in our belief that it’s not enough to have a relationship with the customer just when they claim. Our customer value proposition – keep travelling – is about reaching out to our customers before, during and after their journey. And not just when they need help or need to claim. For example, we can offer pre-travel security, health or nutritional advice because we know where they are going, and for how long, and we also know their age and if they are travelling with children.
However, if our customers do need help, for example, if they are injured or become ill, it is the strength of our medical assistance offer that I also believe sets us apart from other providers.
According to Travelweek’s 2016 Ultimate Travel Survey, 69% of consumers do not purchase travel insurance when travelling outside their home province but within Canada. What are your thoughts?
Domestic travel insurance is useful for luggage and ticket protection, that’s why Cover-More offers it. It’s much lower cost for the traveller because cover for things like medical expenses isn’t required. It’s really a personal decision for the consumer. Personally, I think it’s good for domestic travellers who want extra peace of mind when they leave home.
Nearly 28% of respondents said the main reason they don’t purchase travel insurance is because it’s too expensive. What tips would you give travel agents on how to sell insurance to budget-conscious travellers?
It’s an alarmingly high percentage. I think it’s because people sometimes look at travel insurance as a grudge purchase and they think that ‘nothing will happen to me anyway’. Though we’ve had cases where a customer travelling in the U.S. requires hospitalization or treatment and the medical bills escalate into tens of thousands of dollars so quickly.
Cover-More’s product suite includes some medical cover-only products, which are for people on a tighter budget. It’s really the minimum peak of mind you need to travel with, in my opinion. It’s not just the cost of medical care when you are travelling – you also want to ensure you are receiving the high standard of medical care that you are used to, living in Canada. That’s what Cover-More offers our customers.
What makes a really great travel insurance provider? Is it a diversity in products? A prompt response team? Affordability?
A company who is focused on the customer, customer value and the customer experience. And that’s across everything, from pre-purchase, purchase, fulfillment, pre-travel, during travel, post-travel and the claims process, if required.
Our customer value proposition, keep travelling, is based on the premise that ‘life is an experience’ and Cover-More is here to keep travellers travelling.
A really great travel insurance provider tries to enhance and enrich the travel experience through easy access to things like Global SIMs or Global Wi-Fi, currency cards, and smartphone apps that offer one-touch connectivity to emergency help.
It’s also important to treat your customers as individuals, not as policy numbers, and uphold strong customer service values along the entire value chain.
What’s something about the company that would surprise travellers?
Part of our assistance services is the use of counsellors through Davidson Trahaire Corpysch (DTC). You could be in a location like Paris or Nice during a traumatic event and not be physically impacted yet suffer from emotional trauma. We will send out a counsellor to ask if you’re okay and provide counselling on the spot over a period of time. We did this in Nepal during the 2015 earthquake and it helped a lot of our customers.
For more information on Cover-More, go to covermore.com.