Travel Insurance Services Staff Spotlight: Patti Kirkpatrick
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Travel Insurance Services is more than a set of select travel insurance products. We take pride in having experienced world travelers working with us to guide our customers through choosing the perfect coverage options for them. We sat down with our very own Patti Kirkpatrick, USI VIP Travel Insurance Specialist, to hear about her experience in the travel industry as well as her passion for a jet set lifestyle.

  • Tell us a little about yourself and your experience in the travel industry.

“I primarily assist people traveling on National Geographic Private Jet trips and their Expeditions as well as people traveling with Academic Arrangements Abroad.  I’ve been in the travel industry for 35 years, the last two of them selling travel insurance as well as being a travel advisor.”

  • Where have you yourself traveled?

“One of the biggest blessings of working in the travel industry has been my opportunity to see the world. I love to brag that I’ve been to every continent except Antarctica. (It’s still on my bucket list!) My most recent trip was to the Galapagos Islands off the coast of Ecuador!”

  • Any unique/interesting/favorite stories from your travels?

“When visiting Rome a few years ago, I reserved a tour of the Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel before it opened to the public. It was a thrill of a lifetime for someone who went through 12 years of Catholic schools and who studied Italian Renaissance Art in college.  I felt as giddy as a school girl when I walked into the Vatican immediately on the footsteps of the Swiss Guard as he opened the doors for the day.  Just thinking about it again brings a big smile to my face and raises the hair on the back of my neck.”

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What’s your favorite travel story? Create new stories on your next vacation, but don’t forget to pack your travel insurance! Learn more about our products at www.travelinsure.com.


What You Need to Know to Study in the U.S. 6a01347fc1cb08970c015390c6a082970b-200wi

Are you planning to study in the U.S. from another country? We’ve compiled some helpful resources and tips below.

Visa Information for Students Coming to the U.S.

In order to study in the U.S., you’ll need to apply for a visa. There are several types of visas depending on what type of school you’ll be attending and if you have a sponsor. Learn about the different types of visas, and select the right one for you.

Making It Happen: Preparing for Your Study Abroad Experience

Before you embark on your journey, you’ll want to do your research and prepare as much as possible for your move. Visit the U.S. State Department website and learn about Your 5 Steps to U.S. Study. You can also learn on this site how to get ready for your trip.

Health Coverage for International Students

Once you select a school and secure your visa, you will have to consider how you will be covered for health insurance, as healthcare in the U.S. can be very expensive. Some schools and universities in the U.S. mandate that you take their health coverage. Others, however, allow you to select your own plan.

If you're looking for a trusted student health insurance plan that meets the requirements for most U.S. schools, check out Study USA-HealthCare, offering four plan levels to meet the diverse needs of international students. Thousands of international students across the U.S. rely on Study USA-HealthCare from Travel Insurance Services to provide coverage during their studies. You can enroll online and receive your waiver forms the next day.

Enroll now or call 1-800-937-1387 for more information.

(Are you a U.S. student planning to study abroad? Study USA-HealthCare is for you, too! Learn about the plan and benefits, and secure your health insurance today.)

 


USI On the Move: Arielle’s Airport Survival Tips

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This is the age of wanderlust- wherein travel is easier, more convenient and more affordable than it ever has been. Countless flights are available throughout each day from a variety of airlines. Trains can carry passengers on their daily commute, from city to city, or across the nation.  We have the ability to access updates to our travel plans with a swipe of the thumb through our Smartphones. Travel has certainly become easier in many respects, yet always retains an air of excitement for those of us who enjoy the chaos and thrill of getting to and then enjoying a new destination.

Having grown up in a military family, I have been traveling since I was very young. I think I know the inside of the Atlanta, St. Louis and SEATAC airports better than most of the houses I lived in along the way.  I remember the first time I flew alone as a minor, I was already so jaded with the whole process having traveled with my parents that the stewardesses (obviously accustomed to children who were terrified of their first solo trip) were not sure what to do with my calm demeanor.  

Now, as an adult, I am preparing for yet another journey that will take me from the U.S. to the U.K. Though my perspective on traveling has changed significantly since childhood- the planes feel much smaller and I can now somehow muster the patience to sit still in my seat for longer than twenty minutes without going stir crazy-  how I prepare for the trip from the door to my gate has not. Here are my top five personal tips and tricks from one traveler to another:

1) Seeing triple. Whenever I travel, I always have three hard copies of my important travel documents-- namely my travel tickets with confirmation numbers and scanned copies of my passport and/or other I.D. I keep the copies with me in three different locations so I can always have easy access. This may seem a bit archaic in the age of technology (especially for a Millennial!) but I am always conscious of those times when I accidentally forget to charge my phone or do not have Internet access to get into my travel itinerary.  Having these documents readily available also speeds up the process for getting checked in, going through security, etc.

So where do I keep these copies? I keep one in my carry on bag, one in my checked bag or second piece of luggage I am carrying, and one in my front hip pocket. Always. Therefore, I ALWAYS know exactly where to go if there is an issue with getting onto the plane or finding my departure information.

2) “On time is only the right time if it’s an hour before time.” Coming from a military family, I grew up with the belief that ‘on time’ meant 30 minutes before schedule. The well-known guidance for traveling in an airport is to arrive two hours before your scheduled domestic flight or three hours before your international flight. These precious hours that could have been dedicated to more sleep before your big travel day or to last minute packing panics are allotted for checking in at the airport, checking luggage, getting through the security check point and making sure you arrive at your gate prior to boarding.  Personally, I adhere to a strict 3 hour rule when I fly out of a major airport.  It’s always a gamble--you could get there early and still only just make it to your flight on time due to a high volume of travelers. Or, you could end up sitting and waiting for a while.  However, I think it is best to stick to “better safe than sorry” in most travel situations.  So, set your alarm a little earlier and check over your bags the night before to avoid any extraneous delays. 

3) “Carry here, carry there, carry everywhere!” As a college kid (and even now) I was once notorious for pushing the boundaries of the carry on bag size limit. I would fill my father’s military rucksack to the brim in order to avoid the checked luggage fees. Unfortunately, there was another price to pay each time--having to lug around an enormous bag everywhere I went.  It is important to be realistic when packing your carry on.  Check with your airline’s luggage size and weight limitations, but also consider your own physical limitations. What kid of bag do you have?  I, personally, prefer my backpack so I can keep my hands free but there are numerous options for small rolling carry-on bags that may be easier to tote around as you make your way through the busy airport. Be sure that your bag is not going to hinder your ability to move quickly to where you want to go, yet can hold all the essentials you will need for your flight.

4) “What essentials?”  For me, I know that I need to have my travel documents (see #1 on this list), a pair of head phones, phone, wallet, a notepad/pen, gum (lots of gum), a favorite comfort snack, a bottle of water, a jacket and a crossword puzzle. Consider how long your trip will be and pack only what you need to make yourself comfortable.  It also pays to have something to keep yourself busy with, like my crossword puzzles.  Bring a book or select a podcast or two to listen to while in flight. Another pro tip for your carry-on packing list: pack an empty water bottle and fill it up at the drinking fountain once you get through security to avoid paying for a new bottle once you get through security.

4) “Gate has been changed.” When I was a kid and already traveling on my own, one ‘silly’ rule my mother taught me about navigating through an airport or train station has proven to be one of the most valuable pieces of travel advice I can offer.  Always, and I do mean always, go straight to your gate once you are out of security. Yes, you may need that cup of coffee or your mouth may be watering as you pass all the food vendors (trust me, I get it) but you can always double back provided you followed rule #2 and arrived ‘on time.’ This is key because gates can change. Frequently. Plus, if you are unfamiliar with the layout of the airport or station, your gate may take more time to get to than you think.  While I do stop to check those convenient departures/arrivals boards the moment I get past security, I always go to the gate to double check. This also encourages me to stay close by to the correct part of the airport instead of wandering off thinking I have more time than I actually do or missing a last minute gate change. Once you have confirmed that your gate is correct and you know how to get to it, which can be a challenge at some of the larger airports, go get that over-priced coffee and peruse away for souvenirs in the gift shops--but keep checking back to make sure you don’t end up sprinting across the terminal to another gate last-minute.  Believe me when I say, there is nothing worse than boarding a flight out of breath, sweaty and probably covered in that coffee you wanted so badly.

5) “Breathe in, breathe out--You got this.” If there is one thing I know for sure, it is that even the most well-laid plans can turn into me sprinting down the airport terminal to slide through a closing gate door. There is no greater torture for me, who spends hours perfectly laying out my travel plans, than to suffer through a few travel hang ups. They happen to the best of us. Maybe your ride to the airport was late or your gate was changed three times before you could go grab a coffee. But the important thing is to stay calm. Be prepared for all of the worst-case scenarios and know what to do should one of them occur. Being prepared is the single most important piece of advice I can offer, as one traveler to another. And a key part of this preparedness is to secure your travel investment with travel insurance. Travel insurance has helped me get back home for the holidays when my flights were cancelled just before break in college, replace luggage lost to the abyss and slide sideways into a meeting after a disrupted flight hindered my travels. It is worth the small price to protect your big investment.

And after you have finally made it through the toughest part--the planning, prepping, adapting and overcoming the last minute changes--don’t forget to breathe!

Happy travels!

 

Travelblogbio picUSI On the Move- Meet the Team: Arielle Eaton is a Marketing Coordinator for USI Affinity. Born into a military family, Arielle has been an avid traveler “since day one.” She is a 2014 graduate of Norwich University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Communications. In her spare time, Arielle enjoys exploring new places through trail running, baking and writing.


Travel Insurance Marketing Checklist

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You see the value of offering travel protection plans to your clients: not only do they increase your value to customers as a one-stop travel service provider, but selling these plans also adds to your revenue as a business. The question is, how can you maximize the opportunity for your business in selling travel protection plans? Good marketing strategies are key to ensuring a healthy travel insurance participation rate – or take up rate – among your clientele.

  • Advertise the travel protection plan when promoting your trips. If customers know about the plan before booking, they’re more likely to sign up.
  • Distribute a flyer promoting the travel protection plan immediately after a customer books a trip. This can be sent by regular mail or email, and may be sent on its own or as an accompaniment to other materials you send post-booking. Mention that there are early purchase advantages by purchasing within x# days from the deposit date.
  • In your booking confirmation email or letter, mention the availability of a travel protection plan and why you recommend it. You are the trusted travel supplier, so your customers will be looking to you for advice and suggestions.
  • Share on your social media accounts that you offer travel protection plans, and explain what they are and why they’re important.
  • Don’t assume that your customers understand travel protection plans or all the benefits that are included. Take a moment to point out the featured benefits in the policy: trip cancellation and interruption, baggage loss, emergency medical expenses, emergency medical evacuation, emergency and standard travel assistance (an oft-undervalued benefit that can be very useful in a variety of situations!).
  • Make it easy and convenient for your customer. Explain in simple terms how they can immediately and quickly enroll in a travel protection plan.
  • Explain the benefits of enrolling early. Most travel protection plans have Early Purchase Advantages, or benefits available only for those who enroll within a specified timeframe of booking their trip (often within 14, 21 or 30 days, depending on the plan). These benefits can be extremely valuable add-ons to the customer, and also provide that extra push to secure the travel protection plan enrollment right away when they’re most likely to act.
  • Send a Travel Insurance Response Form asking the traveler if they purchased the insurance, and if so, through what company. If they have not purchased insurance at all have them sign a waiver indicating that they declined to purchase the insurance
  • Prior to a trip departure send travelers a reminder to purchase travel insurance. Travel Insurance Services can provide you with departure reports that show which travelers have purchased the insurance through our plan.
  • If you send pre-departure materials, remind the travelers to have their emergency assistance contact information with them, regardless of who they purchased the insurance through. This is a valuable service and also serves as a reminder to have this important information with them, or to purchase insurance if they have not already.
  • Need help with any of the above? Ask your travel protection plan provider and they should be able to answer any questions, assist with promotional ideas and copy, and even develop marketing materials.

 

Get Started Today

Interested in adding to your bottom line by selling our travel insurance products? Please contact us to inquire or discuss your options!

If you’re a tour operator or other travel company looking to sell travel insurance to your clients, please contact:

Sharon L. Broo

Vice President, Travel Insurance Sales

Sharon.broo@usi.com

(770) 905-4065

 

For general questions about our products, contact Travel Insurance Services Customer Service:

M – F, 9am – 7pm EST

(800) 937-1387

info@travelinsure.com


Increasing Your Revenue Through Travel Insurance Sales

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As a small business owner or manager, you understand tight margins and the need to make good, efficient business decisions in order to maximize profit so you can continue in your mission of serving clients. For many tour operators and other travel industry servicers, offering travel protection plans to customers is often an underrated method of building revenue.

How does it work?

When you contract with Travel Insurance Services to offer one of our travel plans to your clients, we set an agreed-upon competitive commission rate per sale. Each time one of your clients purchases our travel plan from you, more money goes in the pocket of your business. It’s one of the easiest ways to boost your revenue as it doesn’t require much legwork on your end. Once you sign a contract with Travel Insurance Services, we provide the information you need to share with your clients. You may opt to create a custom marketing piece or flyer promoting the plan to your clients, but we can also assist in this endeavor.

No matter who you partner with to offer travel protection plans, your travel insurance provider should help you develop materials and strategies to increase the take rate among your clients.

The impact of our partnership is that your business can increase revenue from travel insurance by 30% or more. With an average trip cost of $2,500 and insurance take up rate of 20%, a more passive account would earn $40K from travel insurance sales. With the help of our marketing support and strategies, our average client take up rate is much higher at 50%, which generates a total of $100K to their bottom line.

Travel Insurance Services Case Study

We worked with a small cruise line and implemented a series of training and educational sessions. We also provided marketing material and relevant information on travel insurance to share with their clients. These initiatives resulted in a 50% take-up rate for travel insurance sales.

Revenue from Travel Insurance Sales: By the Numbers

Typical Travel Insurance Revenue for PASSIVE Tour Operator:

 

Total Customers:

1,428

Average Trip Cost:

$2,500

Average Travel Insurance Total Premium per Insured Sale:

$212.50

Annual # of Travel Insurance Sales (7% participation):

100

Annual Commission Revenue from Travel Insurance:

$5,312.50

   

Typical Travel Insurance Revenue from EDUCATED & TRAINED Tour Operator Team:

 

Total Customers:

1,428

Average Trip Cost:

$2,500

Average Travel Insurance Total Premium per Insured Sale:

$212.50

Annual # of Travel Insurance Sales (50% participation):

714

Annual Commission Revenue from Travel Insurance:

$37,931.25

   

Bottom Line Additional Revenue to Tour Operator:

$32,618.75

Get Started Today

Interested in adding to your bottom line by selling our travel insurance products? Please contact us to inquire or discuss your options!

If you’re a tour operator or other travel company looking to sell travel insurance to your clients, please contact:

Sharon L. Broo

Vice President, Travel Insurance Sales

Sharon.broo@usi.com

(770) 905-4065

 

For general questions about our products, contact Travel Insurance Services Customer Service:

M – F, 9am – 7pm EST

(800) 937-1387

info@travelinsure.com