A Chat With Allianz Global Assistance USA’s Director of External Communications Daniel Durazo

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According to a recent survey conducted by the U.S. Travel Insurance Association, “only 22 percent of Americans—or roughly one out of five—whose travels were impacted by medical conditions, natural disasters and other events, had travel insurance.” This is an encouraging number to hear for someone like Daniel Durazo, Allianz Global Assistance USA’s director of external communications, who realizes that there is ample opportunity for travel agents to protect more of their clients. Of course, travel insurance isn’t just for the unexpected scenarios that happen during a trip, it can also protect travelers before their departure. In an interview with Recommend, Durazo explains how travel insurance plans can help travel agents protect their clients from unforeseen events while traveling and why travel insurance is a must for any traveler.

Melissa Bryant (MB): What is Allianz Global Assistance’s mission statement?

Daniel Durazo (DD): We believe our tagline says it all: ‘How Can We Help?’ Every year, Allianz Global Assistance helps more than 250 million people around the world, with everything from travel insurance and assistance, to concierge assistance and much more. For more than 20 years, travelers have counted on us to be there when they need us and we value that trust tremendously.

MB: Why is travel insurance pertinent to the modern traveler?

DD: We believe in the power of travel to create new experiences, increase understanding of other people and cultures and make the world a better place. But with new adventures come unexpected circumstances. It’s important that consumers protect their travel investment so that they won’t lose money if they have to cancel their trip for a reason covered by their policy and to have the protection that travel insurance provides should they become ill or injured while traveling.

MB: What types of unexpected scenarios are covered in Allianz Global Assistance’s travel insurance plans?

DD: We may cover the most common scenarios that may cause a traveler to have to cancel their trip, including serious covered illness or injury experienced by a customer, a close family member or a traveling companion. Other reasons to cancel a trip can include natural disasters, canceled services by a travel supplier, legal obligations and more. Other common travel circumstances we may cover are serious travel interruptions or travel delays, lost, delayed and stolen luggage, and medical emergencies while traveling.

MB: What type of personalized assistance is included in Allianz Global Assistance’s insurance plans?

DD: All of our insurance plans include 24/7 access to our travel assistance services, which can help a traveler find resources such as a doctor or an ATM, help with lost travel documents and much more. Some plans include our concierge service, which can help book travel arrangements and find almost anything a traveler might be looking for, from entertainment to tours to finding unique gifts and souvenirs. Assistance calls are fielded by our award-winning customer service team based in Richmond, Virginia.

MB: How does Allianz Global Assistance provide travelers with superior customer service?

DD: Our customer satisfaction score is 96 percent, one of the highest scores in any industry. We’re here 24/7, 365 days a year to provide our customers with the best possible service and help with any problem or concern. We “hire for heart,” meaning we hire associates that are dedicated to helping travelers whenever and wherever they may need us. It’s a big part of our culture and we are proud of the way our service associates take care of our customers. They do a phenomenal job—so much so, that they were recently honored with two Stevie Awards for customer service—a gold trophy for Contact Center of the Year, and a silver trophy for Customer Service Department of the Year.

MB: What type of traveler would benefit most from Allianz Global Assistance’s travel insurance?

DD: All travelers can benefit from the protection and peace of mind offered by travel insurance. Travelers should ask themselves this question, “Can I afford to lose my pre-paid, non-refundable deposits if I have to cancel?” If the answer is “no,” then travel insurance should be purchased. Travelers who have made a significant travel investment in trips that may include cruises, tours, safaris and the like, should definitely protect that investment with travel insurance.

Travelers leaving the country should always purchase travel insurance because of the coverage offered for medical emergencies and emergency medical transportation. In fact, the U.S. State Department recommends purchasing travel insurance when traveling abroad.

MB: What are the most common reasons why travelers file a claim?

DD: The number one reason consumers buy travel insurance is for the financial protection provided when they have to cancel their trip for a covered reason. Traveling is a lot more enjoyable when you have the peace of mind in knowing that if you have to cancel, you can get your money back. But what many travelers don’t realize is that if they have a medical emergency outside the country, the costs for treatment and evacuation can be staggering. Travel insurance can provide coverage to take care of you and get you home.

MB: What happens when a traveler files a claim?

DD: We hope that our customers don’t experience any problems before or during their trip, but should they run into trouble, we’re here to help. Our customers can file a claim with us 24/7 by visiting our website allianztravelinsurance.com and clicking the File a Claim button or by calling us at the number on their Certificate of Insurance/Policy. Our trained associates are always standing by to explain the claims process and answer any questions a customer may have.

MB: What role do agents play in travel insurance?

DD: Travel agents are an essential part of the travel industry and are a valued partner in our effort to educate consumers about the need for travel insurance. Travel agents know that travel insurance provides peace of mind for both the traveler and the agent, as well as a significant revenue opportunity. With our award-winning AgentMax software, travel agents can quickly and easily present Allianz Travel Insurance offers to their clients and even set up reminders through our 2nd Chance by MaxMail email marketing tool. AgentMax provides agents with an efficient way to offer travel insurance, so they can spend more time crafting a travel itinerary that will create lasting memories.

MB: How can a travel agent enroll their client in one of Allianz Global Assistance’s insurance plans?

DD: Our exclusive booking tool, AgentMax, is by far the easiest way to book our travel insurance plans for your clients. It can take as few as six clicks to book a policy. Agents are also able to book policies for their clients using our website, partner.allianztravelinsurance.com and entering their account number. We also have a dedicated service line for our agent partners, and our inside sales team is available to help agents new to working with us get set up and used to using AgentMax.

MB: What tools and resources are available for agents on Allianz Global Assistance’s website?

DD: Our partner website has an agent resource center with several great tools for travel agents. Informative travel insurance articles and flyers, video tutorials, advice on best practices in selling travel insurance and brochure ordering are all available online to our agent partners.

MB: What advice would you give to a travel agent who is considering enrolling their client in travel insurance for the first time?

DD: Don’t be afraid to ask questions! Insurance can be very confusing, but luckily our service associates are well-versed in how to book travel insurance and help agents get up to speed quickly. If you’re not sure what certain terms mean, or how to sell a complicated policy or even where to begin, give us a call. For more information, call (866) 333-7874 or visit partner.allianztravelinsurance.com.