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From: Wade Allsopp []
Sent: vendredi 28 novembre 2003 12:27
Subject: RE: Re: [RTWers] Re: Insurance
Hi Nicolas

It's a good question, but difficult to answer because people's
experience is so specific.  I have worked in finance for 17 years and
have looked at the insurance market several times for various projects
and my advise would be as follows.

The distribution/sales cost of insurance is typically a very large
proportion of your premium eg if you pay a premium of £100, I would
expect at least £25 of that to go towards sales costs (let's say
another £25 goes on other costs/profit/tax and maybe £50 goes towards
paying claims.

For you to get reasonable value for money you need to 1. make sure you
buy a policy where the marketing costs are minimised and 2. make sure
you are not subsidising other customers who may make more expensive
claims than you will.

Of the companies you mention, only AXA is an insurance company.  The
rest are just acting as agents for the underlying insurance company.
Once they sell you the policy, they will get some commission, and you
will not hear from them again until it's time to sell you another
policy.  If you have to make a claim you will need to deal with the
underlying insurance company (or increasingly the specialist claims
handler that they contract this part of the business out to).

Generally speaking buying travel insurance from a bank or a traditional
travel agent (such as Thomas Cook) is a bad idea as they will take a
big chunk of commission for just delivering their "captive" customers
to the insurance company.  The worst deal of all is to buy travel
insuance on a trip by trip basis as you then pay this marketing cost
each time you go, its much better to take a one year annual policy. 

Agents such as Trailfinders will generally offer better value than
people like Thomas Cook because they are a much more efficient
organisation and also they deal with more price sensitive customers
than a traditional travel agent like Thomas Cook or MyTravel.  They
cannot therefore afford to rip people off quite as badly.

You may have thought that the solution would be to cut out the middle
man and buy the insurance direct from an insurance company such as Axa,
CGU, Royal and Sun Alliance etc.  The problem with this (and it's
exactly the same as buying air tickets direct from "traditional"
airlines is (a) you will then be funding their own internal marketing
department (who are generally astonishingly inefficient) and (b) they
are reluctant to undercut the pricing offered to indirect sales
(through agents) otherwise all the agents will take their business
elsewhere.  The traditional insurance companies have also therefore
traditionally been high cost providers.

A few years ago therefore the consumer was stuck between a rock and a
hard place (as we English would say).

The came the telephone direct sales insurance companies, pioneered in
the UK by Direct Line (owned by RBS) and copied by companies such as
Columbus and Churchill.  Their business model was to cut sales costs by
having a centralised direct tele sales force and establishing a stand
alone brand (eg Churchill was owned by Credit Suisse's Winturthur
subsidiary) so that they could undercut their sister company without
pissing off the agents too much. Generally speaking these companies are
more efficient and more competitively priced than the traditional

The next major market development was of course the internet.  If you
can have people complete their insuance purchases over the net, this
reduces costs massively (the direct sales people are in the process of
relocating their tele sales force to India in an effort to compete).
Therefore generally the best prices are now obtainable through internet
only outlets.

Unfortunately as Nicholas points out, price isn't the only variable.
It's no good buying a cheap policy if de facto they never pay out. The
other way the cheaper providers tend to keep costs down is to keep pay
outs down too.  For the smaller companies, especially the internet
start ups this often involves contracting out the claims handling to
specialist firms.  This is generally bad news for the customer, as
these specialist units are not inefficient job-for-life back office
generalists but highly motivated young companies who know that if they
pay out too may claims, then the insurance company will not renew their
contract. By dealing with the third part it also helps the insurance
company to disassociate its brand from the bad news "your claim has
been rejected letters" (the old good cop bad cop treatment.)

Generally speaking you will still get paid out for the clear cases when
you end up in hospital or have a well documented case of theft with a
proper police report etc however you are likely to have a much harder
time on the more marginal cases, where you have incomplete
documentation,you left the country without getting a police report, you
have broken the strict terms of the policy  eg returning from holiday
after the end date etc etc.  In my experience this is a signiciant
issue and I have now had two or threee claims rejected by speciast
claims companies on various technicalities.

So where does this leave us? The ideal insurance company would have an
ultra efficient sales/marketing process and a very casual/lax claims
department.  But guess what:  the efficient companies are generally
efficient in both respects. therefore there is no one right answer.

My advice would be that it depends on what sort of traveller/potential
claimant you are:

If you are just going round the world with an old ruck sack and a clean
pair of underwear, then you should just be interested in protecting
yourself from "disaster scenarios" like having to fly back after a
traffic accident.  All insurance companies will not have a problem
paying out such claims so go for a cheap and cheerful internet based

If on the other hand you are going to be wearing your genuine Rolex,
carrying an assortment of MP3 players video cameras etc then you are
likely to be better off (I retaining receipts for all this stuff) (ii)
choosing an insurance compay with a well established brand /reputation
to protect.

Of course the great difficulty is that most of us fall somewhere
between these two extremes.


--- Collonville Nicolas-rb941c <> wrote: > I would
like to speak about insurance once more. We often discuss
> about how to get the cheapest RTW tickets but we never speak about
> which insurance offer the best rate quality/price / refund, as it is
> likely to be that the cheapest one is not the best one.  Also, We can
> check only the policies given (max amount of refund) versus price but
> this is more difficult to know if this is easy to get refund from our
> insurance when we get problem on our way .   My questions are about
> travel insurance bought either in UK or France but we can enlarge it
> to US and AU.
> That ' s why that even after having a look to many insurance policies
> of many companies (that you gave me in previous posts), I have still
> difficulties to make my choice..
> My questions are :
> - Have anybody already got any problems of money refund with some
> insurance companies (trailfinders, STA, AXA, worldnomads,
> worldtravelcenter , imglobal ...) and  if so, with which companies?
> On the other way, were you happy with the insurance you bought?
> - I take my RTW tickets with trailfinder so the easiest way to take
> my insurance is to buy the trailfinder insurance too. But is there a
> better insurance than trailfinders and is it worth buying an other
> one in this case?
> Guillaume, as a French, Could you recommend any French insurance
> companies, or any companies not to recommend?
> I hope this make sense!
> Thanks a lot, guys
> Cheers
> Nicolas
> --- In, "Brian Connell" <civicmon@h...> wrote:
> I found a policy for 6 months for like $150-200 and was fairly
> comprehensive. There's a travel insurance website thats out there but
> I
> can't remember its title, and it's a "shop around" kinda website
> where they
> bring up the lowest 5 prices and their service levels so they're
> comparable.
> -brian
> SF, soon to be SD, CA.
> ----Original Message Follows----
> From: "Marie Javins" <mjavins@y...>
> Reply-To:
> To:
> Subject: [RTWers] Re: Insurance
> Date: Sun, 24 Aug 2003 15:27:34 -0000
> US-based travel insurance is MUCH more expensive than
> similar insurance from the UK or Australia. Unfortunately, I don't
> know of any UK or Aus policies that will cover US citizens for this
> sort of travel.
> The cheapest route is to get the STA/Council Travel-type
> insurance that is really basic. And get an ISIC card -- that comes
> with basic coverage as long as you obtain the card legally.
> I found this company suited my needs. It is expensive, but a
> helluva a lot cheaper than staying home and buying insurance to
> use in the US!
> I bought my policy here, and this site features other policies as
> well:
> --- In, "Wade" <wadeall@y...> wrote:
>  > Hi Senta
>  >
>  > I think your message re insurance did go out to the group.  Not
> sure
>  > why you didn't see it.
>  >
>  > The questionof insurance is quite country specific because as
> you are
>  > based in US you will need a policy sold from there, so we are
> looking
>  > for some answers from US members.
>  >
>  > In general it's a bit of a problem to get travel insurance where
> you
>  > will be away from your home for over 12 months at least in the
> UK.  So
>  > it would be interesting if anyone knows of any suitable
> products
>  >
>  > Wade
>  > London
>  >

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