One size doesn’t fit all when it comes to add-ons. Joanna Booth takes a look at the specialist product on the market
You probably tell all your clients that they’re special, you flatterer. However, some bookings really are less straightforward than others, and even in the world of add-ons some customers require something out of the ordinary.
Some clients have requirements beyond the average – wanting to hire a Ferrari rather than a Ford Focus – and some holiday types dictate choosing a more niche product, such as dedicated cruise or ski cover. Disabled clients in particular are likely to benefit from options tailor-made to their needs.
Make sure you’re clued up on these specialist products so you can guide your clients in the right direction, and make some extra commission too.
Single trip policies may be fine for fly-and-flop beach breaks, but there are plenty of holiday that require more specialist insurance. Cruise insurance typically covers elements that wouldn’t be included in an average policy. Holiday Extras’ cruise insurance has missed departure cover – particularly crucial if you’re dynamically packaging a cruise with a low-cost flight, as this will cover the cost of getting clients to the next port.
It also includes compensation payments for missed ports, (if the ship fails to berth in a place named on the itinerary), and cabin confinement, if a passenger falls ill and cannot leave their stateroom.
Skiing holidays need additional levels of cover, and agents need to make sure clients are aware of all the small print in terms of exactly what is and isn’t included in each policy. Insure and Go’s winter sports travel insurance includes a range of different activities, from skiing and snowboarding to bobsleighing and tobogganing. It’s included for no extra charge with the insurer’s annual multi-trip policies, so clients who go away several times a year may be able to make a saving.
Other specialist types of insurance include policies for backpackers, typically covering much longer trips than the standard; golf insurance, which usually covers loss, theft or damage to clubs, and non-refundable green fees if a trip is cancelled; and insurance for overseas weddings. The last often covers loss of or damage to the ring, wedding attire and sometimes gifts, and can cover costs incurred if a pre-booked photographer has to cancel at the last minute.
Clients with a disability or a pre-existing medical condition may also need products designed for their special requirements.
Rock Insurance reports significant growth in this area, and estimates that 35% of the UK population has some form of medical condition. Common challenges faced by agents include customers who do not disclose key information about their condition, which impacts on the pricing and cover available to them. Rock operates a dedicated screening team to work with customers to find the right cover.
Rock Insurance managing director Antony Martin says: “Agents can offer additional value to customers with pre-existing medical conditions by offering them good destination advice. For example, a trip to Europe would be cheaper to cover that one to the US, where medical costs continue to rise way ahead of normal inflation levels.
“The same applies when looking at flight durations – a flight time of four hours or less will be easier to obtain cover for than a longer one.”
Holiday Extras’ Latitude insurance is for over-50s or customers with pre-existing conditions. “Typically, clients would need to buy a base policy, then call to declare their medical conditions and be quoted an extra premium,” says Andrea Clayton, Holiday Extras head of insurance. “Latitude combines these two processes, which makes for a better customer experience, and, because it is underwritten differently, the overall cost to the client is very competitive. We also pay commission on the whole premium [less the insurance premium tax], so agents benefit from recommending this product.”
Latitude insurance provides single trip or annual cover for people aged up to 85 and is specially designed for those who have medical conditions, and even covers winter sports and cruising. Cover includes medical expenses, personal liability, delayed departure or arrival, legal expenses, cancellation cover, lost passports and lost baggage.
The Holiday Extras website has specific pages explaining the insurance on offer for those with a range of conditions including diabetes, cancer, asthma, high blood pressure and epilepsy, as well as for disabled travellers.
Abta has produced revised guidance on travellers with accessibility issues, including a checklist of questions to ask clients. Look out for a special pull-out in next week’s issue with details on the right questions to ask.
An Abta spokesman said: “The key is understanding clients’ specific needs and using this information to give them relevant advice – as well as ensuring that, where appropriate, information is passed on to suppliers. Abta has produced extensive accessibility guidance for members that can be accessed via the member zone on Abta.com.”
Most clients merely want a vehicle that will get them safely from A to B, with their only caveats concerning child seats or automatic gears. Others have more specific requests, including luxury models or chauffeur services.
“We recently had a request from an agent whose client wanted to re-enact the Italian Job for his 60th birthday,” says Ruth Bligh, Your Car Hire managing director. “He and some friends wanted to hire eight Mini Coopers to drive from the UK to Italy in convoy.”
In addition to premium cars in the UK, Italy, Spain, Germany, France, South Africa and the US, Your Car Hire also offers car hire in India with English-speaking drivers. Rather than an expensive chauffeur service, this is designed to give those keen to avoid the destination’s rather challenging driving conditions an affordable alternative. A car with driver for an eight-hour day of sightseeing in Mumbai starts from £18.
Avis offers a range of prestige cars in France, the US, Canada and South Africa, with makes including Porsche, Mercedes, Audi and Jaguar on offer. New to the UK fleet are eco-friendly models including the Peugeot 508 Hybrid4 and 3008 Hybrid4, which not only allow clients to assuage their environmental concerns, but also cut the cost of filling the tank.
Disabled travellers often require cars that have been specially adapted for their use. Affordable Car Hire can offer adapted vehicles through Dollar in the US, with hand-controlled and spinner knob systems available. It can also remove the rear seats of vans and minivans for customers who need extra storage for motorised scooters and support animals. TW
DON’T LUG LUGGAGE
Clients who don’t want to have to carry their own bags – or who want to avoid hefty excess baggage fees – can book with First Luggage.
The international collection and delivery service, which offers agents 10% commission, can collect anything from suitcases to ski gear, golf bags or boxes from your customers’ homes and transport them directly to a hotel or villa.
Prices start from £25 per suitcase on a trip from the UK to Holland.
WIN A VIP GOODIE BAG
Attraction World is offering agents the chance to win a VIP goodie bag when booking SeaWorld, Aquatica & Busch Gardens 3-parks-for-2 tickets before May 31.
The ticket gives customers unlimited admission for 14 consecutive days and includes free transport to Busch Gardens. To be in with a chance to win, email your booking reference to weloveSEA@attractionworld.com
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