TravelSafe Insurance, a division of the Chester Perfetto Agency, Inc., has been in business since 1971, and has provided travel agents with a long line of product innovations. Scott’s father, Chester Perfetto, served as a naval officer during the Korean War and earned his Masters Degree before moving into the insurance industry and founding the company. Scott came onboard in 1974 and is a familiar face to travel agents attending trade shows and industry events.
TRO: For 40 years, TravelSafe has provided travelers with insurance coverage. How has the business changed in that time?
SP: In 1971, travel insurance primarily covered people who traveled by bus and train. As airline travel became prevalent and popular to the traveling public in the mid 70’s, bus and train policies were redesigned and called Air Fare Protectors. Those original travel policies developed in the 70’s only covered Accidental Death, Medical and Baggage protection. Without computers, travel agents assigned policy numbers, wrote receipts for proof of payment and then mailed monthly reports after deducting their commissions.
By 1990, there were over 42,000 travel agencies and travel insurance had many new enhancements. Benefits now include Bankruptcy of Airlines, Tour Operators and Cruise Lines, Inclement Weather, Change in Military Orders and Terrorist Events. Today, with under 10,000 brick and mortar locations, we rely heavily on our relationships with home based and host agents as well when marketing our TravelSafe insurance programs. Because of the many new events occurring throughout the world we added benefits to cover hurricanes, pandemics/epidemics, war reasons, work reasons, Cancel for any Reason and more.
TRO: Many consumers do not purchase travel insurance before taking a trip. Can you explain the risks involved in traveling without insurance?
SP: The risk of traveling without travel insurance is tremendous and most travelers only worry about protecting their pre-paid trip costs in the event they are unable to travel. However, the largest risk involves unforeseen events that occur while traveling. This could involve hospitalization and/or an emergency evacuation to a proper medical facility or even back to the United States. These types of expenses are not covered by most personal insurance companies and can cost tens of thousands of dollars.
TRO: Could you describe some of the coverage you offer?
SP: We have some of the most comprehensive and unique coverage in the marketplace. In addition to covering Inclement Weather and Unannounced Strikes, we are one of the few providers that also covers Mechanical Breakdown of a common carrier. Our Bankruptcy and Default Benefit has no restrictive lists of travel suppliers we will or will not cover as others do.
Five years ago, we were the first to introduce a Cancel for any Reason “Cash Back” benefit that is now available with most of our TravelSafe plans. We also offer three unique benefits: Re-banking of Frequent Flyer miles, possibly the only Hurricane Warning Benefit in the industry and Non-Medical Emergency Evacuation.
In addition, all of our plans offer the “white glove” service with Free Business and Concierge services.
TRO: Please describe TravelSafe’s relationship with travel agent professionals.
SP: From day one our focus and commitment has been to provide our travel agent partners with innovative programs, specialized training and support to grow their businesses. In our 40 years, we have established an excellent rapport with over 7,000 travel agents and various travel organizations throughout North America. As a result, these fine professionals make over 90% of our TravelSafe bookings (enrollments). We even have the capabilities to offer our agent partners personal health and life insurance through our parent company Chester Perfetto Agency, Inc.
TRO: How can offering TravelSafe insurance to their clients benefit travel agents?
SP: It will protect the travel professional in many ways. The most important is that by always recommending one of our TravelSafe plans it will greatly reduce the liability exposure to the agent.
Most people who travel abroad for the first time do not realize the risks involved when traveling to new destinations and that their personal insurance might not cover them in a strange place. They do not know that if they are injured or become ill that excellent medical facilities might not be just around the corner. If a traveler incurs an expense that is not covered, and the agent did not recommend a policy, they could take legal action against the agent, the agency and anyone else that might be involved in order to recoup their losses.
Secondly, travel insurance has become a significant revenue source for the little time that it requires to add it to the vacation booking. With TravelSafe offering some of the highest commission levels, the compensation is significant for such a small amount of time and effort.
How can travel agents become involved with your company?
SP: It is easy and we will help all the way. We need a signed agreement from the agency owner or manager, then in order to abide by the various states and provinces departments of insurance regulations, a representative from that agency must obtain a “limited” license in order receive commission for the sale of travel insurance. We will then send the agency the various collateral materials.
TRO: Do you have any programs in place to offer education on your products to Travel Agents?
SP: We have a variety of training that is available on a weekly basis. We offer FIT, Group and Automation training and/or webinars. We even offer TRAVEL INSURANCE 101 that is necessary for those that are not sure how to sell or recommend the insurance. Training is key and at TravelSafe, we make sure that our authorized travel professionals are comfortable selling insurance.