June 10, 2016
A segment in your June 2016 issue related to travel insurance (“Ask Our Experts: I’d like to plan a trip abroad but worry about Zika and terrorism. Will trip insurance cover me?”) contained an inaccuracy that we feel compelled to address on behalf of the American Society of Travel agents (ASTA). The item in question recommends that consumers “avoid buying insurance from a…travel agent…because those policies are usually very limited in what they cover.” This is not true. Travel insurance plans offered by travel agencies may be customized for a certain traveler or risk profile, but these plans are comparable to other plans in the marketplace, and offer a full suite of benefits and coverages. Travelers are of course encouraged to understand what they’re buying, and to make sure the travel insurance plan they select is appropriate for their circumstances.
Offering insurance to travel agency clients has long been an industry best practice, and as a result the agency channel represents well over half of all travel insurance distribution. Insurance can protect consumers from substantial financial losses stemming from a variety of situations, including canceled trips, lost baggage, medical emergencies, supplier defaults, as well as other unforeseen circumstances. Most travel industry attorneys recommend that travel agents offer insurance or obtain a signed waiver with every travel sale, as does ASTA.
Your segment does raise important points about the uncertainty some travelers might feel in an at-times uncertain world. We would submit that using a trusted travel agent is the best way to guide them through these decisions and get the best value and best experience out of their trips. Your readers can find a professional ASTA travel agent, sorted by location or specialty, through our consumer-facing website at TravelSense.org.
Senior Vice President, Government & Industry Affairs
American Society of Travel agents
Rebranded in 2018 as the American Society of Travel Advisors, ASTA is the leading global advocate for travel advisors, the travel industry and the traveling public. Its members represent 80 percent of all travel sold in the United States through the travel agency distribution channel. Together with hundreds of internationally-based members, ASTA’s history of industry advocacy traces back to its founding in 1931 when it launched with the mission to facilitate the business of selling travel through effective representation, shared knowledge and the enhancement of professionalism. For more information about the Society, visit ASTA.org. Consumers can connect with an ASTA travel advisor at TravelSense.org.