I'm Justin Tysdal, travel insurance expert and Seven Corners CEO, answering all your travel questions. Ask Me Anything!

Justin Tysdal
Sep 10, 2018

Justin Tysdal [@SevenCornersCEO] brings more than 25 years of travel industry experience and is here to answer your questions. 

For example, Justin could tell you about:

  • What to know before studying abroad?
  • How to travel during hurricane season?
  • Should you become a travel blogger?
  • What is travel insurance?
  • How to stay safe when traveling?

Justin Tysdal says:

This AMA will end Sep 14, 2018, 11 AM EDT

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With increased competition in the insurance industry, what do you do to ensure you have a competitive edge over the competition?
Sep 14, 7:06AM EDT0

I believe that service is the main differentiator in the market, so we are constantly looking at ways to improve our processes and meet travelers' needs.    

Sep 14, 11:21AM EDT0
Do you think many people get shocked when they realize their insurance plan does not cover items they thought it did because people do not read the policy they buy? Can policies be made to be less wordy so people have an easy time to understand the policy?
Sep 13, 11:35PM EDT0

Yes! People often are surprised by what is covered and what is not covered, mainly because they don't read their policy. It would be great if policies could be shorter and easier to understand. However, they are legal documents and have to be written as such - this tends to make them long (to cover every possible scenario and relation). I do think the more you read legal documents the better you become at understanding them. And it always helps to ask questions if you don't understand!   

Sep 14, 11:18AM EDT0
Is there an age beyond which you do not offer travel insurance?
Sep 13, 4:02PM EDT0

For our trip protection plans, we cover people up to age 99. For our travel medical plans, we cover people to "80+", however the maximum amount of coverage is greatly reduced for this age bracket to $15,000. This is related to actuarial data for travelers.  

Sep 14, 11:11AM EDT0
Do you have travel insurance packages specific for travel bloggers who actually travel?
Sep 13, 10:20AM EDT0

We don't have a plan designed specifically for travel bloggers. We have an annual travel plan that provides coverage for multiple trips throughout the year as long as each trip is no longer than 30 or 45 days. We also offer a travel medical plan that can be pruchased for 364 days of travel and renewed up to 3 years. Either of those would be the best option for a travel blogger who is traveling frequently or for long stretches at a time. 

Sep 13, 1:49PM EDT0
What are some of the changes you have seen in the industry since you started your journey in travel insurance?
Sep 13, 6:01AM EDT0

One of the big changes is people area traveling more, especially abroad. Also, travelers are becoming more aware of the need for travel insurance, which makes our marketing team’s job a little easier! Still we are always working to help people understand how travel insurance works and how it can help. There has also been a great deal of innovation in the industry with a huge focus on technology and ways to make buying and claiming on a travel insurance plan quicker and easier.  

Sep 13, 9:28AM EDT0
Is it a huge risk for you when it comes to insuring someone going to a place facing natural disasters like the hurricane?Who bears the bigger risk between you and the client in this case?
Sep 12, 1:48PM EDT0

Insuring people who are traveling to hurricane areas is really no different than the risk we take for insuring travelers in general because all insurance is related to covering unforeseen risks. And our risk is spread out among a large pool of people with one segment buying coverage for hurricanes. Once a hurricane is named and recognized by the insurance company, consumers cannot buy a trip protection plan that would allow them to cancel their trip because of weather changes due to a hurricane. This is because the risk is no longer an unforeseen event. That being said, we do typically see an uptick in claims during an active hurricane season. Last year, for example, was very busy.

A person traveling without travel insurance during hurricane season in a hurricane prone area is accepting a risk. Whether it is material to them depends on how much they paid for the trip (which they may have to cancel) and whether they can absorb extra expenses that may occur related to a hurricane. It is a good idea whenever you are traveling to understand how much of your trip cost is refundable. For example, check with your hotel to find out what their cancellation procedures are. How much will you lose if you decide to cancel? Always check with your airline too. For Hurricane Florence, airlines are waiving change fees and capping fares at levels below what last-minute tickets would cost.   

Sep 13, 9:29AM EDT0
Do you have to liaise with service providers in different countries to ensure your clients have it easy should they need support that is covered by the insurance?
Sep 12, 1:31PM EDT0

We have established relationships with different types of providers all over the world to coordinate services such as emergency medical evacuations and return of minor children. We also have relationships with medical providers as part of our international provider network. In some cases, our 24/7 assist staff knows people at various hospitals on a first-name basis, because we have dealt with them some frequently and for a long time.  

Sep 13, 8:57AM EDT0

What are some of the things one needs to consider when choosing an insurance company to use when seeking to buy travel insurance?

Sep 11, 7:15PM EDT0

You should consider how long they have been in business and what type of experience they have. It also helps to reach out to them in the discovery and purchase phase to see what type of customer service they provide. Check to see if they answer your questions thoroughly. Also, consider whether the company offer a variety of plans so there will be one that meets your needs. And finally, look at reviews but take them with a grain of salt. Many people buy travel insurance plans without ever reviewing their purchase, so they don't understand what is covered, and they may be frustrated when they file a claim for something that is not covered.     

Sep 12, 10:45AM EDT0
Will one be covered by the travel insurance while hiking, trekking or performing other adventure activities?
Sep 11, 2:25PM EDT0

It depends on the policy. I recommend calling the company and asking if your specific activity is covered. We offer optional coverage for hazardous activities on our travel medical plans (Liaison Travel Series). This option increases the cost of the coverage 15% and it provides coverage for:  bungee jumping;caving; hang gliding; jet skiing; motorcycle or motor scooter riding whether as a passenger or a driver; Parachuting;parasailing; scuba diving only to a depth of 10 meters with a breathing apparatus provided that You are SSI, PADI or NAUI certified; snowmobiling; spelunking; wakeboard riding; water skiing; windsurfing; or zip lining. There are plans that are designed specifically to cover adventure travelers, and if you are participating in high adventure activities those would be best.  

Sep 12, 8:38AM EDT0
How useful is travel insurance that does not include medical plans? Is it worth taking one or is it as good as not having insurance?
Sep 11, 2:20PM EDT0

While most insurance plans include some type of medical coverage, and I encourage you to choose one of those, there are other options. You need to carefully read the policy and ask questions so you know what is covered. There are some plans that provide only emergency medical evacuation benefits and return of remains coverage. These will normally cover only medical expenses specifically related to the evacuation. Other plans provide only the services for arranging an evacuation, and then there are travel medical plans that provide medical expense coverage, emergency medical evacuations, and return of remains and other benefits as well.     

Sep 12, 9:01AM EDT0
How does travelers insurance come into play for those evacuating for a natural disaster?
Sep 11, 11:55AM EDT0

Many travel medical plans will arrange and pay up to a stated amount ($100,000 for our Liaison Elite plan) if you require an emergency evacuation due to a natural disaster. The insurance company consults with the local government and security analysts to determine the need for a natural disaster evacuation.  The policy defines what is meant by a natural disaster and includes events such as avalanche, wildfire, earthquake, hurricane, tornado, typhoon, tsunami, cyclone, flood, landslide, mudslide, drought windborne dust or sand, volcanice eruption, snow, rain, or wind. 

Sep 12, 10:39AM EDT0
Are there instances where travel insurance may not be necessary?
Sep 11, 9:48AM EDT0

Yes, I can think of two reasons. First, if you did not spend a material amount for your trip, so you don't want to insure the money you spent on the trip and 2) you are traveling in your home country and know with certainty that your home health insurance will cover you if you become sick or hurt on your trip.   

Sep 11, 5:08PM EDT0
Do you think many people ignore taking travel insurance because of ignorance or they imagine it is a waste of money since they do not anticipate anything going wrong?
Sep 11, 5:29AM EDT0

I think it is a combination of both. More and more people are learning about travel insurance and the difference it can make, but there are still people I meet on a regular basis who were not aware travel insurance existed before I mentiond it. On top of that, most people don't have an understanding of the variety of things that can go wrong when they are traveling. We are really focused on educating travelers so they know what can happen, and we've found one of the best ways to do that is to share consumer stories. This makes it real for people.   

Sep 11, 8:41AM EDT0
Do you offer insurance services to protect the travel plans (plane tickets, hotel bookings, etc.) in case of sudden cancellation?
Sep 10, 9:55PM EDT0

Yes, our RoundTrip products are trip protection plans that provide three basic types of benefits:  trip protection, medical expense coverage, and baggage and personal belongings protection. The trip protection component reimburses you for your nonrefundable trip cost (plane tickets, excursion tickets, hotel bookings, etc.) if you are unable to take your trip or if you must interrupt your trip due to a list of covered reasons. These reasons typically include sickness, injury or death, weather, traffic accidents, and many more. There is also coverage for a trip delay and a missed connection (for example, if your plan arrived late, and you missed your cruise ship).To see more details, you can visit our product page for RoundTrip. It's here.    

Sep 11, 8:48AM EDT0
Can one purchase insurance to protect belongings during a travel? In what kind of events are one’s belongings not covered?
Sep 10, 7:19PM EDT0

Yes you can. Trip protection plans like our RoundTrip plans provide coverage for baggage and personal effects (this includes theft, damage and loss). There is also coverage for baggage delay if your bags don’t arrive at your destination when you do. When you look into this type of coverage, read the plan document carefully because there will likely be a per article limit. Also, there are normally separate exclusions that apply for items that are not covered (telephones and money are often not covered).

Sep 11, 8:57AM EDT0
Can one purchase travel insurance even if one does not have concrete travel plans?
Sep 10, 11:51AM EDT0

It depends on what type of plan you are buying. If you are buying a trip protection plan, which allows you to cancel, delay or interrupt your trip, you cannot buy it before you make a payment for the trip. You can, however,  modify trip dates later and add bookings (like adding an excursion to a cruise) at a later date. 

If  you are buying a travel medical plan, which provides high limits of medical protection for travel outside your home country, you can purchase without concrete travel plans. You can also change the trip dates or cancel the policy any time before the trip start date. 

Sep 10, 1:48PM EDT0

What is the most effective channel/way to market travel insurance? Is it better marketed as a separate service or do people not want to hear about it and so is better to couple it with something else that feels more « needed » and « exciting »?

Last edited @ Sep 10, 11:11AM EDT.
Sep 10, 11:10AM EDT0

In some cases, it is easier to market travel insurance to people who are shopping for travel arrangements because the two are closely connected. And, if you don’t know whether you are planning to take a trip in the next six months, you aren’t really interested in viewing insurance options.

However, in the last few years, travel overall has increased, and travelers have become savvier about travel insurance. They now understand why it’s important and how it can help travelers who have difficulties while traveling.

There are some travel providers who offer travel insurance as part of their purchase process. This makes buying travel insurance easy because there is one point of purchase. I feel it’s very important for consumers to understand what they are buying. This means they need to take their time reviewing the various plans and ask questions. Sometimes you cannot do that when it is included in the purchase path.  

Sep 10, 1:51PM EDT0

Does destination matter when it comes to travel insurance?

Sep 10, 5:50AM EDT0

Destination restrictions vary by insurance company. For our Liaison travel medical plans, we do not cover trips to Islamic Republic of Iran and Syrian Arab Republic. For our RoundTrip plans (trip protection plans), we do not cover travel to Cuba, Islamic Republic of Iran and Syrian Arab Republic.  

Any time you are traveling, it’s a good idea to check the U.S. Department of State’s website to review their travel advisories. Coverage at different destinations may be limited depending on the advisory that exists. For example, our Liaison Elite travel medical plan provides political evacuation coverage. This means we will arrange and pay to evacuate you to a safe location or to your home. However, the coverage does not apply if you fail to heed a Level 3 Terrorism, Level 3 Civil Unrest, or any Level 4 Travel Advisory issued by the U.S. Department of State. This limitation also applies if appropriate authorities of your home country or your host country (your destination) issue similar warnings.   

Always call your insurance company and ask about destination questions or restrictions before you buy a travel insurance policy.

Sep 10, 12:27PM EDT0
What kind of travel insurance is needed for those traveling in an RV? What extras are needed to make sure everthing is covered?
Sep 10, 2:56AM EDT0

If you are traveling within the United States, you can buy a trip protection plan. The medical benefits will pay after your U.S. health insurance plan pays. This plan will protect you in the U.S. and if you drive your RV to Canada or Mexico.   

If you are taking your RV out of the United States to Canada or Mexico, you can buy a travel medical product. You are only covered on this type of plan when you are outside of your home country.  

There are companies that offer plans specifically designed for RVers, and they include benefits such as vehicle return and pet return. You can find this type of plan through membership organizations such as the Family Motor Coach Association (FMCA).

Sep 10, 12:04PM EDT0
Where are the best and safest places to study abroad? What can be studied at these locations?
Sep 9, 10:38PM EDT0

Studies show the safest place to study abroad is Denmark, followed by New Zealand and Austria. Denmark offers over 1,000 courses that are taught in English in bachelor, masters, and PhD studies. New Zealand’s universities offer numerous opportunities for research and internships, where students can build practical skills needed in their future career and academic life. Austria’s focus on higher education is reflected in its tuition fees, which are incredibly low for the standard of education received, even for international students. Bottom line — you need to study abroad at a location that suits your interests and plans and your wallet. There are a lot of great opportunities all over the world. 

Sep 10, 2:12PM EDT0
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