Travel Is Still Safe After Ukraine Invasion, But You’ll Need This, Says Arch Insurance EVP

Martinez

Is travel safe after Russia invaded Ukraine? To find out, I asked one of the experts on risk management and travel: Linda Fallon, executive vice president at Arch Insurance Company. Here’s our interview.

Given the instability in the world with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, is it safe to travel now?

The Ukraine situation is particularly distressing on so many levels. And while there are certain countries globally that have varying degrees of risk, it is still safe to travel to most parts of the world. Travel advisors, tour operators and cruise lines monitor for problem areas and adjust itineraries as needed.

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How will the situation in Russia affect travel this spring and summer?

We know that people want to travel. Our conversations with our travel advisors indicate that there is considerable pent-up demand for leisure travel driven by the pandemic slowdown. We are seeing the demand firsthand by way of a surge in travel insurance purchases associated with trip departures for 2022 and beyond.

To the extent that the Russian/Ukrainian situation does not evolve to include other countries, we are very optimistic that travelers will travel both domestically and internationally this spring and summer.

Travel insurance is all about managing risks. So I’m wondering, what are the biggest risks of travel now? Is it Covid, the Russia situation — or something else?

Catastrophic events — or CATs, as we call them — such as pandemics and political unrest can have significant short-term (9/11), or longer-term (Covid) impacts on travel. But absent those types of CAT events, it’s often the little things that can derail a trip.

We still find that most travelers are impacted by situations such as sickness, injury, and flight disruption, before or during travel.

How can travelers manage those risks?

This is why travel insurance is always an important consideration regardless of major disruptive events. We see a variety of circumstances for which travelers submit claims. More often than not, it’s the unexpected non-CAT events that create travel disruption.

You’ve recently published some information on your site about the value of working with a travel advisor. Why should people consider hiring a travel agent?

Yes, we certainly know the value that travel advisors and tour operators provide. Their expertise and knowledge can save money and time during the travel planning process. And their support often goes beyond the planning stage. If you are on your trip and something goes awry, the right travel agent can be there to help. If itineraries change or plans are disrupted, a travel advisor can be invaluable.

When should you work with an agent?

Travel agents provide tremendous value. They are experts in all types of travel but certainly for the more complex or exotic of travel plans. Agents often have specific expertise about a trip type or destination that the average traveler may not have. And of course, they can help on simple, low-cost trips as well.

I’ve been getting a lot of questions about travel insurance, in light of Covid-19 and the Russia crisis. Who should get insurance?

I believe there is a travel insurance product for every type of traveler and strongly encourage those shopping for insurance to consider their personal risk appetite when purchasing a product. Speaking to a knowledgeable travel insurance customer service team can help in insurance plan selection.

Here’s another common question I get from readers: What’s the difference between “named perils” and “cancel for any reason” insurance? And which one is right for me?

Named perils are specific reasons for which there is coverage as outlined in the policy. Under the right circumstances, “cancel for any reason” type coverage can be the right product option providing broader coverage than a named peril policy, but they usually come with different benefit limits. We always encourage travelers to read the policy or speak to the customer service representatives to get clarity on plan differences.

You recently received an award for best travel insurance from a prominent financial website. What makes one travel insurance product better than another? What are some of the things that customers should look for when they’re shopping for travel insurance?

Yes, Money.com named Arch RoamRight as one of the top providers. Products vary from company to company but can be fairly similar in terms of features and benefits.

It’s the quality of the human interaction and expertise, combined with technology-driven customer service and claims administration solutions, that help differentiate providers. We are very proud of our performance in these areas.

Our team recently won a Business Intelligence Group award for Exceptional Customer Service during Covid a time when call volumes and travel complexities were at industry highs.

What’s your advice for travelers, besides buying a travel insurance policy?

Plan appropriately. What type of travel do you like? What climate, what location? Do you want an active or leisure experience or both? Consider your risk appetite and the what-ifs of traveling.

Once your trip is set, get excited! The last two years were challenging times. Travel for most was out of the question or not even allowed. Now is the time to enjoy the ability to get back out there and create new memories!

And certainly, consider insurance. Coverage is there and will help address many of the “what-ifs” when the unexpected happens.

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