Jamie Biesiada

Jamie Biesiada

Travel insurance offers a number of benefits to travel advisors. Commission rates are often higher than for other products (Arch RoamRight estimates the industry average is 28%). Commission is paid before a client travels, which helps an agency’s bottom line, especially now. It also offers a layer of protection for clients, leading to peace of mind.

But there are some hurdles advisors face on the path to a sale. A lot of times, it’s the clients themselves, who think credit cards cover them, or they don’t want to spend the extra money, or they just can’t foresee any reasons they would cancel or interrupt their trip. 

During a recent episode of the Trade Secrets podcast, I asked Laura Heidt, the insurance desk manager at Brownell Travel, for her advice. Heidt’s desk fields questions from Brownell advisors. She will also handle selling insurance to an advisor’s client if they wish.

Not only is Heidt an insurance expert — she was an account manager for Travelex for 18 years and spent two years with Medjet as its director of travel agency sales — but she has a high success rate at Brownell.

Typically, Heidt starts the conversation about insurance by asking travelers if they want to protect their investment in travel.

“If somebody’s spending $25,000 per person to go on a cruise or to go on a trip, if they had to cancel, would they be willing to just walk away from that money?” Heidt said.

She opens the conversation that way, then explains that insurance is for unforeseen events. 

Sometimes she’ll share an anecdote about other travelers, like one who was cleaning their gutter before vacation, fell and broke a leg. It was an unforeseen event that forced them to cancel their trip.

“It’s just like any insurance, like your car insurance or your home insurance,” Heidt said. “It’s for what could happen after you purchase that policy.”

Heidt also tries to relate stories to travelers. For instance, she might talk to a family about what would happen if a child got a sinus infection and couldn’t fly.

It’s clearly working for Heidt. When she takes over selling insurance for an advisor, she has a close rate of 90% to 95%.

Listen to Trade Secrets here or wherever you listen to podcasts. If you have a question to ask, email [email protected]. Upcoming episode topics include culinary travel, groups and LGBTQ travel.