Interview: Michael Grossman, Director, STARR Insurance Companies

How does your previous experience as Director at Hotel Insiders help you in your current role?

I’ve seen the travel insurance industry from both the buyer’s and the seller’s perspectives. That experience gives me a better understanding of the buyer’s mindset and how to develop plans that meet the customer’s needs.

Travel insurance is going through a lot of changes due to Covid – are there any changes you welcome and that you hope stick around?

We’ve noticed people increasing their bookings at the last minute, yet they are likely to increase to purchase travel insurance. Pre-Covid, people were better about planning trips far in advance and making sure they bought travel insurance to protect their investment. Now, because of what they’ve learned about risk amid a pandemic, they’re not just concerned about the trip cost – they want to cover the risk of a medical crisis while traveling. We welcome that heightened awareness of risk.

What about some of the difficulties, how have you been overcoming challenges related to the pandemic?

We have closely watched the post-Covid trends on claims stemming from policies that offer coverage for canceling a trip for any reason – so-called CFAR insurance. We expected a spike in those kinds of claims but didn’t see it. The reason is that most travel suppliers proactively offered refunds and reimbursements for people who had to cancel trips because of Covid.

One difficulty we’ve had to manage is training our call center representatives to serve our customers’ needs and address their concerns under extraordinary circumstances. As the pandemic emerged, call volume surged, even from people who didn’t have claims, and of course claim volume rose as well. We had to create new documents that provided proof of Covid-related coverage.

Do you have any stories of particularly weird

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