Perry Wilson tells Andrew Holt how he put InsureandGo on the travel map by introducing sensible additions and some attention-grabbing ideas
Perry Wilson is in good spirits, but he shouldn’t be. As managing director of InsureandGo he is facing a slowdown in the travel insurance market. On top of that his fellow founder was forced to step down from the board after having a serious accident.
But the sales figures are what is putting a smile on Wilson’s face. In 2006 annual sales grew by 115%.
“Things are going good, very good,” he says. “We have built up a good business and continue to grow in a difficult market.”
And although sales figures for 2007 are forecast to grow by around 10%, he is not perturbed. “We have to be more realistic in the current climate, 10% growth is still good.”
The continued success is based on the company’s strong position in the travel insurance market built up since its inception seven years ago. But surely the floods should give travel insurance a boost, with people wanting to get away?
“Not exactly. People who are flooded have to concentrate on getting their insurance sorted and want that dealt with before their minds turn to holidays.”
Another issue hangs over InsureandGo’s business. That of James Richardson, the other founder of InsureandGo with Wilson. He suffered a severe accident at home which left him with 23% burns. He was forced to step down as managing director.
“When something like that happens, you get a different perspective on life and that is what happened to James.”
Since stepping down, Richardson maintains his investment in the company. And Wilson is in the process of seeking a new managing director to work with him and take the business forward. “I have hired a company to start looking. It needs to be someone who knows the business but can bring a new perspective. We are at a crucial time in our business growth.”
Since InsureandGo was established in 2000 it has grown to become the UK’s largest direct travel insurance specialist. Over two million holidaymakers a year choose its travel policies. “We are popular not just because of price,” asserts Wilson.
The launch and development of InsureandGo was based on Wilson’s own unsatisfactory experience of buying travel insurance. “When I tried to buy travel insurance with my credit card I could not believe what a nightmare it was and this motivated me to offer an alternative.”
Plugging into greater numbers of people taking more holidays and short breaks abroad, along with the boom in no-frills, cheap airlines and wider internet access , InsureandGo offered that alternative.
Wilson admits: “We were a bit ahead of the market, as the internet did take some time to take hold with travel insurance, but we were in the right position when it began to grow.”
“When I tried to buy travel insurance with my credit card I could not believe what a nightmare it was and this motivated me to offer an alternative
In turn Wilson has adopted many holiday add-ons, such as cover for sports and other leisure activities.
InsureandGo has a knack of launching attention-grabbing policies based on developments in the market.
Despite the increased risk of terrorism, and rise in terrorist attacks most travel policies exclude any claims made following terrorist attacks. Bucking this trend and with much public fanfare, InsureandGo removed its terrorism exclusion to ensure all customers are covered.
And following the disappearance of Madeleine McCann in Portugal, InsureandGo announced that it is offering insurance cover if a child goes missing abroad for more than 24 hours after it has been reported to the police as standard on all its policies.
The cover extends to all children up to the age of 18 and will pay out a maximum of £110,000 to cover the costs of accommodation, translators and for any media activity required to help find the child.
“If we are seen as using PR methods then that is only to get our message out in the market and among customers.
“Everybody does it. But these policies are real and offer genuine cover. Our methods are nothing new or exceptional,” says Wilson.
The company also launched a new card that it says will speed up the settlement of travel insurance claims and also tackle the growing problem of holiday credit card fraud.
Its Pre-paid Travel Card enables InsureandGo to deal with claims by, for example, crediting the card with a settlement within hours of a claim being approved while the customer is still on holiday.
In turn, customers can load their Pre-paid Travel Card with cash and use it as a debit card and, because it does not offer an
overdraft facility, it can provide a level of protection against the growing problem of holiday credit or debit card fraud.
Wilson is glowing with confidence and that, if anything, will ensure his business’s continued success.