Tifgroup managing director, Richard Smith speaks to Insurance Times about winning awards, challenging the ethos and the importance of always developing to keep ahead of the curve

Congratulations of winning your Insurance Times award for MGA initiative of the year. How does it feel to win?

It feels great. Thank you, we are so delighted to have won the award for MGA initiative of the year. We have a fantastic team who care passionately about our clients and the travel insurance market.

They are dedicated and determined to continually innovate. This award is a testament to the team’s efforts and recognises their commitment to make a positive difference.

Can you give an overview of the initiative that was the basis of your entry?


Tifgroup tem. L-R: Paul Cooper (HoD Product Distribution), Fiona Macrae (HoD Client Engagement), Steve Howard (HoD Product), Sarah Adams (Director of Operations), Charlotte Field (Director of Client Services), Ian Maxey (Director of IT), Dan Frollini (HoD Emergency Assistance), Clive Noakes (HoD Claims).

We embrace and drive change to improve the customer’s experience of travel insurance. We have achieved this through a range of initiatives including Protectif risk rating, our Acts of Kindness programme and the launch of Postcard Travel Insurance.

Our bespoke medical risk-rating tool Protectif, provides medical risk rating that assesses medical risk more individually and personally.

As a result it produces a beneficial outcome for the customer. We have worked with charities to assist us with the customer journey for each type of condition question set that we have.

We have now reached out to mental health charities to assist us in formulating questions that will once again enable us to provide our customers with a medical declaration journey that understands the actual risk presented and provides the best outcome for customers with mental health conditions.

In an effort to improve the perception of travel insurance companies, we launched our Acts of Kindness programme in January 2018 with the aim of increasing the human side of the insurance world.

Our team are trained to seek opportunities to delight our customers by identifying unique circumstances that afford us the opportunity to positively surprise them.

One example being where a customer called and told our team that he was anxious about travelling alone for the first time since his wife of 31 years had sadly passed away. We surprised him by sending a travel destination guide to help take some of the uncertainty out of his trip. He was absolutely delighted with our act of kindness and phoned us, to tearfully thank us for our ‘warmth and generosity’.

We launched Postcard travel insurance with the single aim of bringing claims certainty for customers buying travel insurance. We believe that by building a product that has a more inclusive cover offering, we are best placed to meet the actual expectations that customers have.

Our focus on this was not to look at limits of cover in each section, but the actual cover afforded by the policy wording within each section. By expanding and simplifying this, we believe we have the best opportunity to delight customers at claims stage and therefore raise people’s perception of our industry.

You had some very strong competition in your category, with CFC Underwriting, Geo Underwriting and UK General all nominated. What do you think set your initiative apart from theirs?

They are great companies which made us even more proud to have won this again this year. We are a very passionate team who are committed to positively changing the travel insurance industry.

Travel insurance is a complex product and extensive root cause analysis has shown us that many customers do not understand the product they have bought. We want to help customers to better understand travel insurance through our Travel Insurance Explained initiative.

We have written and produced lots of content and video to help customers understand what they should consider when buying travel insurance. All with the aim of helping customers find the most suitable travel insurance for their needs. Travel insurance is not a standardised product and we want to help customers understand this with the aim of helping them find the most suitable product.

Travel insurance is actually a great product and helps many people every year, unfortunately people have a low opinion of it, which in turn has harmed the industry’s image. We feel that by helping customers buy the most appropriate travel insurance for their needs, we can begin to bring value back in the eyes of the consumer.

What updates have been added to the product recently?

We have continued to develop our Postcard travel insurance offering by using root cause analysis from across our business, from point of sale, assistance, claims and complaints, so that we could truly understand where a traditional travel product may not match the customer’s expectations. This has helped us to continue to refine a product that matches customer’s expectations at claims stage. We have added to this a claims guarantee, offering customers a claims service certainty.

By matching individual circumstances to the travel insurance product purchased we create a situation where there are less declined or partially-paid claims. We are committed to providing claims certainty and driving forward a brand that can pay 100% of claims submitted because the product is inclusive and clear to understand. This therefore delights the customer and in turn helps to improves the perception of the travel insurance industry.

What can we expect to see coming this year? To hopefully retain this award again this year.

We have a good number of initiatives underway and several in the planning stages. All of these continue the theme of improving the consumers understanding of the travel insurance product, revolutionising products and customer journeys to make it easier for customers to understand the product they are purchasing., We are also working with the industry to find solutions to some of the key shared problems faced by businesses in the travel insurance marketplace.

The travel insurance market is very competitive, how does a travel MGA keep producing award winning products and initiatives?

By never resting on our laurels and constantly challenging our business and our amazing team to drive positive change for our customers and our industry.