Generali Global Assistance’s Chris Carnicelli on the “advent” of the sharing economy

US: ShortTermRentalz spoke to Generali Global Assistance CEO Chris Carnicelli about the company’s offering of travel insurance and assistance services to travellers and its reasoning for expanding further into the sharing economy and the vacation rental segment. 

  • Please introduce us to your Generali Global Assistance brand and the services you provide to travellers within the short-term rental industry, such as the Vacation Rental Insurance and Damage Protection.

“Generali Global Assistance has a 30-year history in the travel insurance industry in the United States and has pioneered the vacation rental space by creating the first programmes to cover accidental damage. This damage product is offered at a low, flat rate, making it easy for owners/property managers to offer it in lieu of or in addition to a security deposit. The product often allows renters to recover their full security deposit when covered damages have occurred. We combine our comprehensive travel insurance policies with our vacation rental coverage to provide renters with emergency, roadside, and telemedicine services that give them peace of mind 24/7/365. We also introduced region-specific plans that provide customised coverage for mountain and coastal properties at risk for events such as avalanches or hurricanes.

“Our offerings are continually updated to make sure we’re providing our customers with the best experience including a simplified eClaims process, e-payments that reduce payout times, and 24/7 call centres to assist customers anytime, anywhere. Working with our parent company, Europ Assistance, allows us to offer our programmes to non-U.S. renters of short-term rental properties and to owners and property management companies internationally to fufill our vision of bring customers from distress to relief – anytime, anywhere.

  • Generali Global Assistance has been a leading provider of travel insurance and other assistance services for nearly 30 years – how has the company been able to establish itself as a trusted travel insurance and assistance service provider since then?

The common theme behind our ability to establish ourselves as a trusted and leading provider in the industry is our customer focus. We have a history of listening to needs of owners, management companies, and travellers in order to create tailored programmes. Our customer-focused mentality has also driven innovation within Generali Global Assistance with the introduction of eClaims and e-payments, which seeks to streamline the claims process for travellers. For owners and management companies, Generali Global Assistance offers training, sales, and marketing tools at no additional cost. Our dedication to customer service has been recognised by multiple awards and has recently earned us a place on Newsweek’s 2020 List of America’s Best Customer Service providers.

  • One of your most recent acquisitions was insurance company Trip Mate last year: what was your reasoning for this move?

We felt that Trip Mate’s experience and expertise in offering custom travel insurance programmes within the tour and cruise market segments would complement our current offerings. The main goal of the acquisition was to combine forces and leverage the strengths of each company’s core market.

  • Can you tell us about your recently introduced Seaside Coastal Travel Insurance offering and what was thinking behind launching it?

We offer region-specific programmes based on the needs expressed by our customers in addition to the unique needs of a particular region. Our seaside coastal product is designed for those looking to take a coastal vacation, offering expanded coverage for hurricanes and specific coverage if the beach at your destination is closed for 24 hours or more due to contaminated waters. Alternatively, our Ski & Mountain product provides expanded coverage if destination accommodations are inaccessible or uninhabitable or if there is lack of snow at certain resorts.

  • From your experience, what types of insurance cover are most sought after by different demographics of travellers? What would you account for these findings?

We do run customer surveys internationally and try to build our products accordingly. Very simplistically, older travellers are more sensitive to repatriation and assistance benefits especially when travelling abroad, while ski coverages are more sought after by younger clients.

  • What makes the vacation rental industry such a vibrant space to operate in with Generali Global Assistance? Have you only recently started working with this particular travel segment?

The vacation rental industry, like many industries, has truly evolved with the advent of the sharing economy. As digital short-term vacation rental platforms exploded in popularity, we saw several opportunities to update our offerings and to match the streamlined processes these platforms introduced. These platforms have truly digitised the industry and we have worked on enhancements internally to ensure that we can continue growing and evolving alongside it.

We partner with Europ Assistance to sponsor this event on a regular basis with the goal to learn more about the needs of international short-term rental owners and management companies so we can develop programmes that support those needs. As a global group, we are closely watching industry trends abroad and sharing experience with our international clients. We believe it is our role to advise them on global industry trends and support their international development.

For more information, visit the Generali Global Insurance website here.