Southern Cross Travel Insurance has been announced as the winner of the International Travel and Health Insurance Company of the year in a glittering ceremony in Athens, Greece.
The award was accepted by Wayne Carter-Stuart, Head of Operations and PMO from the Southern Cross team. With the iconic Acropolis as a backdrop, Southern Cross was lauded for its focus on quality product and policies, a commitment to diversity and inclusion and for an impressive response to customers during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Jo McCauley, Southern Cross Travel Insurance CEO said: “I couldn’t be prouder of our team at Southern Cross Travel Insurance in being recognised amongst some very prestigious global brands. I feel so privileged to work with a team of the best in the business who have customers at the heart of every decision they make.”
The team’s entry talked about the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020 and 2021, which obviously had enormous repercussions for the global travel sector. Southern Cross started to feel the impact in late January 2020, when contact from customers in transit accelerated as nervousness and uncertainty relating to the pandemic grew. The contact centre extended its hours to accommodate the influx of calls.
By April 2020, the volume of customers contacting the business was more than three times that experienced at the same time in previous years. To ensure Southern Cross customers received the level of support they needed from the business at this extraordinary and stressful time, the team rolled out the following initiatives:Between April and July 2020, Southern Cross proactively contacted all TravelCare single trip customers, offering them the option of a refund. Southern Cross was the first travel insurer to do so. This commitment to customers amounted to millions of dollars.Southern Cross proactively offered extensions to customers who had recently purchased annual travel insurance policies.Southern Cross waived its usual cancellation fees ($35 per policy) due to the exceptional nature of lockdown and travel restrictions.A new website was launched in July 2020, offering greater self-service capability (log-in, claims enhancements) and a researched, new-look design to better enable customers to find the information they needed.In December 2020, the Domestic travel insurance policy was launched to support the rise in domestic tourism, itself an award-winning Plain English policy document.In May 2021, Southern Cross started offering a level of Covid-19 cover on its domestic and international policies.
McCauley said: “What the business confirmed during this experience is that responding to the immediate needs of our customers and acting with integrity and transparency at all times is critical to maintaining customer loyalty. Despite the longer than usual waiting times our customers experienced during the height of the pandemic, they were largely accepting of these challenges and appreciative of the business’ support.
And now with the return of international travel, Southern Cross Travel Insurance is responding to New Zealanders’ enthusiasm to get out and see the world, but it hasn’t come without some challenges.
“Like many other organisations in the travel industry, we’re continuing to experience pressure on our team, who are doing their level best to respond to the customer demand in a timely way. Nevertheless, we are sparing no effort to be there for our customers, as we always do.
“I’m sure this award will help all the people in our amazing team feel confident about the way they have managed through some tough times. They should be proud. I certainly am.”
For more information, please visit www.scti.co.nz.
*The other finalists in this category were Allianz and Global Benefits Group
About Southern Cross Travel Insurance
Southern Cross Travel Insurance is one of New Zealand’s most awarded and respected travel insurers.
Since 1982, we have ensured peace of mind for many thousands of overseas travellers and have now grown to become New Zealand’s largest travel insurer. In addition to overseas travel insurance, we also offer products to visitors to New Zealand through our Visiting New Zealand and International Student policies. In 2020, our product offering continued to grow, with the launch of Southern Cross’s new domestic travel insurance.
The business is proud to have won multiple awards for providing customers with great value and customer service, including:
• Canstar New Zealand: Outstanding value for Travel Insurance – International (2018-2020)
• Reader’s Digest Quality Service Awards – Silver, Travel Insurance (2019)
• Reader’s Digest Quality Service Awards – Gold, Travel Insurance (2020-2021)
• Plain English Awards – Best Plain English Legal Document (2021)
Southern Cross is a group of independent businesses united by a shared brand with an interest in the health and wellbeing of New Zealanders. With a range of products and services and a not-for-profit ethos, Southern Cross is New Zealand’s leading independent provider and funder of healthcare.
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