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By William Atkins

William Atkins addresses the Safe Travel and Tourism Summit, hosted by The Association for Safe International Road Travel (ASIRT) on May 13, 2019

Remarks delivered by featured panelist William Atkins at the Association for Safe International Road Travel (ASIRT)’s Safe Travel and Tourism Summit, May 13, 2019:

Hello, I’m Bill Atkins, co-founder and executive director of Point Comfort Underwriters, in Indianapolis, Indiana. Over the past 30 years, in four different companies, my work has focused on international travel insurance, traveler assistance, emergency medical evacuation, international healthcare access and medical claims management. Having lived internationally for both personal and professional reasons, I have on-the-ground experience in both developed and undeveloped regions of the world, in areas torn by civil strife, wars and natural disasters.

 I have three observations I would like to share with you today:

  1. Thanks to the internet, All Knowledge is Global. As an international traveler, informing yourself prior to departure on conditions in your destination countries is of tantamount importance. ASIRT does an amazing job in providing a foundational element in this exercise. By informing yourself as to the vagaries of roadway conditions along with pedestrian and public transportation warnings you can avoid the most common mistakes that befall newcomers.
  2. Like politics, All Healthcare is Local. By definition, an international medical event, illness or accident, occurs fortuitously outside your home healthcare system. Therefore, preplanning for the avoidance of incidents or for the potential need of medical services exists through the traveler’s foreknowledge of things like roadway conditions, as well as the location hospitals, doctors and clinics in the region. A competent international assistance provider and high-quality insurance company should also be part of the preplanning process. It is with the aid of experienced hands that necessary international healthcare can be delivered in challenging places and under unique circumstances. Having trusted, local agents who can liaise in the language and customs of the local healthcare community takes on increased importance in remote regions.
  3. Two of the fastest growing segments of the tourism industry are Adventure Travel and Travel with a Purpose. Adventure tourism often includes extreme pursuits such as paragliding, kite surfing, caving, climbing, cycling, hiking, rafting, and other activities. Adventure Travel can also take you into the more remote, less developed regions of the world. Travel with a Purpose includes things like wildlife conservation, home construction, religious missions, cultural immersion and language learning. And, like adventure tourism, travel to third world and underdeveloped communities is on the increase. Both segments project a compound annual growth rate of over 45% between 2018 to 2023.

For international insurers and assistance providers, a reduction in roadway medical events reduces claim expenses and assistance service costs. So, in my world, roadway safety is a major risk management concern and contributor to or inhibitor of profitability. Our experience tells me that about 50% of all medical claims from overseas travelers involve roadways, vehicles, pedestrians, bicycles or other forms of transport. And, as more of our insureds venture into uncharted waters we have a responsibility not only to inform but to contribute to all legitimate efforts to reduce roadway medical events.

Point Comfort Underwriters pledges to support the cause and spread the knowledge while also enabling access to local health services. I am honored to participate in this inaugural summit and hope the work we do here and in the future will translate into results on the ground: injuries avoided, and lives saved. Thank You.

William Atkins is the Executive Director of Point Comfort Underwriters, a nationally licensed insurance underwriter and third party administrator in Indianapolis, Indiana, U.S.A.