The UK’s only LGBT insurance company, Emerald Life, has just launched its own travel insurance.
Emerald Life was launched in March. It’s the only UK insurance company producing insurance products tailor-made for LGBT clients, with call center staff and claims managers specifically trained to handle the questions customers might have.
It launched with four initial products; home and contents insurance, pet insurance, wedding insurance and life insurance.
At a press event in the city of London yesterday, its management announced the launch of its fifth product; travel insurance for the LGBT market.
Steve Wardlaw, Chairman of Emerald Life, said the company’s own research had revealed found that only one in three of those from the LGBT community who regularly go overseas took out travel insurance.
Reasons cited for not taking out insurance include a distrust of travel insurance providers and a wariness about having to discuss LGBT-related matters over the phone with call center staff (such as HIV status or the gender of partners).
Emerald Life’s new cover will not penalize clients who are HIV positive and have an undetectable viral load.
Among other benefits, it will also offer a unique consular assist service. This will be a phoneline that clients can call if they run into trouble abroad, specifically if it is related to their sexuality or gender identity (such as an anti-gay assault or legal problems in countries with discriminatory laws).
In some situations, consular assistance in person will be available.
Heidi McCormack, Chief Executiv, also highlighted that like other Emerald Life products, the policy is more inclusive of all types of families, including single parents (other insurers only offer a family option that assumes two adults are travelling with children).
The insurance also offers different gender pronouns, including Mx. The advertising for its travel insurance will also feature images of real-life gay couples, as part of Emerald’s ongoing quest to produce authentic marketing campaigns.
‘There doesn’t seem to have been a willingness in the industry to revise their data … to drag its heels’
Emerald Life is not available via comparison price websites, which McCormack said was down to the fact that such websites don’t highlight the detailed differences in policies: ‘That’s our gripe with the comparison sites – they don’t help customers understand their policy, they prioritize price.’
Many insurance companies continue to charge people with HIV significant premiums for travel insurance, despite the fact that those on medication and with undetectable viral loads are expected to have a similar life expectancy to those without the virus.
Asked why he thought the insurance industry had been so slow to produce travel insurance products for the LGBT community, Wardlaw said, ‘There doesn’t seem to have been a willingness in the industry to revise their data. There have been similar conversations going on with diabetes campaigners – it suits the industry to drag its heels.’
Despite only being launched in the spring, Emerald Life has recently been shortlisted for three MoneyAge insurance awards: Provider of the Year, Ethical Financial Services Provider of the Year and Marketing Campaign of the Year. MoneyAge’s award winners will be announced at an event in October in London.
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