Burst: Huge Travel Insurance Breakthrough

How many times have I written about travel insurance?  Thanks to Kit Kiefer from Berkshire Hathaway Travel Protection and Patena See, my rep. for providing this article on a Huge breakthrough in travel insurance!

Just when you think there’s nothing new under the sun when it comes to travel insurance, along comes something that changes your mind completely. Such a development is Burst, the new payment program from Berkshire Hathaway Travel Protection (BHTP).

BHTP travel insurance AppHomescreen

BHTP AppHomescreen

BHTP Burst is a “multi-channel payment platform,”

which is just a fancy way of saying that Burst lets you choose how you want your travel-insurance claims to be paid.  Suppose you’ve just embarked on a two-week vacation to see Europe from one end to the other, but you stumble on a cobblestone soon after landing in Portugal and break your wrist. In the past, if you had travel insurance your only option was to gather all your paperwork — forms and hospital bills and such — put them in an envelope and send them back across the pond to the insurance company.

The insurance company would then spend several weeks adjusting and processing your claim, and then another week would be spent cutting a check, putting it in an envelope, and mailing it to your home address, so that by the time it arrived you may have been out of a cast altogether … with Europe just a fading memory.

BHTP Burst flips that old way of doing things. With BHTP Burst, the original medical claim can be filed via a smartphone. A traveler can start the claim process by taking a picture of their doctor’s report (even if it’s in Portuguese) and emailing or texting it to BHTP.

BHTP will use that picture to set up a claim. Forms and other paperwork can be submitted via smartphone picture as well. Suddenly a process that used to be cumbersome and time-consuming takes less time and hassle – and it doesn’t matter whether the traveler is in Lisbon or Lincoln, Bali or Boston. Claim submissions still are nearly instantaneous – and easier than they’ve ever been.

Fast travel insurance claim submissions are only one part of BHTP’s story.

When travelers download the BHTP mobile app or set up an account with BHTP, they are prompted to enter their payment preferences. They can still receive old-fashioned paper checks if they want, but they can also specify PayPal for a payment method, or electronic funds transfers into checking accounts, or transfers into specified accounts via debit cards.

While all these payment methods outside of the paper check differ in how they work, they have one thing in common: They’re really fast. EFT payment can take place in a day or so. Payment through PayPal takes a couple of hours. But claims can be paid in as little as a matter of seconds into a personal checking account through a debit card.

BHTP has partnered with MasterCard specifically to access the MasterCard Send technology that makes instantaneous payments to virtually any debit card. Nobody else is doing this, and it gives BHTP travelers access to their funds instantly after claims are approved — the money they need, right when they need it most.

“Our customers are used to the idea that they can do everything with a mobile device – they can buy that way, they can file a claim that way if they need to, they can get notifications about flights being delayed, and more,” says Dean Sivley, BHTP’s president. “

“This allows us to pay people faster, while they’re still on their trip,” adds Brad Rutta, marketing and communications VP at BHTP, and it’s true.

Consider the earlier example of the traveler who broke her wrist in Portugal. She’s overseas for two weeks, and probably on a budget, and really wants to use her vacation fund for the fun things that make a vacation memorable – great meals, tours, and adventures. She doesn’t want to blow her vacation budget on medical bills. BHTP can put money into the account she uses most, maybe before she’s ever left Lisbon, in a matter of seconds in some cases – and that’s money she can use to pay hospital bills and buy prescription medications.

BHTP can put payments back onto almost 99 percent of debit cards, including all MasterCard and Visa debit cards, and the debit cards from a dozen other debit-card providers.

“Our customers are really excited about this new feature,” Rutta adds. “Payments are going right into their personal debit-card accounts – and it’s happening in near-real time. Those two pieces together allow us to really give an impactful claims payment at a time a traveler needs it the most.”

Berkshire Hathaway Travel Protection is a different kind of travel-insurance company.

BHTP came into the business fresh and built its product-and-service model from scratch. As a result, it’s had time to see where the pain points were with traditional travel insurance, and has been able to come up with technology-based ways of solving those problems. BHTP Burst is just one of those solutions.

“That moment of truth when that payment flashes up and nobody had to do anything – that’s what insurance should be,” Sivley adds. “It’s magical.”

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