Can you provide a general overview of Avia?
Avia Corredores was created to assist Aviatur's clients in matters of insurance; its initial focus was domestic and international travelers. The focus has since expanded to other insurance contracts to also include the operations of SMEs, business leaders, and contractors. We have become well known in the public sector and have provided our services to the entire insurance industry as a broker. Nevertheless, our core business is still visitors who come to Colombia for tourism purposes.
2020 has been challenging for both the insurance and travel industries. It has also brought about many opportunities. How did you position yourself to respond to the current situation?
With the pandemic, we created new insurance products to mitigate the risks of the new normal. We have a particular product for those who want to visit national parks; if a lockdown is announced, we will cover their travel expenses. We also cover individuals for COVID-19 contagion. If they have insurance with us, we will cover their entire health expenses plus their hotel expenses. Right now, foreign visitors who get infected have to go through a temporary quarantine in Colombia. That quarantine period will also be covered under our insurance policies. We will take care of all hotel, health and travel expenses. Since 2020, local tourists have bought our insurance services the most, though the opportunities for products geared at foreign travelers are immense.
What products does Avia make available for foreign visitors who want to travel in Colombia?
We have a service centered on health assistance cards through which our clients can find the required coverage in Colombia through an easy process. This service is extremely useful for domestic and international travelers; they can purchase this product occasionally whenever they want to visit a remote area of the country. Our focus is to provide tailor-made and personalized services— which differentiates Avia from the competition.
What's has been your experience in digitalizing your services following the pandemic?
It has been great; the pandemic has been a catalyst for innovation. For example, we have utilized digital tools to increase our customer base remotely. Consumers can access Avia's services from any region in Colombia thanks to our internet presence. We focused on search engine optimization, and that has been tremendously successful. Our name is among the first to appear in Google searches for Colombian travel insurances. We have been contacted by many customers as a result of our digital transformation processes. It is also worth noting we already had a story and a name in the country. We are a respected information source, so when COVID-19 started, we focused on sharing information with the country's citizens on how the insurance industry could cover their needs. This also contributed to the company's organic growth.
Can you provide an overview of the current market for insurance in Colombia?
Travel insurance has been an interesting item within the pandemic context. The situation helped demonstrated that insurance is not an expense, but something that protects your net worth—it is essential to purchase travel insurance in the current context. To a certain degree, the same has happened with the wider insurance sector. The public has realized the importance of improving their health coverage. We are witnessing a growing trend in the hiring of travel, death, and health insurance. In the event of an unfortunate incident, such insurance can help individuals protect their assets and bank accounts. There is also traction for housing insurance. If we look closely, everything around us is at risk: our pets, our homes, our relatives, and so on. Theft levels in Colombia have increased with the pandemic. Many SMEs had to shut down their businesses, and that provided burglars an opportunity to break into the offices and steal computers or other products. The pandemic has made the public aware of the need to buy insurance. It helped demonstrate that unfortunate things can happen and that insurance can protect them.
What is Avia's business outlook and expansion strategy?
Counterintuitively, travel insurance is an area that has received a lot of attention since the pandemic. There are new risks and costs associated to travel that did not exist before. For example, the need for Coronavirus tests before or after travel. At Avia, we understand that these are interesting opportunities for the insurance business. We can play a role in making travel more convenient and safer for travelers. For this reason, the company is focused on product development. Adapting quickly and catering to the public's new needs will insure that the company stays relevant and that we keep experiencing solid growth figures.