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Insurance Industry Relationship Marketing

Travel Guard Does It Right

August 26, 2014 By Denny Hatch
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I despise insurance—a business that makes money on betting when I'm going to die, get sick or pile up the car.

The old joke:

Q: What's the difference between an accountant and an actuary?

A: An accountant's job is to go onto the battlefield at the end of the war and bayonet the bodies. An actuary doesn't have the personality to be an accountant.

The Travel Guard Startup
In 1982, I lucked into a freelance gig working for a wonderful, iconoclastic Irish party animal named Jim Prendergast in New York.

Jim's agency was hired by Sentry Insurance to launch a trip cancellation protection policy for travelers. I got the assignment.

The idea of working on an insurance product was a big ho-hum until the Unique Selling Proposition (USP) was explained: "Plain Talk Insurance." No pages of disclaimers in unreadable light gray mouse-type. No angst. Easy peasy for all.

The challenge was intriguing. I met with the Sentry people and they were serious: PLAIN TALK INSURANCE.

[See the media player at right for the very first "plain talk" Travel Guard effort from 1982.]

Ten years later, Peggy and I got into the recherché sport of curling. Peggy was President of the U.S. Curling Association and the Executive Director of organization was a wonderful iconoclastic party animal named David Garber.

At one point Garber and I compared careers and amazingly our paths had crossed. David was marketing manager and telemarketing supervisor at Sentry Insurance in Steven Point, Wis. He played a key role under Sentry's John Noel who was responsible for launching Travel Guard.

I was the copywriter in New York.

I sent a preview of this this piece to David Garber who gave me some factual changes. According to his memory:

Your copy test beat the crap out of mine, 4 percent to 3 percent. Then again, you are the master! Jim Prendergast was a charming and tactful fellow.

Fast Forward to 2014
The reason Peggy and I never got rich: Any time we had some cash in the bank we took a trip somewhere.

We're still at it.

Currently we are signed up for a cruise on the Rhône and Saône rivers ending up with a Mach 1 train ride from Lyons to Paris.



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