16 experts advise on what’s to come this year.
For travel managers, duty-of-care conversations usually
center on vetting suppliers and managing employees during crises. Paige
Schaffer, president and COO of Generali Global Assistance's identity and
digital protection services unit, would like to add identity theft to that list
of topics. The company, which recently rebranded from Europ Assistance USA,
wants to get identity protection tools into the hands of corporate travelers,
who face a higher risk of identity theft than the average employee, by selling
its products to corporate travel suppliers like travel management companies,
which then resell to their clients, or by selling directly to employers. She
spoke to BTN senior editor Michael B.
Baker about the Iris OnWatch identity protection program her unit launched this
summer—which offers software and services to prevent identity theft, monitoring
to detect it and alerts and resolution tools should identity theft occur—and
why the company is targeting the travel industry.
BTN: What's the
correlation between identity theft protection and corporate travel?
opportunity in the travel segment, especially when you look at the data points
of people being two to four times more likely to lose their identity when
they're traveling, with boarding passes and Wi-Fi and hotel keys. We have been
selling [identity theft protection] since 2003, so we were probably the first
in the United States to offer B-to-B-to-C identity services. Our product is
agnostic. We are already handling a mega travel management company, and they
are using it and selling it on their leisure side of the business. Whether it's
a TMC or a hotel chain or a technology company, it's really about increasing
that brand loyalty. We essentially give a net cost and they can market it. They
may already have a business travel risk product but may see identity theft and
say, that's interesting, so it's also an opportunity to bring business to them.
Corporate travel agents can sell it just like they're selling travel insurance,
and groups and meetings can use it. There's also an opportunity for the GDSs
and larger distribution channels. You have this embedded with your product from
the get-go, and it covers the masses of your product base. We had the ability
to offer it if you wanted to pay for it for your customers. Maybe you have a
bunch of high-net-worth customers and it's included in your luxury trip, or you
have your top 100 clients of Microsoft or Google or whomever, so we offer the
ability to embed it and it's paid for and you can sell it on a voluntary basis.
BTN: Could a
corporate travel program offer it directly to travelers?
Schaffer: We can
sell to any business. A portal would be generated with their logo on it, but
most likely, for some of these smaller companies, we have just a generic portal
that has our Iris logo on it, and they can point people to that. We're also
talking to one of the large TMCs that has a loyalty division, so we have the
ability to transact using loyalty points, if that was something that was needed.
BTN: Why would a
traveler want this on top of corporate card protections or other systems
already in place?
not a data-breach company. Javelin just put out a report that said consumers
are starting to get hip to the fact that [employers] are doing [data-breach
protection] just to check it off from the compliance and regulations list. What
you get is a low-cost, high-volume center that doesn't know much about identity
theft. We're much more proactive risk mitigation. [For] companies that consider
cyber liability policies, having [Iris OnWatch] in place mitigates the risk for
those policies and sometimes gets them lower rates. The anti-phishing and anti-keystroke
is critical insurance, and consumers are asking for it. By the end of the year,
we'll probably launch a smartphone protection and an e-vault, a highly
protected place to put your information.
Paige Schaffer, president and COO of Generali Global
Assistance's identity and digital protection services unit, cited the following
corporate travel industry already is talking a lot about duty of care. Does
Generali consider its product to fall under that umbrella?
Schaffer: It's an
easy way to characterize it for this audience. It is a duty of care but a
different kind of risk that happens mostly when people travel. It doesn't
prevent terrorism or tell you necessarily where your employees are, but [identity
theft] is a legit, real risk.
BTN: Could an
employer face any sort of legal liability if an employee's identity was stolen
while on a business trip?
Schaffer: I don't
think anyone has looked at it that way yet. It goes to what you have to do and
what's right to do. The challenge is, you could have a traveler traveling, and
they leave the company six months later, and it's hard to prove that your identity
was stolen because you were on that trip. [Proactive identity theft protection]
just makes good, proactive sense for your employees. More employers are going
to get a bad rap for after-the-fact data breaches and [for] just giving
customers and [their] employees the basic level because they have to.
BTN: Do you plan
to expand your platform beyond the United States?
Schaffer: We're launching in Canada at the end of the
year, and we have very serious interest [from employers] in South Africa and
India after that, and we'll launch in Europe, as well. We want to get it right
with Canada, with the multiple currencies and translation, and we feel like
we'll be the first true global provider.
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