In her career as sales director at ITG Worldwide, Kristin Ash emphasizes the importance of informing plan sponsors and plan participants about the risks associated with traveling and working overseas. EBA spoke with Ash about her success and the benefits of adding international coverage to a broker's portfolio.


How did you get started with international insurance?

I worked with a woman ... and two weeks before I was supposed to return from maternity leave [that company] laid me off. The woman called me and said, 'You need to go talk to my husband. He works for a small company and I think you'd be good at it.' I had no insurance experience and from day one it was a perfect fit. I have been addicted since that first day. [At ITG] we're a managing general agent so we work with brokers and directly with clients. We work with everything from travel policies to people going overseas for school to individual expats.


Tell us about the Global Mobility Rising Star award from the Forum for Expat Management.

The Global Mobility Rising Stars are those who make an impact on the industry. This is actually my second year being nominated, last year I was short-listed and I also was highly commended. This year I have no idea who nominated me, but there were more than 500 entries, so being on the short list is a pretty big deal. It's a huge organization that has grown exponentially; I've been a part of it for the last four years. I believe I was nominated because I have such a passion for education and we do this free of charge. When I started with ITG they had no materials, nothing to give brokers and I saw a real need; everyone wanted this knowledge.


In 2011, you were one of only 14 brokers invited to participate in the UnitedHealthcare Global Solutions advisory council. How did it feel?

It was fantastic because the group of people that were involved were some of the best in the world; brokers from the U.K, other parts of the world. It was a huge honor. Representatives from Aon Hewitt, the president of Willis International, Lockton, Towers Watson; there was a nice mix. UnitedHealthcare is trying to have an effect on preventative care worldwide and it was really a brainstorming session. They asked what do we want? What do our clients want? What's important to our clients? How can they be more competitive? Which is always a good thing because it makes carriers step up their game.


What would you say to those brokers who may be hesitant to offer international insurance?

I know people are hesitant to learn something new, and whenever you put the word 'international' in front of anyone their eyes glaze over because they start thinking about the 195 or 209 countries [involved], depending on who you talk to. You don't have to know the laws and the compliance for each country. Brokers should start small and contact their current client list; ask if they have anyone traveling for business trips overseas - because their domestic insurance is useless overseas. If something happens to an executive overseas and they end up with long-term disability because they didn't have a simple travel policy they're going to go to the broker and ask, "Why didn't you tell me I was at risk?"

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