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Radio Show Host, Travel Expert, Stephanie Abrams' Travel Blog

With Apologies . . .Especially on Yom Kippur for Featuring an Insurance Company Involved in Settlement for Non-Payment to Holocaust Survivors

I am shocked and embarrassed and nonplussed and owe my audiences, especially my Jewish fans, an apology especially for an interview that broadcast on Yom Kippur!

We often create interviews that air on the weekends when our guests aren’t available by doing recorded interviews in person or by telephone during the week before it airs. When there are holiday and other scheduling obstacles, mid-week recorded interviews are the key to successfully creating programing.

So the September 30th program of Travlers411, my Saturday show, broadcast on Yom Kippur, the most Holy Day in the Jewish calendar, included programming that was previously recorded which included an interview with Chris Carnicelli, CEO of Generali Global Assistance, an Italian-based insurance company with offices in Europe and the US.

I am a great believer in the value of buying travel insurance and saw this interview as a public service for my radio and online audiences so I welcomed the opportunity, especially in light of the object lesson to travelers that recent hurricanes and the earthquake in Mexico  have become in teaching those who travel that at any moment the destination you have invested money in visiting in advance of the visit, or your home, may become uninhabitable and the trip is “off!” But without travel insurance, you may have just poured salt in the wound of the loss of the trip by experiencing the loss of your deposits, full payments, and  non-refundables as there’s no place to apply for your refund as the destination is now under rubble!

There are official lists of broadcast/media outlets that PR firms use to find the right spot to get an interview for their client. As it turns out, on the premiere lists in the travel media industry, my shows and I, Travel WITH Stephanie Abrams, Travelers411, Abrams Hospitality Marketing and Stephanie Abrams show up at the very top so, daily, we are approached with a barrage of potential guests. So when I was approached by a public relations firm offering up their travel insurance client, I expressed interest, especially at this very important moment in time when so many people with tour and cruise plans either can no longer visit the destination or can’t leave home to go anywhere until they rebuild a home to come back to! Yes, I was interested in the guest.

I was emailed an overview of information and links to pertinent sites to become better informed about Generali Global Assistance.  Everything I read which was sent from their PR firm looked very good. . . a company selling insurance for well over 100 years with roots in Italy and other European offices and offices in the US for over 20 years! Sounds good, no?

Here’s what happened next:

I went to Google to do a search for “Chris Carnicelli” the CEO of the travel insurance company. I like to Google our guests two or three weeks after they appear to see if the interest  info about our guests is appearing  in search results related to the interview. Chris’ interview first broadcast on 9/24/17, only a week ago so I really didn’t think we’d have pushed through tons of links for a results for this man or the company he represents yet but thought I’d check. In that process, I stumbled up on this enlightening article that you should read:

I have seen films, docudramas, documentaries, read articles, heard panel discussions and interviews on radio and television and read print media articles about insurance companies who made a fortune targeting Jewish families in Europe, selling them insurance policies, recognizing that the Nazis would soon be at their doorsteps and taking them off to extermination camps. These insurance companies then  found every reason under the sun not to pay the monies due to the heirs when they were victims of concentration camp deaths! What a surprise it was to me that Generali was at least one of those companies that made a fortune when, after the extinction of those policy holders’ lives, obstacles were put in the way of their heirs so that collection on those policies was rendered impossible. While the article you can read from the above link gives insights into the ’settlement’ (you can find volumes on this subject online with little effort) and the excuses for not not paying off all of the debts owed to the heirs of those who perished in the Nazi Concentration Camps who bought insurance, and while the world looked at Switzerland as “neutral” when, in fact, Hitler wouldn’t have touched Switzerland, not because of its mountainous terrain and not because it declared itself ‘neutral’ during WWII but because Switzerland was the repository for money, gold, jewels, artwork and other treasures the Nazi regime had placed there for safekeeping after confiscating valuables from the homes of deported Jews, until such time as the marauders could retrieve the treasure . . . and do their best not to return them to the families from which these valuables were stolen. . . (see the film, “Women in Gold!” about Austria’s similar actions), I am truly embarrassed that I didn’t look beyond the well-presented information on the company presented by their PR firm that led me to invite their CEO, an awfully nice-sounding fellow whose interview I enjoyed (!), to be a guest on my shows and expose that company to my audiences on air and online.

I have long had the most heinous  experiences resulting from dealing with PR firms.  This is the straw that will long be remembered as the one that broke the camel’s back. After I finish, “1001 Reasons to Visit Ireland,” my first travel guide and “SECRET,” the sequel to my novel, RUMORS, watch for my first business guide, “How to Pick a Good PR Firm or Why PR Firms Suck!”

To all of my listeners, I want you to know that I go out of my way to present to you the best of the best that the travel industry has to offer and in 15+ years in broadcasting I have never been caught up in a situation that comes close to comparing to this web I stepped into. And to everyone, and to all of my Jewish following, at this special time of year, I wish you L’shana tova, a Happy & Joyous Sukkoth, Health, and every Blessing and a reminder to Never Forget. At a time when Germany does a better job of remembering the errors of the past than seems to be happening here in the US, it is ironic that I should be confronted with this awful story and caught by surprise. Trust that I will do my best not to allow myself to be ensnared by surprises again! I can’t tell you what a shock this information was to me that I stumbled upon while looking for something else!

Note that that doesn’t negate the value of travel insurance! Do your own due diligence to find the company whose history, ethics, reputation for treatment of clients and paying debts due and reviews indicate that that is a company you want to do business with and then make your own educated decision as to where you wish to do business, wherever that may be. Travel insurance is such an important protection tool for the traveler and it’s a personal expense that truly touches the lives of those who need to cash-in on what they have bought when it’s time to collect. Choose the company that you feel you can trust to take care of your most personal needs when you are most affected by circumstances beyond your control.

There’s a joke I heard a comedian once tell about insurance:

“Insurance is a product that provides  you with protection while you are paying the premium and is unavailable when you go to collect on it!”

There’s even a commercial on TV running NOW in which the actor says something like, “I had an accident. When I called my insurance company they told me I bought the wrong insurance policy. No, I bought from the wrong insurance company.” That story seems to be as relevant today as it was in the 1940’s and onward! Clearly, it’s well known that some insurers are better than others, have differing levels of customer service availability, especially when it comes time to collect. Don’t buy until you know the company you’re buying from and learn quickly! Deal with companies who have great reputations. Be sure you can count on the company to be there when you need them. That’s fundamental.

--Gotta Fly Now!sm
Your Personal Travel Expert
Nationally syndiated radio show host
Stephanie Abrams

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