More Than a Policy – Why guard.me has Put Relationships First for 20 Years
One of the things I consider to be most important in business is relationships. But over time, as the world has become more digital and automated, many companies have lost sight of the need for relationships and have sacrificed them in the name of efficiency. It’s something that I’ve thought a lot about recently, as guard.me celebrates more than 20 years of providing international student health insurance to students attending schools around the world. From the start, we’ve always empathized relationships with our partner schools, our students, and our industry peers.
Creating a Culture of Relationships from the Very Beginning
When I first started the company all those years ago, the only way to get new clients was to knock on doors, have face-to-face meetings with people, and develop trust and credibility. Nobody had heard of us and our product was still unfamiliar to a lot of people, so no one was going to buy if they weren’t comfortable that we could deliver what we promised.
That experience stuck with me over the years, and as we’ve been fortunate enough to grow, we’ve made a conscious effort to build that same thinking into our company culture. We see ourselves as more than just an insurance provider. We become a partner to the schools and institutions we work with, and we play an important role in helping international students achieve their educational goals.
Everyone who works at guard.me is trained to be able to take action and go above and beyond the norm for an insurance company when needed. We understand that when somebody needs to deal with their insurance, it means that something has gone wrong. And whether it’s a minor illness or a serious incident, we want to be able to do everything we can to turn that negative experience into as positive as possible.
For our partner schools, this level of service has proven valuable, and allows their staff to focus on what they do best while leaving the insurance matters up to us. We’ve developed a reputation that we have their backs, and that we’ll be there for them when they need us to make sure a situation is handled properly. To this day, we find that a boots-on-the-ground approach with face-to-face meetings is far more effective than anything that can be done virtually, especially when dealing with serious cases that require more hands-on support.
Relationships in an International Environment
One of the most interesting parts of being an international student health insurance provider is that we’re constantly working with people from different backgrounds, cultures, languages, and life experiences. When dealing with students from different parts of the world, you need to be able to understand these differences and act accordingly. A one-size-fits-all approach simply doesn’t make sense. Compared to domestic insurance, it makes relationships that much more important.
As we grew larger and started working more globally, the natural next step was to build relationships in the communities we operated in. We don’t want to just be there selling insurance, we want to become part of the local community and help people achieve higher education.
We’re very proud to have launched mental health programs to assist students dealing with the challenges of living in a new country, away from their friends, family, and support system. We’ve built libraries around the world to improve access to education and learning resources for young students, with hopes that they’ll continue to pursue education well beyond what they thought was possible. And we’ve joined national and international industry groups to try and improve the international student experience.
Building Relationships – Building Education
One of the things that we say here at guard.me is that education can change the world. Individuals become better global citizens through learning, travelling, and experiencing new cultures and ways of living. By forming new relationships, these students get a far wider perspective than anything they could staying at home.
For us, we’ve emphasized the importance of relationships in our culture. From the early days of knocking on doors through to today, our staff are committed to becoming a trusted partner that can be relied upon when needed. It’s the foundation of everything we do here, and it’s why we so often hear stories of our staff going above and beyond what’s typically expected from an insurance company.
Keith Segal is President and Founder of guard.me