The International Assistance Group comes Together Again in Lisbon, Portugal after almost 2.5 years.


Travel insurance and assistance industry professionals worldwide came together last week at the Sheraton Spa hotel in Lisbon, Portugal, for the International Assistance Groups Global Forum and Medical Academy – IAG’s first in-person event in almost two and half years.

The Global Forum and Medical Academy brought together over 60 delegates representing 45 independent assistance companies across 31 countries. While smaller than in the past, the in-person event signified a vital step toward recovery for travel insurance and the assistance industry.  

While the International Assistance Group continued to keep partners connected through virtual events during the height of the pandemic, the Global Forum and Medical Academy finally came to fruition after many postponements. And it was immediately evident how delighted everyone was to be together again in person. 

During the three-day event, the network welcomed new partners, re-ignited long-term friendships, launched two new internal systems, shared stories of the impact of the pandemic on lives, businesses and industry and discussed key trends shaping the future of the assistance industry.

The International Assistance Group combined the two events for the first time, allowing younger aspiring managers to gain exposure to those in the business for one or several decades. The focus was not just on
being together again but also on working together despite the group’s diversity. 


Three-day conference packs a punch

World-class keynote speakers covered a range of topics. Founder and CEO of Buurtzorg, Jos de Blok, shared his insights and unique decentralizing decision-making management model that ensures the customer is always the focus.  

Brendan Berne, former Australian Ambassador to Korea and most recently France, entertained with stories of diplomacy and the importance of establishing strong alliances, highlighted that solving crises is not about reacting when they occur but having a network established and relationships built ready for the unexpected when it comes. This strongly resonated with the group of independent companies whose entire raison d’etre is continuing to work together to save lives. While their collaborative spirit is a key factor that has helped to move partners and their network forward, together. 

Attendees also participated in interactive workshops where partners shared, inspired and explored new opportunities, highlighting critical aspects for the industry consider at the hands of rapid diversification. 



A post-pandemic outlook 

Partners took part in an open panel discussion led by members of the Supervisory Board with the group  sharing their success stories, key learning and recent innovations.  

With many partners reporting they lost approximately 70% of their business during the COVID-19 pandemic the Forum provided an excellent platform for partners to share their incredible stories on switching from surviving to thriving by securing new opportunities and pivoting to meet the new demands of their customers.  

Some of these innovations included, expanding telemedicine capabilities, providing more health, mental health and wellbeing support, and pre-travel information as travel began to resume.  


 Caption:  IAG Supervisory Board Chairman,
Thomas Davidson and board members, Violette Hasslemijer, Faruk Ertug, and
Gualtiero Ventura leading panel discussion with Oliver Muller, CEO Gateway EMS:
The Pandemic – striving, surviving, thriving


The road head 

With so many factors influencing the future of mobility, the roadside assistance stream brought together senior leaders from IAG partners who shared their local expertise.

The group debated the transformational changes that are happening across the wider automotive industry, and the impacts and opportunities this creates for IAG and our Roadside Assistance providers.

The event brought together businesses from outside of the European region providing a truly global perspective alongside external speakers with expertise in technology platforms and new distribution channels. 

Roadside assistance members also discussed and collaborated on trends surrounding electrification, driverless vehicles, and digital transformation as roadside assistance moves more and more to self-service.