When Covid-19 hit early last year and most Travel Areas stopped worldwide, potential vacationers rushed to get rebates from hotels, airlines, cruise flights and other travel providers — or make travel insurance claims for canceled trips.
Often they hit a wall on both fronts. Reporters struggled or sometimes stoned with rebates – giving policyholders hoping to buy a part. At the same time, “insured” often found that the plans they purchased did not cover travel or medical expenses related to Covid.
“People were trying to get their money back, trying to navigate between credits and credits, and make travel insurance claims,” said James Ferrara, founder and president of the InteleTravel network of about 60,000 households in Delray Beach, Florida. based travel advisors. “They’re also looking for travel insurance for the next one [trip] and ensuring that insurance covers another pandemic, as this all surprised many people – including the insurance industry. “
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After these epic “burns,” many Americans are on the road again now that the restrictions of the pandemic are being lifted, convincing their travel — and their health — as they plan their trip. They do so to avoid future problems and in some cases because they are forced to. For example, more than two dozen countries charge visitors medical and sometimes travel expenses that include Covid-related cases.
– Before, there was a good handful [Covid], but more now, “said Megan Moncrief, marketing manager and travel insurance comparison site information expert at Squaremouth.com.” It makes sense when you think about how expensive getting abroad can be. “
Squaremouth, based in St. Petersburg, Florida, maintains an online list of about 26 countries that currently require Covid-specific pharmacovigilance from visitors. (U.S. health insurance plans generally do not cover medical care abroad.)
In addition, for a visit to Dubai, for example, you will need at least $ 100,000 for general first aid and $ 50,000 for medical evacuation. And for trips to Antarctica, where different peoples rule different areas, tour operators often charge at least $ 100,000 for both medical expenses and evacuation costs.
The amounts are justified. Jeremy Murchland, CEO of travel insurance company Seven Corners, said his team regularly helps with evacuations and “we’ve had a couple of cases last year that have exceeded six figures.”
It’s not just destinations and tour operators that need coverage. CNBC has reported that Royal Caribbean Cruises seriously announced in the cruise industry that unvaccinated passengers must purchase travel insurance. “There will be a [push] From travel reporters, “Moncrief said.” But we have seen [sales] Nearly 100% of consumers who are only somewhat in shell shock and want to know what their coverage options are. “
In June 2020, Seven Corners, located in Indianapolis, was among the first to offer Covid-specific medical protection as part of three plans aimed at international travelers, students and frequent travelers. (The company, which sells both comprehensive travel insurance and health insurance contracts only, has also introduced a new Claims Your Way service that connects customers with their own representative to facilitate the compensation process.)
Last month, Squaremouth, for its part, saw travel insurance sales exceed June 2019 sales by 14%. Compared to June 2020, when virtually no one was traveling, sales increased 466%. “There’s definitely going to be a big rebound, which I think is good for the industry,” Moncrief said.
However, customer demographics have changed. Baby boomers and older travelers – once the pillars of the industry – have not returned, he noted. “We see a younger demographic, about 10 years younger than our historical average,” Moncrief said. “Right now, we’re seeing people in their 40s really running travel insurance.”
Similarly, data from Seven Corners show that the average age of a purchaser of a travel protection plan is 43 years, while the age of customers who purchase only a medical travel plan is slightly younger than 39 years. (In 2020, about 87% of all claims from Seven Corners were only received for trip cancellations, the company said.)
“All the people who have had a cancellation happen [last year] “And now they’re looking for travel insurance or they have to buy it,” Moncrief said, noting that at some point in the pandemic, passengers up to the age of 21 were the largest customer population in Squaremouth. ” It was crazy to see that change, “he said.” When have they ever bought travel insurance before? But they were the only ones who traveled. “
In Seven Corners, insurance sales are only about 10% lower than in 2019, although the latest industry forecasts predict international travel in 2021 will be only 40-50% of the figure released two years ago, according to Murchland. “It tells us that‘ mortgage rates ’are much higher,” he said. “More and more people are aware of travel insurance and the need for it.”
Health and safety are now the most important concerns for travelers of all ages and even domestic trips, according to InteleTravel’s Ferrara. “If I’m going to travel now, what will the hotel, cruise company or tour operator do to protect me?” he said. Passengers also wonder what is expected of them upon arrival in terms of vaccination information and Covid testing requirements, and are concerned about the cost and the possibility of making claims if they have to cancel.
Traditional, traditional travel insurance plans often require buyers to enter into a Covid contract themselves to be reimbursed for travel; sick family members, canceled flights, state-imposed quarantines, job losses, and so on were not eligible. In fact, only 30% of the Covid-related claims that Squaremouth has seen were due to policyholders becoming ill themselves; the remaining 70 percent was due to other factors such as border closures.
Murchland in Seven Corners explained that the nerve case is also not suitable for a compensation bill. “Several people had booked trips for a later year and said‘ Hey, I’m nervous, I don’t want to travel and … I’m going to cancel my trip, ”he said. “But nervousness or fear of travel usually doesn’t become a covered trigger in basic insurance.”
Because insurers often have Byzantine rules on whether a canceled trip is covered, Squaremouth now sees the sale of so-called cancellation for some reason plans. Sales will grow 165% from 2019, Moncrief said. For Seven Corners, sales of such plans increased 180% last year compared to 2019 and the trend has continued until 2021. trips.
“We never recommended a cancellation for any reason before Covid because of the big premium increase,” he said, but people want it. “It feels like we’re getting out [the pandemic] but even now … passengers are just like “I don’t know what’s going on” and they buy a cancellation for any reason. “
Will demand decrease over time as the pandemic hopefully recovers? Moncrief doesn’t believe. “How do we respond to the next pandemic?” he said. “No one knows the answers, and that’s why I think interest in travel insurance will remain high.”
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These new coverage requirements from tourism suppliers may also last, he said. “Cruise companies, tour operators and airlines can only take a refund for as long; they need another option.”
Murchland noted that before Covid disease, only about 30% of U.S. travelers purchased travel insurance — compared to 60% of people in Europe, for example — but the severity of the pandemic has caused a change. “Because Covid has lasted so long, I think there is lasting strength; to what extent time seems,” he said. “I don’t think it will go away when we go next year.”
Ferrara at InteleTravel is less certain. “We Americans have short memories,” he said, noting that Google’s travel insurance search activity at the beginning of Covid had “fallen through the floor” in six to eight months. “It’s partly a defense mechanism as our people – we just don’t want to think about this.
“While I’d like to say that buying travel insurance will increase, I’m not so sure.”