New tools and technology enhancements continue making it easier for travel providers, agents and travellers to access trip protection benefits.
NB: This is a viewpoint by Beth Godlin, president of Aon Affinity Travel Practice.
Insurers are rolling out online and mobile claims capabilities to meet customers’ changing needs, so that consumers have more options and more ways to purchase travel protection than ever before. It’s why travellers today are seeing enhanced services - such as electronic claims payment and paperless processing - that have more kinship with their everyday banking or bill-payment services.
A new traveller class is forcing many of these service upgrades - more than 80 million US Millennials have entered the travel marketplace in larger volumes than Baby Boomers and Generation X and have proven they are even more likely to travel.
According to Phocuswright, 42 percent of Millennials traveled internationally in 2013 compared to only 28 percent of older travelers. They also are twice as likely to take long trips (14 nights or more) than travellers from other generations.
Because of this preference and desire to travel, Millennials are getting more comfortable with the notion they should buy trip insurance.
While some may see the young as having more of a sense of immortality, data is showing that younger travellers are actually increasingly buying insurance.
A 2014 study from the US Travel Insurance Association (UStiA) showed that one in six Americans were forced to cancel or interrupt their travel plans by medical conditions, natural disasters, or mechanical or carrier-caused problems. Roughly 22 percent of them had travel insurance, and of that, 63 percent were either households with children or travelers between the ages of 18 and 34.
It further demonstrates that the Millennial traveller may be more inclined to purchase travel insurance than other generations, and the findings were consistent with a UStiA survey from 2012 that showed younger Americans and those earning $50,000 or more remain the most likely to purchase travel insurance.
It appears that these travellers also are sharing their learnings with others. A recent study conducted by Aon Affinity Travel Practice of travel insurance customers who recently settled claims indicated that consumers protected more than 70 percent of their trips in the last year and also encouraged other travelers to do the same.
The top reasons for recommending others to invest in travel protection came down to service and ease of use.
So how are travel insurance services evolving to meet the demands of this younger, more adventurous traveller? The industry is customizing its offerings to best meet the needs of specific demographics, as opposed to maintaining a one-size-fits-all approach.
Here are the top five ways in which we see travel insurance services evolving to address purchase trends and triggers:
- Customer service options
From technology offerings popular with consumers to claim servicing, this is an easy way for travel protection providers to differentiate themselves in today's flooded market. Millennials in particular are a highly digital generation, so they value comfort with booking online or easily accessing claims information online.
There are a lot of opportunities to address travellers’ needs with protection plans, including annual plans to cover multiple trips, plans that protect just one flight, low-cost plans for tight budgets, and comprehensive plans for more exotic or luxurious travel.
- Convenient Technology
Adjusting online and mobile insurance purchase and claims capabilities to make sure they meet customers’ changing needs and make the process of getting insured and making a claim as simple as possible.
- Broader coverage offerings
While implementing changes to policies is difficult and it can take more than a year to get a product filed and approved in 50 states, providers are broadening the scope of what insurance products cover. Insurance products have evolved in the past 10 years or so, and some now offer terrorism coverage, for example, or include a cancel for any reason (CFAR) benefit along with more traditional coverage.
- Program customisation to reflect shared economy trends
It’s important to address emerging risks associated with shared economy suppliers, such as Airbnb. Travellers tend to have lower perceived risk, which may be coupled with higher risk tolerance for those booking through shared economy suppliers, as opposed to those who book traditional hotel, cruise or tour trips.
These trends and changes indicate that today’s travellers, driven by Millennials, are increasingly asking themselves new and unique questions related to travel insurance and protection. This presents a great opportunity for travel insurance brands to ask new questions as well. The key is to stay relevant by addressing the changing travellers and their evolving needs.
NB1: This is a viewpoint by Beth Godlin, president of Aon Affinity Travel Practice. It appears here as part of Tnooz's sponsored content initiative.
NB2: For more travel tips and insight, visit its blog.
NB3: Image by MonkeyBusiness/BigStock