International Citizens Insurance's Joe Cronin takes a look at the state of play, and offers advice for the insurance industry to ensure they are well placed, and prepared, to provide the best possible service to customers ahead of an increase in international travel:
With over 100 million cases of coronavirus disease recorded worldwide, it is now certain that Covid-19 is, and will be, present in our lives for quite some time. Around the globe, most countries still have travel restrictions or compulsory quarantine rules in place for travellers. As vaccination efforts continue, and the threat of Covid-19 decreases, those in the travel and insurance industries have a responsibility to ensure that their business models work in a way that keeps their customers protected.
People will start to travel again to other countries, and many signs point to a quick rebound for travel in 2021. Whether on holiday, extended travel, or relocating, health and safety is now at the forefront of customers’ minds.
International Citizens Insurance works with thousands of expatriates, international travellers, and international citizens every month. What we have identified is that there are many questions that need to be answered, and there is a wide variety of reasons why customers might need an international medical insurance policy. Health insurers should be aware of the kinds of demands their customers are making. What follows are recommendations that insurers should consider when reviewing their policies in light of the impact that Covid has had.
Offer as much medical cover as possible
Most insurers now offer ‘Covid-19 cover’, but some will not protect customers from the full range of possible coronavirus-related incidents. Still, some insurers’ coverage is significantly more comprehensive than others, and these should be front of mind when planning a potential 2021 holiday. Those that offer the most comprehensive cover, including Covid-19 medical evacuation and repatriation, will be in pole position to land the business.
Use technology to target the new traveller demographic
Technology is transforming the way we live and interact with the world at large, and we are just at the beginning of this revolution. The convergence of technologies makes life increasingly automated and personalised.
it will be necessary to continually review benefits and prices to keep travel insurance relevant and affordable
We are living in a connected world, and the latest insurance technologies can reduce costs for both customers and insurers, improve operational efficiency, and enhance the entire customer experience. As the travel industry slowly returns to pre-pandemic levels over the next year, demand for a modern business travel experience will be driven by the next generation.
Millennials make up a larger portion of workers than ever before. It’s well documented that this group of travellers have little patience or use for archaic, dated workplace technologies. When travel picks back up, the industry needs to harness apps, real-time risk assessment, digital health services, and more to make their products appeal to a digitally connected generation.
Insurers have a challenge ahead with a variety of new measures to navigate, often differing by geographic location. There have been many uncertainties that look set to affect business travellers when travelling internationally. The current inconsistencies in terms of rules, regulations, and paperwork required, mean that travellers will demand greater clarity and communication at all stages of the travel process, including what type of insurance to purchase.
The purchasing journey will now need to start well in advance of travel, to allow time to navigate these changing requirements.
Constantly review policies
The state of play is changing daily, and travel restrictions are being reviewed daily, which will impact both the short-term and the long-term outcomes of the travel industry. In the long-term, we are hopeful that travel can return to normal due to the increasing availability of vaccines in the future.
All these changes to the travel industry will directly impact the cover that travel insurers provide, and it will be necessary to continually review benefits and prices to keep travel insurance relevant and affordable.
Communicate proactively to all existing policyholders
Customer retention is so important, and expatriates that lived in a foreign country when the pandemic erupted might be unsure whether their current global health insurance plan covers Covid-19.
Similarly, those who are only now planning to move abroad are certainly wondering whether the costs related to Covid-19 will be covered in the health insurance policy and, if yes, to what capacity. This is one of the most common questions we get from our clients: “Is coronavirus covered in a global health plan?”
Some plans are comprehensive and some have exclusions; therefore, the best solution is to be open and transparent with your customer base and provide them with this information as soon as possible.
Highlight the importance of travel insurance
The uncertainty that has accompanied the Covid-19 pandemic has had a significant negative impact on the travel industry. But we hope that this past year has highlighted the importance of travelling with travel insurance, and that this will be the key message within our industry in 2021.
With health and safety more prominent in people’s minds, the pandemic has certainly raised the profile of the travel insurance sector. It has already changed international travel, and this will need to be reflected in the insurance products offered.