ITIJ 220 | May 2019
Eyal Gluska, Co-CEO, Setoo, believes that insurers should see the evolving consumer landscape as an opportunity for innovation
Consumers increasingly expect personalised travel experiences, from the initial offer all the way through the holiday itself. This includes ancillary travel products such as insurance, which currently lags behind when it comes to personalisation, delivering one-size-fits-all solutions that are irrelevant to many travellers. As a result, consumers risk being unprotected on their travels.
Far from being just another add-on, insurance can be used as a tool that not only safeguards consumers but also improves their travel experiences and better satisfies increasing expectations.
So, what does the insurance opportunity for travel brands look like and what needs to be done to make the most of it?
Consumers have a preference for effortless, hassle-free experiences
An unlimited opportunity
There is endless choice when it comes to holidays and recent research suggests British consumers are taking full advantage of this. In 2018, Brits took an average of 3.4 holidays, with 40 per cent going on a beach trip and 48 per cent choosing to go on a city break. A significant percentage chose more specialised options, including nine per cent who went on a lake or mountain trip and eight per cent who embarked on a cruise.
Consumers have a preference for effortless, hassle-free experiences. Last year, half of travellers (49 per cent) went on a package trip, with 69 per cent saying they chose this option because everything is taken care of. The package holiday has long been key in the travel industry, but the level of detail at which trips are tailored is set to increase in the coming years.
With so many holidays available, high consumer expectations and travellers visiting a multitude of different locations, the possibilities for insurance products are significant. Nevertheless, they are still not being purchased.
Put simply, the huge variety of holiday options is not reflected in the insurance policies offered along with them. On the contrary, consumers are usually presented with a standardised policy, whether they’re going sightseeing in Seville or skiing in Saalbach. The wording of the policy features legal jargon, fostering a lack of transparency and leaving consumers unsure as to whether they are protected against the risks and activities that really concern them. This leads to high-profile cases where people have hurt themselves abroad, expecting to be protected against certain hazards associated with their holidays, only to find they are not entitled to compensation.
Take for example British backpacker Sophie Wilson, who hit the headlines in December 2018 after breaking her neck diving into a swimming pool in Thailand. Her insurer refused to compensate Wilson and attracted criticism as a result. These situations reflect poorly on insurance providers and result in an appalling experience for the customer, who in this instance was forced to crowdfund money to pay medical bills.
With so many holidays available, high consumer expectations and travellers visiting a multitude of different locations, the possibilities for insurance products are significant
Personalise the end-to-end experience
Using machine learning techniques, vast amounts of data can be analysed to provide tailored, relevant insurance policies that meet the specific needs of each customer. The ability to tap into external data sources and monitor exogenous events that could ruin the customer experience will improve how travel insurance works, including automatic compensation to relieve the customer of the complicated claims process.
Imagine a customer’s flight from London Heathrow Airport to Los Angeles Airport is cancelled. Instead of having to book themselves an alternative flight and endure a frustrating claims process, they receive a text message to their mobile phone reassuring them of immediate compensation, offering to book them on the next flight with a complementary wait in the lounge. This highlights how the purchase of an insurance policy is just the beginning of the next stage for personalised communications, which can be used to turn a poor experience into a great one, ensuring lasting customer loyalty.
More than ever, consumers want a travel experience tailored to them. Insurance policies must mirror this trend to remain relevant and increase their uptake among consumers exploring more varied types of trips. The technology is available to learn about customers and put this data into action by offering products highly relevant to them. More than that, personalisation done properly can ensure customers have a delightful experience, even if the unexpected occurs.