It is no secret that study abroad trips are a huge part of many students’ college experiences and a vital learning opportunity that contributes to the growth that occurs during one’s college years. Unfortunately, the cancellation of these trips is just another casualty that Covid-19 is greatly responsible for. Following the initial outbreak in March of 2020, students who were already abroad were asked to return home, and all future travel plans were postponed indefinitely. As the world slowly continues to find a new sense of normalcy, students have once again begun planning their trips and are getting excited about the prospect of experiencing life abroad.
Study abroad trends
In a typical year, student travel tends to peak in the months of August and January as students return to school to start a new semester. 2021 saw half as much student travel than it did in 2019 prior to the onset of the pandemic. According to our data, 40 per cent of last year’s study abroad trips were to Europe in just five of its countries: Italy, the UK, France and Spain. Another top travel spot for students departing from the US was Costa Rica. On the other hand, student trips inbound to the US were most often booked by those traveling from India, China, Brazil and Bangladesh.
According to a recent New York Times article, travel has increased in Europe since the European Union recommended the opening of borders in June. However, each country in the EU still has the freedom to make its own choice in terms of what is required of incoming visitors. Most countries, however, will require an approved Covid-19 vaccination if visitors do not want to be subject to taking a test or quarantining upon arrival. If you are travelling from a lower-risk country, you may be allowed entry even if you are not vaccinated.
At the time of writing, France requires proof of vaccination or a negative Covid-19 test within 72 hours of entering the country, while Italy requires that visitors from non-European countries present a negative test and complete a 10-day quarantine. Italy is also only allowing essential travel from countries that are high risk. Spain requires their visitors to be vaccinated and is allowing travellers from high-risk countries so long as they receive a negative test. The UK, on the other hand, has a more extensive process for regulating travel; it created a ‘traffic light’ procedure that allows (or doesn’t allow) visitors to enter based on quarantine and testing requirements as well as taking into consideration the number of cases in the visitor’s home country. This procedure is reviewed every three weeks and adjusted as necessary.
Travel restrictions change the game
While the market is beginning to bounce back, there are three primary reasons for the gradual nature of this return to normal: the ongoing uncertainty on a global level, travel restrictions and university restrictions and regulations. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lists over 70 countries as very high-risk destinations. These destinations may require various regulations for entry, such as vaccination requirements, Covid-19 testing and quarantining upon arrival. Universities have also continued to require that students purchase travel insurance prior to departing for their study abroad trips in addition to other regulations. Travellers and insurers should be aware that country and university-specific guidelines are constantly evolving as the global Covid-19 landscape changes.
Key benefits in demand
While helping students explore insurance options, Seven Corners has noticed some trends in questions that are being asked regarding the logistics of plans. Many students ask if the travel insurance plan will fulfill requirements being set forth by their universities. They are also interested to hear how their plan will work if a situation arises where they require medical assistance once they are abroad. Another common concern from students and their families pertains to Covid-19 travel disruption. They are often looking for clarity on what is and is not included in the plan, whether that be the Covid-19 vaccine, or requirements to quarantine or even evacuate.
These are all normal questions and good ones to ask. We want students and their families to understand the full range of benefits offered and know what they are purchasing. It has become clear that safety has become an even bigger priority for students and insurers alike, and we expect to see a higher-than-average pick up in student travel insurance sales as a result of this.
It has become clear that safety has become an even bigger priority for students and insurers alike, and we expect to see a higher-than-average pick up in student travel insurance sales as a result of this
Seven Corners offers a scheme that is specifically designed with student travellers’ needs in mind. We were the first insurer to market a plan with a named Covid-19 benefit, and this particular plan has followed suit, as it includes coverage for both Covid-19 and offers medical maximum options. It also offers robust coverage that many students are looking for – it fulfills most visa requirements and has in-country medical coverage and prescription coverage. While the addition of this Covid-19 coverage has impacted insurance rates, data suggests that the risk premium is expected to drop as the market makes its return to normal.
New year, new start for student travel
Although study abroad travel hasn’t fully recovered, data suggests that student travel will pick up in January 2022 with a full return to usual rates by August 2022. We are glad to see students asking such thoughtful questions when enquiring about travel insurance plans. It is vital that insurers help consumers fully understand where the travel landscape is currently at and how it may affect their insurance needs. Above all, we are excited that students once again have access to travel abroad opportunities. The future of student travel looks bright, and insurers can anticipate consumers to be eagerly making this return.