The survey, undertaken by TravelInsurance.com, found that a concerning 54 per cent of US consumers have never purchased travel insurance, with 65 per cent of this group never even having considered it. Forty-seven per cent of respondents, meanwhile, expressed a lack of knowledge about whether their health insurance would cover them while travelling abroad. The lack of coverage and awareness is even more worrying when set against the figure that 76 per cent of respondents has experienced a flight delay in the past, while 48 per cent had either lost or had luggage stolen, and 35 per cent had either fallen ill while travelling or been travelling with someone who fell ill.
“It is really incredible to me that we are where we are, at least in the US market,” said Stan Sandberg, co-Founder of TravelInsurance.com. “Everywhere else in the world, people buy their travel first, and then buy their travel insurance immediately after.” He suggested that this issue could be driven by the fact that many see travel insurance as more of an optional add-on purchase rather than a valuable product in and of itself – many airlines and online travel agencies, for example, include tick boxes and pop-ups for travel insurance, a phenomenon that has received much negative press and even a damning report from a US senator in recent times.
“[This method] might be one of the worst ways to help travellers understand what is effectively still a somewhat complicated product,” Sandberg continued. “When you are fed a ‘one-size-fits-all, take it or leave it’ option at checkout, there is nothing to understand. It’s like the warranty we’re offered when you buy a consumer electronics product. Most of us have been conditioned to turn it down.” Insurers, he said, need to make their product ‘customer-friendly and accessible’, in the same way that home and property insurance have been marketed.