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The need for travel insurance in the midst of a pandemic is reshaping the travel landscape

Thailand, now in the top five destinations that Seven Corners travel insurance customers book, requires visitors to be insured for Covid treatment.

Saowakhon Brown | Moment | Getty Images

The ever-changing Covid-19 pandemic is where Americans spend their money on travel and how they protect that investment. It is according to the latest findings from travel insurance companies and industry experts who follow them.

The airline’s ticket comparison site Next Vacay said it has analyzed Google’s searches on travel insurance over the past 12 months and found a 233% jump in users asking if coverage is worth it. worth the cost.

“The uncertainty of changing travel restrictions in each country has left travelers looking for travel insurance options now more than ever,” said Naveen Dittakavi, founder and CEO of Next Vacay, based in Alpharetta, Georgia. “It’s not a surprise that [Google] searches for “worth of travel insurance” increased by 233% and searches for “[is] cancel for any reason travel insurance worth “have increased by 200%.”

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Unsurprisingly, domestic travel remains on top with Seven Corners travel insurance customers, which has seen a 90% increase in travel to the United States this year compared to 2019. But the Carmel, Indiana company sees growing interest in traveling abroad by 2022 – and a shift to preferred foreign destinations.

With international coverage exceeding national plans by a factor of eight for next year’s trips, Seven Corners says Turks and Caicos is the No. 1 overseas destination among its customers, followed by Costa Rica, Mexico. , Thailand and Israel. Mexico has always been popular with U.S. travelers, but Turks and Caicos had never been ranked in the top 100 destinations, according to Seven Corners.

Bookings among policyholders in Costa Rica and Thailand have also grown amid the pandemic, while France, first in first place, is now only No. 7. Other European destinations such as Spain and the United Kingdom they have also fallen in popularity with Seven Corners customers.

For its part, competing travel insurer Allianz Partners USA in Richmond, Virginia, found that 55% of its customers plan to travel to the continental United States for their next trips. Mexico, the Caribbean and Hawaii are collectively No. 2, at 24%, while 15% plan trips to Europe. (In July, the company surveyed 1,362 customers who had purchased an Allianz policy through a sales partner from October to April.)

“The main reason behind this change in the popularity of the destinations seems to be directly related to the destination’s experience with Covid-19 and its requirements for visitors,” according to Seven Corners. In fact, four of the top five popular destinations with the company’s customers require a specific Covid coverage test for visitors on arrival; Mexico alone does not have such a mandate.

Outside medical coverage was a rethink for many travelers but Seven Corners now reports that 80% of the travel medical plans it sells include a “Covid-19 specialty benefit.” Younger customers, however, are less interested; only 29% of purchased student travel plans cover Covid-related care.

We see that customers represent pre-pandemic interest rates, which has the potential to fuel travel enthusiasm in 2022.

Daniel Durazo

director of marketing and communications at Allianz Partners USA

Those who insure travel with full coverage do so even sooner, now acquiring international plans, on average, three months and six days before departure, compared to just over two months before pre-pandemic trips. For travel in the United States, the lead time is now two months, 20 days, to just two months.

However, medical-only travel plans with travel cancellation benefits are getting closer. While customers once typically received medical coverage 19 days before departure, on average, they are now only nine days early.

Meanwhile, Allianz Partners USA has tracked how comforted its insurance customers are with the return to various types of pre-Covid frequency travel activities. Majorities said they agreed to stay in a hotel, at 84%; fly in the air (79%); owns a rental property (78%); and take a train (70%). Only 4 in 10 feel comfortable taking a cruise now, although 53% plan to sail by the end of the year.

Sixty-seven percent told Allianz Partners USA that they already plan to fly to their next vacation spot, with 19% driving and 11% taking a cruise ship. Asked how Covid influenced their feelings on the cruises, 24% said they had not; of those who said they were now less comfortable, 72% “always think about taking a cruise again,” according to the company.

Secured before their trips, two-thirds of Allianz Partners USA customers plan to travel by November. “Confidence and certainty around travel is returning, and we see customers representing pre-pandemic interest rates, which has the potential to fuel travel enthusiasm in 2022,” said Daniel Durazo, director of marketing and communications of Allianz Partners USA, in a statement.

Despite the changes brought on by the pandemic, some long-term insurance trolls still hold water. Rajeev Shrivastava of travel insurance shopping site VisitorsCoverage.com, based in Santa Clara, California, offers three suggestions when it comes to upcoming travel plans:

  1. For domestic travel, purchase third-party travel insurance instead of relying on airlines or credit cards so that non-refundable costs such as hotel stays can be recovered if travel is interrupted.
  2. Monitor official government advice and notifications from airlines and other travel companies associated with travel reservations.
  3. Add “cancel for any reason” coverage to a travel insurance policy to allow last-minute cancellation protection in all circumstances, including spikes in delta variant cases.

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