There are new ways to buy travel insurance this year. And they’re just in time. If you’re taking a trip in 2021, you’ll need as many options as you can get.
Travel insurance is changing almost by the minute. Although people are buying it from the same trusted sites, the product has adapted and become more flexible than ever.
Companies have added reference material and an AI chatbot or two, simplified the purchase process, and revamped their customer service commitment. In some cases, you don’t even have to do anything, because travel insurance is included in your booking.
It’s about time, say experts.
“Travelers just want their travel insurance problem solved as simply as possible,” says Damian Tysdal, who hosts the Safe Travels podcast. “The current solutions are confusing, lack information, or are too complicated.”
Where they’re buying insurance
Ben Carothers, a flight coordinator at Global Air Ambulance, says his customers are visiting tried-and-true travel insurance comparison sites to get more information about policies. These include Travelinsurance.com, Squaremouth.com, and InsureMyTrip.com. But in 2021, the big fear is COVID-19, and that requires a little more homework.
“It’s still very important to read the fine print about what’s covered,” he says.
One size doesn’t fit all
“The one size fits all mentality no longer works,” says Sasha Gainullin, the CEO of battleface, a new insurtech company.
Battleface is working with its reinsurance companies and underwriters to offer more customized and flexible travel insurance options in 2021. For example, some customers will be able to buy insurance even after departure (most insurance companies require that you purchase insurance before the trip begins, and no more than 14 days after booking). They’re also developing ways to only insure individual components of the trip instead of the full value of the trip.
New and improved sites
Some travel insurance companies are upgrading to meet the demands of travelers in 2021. For instance, Travel Insured will be rolling out new products that address some of the problems unique to post-pandemic travel.
“Our site also features up-to-date coverage alerts to help consumers choose the best plans for their trips,” says Sherry Sutton, vice president of marketing at Travel Insured. “It’s also full of resources like a handy help center for common questions and blogs for travel tips and recommendations.”
The rise of Luna, a travel insurance AI
VisitorsCoverage, which introduced an AI-driven smartbot named Luna last year, has made improvements to the interface for 2021, offering a new way to buy travel insurance. Luna’s goal is to streamline the comparison process so customers can find the right policy more quickly and easily.
“People who are traveling during the pandemic want to be assured they are covered for all COVID-related incidents and scenarios,” explains Rajeev Shrivastava, CEO of VisitorsCoverage.
He says AI technology can help customers find the right amount of coverage for all COVID situations. That includes information about testing, quarantine expense reimbursement and border entry denial. These may be dependent on your destination, the length of your stay, or other factors.
“The Luna smartbot makes what can be a confusing process simple and quick without having to wait to speak to a customer service agent,” adds Shrivastava.
Travel insurance is changing, too
Of course, none of these new ways of buying travel insurance for 2021 would do any good without the right insurance. To that end, insurance companies have been adding new plans to fit the needs of travelers.
For instance, The Travel Corporation last month introduced new travel protection plans that include COVID-19 coverage and a “cancel for any reason” benefit. The new plans are available for travel starting April 1.
“Under both plans, COVID-19 will be considered a covered reason if a client is either diagnosed with COVID-19 or, at the direction of a government official or medical expert, is required to quarantine,” says Chelsea Todaro, a spokeswoman for the company.
Making travel insurance easier
Tysdal is about to launch another new way to buy travel insurance: a site called CoverTrip.com that will offer plain-language reviews of various travel insurance companies. It will also focus on the easiest way to learn if you need travel insurance, what it covers, and the best type of plan. CoverTrip will feature a faster way to compare plans and guides for worry-free travel.
Other companies are also trying to simplify the process. Travel Insurance Master, an insurance start-up, has developed a new way to streamline the purchase process on its site, too.
The company developed an algorithm to recommend the best travel insurance for a traveler’s specific trip. It has partnerships with insurance providers that will allow customers to create a clear, side-by-side comparison so they can see the best value. What’s new about that? The company has pared it all down to just three steps. You can also filter the results by the specific benefits you’re looking for, such as emergency medical, financial default, and rental car coverage.
“You can easily find the right plan for you and make an educated purchase in just a few minutes,” says Brett Tollman, CEO of The Travel Corporation.
Travel insurance is included
Some airlines and hotels are including travel insurance with your purchase in 2021. For example, Viva Wyndham Resorts, a collection of all-inclusive vacation resorts in Mexico, the Dominican Republic and the Bahamas, is now including a new Hotel Assist Insurance on new bookings. It covers medical expenses, services for telemedicine, prescriptions, COVID-19 testing and assistance, and extension of stay or relocation.
A better customer experience, too
Companies are just getting started with adding new ways to buy travel insurance. Seven Corners says it’s developing new tools, the details of which are still under wraps, to guide its customers in 2021. It’s part of the company’s Right Way to Travel program, Seven Corners’ customer pledge to deliver timely and helpful services and innovative products. Improving customer service may be one of the best innovations.
“The purpose of these initiatives is to ensure travelers have the most robust coverage and assistance available when they feel comfortable to travel again in 2021,” says Jeremy Murchland, president of Seven Corners. And who can argue with better customer service?