As the travel industry starts to open up again, it’s important to reflect on how the insurance market has been affected by the pandemic – and what we can learn from it so insurance companies can prosper in the future.
This unprecedented time has taught insurers the importance of flexibility and adapting their policies in line with changes in travel restrictions and consumer demand.
During the first few weeks of lockdown, many insurance providers withdrew any existing cover their policies offered for pandemics. This forced some insurers to step away from the market and many have still not returned to the aggregators after removing this cover.
Our response at ROCK was to introduce a Covid-19 travel insurance product for consumers in July 2020, covering pre-departure cancellation if they tested positive before their trip along with emergency medical care and repatriation costs if they tested positive while away.
We later introduced cover for travel against Foreign Office advice for single trips to European countries.
While market conditions were under threat, it was important for insurers to support the travel trade too. We introduced Covid protection products that covered agents against cancellation costs if a customer booked a holiday and needed to cancel due to testing positive to Covid-19, giving the opportunity for an agent to change the booking and recover additional costs in doing so.
Communication and customer service have been key to the success of a travel insurance brand during this time. It has been confusing for consumers to know what they were and were not covered for, particularly due to frequent changes in government travel restrictions.
We’ve worked extremely hard to be able to provide customers with clear guidance by regularly updating our website with content and Covid-specific scenario coverage questions.
Another invaluable lesson that has emerged during this difficult period is the importance of collaboration. The market conditions have been tough for everyone; we’ve seen another insurer exit the UK market only last week, so brands are consolidating the business they have.
During the past 18 months, ROCK has strengthened and diversified its offering: by launching underwriting agency Tigon, by partnering with Tesco Bank and most recently, and by being acquired by the Staysure Group – giving us access to more resources and allowing us to continue offering our services to wider audiences.
I’m confident the travel insurance market will bounce back. It might take some time to meet pre-pandemic levels, but we will get there.
Consumers are keen to travel and explore the world again which is a great sign for insurance companies as people will more likely prioritise getting the correct travel insurance to ensure they are covered in case of unprecedented circumstances.”
Antony Martin is managing director of ROCK Insurance Group.