Covid-19 has changed many things and some threaten to become habits that will remain even when this period of restrictions and confinements is just a memory. One of the sectors most affected by everything they have experienced since the arrival of the coronavirus is tourism, which has hardly known a moment of respite between confinements, reductions in mobility and various conditioning factors. The challenge for the sector is to ensure that travel is perceived as a safe activity.
After almost two exceptional years, various studies indicate that the situation has generated a new traveler profile that responds to other habits: shorter trips and at any time of the year, more aware of sustainability and increasingly responsible for the uncertainties surrounding time travel. of pandemic.
This last aspect has consequences in the proposal of insurers who sell travel insurance. A product that is increasingly in demand, although the reduction in travel means that the companies affected expect a bigger increase as tourism recovers and business travel also increases. Forecasts indicate that 2019 travel volume will not recover until 2023.
living with the virus
“We have learned to live and travel with the pandemic, and each time we have an arsenal of knowledge, vaccines and more suitable therapies, which will help us overcome the situation as soon as possible”, says Carlos Nadal, insurance manager. at Iris Global. , a company specializing in travel insurance. Despite this optimism, the expert recognizes that “our specialists point out that this year there will always be uncertainty in travel”.
The virus will continue to circulate and mutate, so “special attention must be paid to the control measures that the authorities establish at all times”, he concludes.
In this sense, the latest change of January 25 affects travel within the European Union and involves the expiry of the Covid passport if it is not proven that you have received the third dose nine months after the second. On the other hand, the Ministry of Health limits the validity of the antigen test to enter the country to 24 hours, in the event of not having a valid Covid passport.
Adaptation to the times
Insurers reacted from the first moments of the pandemic to offer solutions to travelers in the face of the emergency generated by the coronavirus. Nadal clarifies that “although the pandemic situation has always been covered in our policies, since the start of covid-19 we have included new covers and services adapted to new needs”.
everything can change from moment to moment. In addition to health care, repatriation by medical plane, payment of costs in the event of contagion before the trip or payment of accommodation if you are infected or have to confine yourself to the place of destination, which are the most common guarantees, the director of Iris Global reveals the importance it has acquired for travelers to have information on the situation of the pandemic in the place of destination. “In our business, we have gone one step further by integrating an app with medical and safety information into all of our insurances,” says Nadal.
We incorporate in all our travel insurance an application with medical and safety information”
Specifically, it is a travel information application on more than 220 destinations, “which integrates various services related to personal safety during travel, as well as a lot of medical information necessary for the overall safety of the traveler”, specifies the person in charge of the insurer.
Another request from travelers is to have information on the state of Covid-19 at their destination. Nadal clarifies that “the restrictions change from moment to moment, for this reason we have included the possibility that the insured can contact our assistance center before starting their trip to find out the conditions of the country of destination and in the event that the country requires a PCR test, our doctors prescribe said test to the insured person so that he can perform it under advantageous conditions”.
Studies suggest that the new traveler is more independent when planning and contracting their trips and, as expected, more digital. A fact on which insurers are very clear when defining their products. In the case of Iris Global, “we have integrated medical teleconsultation, in this way the insured can maintain a videoconference with our medical team, minimizing in many cases the risk of having to go to a hospital where the probability of contagion could increase”, he says, the director of the specialized company.
Look to the future
While waiting for the evolution of the pandemic in the coming months, the insurance industry is clear that “the sensitivity of the traveler to travel with insurance offering full protection has increased very significantly”, explains Carlos Nadal.
However, the appearance at the end of last year of the omicron variant put an end to the increase in the subscription of this type of policy, which had shown an upward trend since September, for both business and leisure travel. . For 2022, growth expectations focus on the second half. Even if the evolution of the pandemic will have the last word.