Travel insurance quotes have surged nearly 300% year-over-year as pandemic restrictions ease and Canadians are eager to travel again, according to a new report from rate comparison site RATESDOTCA.
The rate aggregator analyzed data from thousands of quotes from its travel insurance quoter between Q3 2019 and Q3 2021. The number of 2021 travel insurance quotes are still not up to the pre-pandemic levels of 2019, but data suggest travel intentions are returning.
“RATESDOTCA travel insurance quotes in the third quarter of this year were 293% higher than the same time in 2020,” the aggregator said in an article posted on its website Wednesday. “This means that an increased number of Canadians are planning out-of-province or international trips.”
The type of plans Canadians are getting quotes for – including all-inclusive, single and multi-trip travel medical and trip cancellation – has mirrored the dip in travel interest and is now trending upwards, though not at pre-pandemic levels, RATESDOTCA added in a press release.
Brad Dance, chief customer officer with travel insurance provider TuGo, agreed that “as travel restrictions have reduced, we have continued to see an uptick in Canadians purchasing travel insurance. Our customer service team has received an unprecedented amount of inquiries, with travellers ready to renew their annual policies, as well as many new purchases.”
Plus, with the change to the PCR test requirement for trips 72 hours or less, effective Nov. 30, “we expect this change to have an even bigger impact on travel insurance purchases,” Dance said Thursday.
Chad Relf, president of AAM Financial, the financial services department for brokerage AA Munro, also told Canadian Underwriter Thursday that “we are seeing an increase in travel inquiries. Last year, we saw virtually no travel sales, with the exceptions often being people forced to travel for work.”
This year, things are returning closer to normal, Relf said, while still down. “However, the prices for travel insurance have jumped significantly, so we are currently doing a lot of quotes, but not selling insurance on the first call like we used to.”
As for the types of coverage people are asking for, all questions are around medical and not trip cancellation or flight delay, Relf reported. “Because COVID is a known issue, it cannot be used as a reason for trip cancellation, and due to the relatively high cost of trip cancellation (as well as the ability to get it directly though the trip booking or a credit card), we sell virtually no cancellation insurance.”
One major change from pre-pandemic times, however, is how some insurance providers are dealing with COVID. For example, some providers cover COVID by default in their policies, while others require a separate COVID policy. Other companies offer coverage, “but we are unable to purchase it through our broker portal,” Relf said. “We have to call in, with all the clients’ info prepared, and then an agent can quote it. Of course, with wait times to speak with someone of often over an hour, this is impractical.”
Dance said travellers want to ensure their travel insurance policy has them covered, whether they are vaccinated or not. For its part, TuGo includes COVID-19 coverage for vaccinated travellers in emergency medical insurance; “for those unvaccinated, we’ll cover them too, when our COVID-19 Insurance – Unvaccinated plan is added to emergency medical insurance.”
It’s clear that Canadians want to travel but are doing so more cautiously than in pre-pandemic times, RATESDOTCA managing editor John Shmuel said in the release. “Whether Canadians plan to travel abroad or within the country, it’s best to protect themselves with travel insurance in case of unforeseen circumstances, especially considering the current uncertainty surrounding travel.”
RATESDOTCA’s data show interest in domestic travel jumped 330% from Q3 2019 to Q3 2021, while interest in international travel fell 14%. While the U.S. remains the top destination choice (the U.S. recently opened its land borders to Canadians who meet entry requirements), interest in visiting has fallen 66% from 2019, the rate comparison site reported. Travel to other destinations in Canada has moved into second place, surpassing both Mexico and the United Kingdom, with an increase of 94%.
Another trend is that older travellers – particularly those from the Silent Generation (those born between 1928 and 1945 – appear to be less interested in looking for travel insurance, the rate aggregator said. Travel quotes from the Silent Generation plunged 76% between Q3 2019 and Q3 2021, followed by 56% for Baby Boomers (born between 1946 and 1964). Gen X (1965-1980) and Millenials (1981-1996) saw a decrease of 52% and 43%, respectively. Gen Z (1997-2012) fell the least, dropping just 22%.
Dance said TuGo hasn’t found a decrease in older travellers looking for travel insurance. “The senior market continues to be as strong as pre-pandemic times, and we are seeing great interest across all age categories.”