Last week we mentioned a little thing we whipped up in our spare time called “State of Travel Insurance 2017.” Now, that title might make you want to paraphrase the great wit Dorothy Parker and say something like, “Just mention the state of travel insurance and you will find me and Morpheus off in a corner, necking,” but hang with this a minute.
Travel insurance – restating-the-obvious alert! – is indelibly tied to travel. If nobody traveled there would be no need for travel insurance, or for travel pillows that look like medieval torture devices. So to understand what is going to happen with travel insurance in 2017 you need to understand what is going to happen with travel in 2017, and that’s where things get interesting.
Ish. No one will ever confuse an outlook on global travel in 2017 with this year’s Rose Bowl game, even if Michael Bay directs. Still, there are some interesting insights to be gleaned, even if the report was published before this weekend’s events. Namely:
Terror. Terror is keeping some travelers home – but not all travelers, and not all the travelers you might expect. The American travelers most scared of terror are experienced travelers, generally aged 45-64. It’s easy to think of reasons why they’re scared: They’re taking more expensive trips, they’re often traveling with family, and they’re getting to that age where they no longer believe they’re bulletproof. The good side of this story if you’re in the travel-insurance business is that these travelers very often buy travel insurance. The bad side: No one should have to travel scared.
Europe. In preparing this report we surveyed travel agents and travelers, and they had the same reaction – reactions, actually. About one-third of travel agents and travelers believe 2017 will be a banner year for European travel. About one-third think that 2017 will be an awful year for European travel. And one-third just don’t know. Travelers and agents don’t feel this way about any other region, and last year’s terror attacks are to blame. With travelers, a lot of these attitudes break along age bands, with younger travelers less afraid that older travelers. But for right now, Europe remains the world’s most polarizing destination.
Zika. Now Zika seems to have faded into the rearview mirror of disease epidemics, back there with Ebola and H1N1. However, Zika made its presence felt in travel last year. It put the damper on Caribbean travel from January through March, and it convinced Americans traveling to the Olympics to watch the games and then get the heck out. Travel to South America was up 12 percent in August 2016 compared to August 2015, but the next month travel to the region was below 2015 levels. The bad news: Zika is still around. The good news: It doesn’t seem to be affecting travel to the Caribbean, which is expected to be way up in 2017.
Airfares. Low airfares are not only convincing more travelers (especially young travelers) to go to Europe; they’re leading to more insured trips. Here’s how that works: When European airfares drop below $400, they convince American travelers who were thinking of taking a trip to, say, San Francisco to travel to Europe instead. When they do that, they think, “Oh, I’m going to Europe. I need some ExactCare – AirCare at the very least.” Good for us, good for them – a real win-win.
Bucket-list travel. You might not believe bucket-list travel is a thing, but it is. A big thing. Around 54 percent of travelers and 76 percent of travel agents say they’ve either taken a trip to cross something off of their bucket list, or are planning on taking a bucket-list trip in 2017. The funny thing is that a large percentage of bucket-list travelers are people under the age of 34. Either they’re taking the long view with their bucket list or they aren’t planning on hanging around very long. Where are they going on their bucket-list trips? Antarctica, South Africa, and New Zealand, according to tidbits we gleaned from the New York Times Travel Show. And – good news for us – they’re insuring those trips. Why wouldn’t they? They’re bucket-list trips.
Adventure travel. The last big trend from the “State of Travel Insurance”: More travelers are taking what they consider to be adventure trips. Now, a 75-year-old may define adventure travelers differently than a 25-year-old, but they’re getting out and staying active long past times when previous travelers might have hung it up. Are they insuring those trips? You better believe it.
If you geek out on this sort of thing, download the “State of Travel Insurance” here. Otherwise, Morpheus is in the corner over there. And he looks sort of sleepy.