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Enjoy stress-free holidays with new and improved travel insurance covers

Posted by - Sanjay Datta, Chief - Underwriting, Reinsurance & Claims
September 27 2018

A famous travel quote says, "It's better to see something once than hear about it a thousand times." With increasing income of middle class, low-cost travel and changing attitude towards spending, the dream of visiting the many tourist attractions are slowly becoming a reality.

Statistics say the same thing. A report from Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) notes that there were 18 million outbound travellers in 2014. But, with outbound travel from India growing at 15-18% annually, this number is expected to swell up considerably with UN World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) predicting 50 million by 2020. A winter survey done by online travel company MakeMyTrip, during the Christmas-New Year holiday season last year, revealed that international travel among Indians was growing much faster than domestic travel. Not only that, the growth was partly attributed to shift in online bookings that was facilitated by deeper penetration of smartphones and cheap data.

With the rise in international travel, travel insurance is also attaining significance, though it is still a push product in India. On World Tourism Day we look at the growing need for travel insurance.

Role of technology

The penetration of the online booking medium, vast adoption of smartphones and the entry of digital natives in the working population has led insurers to think of innovative ways of selling their products. The CII-PWC report titled "Evolving considerations for the Indian Insurance Industry", released in August 2017, stated that 68% of consumers surveyed were willing to download and use and app from their insurance service provider. Smartphone apps offer a whole new way for insurers to connect with customers and enhance customer satisfaction. Nowadays, apps can be used to do almost everything that is associated with a travel insurance policy, ranging from issuance of a new plan to initiating the claims process – all at the touch of a button.

Convenience and improving the customer experience with insurance products is the focus behind such innovations. Insurers today endeavour to provide a seamless customer experience for policy booking as well as claim settlement. What earlier used to be a cumbersome and paper-intensive process is now completely paperless and hassle-free, thanks to digitalisation, Internet of Things (IoT) and big data. Insurers are looking at proactively sending prompts for customers in event of claim, thereby saving the customer the hassle of actual lodging the claim himself. Some of the covers like trip delay are exploring this concept.

Value added services

There are many other innovative ways in which technology can be used to add more value to travel insurance coverage. For example, there are systems being worked out, using which, the insurer can automatically suggest hotel bookings or the steps for policy extension, in case it detects/or anticipates a problem to happen.

Innovative covers

Apart from enhanced coverage and a better overall experience, companies offering travel insurance coverage also have to take care of the evolving tastes of Indian travellers. According to a MakeMyTrip survey, majority of Indian travellers going abroad are young, under 35 years of age. These people seek more than just a visit to known tourist attractions and want to try something new and unique. They seek experiences with a high priority on entertainment, which also explains the rise in adventure tourism to some extent. Insurers have realised the need to keep up with the trend and now offer coverage for adventure activities which were previously excluded.

Companies are also pioneering foray in the adventure travel segment. They offer coverage to specific groups that undertake adventure activities to the extreme – like providing insurance cover to climbers taking on Mount Everest. The scope of coverage extends to specific conditions that one can encounter in these circumstances, such as acute mountain sickness and even medical evacuation if something unfortunate were to happen.

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