The COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on Americans’ travel plans. How they plan—and protect—those trips has also changed. According to a recent AAA Travel survey, more than half (55%) of American adults are planning a vacation of at least one overnight stay before the end of next year, and those travelers are increasingly turning to travel insurance to protect their vacation investments.
One-third (31%) of U.S. travelers say they are more likely to purchase travel insurance for their trips planned between now and the end of 2022, specifically due to the pandemic.
“Travel insurance is relatively inexpensive for the large amount of peace of mind it affords, and that’s more valuable than ever in light of the pandemic,” said Paula Twidale, senior vice president, AAA Travel. “Americans have seen how important travel insurance is to protect their vacation investment and are prioritizing this purchase at the start, now more than ever.”
The ability to cancel a trip and get a refund is by far the most frequently cited benefit of travel insurance, with 69% of travelers saying this is most important to them when considering travel insurance for an upcoming trip. AAA advises these travelers to look into travel insurance policies that include a “cancel at any time” component, which could offer more flexibility and protection in the event a traveler needs to cancel their trip.
While travel insurance policies have historically not covered epidemics or pandemics, in response to shifting consumer expectations, some providers have started to introduce plans that cover some losses due to COVID-19 or other epidemic diseases. AAA recommends travelers consult the expertise of a knowledgeable travel agent to help plan their trips and evaluate the various travel insurance options available on the market.
Recent AAA Travel bookings have increased 11% over 2019 levels, and interest in travel insurance has increased in turn. AAA’s travel insurance sales have increased more than double digits year-over-year, as members return to travel and see the value of protecting that investment. Choosing the right policy is important, and increasingly travelers want policies that protect against common covered reasons for trip cancellations and interruptions, as well as other travel-related incidents including change fees, delays or lost/damaged luggage, to name a few.
Also, it’s important to note that some international destinations may require visitors to carry travel insurance, to help cover any unexpected medical costs that may be incurred while visiting. A knowledgeable travel agent can help travelers navigate these and other evolving travel requirements.
The AAA Travel survey also found that six in 10 Americans (60%) see the benefit of working with a travel agent to plan their upcoming trips. Travelers’ top benefits of working with a travel advisor reflect the important role they play in today’s more complex travel environment, including:
- To save time when researching or planning a vacation (40%)
- For help with complicated new travel restrictions/requirements (34%)
- To find the best deals (33%)
“Travel insurance options vary greatly, but a knowledgeable travel agent can help you navigate through those complexities,” continued Twidale. “A trusted travel advisor serves as your advocate before and during your trip. Partnering with a travel advisor to review your travel insurance options offers another level of protection, so you can focus on making lifelong vacation memories.”
The survey was conducted August 13–15, 2021, using a probability-based panel designed to be representative of the U.S. household population overall. The panel provides sample coverage of approximately 97% of the U.S. household population. Most surveys were completed online; consumers without Internet access were surveyed over the phone. A total of 1,126 interviews were completed among U.S. adults, 18 years of age or older. The margin of error for the study overall is 2.9% at the 95% confidence level. The margin of error for U.S. travelers is 3.9% at the 95% confidence level. Smaller subgroups have larger error margins.