Consumers booking with travel advisors jumped from 10.5% in 2018, to 18.6% in 2019. In addition, 24% of American consumers say they will purchase travel insurance more frequently in 2020, up from 14% in the previous year.
Responses to the fifth annual “State of Travel Insurance” survey from Berkshire Hathaway Travel Protection (BHTP), indicate that booking direct through airline, cruise and hotel sites leapt from 17% in 2018, to 31% in 2019.
Travel agent gains appear to have come at the expense of sites like Expedia and Kayak, where BHTP respondents say their bookings dropped from 23.7% to 16.5%. Additionally, bookings through search engines and review sites like Trip Advisor were also down, BHTP said.
About 18% of respondents bought travel insurance for all their 2019 trips, up from around 16% in 2018. Travelers ages 65-74 were the most likely to purchase travel insurance for all of their trips – 25% reported doing so. The next-highest group of insurance purchasers were 75-84 year-olds (19.6%), followed by travelers ages 35-44 (19.1%).
A perhaps even more astonishing fact is that 71% of Millennials, notoriously known to forego purchasing travel insurance versus other demographic groups, reported to BHTP that they plan to buy more travel insurance next year. Meanwhile, more than 82% of Millennials with children said they would purchase travel insurance more frequently in the coming year.
Millennials told BHTP that they are attracted to travel insurance because they feel it can save them time and money when travel doesn’t quite go as planned, while 46% say they are most afraid of epidemics and terrorism while traveling.
“While the past several years of our research has uncovered that Millennials continue to show steady increases in their intentions to purchase travel insurance, what surprised us this year is 64% stated travel scares them a little,” said Dean Sivley, president of Berkshire Hathaway Travel Protection.
“It says a lot about Millennials who, by and large, indicated an appetite to take risks while traveling, yet are showing they are savvy enough to protect themselves with travel insurance.”
The top three reasons why people purchase travel insurance, according to the study, are the cost of the trip (44.4%), concerns about their family’s health and welfare when traveling (41.3%), and the types of trips people are taking (39.7%).
In fact, the survey, conducted in August 2019, also revealed that 69% of all survey respondents said they plan on “doing something dangerous so they can post a picture on social media.”
Travel spending slowing?
While Millennials may purchase travel insurance more frequently in the coming year, they told BHTP that they may be “slightly slowing down their travel frequency.”
Some 85% of Millennials with children said they spent more than $5,000 on travel in 2019. Additionally, almost 58% of Millennials with children said they spent more than $10,000 on travel in 2019.
Other key findings from the “State of Travel Insurance” survey include:
- Ride share services like Uber are perceived as less safe than walking, bicycling, taking a bus, or other forms of mass transit. Trains are cited as the safest travel mode.
- Respondents consider international terrorism to be their top threat to travel, followed by disease outbreaks and safety concerns at their destination.
- Frequent travel insurance buyers continue to say that they are looking for a more tech-driven, customizable travel insurance experience. Younger travelers are also much more likely to visit comparison sites and aggregators and rely on online reviews when buying travel insurance.
- Millennials are ten times more likely than mature travelers to be concerned about problems they may encounter traveling with their pet.
- Travelers consider Australia and New Zealand to be the safest destinations. By region, the safest destinations are France (Europe), the Virgin Islands (Caribbean), Japan (Asia), Chile (South America), and Madagascar (Africa).
The “State of Travel Insurance” report includes responses from 7,292 travelers about their travel habits, their travel business, their experiences in 2019, and/or their expectations for 2020. BHTP said the level of confidence for the survey (+1.51) “is sufficient enough to draw large-scale conclusions from the results.” The survey was conducted by Polymath Research + Marketing.