Berkshire Hathaway Travel Protection’s (BHTP) second-annual benchmark white paper report released today identifies a potential 4.9% increase for travel insurance sales to Americans traveling this year.
The Report uses surveys and a predictive global-travel model to produce its findings, which reveal that 36% of consumers expect to buy more travel insurance in 2017, and nearly 61% of travel agents predict that 2017 will be a better year for travel insurance.
The Report’s 10 most influential factors impacting travel insurance sales in 2017:
1. Travel on the rise means more trips to insure in 2017
41% of BHTP travelers indicate they plan to take more international leisure trips in 2017. Significantly more international leisure trips are covered by travel insurance (39%) than domestic leisure trips (16%), which appears to lead to an expected increase in travel insurance sales.
2. Increase in trip costs leads to higher travel insurance revenues
45% of travelers stated they would buy more travel insurance in 2017 because of the cost of the trip. The expected 4% increase in trip costs due to currency fluctuations, increases in lodging costs, airfares, cruise costs and ground transportation can lead to higher travel-insurance premiums and eventually higher travel insurance revenues.
3. Flight issues like cancellations and delays are among the top reason why consumers intend to buy more travel insurance
71% of travelers bought more travel insurance in 2016 because of flight issues like cancellations and delays. Innovative travel insurers seeking to provide benefits related to flight interruptions may succeed by meeting the needs of this segment with flight-protection coverage such as AirCare.
4. Increased knowledge of how travel insurance works
40% of consumers said they were buying more travel insurance because they had better knowledge of how travel insurance products works.1
5. Increased use of travel agents leads to increased travel insurance sales
More than 18% of travelers use a travel agent to book travel and 94% of travel agents said they offer travel insurance with every travel sale.
6. Family health ranks among the top reason to buy more travel insurance
32% of respondents said they bought more travel insurance in 2016 due to family health reasons. Consumers’ concerns over the health of family members appears to make “cancel for any reason” coverage more appealing.
7. Rising interest in cruise travel for 2017 will be a key driver of travel insurance sales
Nearly 38% of agencies said river cruises have been the top type of trip in 2016, and 67% expect river cruises to be the top driver of improved business performance in 2017. European river cruises ranked third on travel agent’s list of top destinations for 2017.
For consumers, 39% expect to take more river cruises, and 36% expect to take more ocean cruises in 2017. When these facts are viewed with an increase in cruise-ship capacity of more than 17,000 in 2017, travel insurance sales may see an increase, since most cruise vacations are insured.
8. Bucket-list and adventure travel hot travel types in 2017
76% of agents listed bucket-list travel as a hot trend for 2017, and 53% of travelers said they traveled to cross something off of their bucket list. 36% of travelers said they are planning more adventure trips in 2017, and 41% of agents said adventure travel will be a top driver of improved business.
9. International terrorism is a threat to travel and a reason to buy more travel insurance 60% of travel agencies and 25% of travelers told BHTP that international terrorism was a threat to traveling, and 12% of travelers stated that fear of terrorism is a reason for buying more travel insurance.
10. Zika no longer a top-of-mind threat, leading to an increase in travel to the Caribbean
A possible 12% increase in travel to the Caribbean could be realized in 2017, as Zika has been declared by the World Health Organization to no longer be a “global health emergency.” Caribbean and Central America travel may also see a 10% increase in travel insurance sales, the largest increase of any region given the current data. Only 4% of respondents, however, said fears of disease epidemics are leading them to buy more travel insurance.
Travel insurance sales by destination
BHTP’s Report also looked at travel demand and travel insurance sales on a region-by-region basis. The highlights are:
Insurance sales for travel to the Caribbean and Central America are expected to increase by almost 10%, driven by a strong rebound in travel to the region;
Europe remains a polarizing destination for travelers and travel agents, though river cruises and low airfares will help contribute to increased European travel and a 4% increase in travel insurance sales; and
A post-Olympics decline in South American travel will lead to a 7% decline in travel insurance sales for the region.
About the State of Travel Insurance
The State of Travel Insurance includes responses from 573 travelers and 96 travel agencies about their travel habits, their travel business, their experiences in 2016 and/or their expectations for 2017. The confidence levels in both surveys are sufficient to draw large-scale conclusions from the results. Sources consulted in preparing this report included travel-trend reports from the Global Business Travel Association, Sojern, IATA, Cruise Lines International Association, and cruisemarketwatch.com. MMGY Global’s Portrait of American Travelers was particularly helpful. Data from these sources were used to create detailed models of trip costs to various regions, to extrapolate out the Commerce Department statistics, and to make projections on percentage of covered trips, traveler ages, and travel-insurance cost as a percentage of trip cost. These projections were used to calculate total 2017 travel-insurance sales, and then those figures were compared against last year’s figures to chart percentage change.
About Berkshire Hathaway Travel Protection
Berkshire Hathaway Travel Protection is the trade name for the travel protection services of Berkshire Hathaway Specialty Concierge, LLC, a subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway Specialty Insurance Company, part of the National Indemnity group of insurance companies. Berkshire Hathaway Travel Protection created AirCare flight and other travel related protections. The AirCare product is provided by Berkshire Hathaway Specialty Insurance Company or National Liability & Fire Insurance Company.
© 2017 David Mazor
Disclosure: David Mazor is a freelance writer focusing on Berkshire Hathaway. The author is long in Berkshire Hathaway, and this article is not a recommendation on whether to buy or sell the stock. The information contained in this article should not be construed as personalized or individualized investment advice. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.