While many Canadians are slowly emerging from COVID-19 lockdowns, the travel industry has seen an increase in travel bookings of 38 per cent over this time last year – except the travel itself won’t be until towards the end of the year, says a spokesperson for a travel insurance provider.

Louiselle Landry, Business Development Manager at Richmond, B.C.-based TuGo, told a webinar on June 4th that she believes travel patterns for Canadians will change after weeks of being under quarantine.

One of the things Landry says seems to be happening is that Canadians are planning for trips later this year – around Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Eve.

And where Canadians are going and who they are going with is also likely to alter, she says.

“This whole quarantine has changed behaviours,” she says. “I think a lot of things will be changing.”

While people may have travelled more frequently in past years, they are now expected to travel less but with different destinations in mind. “Many people are saying they have waited to go to Greece [for example] for many years but now say … why wait?”

In addition, trips might get longer and Landry says she expects there will be more family trips to remote areas.

The importance of getting travel insurance

She says that despite COVID-19, Canadians should remember the importance of getting travel insurance, especially since provinces like Ontario eliminated the Out of Country Travellers program from the Ontario Health Insurance Plan after January 1, 2020. Not getting travel insurance could set people back hundreds of thousands of dollars, she noted.

Meanwhile, although lockdown measures are being eased around the world, there are still travel disruptions, says GlobalData’s 2019 UK Insurance Consumer Survey.

A large proportion of flights are being cancelled and popular holiday destinations such as Spain and Italy are introducing quarantine measures for international travellers. 

GlobalData’s senior insurance analyst Beatriz Benito said even though the summer season is approaching, its survey finds that consumers continue to postpone or cancel trips despite the easing of lockdown measures.

At the beginning of May, just over half (51%) of UK respondents said they had either cancelled or changed upcoming international travel plans, compared to the 31% who upheld their plans to travel internationally.

“Restoring consumer confidence will take time,” said Benito. “Travel insurers can expect their return on premiums to stay low in the near future. Travel insurance sales will remain compromised as many airlines are not expected to resume all of their flights straightaway.”

Social distancing measures on flights

In addition, airlines anticipate low passenger capacities as flights are resumed, but will introduce social distancing measures onboard – such as blocking the middle seats – which he said would further compromise travel insurance sales.

“As the coronavirus is set to cause further chaos during summer seasons, travel insurers are unlikely to rebound from the crisis any time soon,” added Benito. “Recovery of the travel insurance market will come hand-in-hand once customers feel safe and financially secure.”

Meanwhile, Landry said advisors can help Canadians interpret travel insurance to ensure they get the correct insurance for their needs and wants.

She also noted that travellers make good customers, have disposable income and travel in groups where word-of-mouth on good relations with an advisor can help increase that advisor’s profile.

Advisors should also look at statistics showing that 10 million millennials are standing by ready to pick up the slack of ageing boomers who slowly decide to stay home rather than travel.

“And these people [millennials] will travel,” she said.