Following the Covid-19 pandemic, the travel industry in the Central and Eastern European region is undergoing a profound transformation. Increased travel demand in the wake of the pandemic, economic uncertainties and changing travel habits are also affecting the travel sector, as well as the travel insurance market.
According to current data, it can be asserted that the frequency of trips within the past year and the number of travel insurance policies purchased have rebounded to the levels reminiscent of the pre-COVID era. On the one hand, the post-pandemic era has witnessed an unprecedented surge in travel demand as individuals eagerly embark on deferred travel plans. However, the current uncertain economic situation, inflation and rising cost of living are also affecting travellers. Some are bringing forward their travel plans because they fear that inflation will devalue their money, while others have been marginalised by the higher costs of travelling abroad.
In the post-pandemic era, the travel industry is undergoing a paradigm shift, witnessing a surge in demand for fresh and unconventional destinations, such as the United Arab Emirates or Oman. Despite this, the Mediterranean region remains predominant, attracting approximately 70% of travellers. Beside the Southern region, countries of Northern and Western Europe are also popular. Interestingly, age plays a pivotal role in destination choices: only one out of every five individuals aged 30-59 and 60-75 opt for Western or Northern Europe, contrasting with nearly one in three among those aged 18-29.
A notable shift in booking behaviours is reshaping the traditional travel calendar. Historically concentrated in the early months of the year (January-March), the booking patterns have undergone a noteworthy transformation. With the recognition of relatively higher costs, travellers are strategically planning. As a result of this, travel agencies are now strategically luring adventurers with discounted summer holiday offerings as early as October-November. With the summer advance booking dates being brought forward, increasing the time until the travel date, demand for trip cancellation insurance is growing, which is particularly true for family travels.
The changing dynamics of the travel industry have had a significant impact on the criteria that are considered crucial when choosing travel insurance. Travellers are now more demanding and carefully evaluate insurance coverages and services. They are now seeking insurance that provides comprehensive coverage for a wide range of incidents, including the capability to cover all associated costs when needed. The most important coverages for customers in order are as follows: comprehensive assistance in the event of accident or illness, cover for medical expenses incurred during travel, coverage for lost or damaged luggage and trip cancellation insurance. In a world where the riskiness of life is on the rise, an increasing number of travellers are recognizing the need for robust insurance coverage. As a traveller in a foreign country - even if it is European - it is not easy to find the nearest medical institution offering the appropriate medical services. Colonnade is committed to provide a professional, high quality medical service through its partners for any medical problem. The assistance service provides help in organising care, finding the nearest doctor for the treatment the client needs, arranging medical assistance to the client's accommodation if hospitalisation is not necessary, and helping to overcome language difficulties by providing a doctor who speaks a foreign language or even an interpreter if necessary. People are becoming more aware, understanding that opting for excessively cheap insurance may expose them to substantial extra costs in the event of an unforeseen incident. This newfound awareness has prompted a shift in mindset, emphasizing the value of sufficient coverage over merely seeking the cheapest option.
While healthcare expenses in the United States are known to be expensive, it's worth noting that even in Europe, obtaining medical care from a private hospital can constitute a significant financial burden.
Appendicitis surgery in the US
Consider the case of one of our clients in Detroit undergoing emergency appendicitis surgery, incurring a cost of around 40,000 EUR, or a client in Illinois requiring treatment for a stomach infection, amounting to 700 EUR, or for example, a client travelling to New York who fell and bruised his hip and his treatment costed EUR 2,630 in total. However, should a passenger require emergency surgery in a European country and lack sufficient travel insurance, they will find themselves faced with significant out-of-pocket expenses. Within Europe, the cost of a bypass surgery may vary between 25,000 to 60,000 EUR, whereas a heart valve procedure typically commences at approximately 30,000 EUR and can extend up to around 67,000 EUR.
Real-life claims narratives underscore the imperative of comprehensive travel insurance, which not only covers the costs of treatment and repatriation, but also helps to organise medical care and transport, for example, according to the patient's condition. Let us introduce the incident story of one of our customers:
COPD in Mexico
The client took a trip to Mexico organized by a travel agency, where she experienced breathing difficulties after her arrival. On the recommendation of our medical expert, she was transported immediately to a local hospital to start her treatment.
She was diagnosed with COPD - chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. The interesting thing about the disease is that a cold or a higher than usual altitude can cause the symptoms, which should be treated with oxygen therapy. In this case, both causes were present. The improvement in her condition was noticeable after a few days, however we were facing difficulties regarding her repatriation, as she was only allowed to fly with medical support (oxygen, medical escort). We arranged her trip to Hungary with a scheduled flight with medical escort and portable oxygen.
In order to ensure that all the necessary documents are correctly issued, and that the airline approve the travel of our client, the Mexican Embassy had to be involved, they provided help with obtaining the missing documentation and mediated between us and the local hospital.
The flight back home finally took place almost three weeks after the client’s first symptoms. Back in Hungary she underwent a one-day mandatory check-up and then went home without any symptoms or trauma. The medical treatments and repatriation of our client cost a total of around 52,600 EUR, which would have had to be covered by herself, if she had not had an adequate, comprehensive and high limit travel insurance.