Receiving a COVID-19 vaccine will be a major boost to travel consumer confidence, and will make people feel safe enough to travel again. This is according to Allianz Partners’ latest survey of its U.S. travel insurance customers.
The travel insurance and assistance provider surveyed 3,500 of its customers in order to gauge intent to book trips of at least two nights more than 100 miles from home, in order to track how travel sentiment has changed since a similar survey was conducted in the fall.
A majority of Allianz customers (67%) believe receiving a COVID-19 vaccine will make them feel safe enough to travel again, with customers over the age of 65 placing more importance on receiving the vaccine (78%) than those in younger age ranges, 45-64 years old (59%) and under 45 (47%).
Customers weighted receiving a vaccine themselves (67%) as more impactful compared to others (47%), such as airline crews or other travelers, receiving it. In a similar survey conducted last year, 58% of customers cited receiving a vaccine as their top choice for what would make them feel safe to travel again, reflecting a notable uptick in the importance vaccines will play in restarting the travel industry.
Another health and safety measure that will make a significant number (66%) of Allianz customers feel safe to travel again is the required wearing of face masks on airplanes and in airports.
While some states in the U.S. have recently announced their own rules when it comes to mandatory mask-wearing in public areas, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has indicated it will continue to enforce the mandatory use of masks throughout U.S. airports and in-flight for the safety of the traveler and others.
The third most important safety measure for customers is blocked seats or limited capacity on planes, trains and buses (59%), followed by advanced sanitizing efforts at airports, hotels, etc. (58%).
Allianz’s survey also revealed that regarding timing, the percentage of customers who said, “I’m not sure,” when they’d travel next dropped 33% (32% to 21%) compared to the fall survey. Perhaps influenced by the increased availability of vaccines, the percentage of customers who anticipate traveling within the next one to three months increased by 49% (13% to 19%), and those planning to travel within the next four to six months increased by 50% (12% to 18%).
Older customers, who may share greater health concerns, did not plan to travel as soon as younger customers, with only 9% currently traveling, compared to 18% of younger customers who are already traveling.
Additionally, customers are still planning to travel primarily within the Continental U.S. (56%) for their next trip, followed by Mexico, the Caribbean or Hawaii (21%) and Europe (15%). In a continued positive sign for the airline industry, which has faced a difficult year of decreased demand, Allianz discovered that most customers (70%) plan to fly their next destination, compared to driving (20%).
Although Allianz travel insurance products generally do not cover known, foreseeable, or expected events, epidemics, government prohibitions, warnings, or travel advisories, or fear of travel, Allianz Partners USA recently announced the rollout of its new Epidemic Coverage Endorsement, which adds enhancements for new purchasers of some of its travel insurance products that may provide coverage to customers who become ill with COVID-19 or a future epidemic, are individually ordered to quarantine, or are denied boarding due to a suspected illness.
This new coverage formalizes and adds to some of the temporary accommodations the company put into place in March 2020 to assist travelers who had been impacted by the COVID-19 crisis.
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