Covid-19 was a catalyst for change in many lines, but travel insurance saw a major shift as UK consumers have become ’more savvy’

The way that customers buy travel insurance has shifted over the last decade.

Historically, customers would scour newspapers to find insurance or call and compare quotes, but this process is now mostly performed via Google searches, with customers becoming increasingly aware of the ability to find good deals online.

Peter Smith, vice president in strategic partnerships for travel at Cover Genius, told Insurance Times: “When you think about UK consumers, and I speak more broadly here than just travel [insurance], the one thing unique to them is that when they’re looking to protect a significant investment such as a car or home, Brits typically turn to aggregator sites to search and compare different products and prices.”

This is because it’s very difficult to search independently on various insurers websites and compare quotes in the UK.

While this is true for insurance purchasing in lines such as home or motor, “travel [insurance] is different”, noted Smith. 

He explained: ”In travel, we still see, and our research backs this up, that customers trust their travel companies to offer them protection.

”So, travel insurance operates very differently to some of the bigger insurance protection and warranty products that customers might otherwise purchase.”

Cover Genius focuses on embedded insurance and it uses artificial intelligence (AI) to be able to produce a product recommendation that is well-suited for the customer. 

A customer travelling at the weekend on a business trip has “very different requirements” to someone traveling with their wife and two kids to Orlando, explained Smith. 

”Being able to recognise that in real time and present the customer very relevant products, at the right price, is very meaningful,” he added. 

“Customers turning to their retailers or to travel providers to understand their needs and present them with relevant products is also really key – and that’s the shift we have seen.” 

Crucially, for Smith, travel insurance as a product has “led the way on this” embedded insurance journey. 


The Cover Genius Global Embedded Travel Insurance Report, published in July 2022, noted that Covid-19 had “changed the face of travel insurance”.

Customers became much more aware of the importance of travel insurance and the risk of being ill while overseas, which prompted more desire for “seamless claims” as customers suffering from illness may have to be walked through processes.

Smith pointed out that customers in the UK were also “pretty savvy” when purchasing insurance.

For example, something that the insurtech noted during the Covid-19 pandemic was that UK customers largely knew what medical risks they were covered for with the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) and the Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC).

As a result, many UK customers wanted to be able to choose certain cover elements to build an appropriately personalised policy.  

This can be done by splitting out cover for medical risk separately within a travel insurance policy, which is one way that Cover Genius has done it. 

Smith explained: ”That’s quite a unique trend within the UK. That enables insurtechs, if they are flexible and tech-first enough, this unbundling capability.”

”Unbundling those products during Covid, we saw a significant increase in take up of products by customers

”The key thing is understanding and anticipating a customer’s needs in real time. Offering them a relevant product that is priced correctly and offers value is what’s most important, because then you’re enhancing that customer’s own experience.”

He noted that travel insurance was not a “catch all” so being able to see customer’s needs in real time is key to serving their needs accurately. 

Insurtech partnerships

On the other hand, Smith said that Covid-19 was just one of the major catalysts for a “real shift” in insurtech partnerships over the last couple of years.

For the past four years, Smith has been responsible for building out the insurtechs portfolio of partnerships with major travel brands.

Prior to this, he had a background in building strategic partnerships with major travel companies.

Smith said that because travel companies still had to function during the pandemic without passengers, technology teams had the time to invest in strategy and look more carefully at what to do when the pandemic ended.

The result has been an enhanced focus on customer experience, he said. 

In the past, traditional insurers used to “pull a policy off the shelf” and hope that it fitted a customer’s needs for the next three years.

However, “that is no longer good enough,” added Smith.

“You need to be able to adapt in real time and be flexible, innovate and be able to build and deliver new products at pace.

“One thing that the pandemic really showed us is that anything can happen tomorrow and customer’s needs in line with that might very well shift and change – so being flexible enough and using technology to enable us to move with that pace of change is super important.”