UStiA Survey: Traditional Distribution Channels Still Lead Insurance Sales

Travel insurance sales continue  to grow steadily, with traditional distribution channels – primarily travel agencies and travel suppliers such as cruise lines and tour operators – leading the way, according to findings reported in the “2010 Travel Insurance Market Survey.”

Presented by the US Travel Insurance Association (UStiA) and conducted by Avalon Actuarial Consulting, and incorporating the years 2008 through 2010, this latest survey reports traditional travel agencies and suppliers being responsible for two-thirds of total travel insurance premiums sold in the United States. The 2010 figure represents a growth of 3.4 percent over 2008 and 13 percent over 2009.

Though traditional channels still represent the lion’s share of travel insurance sales, the use of online channels is on the rise, now accounting for 34 percent of premiums. Online channels – including agencies, airlines and internet aggregators, and direct to consumer sales – accounted for 34 percent of market share in 2010, an increase of 38 percent over 2008, and nearly 25 percent over 2009. 

Steady Sales Growth

Sales of travel insurance are strengthening, the survey also reports. Americans spent nearly $1.8 billion on all types of travel insurance and assistance services in 2010, up from $1.6 billion in 2008, and from $1.3 billion in 2006. The 2010 figure reflects a steady growth in sales of nearly 14 percent from 2008, and more than 15 percent from 2009. 

The survey also reported that, in 2010, more than 124 million insureds in the U.S. were covered by travel insurance and emergency services provided by UStiA members. This number reflects a growth of 29 percent from 2008 and nearly 20 percent from 2009. It includes annual, per trip, and travel medical policies as well as credit card and other membership-based programs. 
How the Market Shapes Up 

Also in the survey, approximately 27 million insureds were covered by a per trip or annual plan from UStiA member companies, representing an increase of 34 percent from 2008 and nearly 20 percent over 2009. The vast majority (80 percent) of these plans were package policies that included trip cancellation/interruption. 
Policies incorporating trip cancellation/interruption benefits continued to be the most popular choice, accounting for more than 94 percent of total travel insurance premiums. Travel medical and medical evacuation, another growing category, comprised more than 6 percent of total travel insurance sales, up slightly over 2008.

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