Travel Insurance in the Aftermath of Corona:  An Interview with Dev Karvat, Founder, CEO – India & Emerging Markets

Travel Insurance in the Aftermath of Corona: An Interview with Dev Karvat, Founder, CEO – India & Emerging Markets

In the post-COVID-19 era, it seems travel insurance is no longer optional. After millions of travellers were stranded abroad, lost deposits or entire non-refundable ticket amounts because of the outbreak, out of fear, travel insurance is now more or less mandatory. But what should be expected from travel insurance after the pandemic? In this interview, we have Dev Karvat tell us just that. 

Words by Srishti Jindal 

Q. The world is coming to terms with what COVID-19 means for business and for the travel sector particularly. Everyone is trying to figure out what the new normal is going to be. How long do you think it will take for travel to get back to 2019 levels and stabilize?

After almost five months of lockdown and constant efforts to keep the virus in check, the travel industry and other businesses are now gradually treading on their path to recovery. It is impossible to contain the pandemic completely until there is a vaccine in place and hence, services connected to the travel industry are levelling up their hygiene and safety standards, making provisions for contactless travel and doing everything in their capacity to adapt to the new normal. I think with the necessary precautions and measures, we should be able to stabilise by mid-2021.

Q. When you speak with your clients or when you talk to other CEOs, what are the risks that they are raising with you? What are they most concerned about today?

As per the conversations we’ve had with our clients and industry leaders so far, what concerns them the most is the safety of their customers while travelling. We have been receiving requests to customize our protection plans to cover pandemics such as Covid-19. In addition, our assistance services have gained greater traction among our clients, especially our evacuation support and local hospitalization support. Given the interest and inputs, we are closely working with our underwriters and assistance partners to design a highly flexible and customized set of products for our clients.

Q.  According to you, how should the industry adapt itself and plan its recovery?  

According to me, resilience, awareness and innovation are the keys to recovery for the Indian travel and tourism sector. Covid-19 is here to stay and we may have to learn to live with the virus for some time. Hence, our primary focus should be to regain the confidence of travellers and come together to benchmark safety and hygiene standards to ensure their safety. Plus, it goes without saying that technology made our lives a lot simpler during the lockdown. I feel it is high time we think out of the box and use technology and move towards automation to bring down operational costs. Further, with International travel still remaining restricted more opportunities for domestic tourism have opened up. So, improving our domestic tourism offerings will also assist us in recovering faster.

Q. How is TrawellTag preparing itself for the ‘new normal’?  What is your strategy for the year?

We continue to work alongside our underwriters to explore the possibilities of designing products that will be relevant in a post-COVID world. We have sharpened our focus towards travel assistance services that will be relevant for travellers during such distressful situations. We plan to bring to the trade, niche travel assistance products combined with smarter technology. The idea is to enable the industry, as a whole, to instil faith and confidence back in travel and emerge stronger together.      

Q. In the post COVID world, what should a traveller expect from travel insurance policies?

Travelling always came along with contingencies; however, COVID-19 has completely transformed the way people look at travelling. Correspondingly, services will also undergo changes as customers have now realised the importance of travel protection and are looking for holistic products that provide real-time assistance services such as local hospitalization and medical evacuation at the time of need.

In the post COVID world, we will see protection plans that will cover the impacts of a future pandemic. Coverage extension, cancellations and medical benefits will be a big priority for travel protection service providers going forward. 

Q. Have you unveiled any new or redesigned insurance policies so far?

As domestic tourism has gradually started, we have developed benefits for new-age travel trends such as staycations and domestic cruise trips. We are also covering cancellations and delays for domestic business trips. We are providing services such as medical evacuation and local hospitalization support coupled with relevant travel insurance benefits during the hour of need and constantly striving to enhance our services. 

Q. Do you think revamping travel insurance can boost people’s confidence to travel? 

Travellers today need reassurance that even if their trips don’t go as planned, there is someone by their side to protect and assist them. I genuinely feel that educating travellers and improving their awareness about travel protection, given the highly unpredictable nature of travel, will immensely boost their confidence to travel.

Q. Finally, as a business owner in the travel sector, what are three tips you would give to other business owners. How can they cope up with the on-going crisis?

Times are tough and hence we should stay strong and showcase resilience in the face of adversities. Being the custodians of the Indian travel industry, let us play our part by spreading awareness about the situation, educate our stakeholders about the precautions to be undertaken and help them during this crisis.

 

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