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UK Travel Insurance Consumer Research Report 2021

  • ID: 5342796
  • Report
  • June 2021
  • Region: United Kingdom
  • 65 Pages
  • IRN Research
COVID-19 Slams the Single Trip Travel Insurance Market

Compared with 2019, 2021 has seen a significant decline in the number of overseas travel trips taken, with the duration of trips also shortening. Despite this, ownership of multi-trip insurance held up well: in 2021, 22% of all consumers owned multi-trip travel insurance, compared with 25% in 2021. This relatively small decline, however, reflects the continued coverage of travel insurance in packaged bank accounts. Fewer policyholders in 2021 owned multi-trip cover via standalone policies compared with 2019, while the percentage owning via packaged bank accounts increased. This suggests passive ownership - i.e., ownership not directly related to taking a trip aboard - increased in 2021 compared with 2019.

While multi-trip insurance ownership held up reasonably well, ownership of single trip insurance declined very significantly. In 2019, single trip insurance was owned by 40% of all consumers over the previous year. In 2021, this had declined to just 15%. 

In 2021 only 5% of policyholders were first time buyers of multi-trip insurance in the last year (i.e., made their first ever travel insurance purchase and have been with their current provider for less than 1 year). This is well down on the 15% of new FTBs in 2019 and is another indication of the impact of COVID-19 travel restrictions on the market.

Other findings from the report, include:

  • While policyholders who have multi-trip travel insurance find the experience satisfying and largely pain free, the satisfaction of those who have claimed declined in 2021 compared with 2019, although it remains high. 
  • In 2021, compared with 2019, fewer claimants were satisfied with the outcome of their claim, fewer had a completely successful outcome to their claim and most significantly of all, far fewer thought the claims process was easy, with almost one-third of claimants in 2021 considering the claims process as hard. It could be that given the impact of COVID-19 on claims, claimants have found it harder to claim or make a completely successful claim. 
  • The percentage of multi-trip policyholder making a claim in the past year declined significantly in 2020/21 compared with 2018/19, no doubt reflecting the decline in overseas trips over this period.
  • While few policyholders can register or have registered a claim via a customer online portal, the incidence of doing so has increased sharply between 2019 and 2021.

This report will examine the motivations, experiences and opinions of the UK travel insurance customer. It focuses primarily on annual multi-trip insurance, although the report also discusses in places single trip insurance. The research will identify and analyse consumer attitudes towards travel insurance, look at the claims experience of policyholders, and investigate why they choose one route to purchase over another. In addition, it will explore how price sensitivity is impacting the market. Similar research was run in 2019 and this report compares and contrasts the findings.

For this report, commissioned research from MIS Group’s UK panel. The research was structured so that 2,002 consumers aged 18+ were asked if they owned an insurance policy. This generated 441 individuals who owned a multi-trip travel insurance policy and 653 individuals who owned any type of travel insurance (multi-trip or single trip). Similar research run in 2019 generated 510 individuals with multi-trip travel insurance and 1,093 individuals who owned any type of travel insurance (multi-trip or single trip).

Note: Product cover images may vary from those shown


  • COVID-19 leads to a drop in policy ownership and a decline in market size. 
  • Ownership biased towards more affluent consumers. 
  • Policyholders are relatively loyal, but the customer merry-go-round still spins. 
  • Policyholders like to discover deals online, mainly via PCWs. 
  • Multi-trip policyholders balance price and cover 
  • Brands are not of prime importance. 
  • Most policyholders have a good experience. 
  • Significant drop in claims 
  • The claims process runs smoothly but there were increased frictions in 2021 
  • Introduction 


  • Slight drop in ownership of multi-trip travel insurance 
  • Collapse in the single trip travel insurance market 
  • Fewer overseas holiday trips, especially to Western Europe 
  • More affluent consumers are the most likely to own travel insurance. 
  • Frequent travellers the most likely to own travel insurance. 
  • Multi-trip policyholders tend to own standalone policies and pay for them annually 
  • Insured travellers like to minimise their risks. 


  • Over seven-in-ten multi-trip policyholders are multiple customer journey takers. 
  • The renewal prompt helps kick start the customer journey 
  • Travelling overseas inspired switching in 2020/21 
  • Switching can become habitual. 
  • Many of those renewing only do so after starting on a new journey. 
  • Over half of those renewing without searching still try and get a better deal. 


  • If looking for a deal, the attention goes towards Price Comparison Websites 
  • Policyholders acquiring their multi-trip policies in the last year rely heavily on PCWs 
  • And the focus on PCWs will shape the next customer journey 
  • PCWs offer the winning combination: easy access and the info required 
  • PCWs are also a prime purchasing channel especially for single trip insurance 


  • Multi-trip policyholders balance price and cover 
  • Brands are not of prime importance 
  • The final price/cover offer is the result of a negotiated settlement. 
  • Negotiations likely to centre on broad policy features 
  • Policyholders need their information delivered in a concise manner 


  • Being a policyholder is an easy and satisfying process 
  • Policy management is moving online 
  • Significant drop in travel insurance claims 
  • Claiming remains a largely satisfying experience but less so than before 


  • Travel insurance market declines by almost 40% 
  • A diverse market in terms of brands 

List of Figures
Figure 1 Ownership of multi-trip travel insurance and overseas trip taking among consumers, 2019/2021 
Figure 2 The type of travel insurance cover owned by consumers, 2019/2021 
Figure 3 The types of overseas trips taken 2019/2021 
Figure 4 Demographic penetration of travel insurance 2021 
Figure 5 Penetration of travel insurance by overseas trip taking behaviour, 2021 
Figure 6 The types of multi-trip policies owned and how they are paid for, 2019/2021 
Figure 7 Attitudes to buying insurance by travel insurance policyholders and overseas travellers, 2021 
Figure 8 Policy acquisition and time with current provider and actions over the past year, 2019/2021 
Figure 9 Factors that helped drive a new customer journey, 2019/2021 
Figure 10 How multi-trip travel insurance was acquired by policyholder groups, 2021 
Figure 11 Search activity of travel insurance policyholders before renewing, 2021 
Figure 12 The activities of travel insurance policyholders who renew at renewal time, 2019/2021 
Figure 13 Resources consulted over the past two years by type of policy, 2019/2021 
Figure 14 Information resources use by how and when a multi-trip policy is acquired,2021 
Figure 15 Where multi-trip travel insurance policyholders would look to compare deals, 2019/2021 
Figure 16 Policyholder attitudes towards PCWs, 2019/21 
Figure 17 From where the last travel insurance policy was purchased, 2019/2021 
Figure 18 Price focus when buying multi-trip travel insurance, 2021 
Figure 19 Brand focus of policyholders, 2021 
Figure 20 Negotiation with the insurer when taking out a new policy or renewing, 2019/2021 
Figure 21 How policyholders read their policy documents 
Figure 22 Why policy documentation is not read in full, 2019/2021 
Figure 23 Policyholder experience owning a travel insurance policy, 2019/2021 
Figure 24 The access to and use of online portals, 2019/2021 
Figure 25 The incidence of making a claim in the past year by policyholder characteristics, 2021 
Figure 26 Claimant opinion of their last travel insurance claim, 2019/21 
Figure 27 Estimated size of the UK consumer travel insurance market, 2018/10-2020/21* 
Figure 28 Estimated breakdown of the consumer travel insurance market, 2018/19 - 2020/21 
Figure 29 Examples of Underwriters and providers in the travel insurance market, 2021 

Note: Product cover images may vary from those shown