The UK based member of the International Cooperative and Mutual Insurance Federation (ICMIF) Co-op Insurance has this week entered the UK travel insurance market, seeking to disrupt the sector by offering a new product which, it says, has been shaped by its members. The new travel insurance product offers cashless medical expenses, for all ages and medical conditions, meaning customers will not have to pay out themselves for any medical treatment – a first for the UK general insurance market.
Before launching the product the Co-op carried out a study which revealed that two thirds (62%) of British holidaymakers who have claimed on their travel insurance, said they had to cover the costs upfront themselves and then claim these costs back at a later date from their insurer.
The average UK travel insurance claim now stands at GBP 2,090 according to the Co-op and the study reveals the effect this has on UK holidaymakers’ finances. According to the study a quarter (26%) had to turn to family members to borrow money in order to pay the claim.
A further quarter (25%) had to take money out of their savings, the study says, and a tenth (10%) ended up in debt as a result of having to pay the claim themselves and then claim this back from their insurer.
Furthermore, the Co-ops says that the new travel insurance product will offer Co-op members access to an online medical consultation with a General Medical Council (GMC) registered doctor, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, from anywhere in the world.
Members can use their smart phones or tablets to speak to doctors both prior to flying and during their holidays. Users can also receive prescriptions, referrals and fit-for-work notes, avoiding the need to navigate unfamiliar health systems and overcome language barriers.
The Co-op’s new travel insurance product can be broken down into the following, three policies; Single Trip, Annual / Multi-trip and Backpacker travel insurance and encompasses three phases of travelling pre, during and post trips.
Mark Summerfield, CEO, Co-op Insurance said: “This is an exciting time for the Co-op as we introduce Travel Insurance to our portfolio of products. Having recognised a gap in the market, we’ve worked with our members across the Co-op, to build a product which is fair, inclusive of all ages and medical conditions.”
“Furthermore, we’re the first general insurer to pay medical expenses up front, ensuring that our customers are not left out of pocket at what can already be a stressful time.”