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Brazil’s Travel Insurance Market Takes Off as International Flights Resume

Companies in the sector expect strong growth as international tourism restarts over the festive period

The return of tourism has strengthened the travel insurance market amid the surge in the Omicron variant of Covid-19, a new health threat in the second year of the pandemic.
December 27, 2021 | 01:28 pm

Miami — The demand for travel insurance is on the rise in Brazil since the reopening of borders this year, according to data from companies and sector representatives.

The travel insurance sector is expected to close 2021 with significant sales growth as international travel resumes and brokers test consumers’ receptivity to new products, such as policies offering specific assistance for unforeseen events related to the Covid-19 pandemic, such as flight cancellations.

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  • Brazilian insurance company SulAmérica says the issuance of travel insurance policies in November grew by 373.3% compared to the same month last year, and by 40.5% during 2021. Among the travel insurance policies sold, more than 37% were used for coverage against Covid-19, a policy launched in August
  • The country’s National Federation of Private Insurers (Fenaprevi) states that, in the third quarter of 2021, travel insurance totaled 78.1 million reais ($13.8 million) in premiums, an increase of 36.8% in relation to the previous quarter, and a rise of 116.4% in comparison with the same period of 2020
  • Globus Seguros attributes the 30% increase in the contracting of travel insurance policies in October to the reopening of the U.S. to Brazilians on November 8. The insurance broker estimates that in the months of November, December and January the increase will be 80% compared to October
  • Bradesco Vida e Previdência has also seen demand grow and is now offering its policyholders Covid-19 coverage. In addition to the traditional coverage and assistance for medical, hospital and dental expenses, the policy includes medical transfer, return travel for health reasons, loss of luggage and trip cancellation prior to departure

These market developments show a positive result for the sector as a whole in the second year of the Covid-19 pandemic. The National Confederation of Insurance Companies (CNseg) estimates that, without considering data from health insurance and car insurance (DPVAT), the insurance industry should close the year with an increase of 14.1% over 2020 in an optimistic scenario, and with growth of 9.4% in a pessimistic scenario.

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“The most recent data, from October, without considering supplementary health insurance and DPVAT, show revenues of 303.4 billion reais ($53.8 billion), a growth of 12.6% over the 12 months from October 2020,” said Marcio Coriolano, president of CNseg, who also highlighted data regarding other insurance policies:

  • Damages and Liabilities: an increase of 13.3% in the 12 months to October 2021, compared to the same period to October 2020
  • Personal Coverage/Risk Plans: a 12.9% increase in the 12 months to October 2021, compared to the previous period
  • Personal Coverage/Accumulative Plans: growth of 14% in the 12 months to October 2021, compared to the same period of 2020
  • Capitalization: an increase of 3.5% in the 12 months to October 2021, in relation to the same period in 2020
  • Supplementary Health Policies: a 7.1% increase in third quarter in comparison with the four previous quarters

Covid-19

Amid increased demand for policies, the insurance industry is also testing new models. One example is AIG Seguros, which targets the corporate travel market and has launched a “pay per use” modality, available to companies of any size and number of employees, in which the payment of business travel insurance takes place only after it has been used and according to the number of days on a previously issued insurance certificate.

SulAmérica’s travel insurance packages for Brazil, Latin America, Europe and the rest of the world and its student travel policy now also allow the optional contracting of additional assistance for events related to Covid-19. The insurance company says the initiative aims to meet some countries’ demand that, in addition to insurance, travelers also require specific Covid-related assistance coverage. The emergence of the Omicron variant, which is spreading around the planet, means travelers require policies that offer additional protection for unexpected situations amid the risk of contagion.

Affinity Seguro Viagem anticipated this demand in October 2020 and started to offer a product aimed specifically at the issues caused by Covid-19 in Brazil. More than 80% of its sales today are of Covid-19-related policies, according to the insurance company. In September, for example, the company registered 488% growth of policy sales compared to the same month in 2020, and it estimates closing 2021 with a growth of 133.89%. Affinity says that the destinations of travelers who have contracted its insurance have not changed. More than half (53%) are for trips to Europe, followed by the U.S. (18%), destinations other than the Americas and Europe (13%), Brazil (10%), and other countries in Latin America (8%).

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Although travel insurance is contracted more for international trips, there is also a greater demand for policies to cover domestic travel. At Globus, insurance policies sold are mainly for tourists going to Ceará, Rio Grande do Sul, Pernambuco, Rio de Janeiro and Paraná. When it comes to foreign travel, England, France, Egypt, Italy and Indonesia are the leading destinations.

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Before purchasing travel insurance, consumers must pay attention to the policy’s features in order to choose the most suitable one for their traveler profile and needs. Industry experts highlight three factors that should be considered:

  • Trip profile: it is important to evaluate, for example, whether the chosen destination is calm or more congested, whether the trip involves specific activities or whether the traveler will be accompanied, among other issues. These details are essential so that the insurance company can indicate the most adequate policy required
  • Cost-effectiveness: travel insurance usually provides more affordable costs in the event of unforeseen events, and which is essential for those planning international trips. It is therefore advisable to check all the coverage and assistance offered by the insurance policy
  • Assistance: insurance offers a series of additional assistance plans, such as hospitalization, dental expenses, and surgical intervention. Consider all the options in order to buy the policy that best suits your needs

Claims

Proteste, Brazil’s consumer protection agency, evaluated 89 travel insurance plans on the market and offers tips to travelers when buying such policies. “The main tip is to read the contract before finalizing the transaction, to know what the exclusions are (what is not covered, that is, what will not be covered by a claim for compensation) and what the coverage is, which is divided into mandatory and additional or complementary,” according to Proteste’s Rodrigo Alexandre.

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Since 2016, the country’s private insurance regulator Susep expanded the number of mandatory coverage policies, which, until then, numbered just two (death and permanent disability). With the publication of the National Council of Private Insurance Resolution (CNSP 315/2014), the list now includes coverage such as medical, hospital, and dental expenses. “But they are only obligatory when contracting travel insurance abroad. For domestic trips, they are optional,” Alexandre said. Below is a rundown of most of the obligatory coverage.

Obligatory Coverage

  • Medical, hospital and/or dental expenses while traveling abroad - Bills incurred as a result of treatment required due to an accident or sudden and acute illness while traveling abroad
  • Medical Transfer - Compensation for expenses covering the evacuation or transfer of the insured to the nearest clinic or hospital that has the conditions to attend to him/her, due to an accident or illness covered by the insurance
  • Death while traveling - Payment of the insured amount to the beneficiary(ies) indicated in the policy, individual certificate or ticket, in a single payment or as an annuity. This is for when the death of the insured occurs due to natural or accidental causes during the period of travel covered
  • Accidental death while traveling - The insured sum is paid to the beneficiary(ies) indicated in the policy, the individual certificate or the ticket, in a single payment or as an annuity, in the event of the death of the insured person, due to an accident that occurs during the trip
  • Permanent total or partial disability due to an accident while traveling - Payment of compensation in case of loss, reduction or definitive functional impotence, total or partial, of the limbs or organs defined in the policy, individual certificate or ticket. The coverage refers to physical injury suffered by the insured individual due to an accident during the travel period covered
  • Body transfer - Compensation to cover expenses incurred by the release and transportation of the body of the insured from the place of occurrence of the event to their home or place of burial. In this situation, the expenses include all the procedures and articles essential for the transportation of the body. However, this coverage cannot be contracted separately, and only in conjunction with one of the above-mentioned policies

Additional or Complementary Coverage

  • Baggage - In the event of loss, theft, robbery, damage or destruction
  • Funeral - Covers funeral expenses, in the event of the death of the insured person during the travel period covered
  • Anticipated return - Compensation for expenses incurred by the transfer of the insured individual back home or to the trip’s starting point
  • Trip cancellation - Consists of compensation for non-refundable expenses with the purchase of tour packages and/or travel services, such as transportation and lodging, in the event of an event that prevents the insured person from traveling or continuing with their travel plans

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