|By Kellee Irwin, Vice-President, Orion Travel Insurance, A CAA Company.|
As employees find greater work-life balance, they are using their personal time off to travel and/or blend work and leisure travel. As a result, they are seeking travel insurance to protect this precious time. Now more than ever, employee experiences and travel insurance are connected.
Why are employees travelling more? Since the global travel advisory for COVID was downgraded in February 2022, there was a sharp spike in trips taken due to pent up demand that has since stayed elevated, based on data from Statistics Canada. Furthermore, according to a study by EY, new work models like remote and hybrid are here to stay, allowing the majority of workers (millennials and Generation Z) with the freedom to travel more. These new work models and generations of workers now have the opportunity to work in any location and, according to the American Express 2023 Global Travel Report, are more likely to spend money on experiences, like travel, rather than consumer goods. They are also looking at a wider range of benefits related to health and wellness. Because travel is, in their view, critical for their health and wellness, benefits that enable them to travel and protect this time are essential. As the study by EY suggests, benefits programs created for past generations “must be modernized” to meet the demands of today’s employees.
While the blending of work and leisure (aka “bleisure”) travel isn’t new, there are greater opportunities to do so thanks to remote work and the return of business travel. In the 2023 Traveler: Emerging Trends that are Innovating the Traveler Experience, A Report by Hilton, 40 per cent of business travellers surveyed planned to take bleisure trips in 2023. In addition, the survey found that the length of stay for business transient travellers increased in 2022, on average, by 1.5 days.
All these trends show that employees are making it a priority to travel despite the increased complexity and cost. This past summer saw a high number of travel disruptions, anywhere from flight delays to cancelled flights to strikes which caught the attention of the federal government because of the backlog of complaints by Canadians. This is why travel insurance now needs to play a much bigger role than simply as an add-on to a benefits package. Travel insurance is becoming a key enabler in building and sustaining the new employee experience.
Providing a “traveller-centric” travel insurance policy within a benefits package can help build trust between employer and employee as it demonstrates that travel is valuable for their well-being. In a Forbes article about the rise in job satisfaction, work-life balance is one of the primary reasons for job satisfaction and retention. Only 25 per cent of employees indicate they would stay with an employer when they weren’t satisfied with this key driver. With more control over work and life, employees are happier, perform better, and stay in their job longer.
So, what does a “traveller-centric” approach look like? From the Orion Travel Insurance perspective, its employees and their families travelling with confidence, knowing they’re never alone. It means a commitment to safety first (and always). Last, but not least, it’s about offering solutions to help all types of travellers to continue their trip or return home when a journey doesn’t go as planned. Taking care of the little things like paying a medical bill up front for travellers so they don’t have to, or big things, like emergency medical protection for COVID-19 related illnesses, all stem from our heritage as a CAA company. When employees feel valued, assured, and protected, it can translate to reduced impact from disruptions and a competitive advantage for employers because employees are healthier, happier, and safer. Case in point, we provide our coverage to CAA Club partner employees because we value and care for them like family.
The pandemic increased Canadians’ awareness of the importance of having a solid travel insurance plan that will have their back when they need it. This is possibly why employees are asking questions about their coverage and may be asking for better protection. This is an opportunity to evaluate the current travel insurance policy and find out if it’s really the best protection for them. Here are some things to look for and key questions to ask:
- Are you offering your employees comprehensive coverage when they travel? Review the coverage amounts and exclusions that could cause the employee to be out of pocket. Does the product offer direct billing with international medical facilities, in the event they must seek medical treatment while they are away?
- Transparency, simplicity, flexibility, and choice are other essential factors to consider. How clear and understandable is the travel insurance program and does it offer choices that best meet the needs of employees? Would the employee understand their travel protection? Does it offer choices that realistically and holistically protect employee travel plans?
Perhaps the most critical evidence that determines if a travel insurance program aligns with company values and desired employee experience is what happens to an employee in their time of need. Orion Travel Insurance has ventured into employee benefits to protect Canadian employees with the same dedication to safety they have come to know from CAA. As an organization that consistently demonstrates its expertise, reliability, and outstanding level of care, it’s possible for travel insurance to strengthen trust between employers and employees, which is the best competitive edge employers can provide to the employee experience.