Blog: Should travel insurers take 'permanxiety' seriously?

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Insurers should harness technology to enable clients to anticipate employees’ medical and security threats abroad. And as a result help reduce the risk of permanxiety, claims Chris Knight, head of corporate assistance services at Cega

Cega head of corporate assistance services Chris Knight
Chris Knight, head of corporate assistance services at Cega

Permanxiety is the latest buzzword in the global travel sector.

It describes the near-constant state of anxiety felt by travellers; about everything from terrorism to racial tension, Trumpism to technology, and culture wars to climate change. And, according to global travel intelligence platform Skift (who coined the term) there’s a burgeoning belief that it could soon become the world’s new shared social experience.

According to the Global Business Travel Association more than half of business travellers feel that, nowadays, any destination could be high-risk; almost half are worried about terrorist attacks abroad; and over 20% classify North American and Western European countries as only “somewhat safe”.

Meanwhile, the Association of Corporate Travel Executives reports that a third of travel managers are seeing a rise in enquiries about business traveller safety.

Despite these worries, the global travel industry is booming: the GBTA anticipates a rise of more than 6% in corporate travel spend this year and the World Tourism Organisation predicts that, by 2030, five million people will be crossing international borders for leisure, business or other purposes - every single day.

In short, travellers are travelling more. But they’re also worrying more about their travels.

Managing worries

Travel risk management isn’t just about planning for emergencies, it’s also about reducing anxiety, or even permanxiety, for travellers. It’s about identifying and mitigating risks associated with every stage of a trip overseas, and helping travellers feel informed about, and supported during, real-time threats.

From pre-travel reports, training and intelligence gathering, to in-country travel tracking and real-time risk alerts, there’s no end of risk management products available to help prepare, inform and locate travellers overseas, and to reduce anxiety.

It’s all about providing access to these products in the most efficient way. And that’s where travel insurance comes in.

In a recent GBTA survey, 44% of business travellers said they expected their employers to use tools like GPS to locate them in an emergency overseas. And at least two-thirds would expect their company to proactively contact them within two hours of an adverse event.

Employers are, in turn, increasingly hungry for joined-up risk mitigation and travel insurance products that provide services like these, in the context of comprehensive risk management programmes; tailored to support travelling employees and meet duty of care obligations. All accessible in one place.

They want to be able to harness technology that enables them to anticipate employees’ medical and security threats abroad; to know exactly where employees are in relation to threats; and to counteract the dangers. They want staff prepared for every eventuality, with access to integrated medical and security advice and emergency assistance, whenever they need it. And they want to reduce the anxieties and risks of not having these measures in place.

As global travel risks become less predictable, and “bleisure” travel gains pace, some say it won’t be long before leisure travellers have similar expectations to their corporate counterparts.

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