Co-op Insurance has entered the travel insurance market in a bid to “disrupt the sector by offering a new product shaped by its members”.
Its new product includes 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 general insurance market”.
The insurer, owned by the Co-op Group, released a study which shows that 62% of holidaymakers who have claimed on their travel insurance had to cover the costs upfront themselves and claim them back at a later date.
With the average travel insurance claim now standing at £2,090, this can cause difficulties – and the survey found that 26% of claimants had to borrow money from family members.
A further 25% had to take money out of their savings and 10% ended up in debt as a result of having to pay the initial claim themselves.
Co-op Insurance is also introducing a product which gives customers access to an online medical consultation with a General Medical Council registered doctor, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, from anywhere in the world.
Customers can use their smart phones or tablets to speak to doctors before and during their trip. 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 travel insurance can be broken down into three policies; single trip, annual / multi-trip and backpacker travel insurance.
Chief executive Mark Summerfield 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.”