Smartphones are present in every aspect of our lives, transforming ecommerce. At a time when connectivity continues to increase around the globe, Chubb has launched Pay As You Roam (PAYR), a digital travel insurance product that uses mobile phone roaming data and activates automatically when the policyholder travels abroad. As digitisation continues, an increasing number of insurers will develop automatic travel cover.

Increasingly, consumers are turning to mobile technology for purchasing goods and services. According to GlobalData’s 2019 and 2020 UK Insurance Consumer Surveys, 16.5% of adults purchased travel insurance online using a smartphone or tablet, up from 15.9% in 2019. There are substantial differences by demographics, with 23.8% of under-50s favouring mobile phones or tablets to purchase travel insurance. Thus, mobile devices are bound to become ever more important in the distribution of travel insurance, particularly as millennials and subsequent generations grow up from a young age exposed to mobile devices and sleek technology.

Sales of travel insurance policies have been dramatically affected by the outbreak of the COVID-19 virus, which has brought the tourism industry to a standstill. Hence, providers that can differentiate their products from the competition will certainly be better placed to navigate in the post-pandemic era. As the uptake of COVID-19 vaccination increases worldwide – and the prospects of introducing vaccine or health passports loom – travel and tourism will gradually be restored.

Chubb’s PAYR service promises to revolutionise the customer journey, fundamentally changing the way that travel insurance is sold. Using roaming data, a customer’s policy will automatically be activated, with the premium set at a daily rate. The cover also ends automatically when the customer is detected to be back in their home country (or upon reaching a maximum 31 days of cover). PAYR is available through Chubb’s partners in the banking and telecommunications industries, enabling customers to be billed through their mobile phones or have costs added onto a bank statement.

With PAYR technology, customers need not worry about purchasing a policy ahead of their trip, and neither do they have to worry about their flight being cancelled. No travel abroad means no cover. Given the number of flights that have been cancelled – and often at short notice – since the start of the pandemic, products that can reassure customers they will only pay for what they use are bound to attract interest.

COVID-19 has accelerated digitisation and is shaping customers’ purchasing behaviours. Insurers will need to rethink their products to ensure they remain relevant. They will need to ensure that the customer journey is seamless as customers become ever more expectant. Certainly, other insurers will follow in Chubb’s steps with other innovative and disruptive products. Automatic travel cover is just the beginning.